PAPAL AUDIENCE FOCUS IS APOSTOLIC ZEAL: POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR MURDERED NIGERIAN PRIEST AND SUFFERING UKRAINIANS – A CITY GETS A FACELIFT FOR PAPAL VISIT

Something to ponder: An interesting read about the Francis papacy in the post-Benedict XVI era: MondayVatican – Vatican » Pope Francis, what kind of a future has just begun? | MondayVatican

PAPAL AUDIENCE FOCUS IS APOSTOLIC ZEAL: POPE ASKS PRAYERS FOR MURDERED NIGERIAN PRIEST AND SUFFERING UKRAINIANS

Pope Francis began today’s general audience by noting, “In our continuing catechesis on apostolic zeal, the desire to share with others the joy of the Gospel, we now look to its model and source: the example of Jesus himself. As the eternal Word of God, made flesh for our salvation, Jesus’ entire life was devoted to communicating and dialoguing with others, first with his heavenly Father in profound prayer, and then with others, especially the poor, the outcast and sinners.!

Francis explained that Jesus “proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom not only by his preaching, but also by his ministry of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the Good Shepherd, the model for all pastors in the Church, Jesus was completely committed to the welfare of his flock, protecting the fold yet also setting out in search of the lost sheep.

“And when we hear that someone has left the Church, what do we want to say? ‘Let them work it out?’ No. Jesus teaches us to have nostalgia for those who have left. Jesus does not feel anger or resentment but pure longing for us. Jesus feels nostalgic for us and this is God’s zeal.

The Holy Father said he wondered “we, do we have similar sentiments? Perhaps we see those who have left the flock as adversaries or enemies. ‘And this person? Hasn’t he gone to the other side? She lost her faith…. They are going to hell…’ and we are serene.!

“When we meet them at school, at work, on the streets of our city,” he continued, “why don’t we think instead that we have a beautiful opportunity to witness to them the joy of a Father who loves them and has never forgotten them? Not to proselytize, no! But that the Word of the Father might reach them so we can walk together. … Because the Word, Jesus, asks this of us – to always draw near to everyone with an open heart because he is like that.”

Pope Francis concluded: “Following his example, may we, in our daily lives, draw joy and strength from our union with the Father in prayer, allow our hearts to be shaped by pastoral zeal for the word of God, and strive, in all our words and actions, to share with others its saving message.”

During greetings to English-language pilgrims the Pope said, “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present.

“I ask all of you to join me in praying for Father Isaac Achi of the Diocese of Minna in northern Nigeria, who was killed last Sunday in an attack on his rectory. So many Christians continue to be the target of violence: let us remember them in our prayers! Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

The terrorists set fire to the rectory and Fr. Achi burned to death. They shot and wounded the assistant priest as he tried to flee.

Francis also highlighted Ukraine, as he has done in every public address for almost a year. He asked everyone to pray for Ukrainians who need “our closeness, consolation, and above all peace.”

CITY GETS A FACELIFT FOR PAPAL VISIT

As you know, Pope Francis leaves on January 31 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then South Sudan. We are now learning, via a report from Reuters, that the government in Kinshasa is clearing the city’s streets of vendors so that the Pope sees a sanitized city, much as happened when U.S. President Biden recently visited El Paso, Texas, a city that has been overwhelmed by massive numbers of migrants in the last two years. Biden saw no migrants, no crowded housing facilities, no make-shift tents on El Paso streets.

The January 17 Reuters story starts: “Before dawn, sanitary police armed with crowbars and a bulldozer set about demolishing makeshift trader stalls crowding downtown streets in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of a four-day visit by Pope Francis starting Jan. 31. Kinshasa has 17 million people. Police demolish trader stalls in Congo capital ahead of Pope visit | Reuters

 

POPE DECRIES ATTACK ON CHURCH IN DCR

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and was a holiday for EWTN staff so I had a day off and it was wonderful, as days off should be! The entire Rome EWTN bureau celebrated the exceptional work undertaken in the week of Benedict XVI’s death and funeral and the Epiphany with a wonderful buffet lunch in one of the larger meetings rooms available for such events.

It is always great to spend time with the extremely talented people of the Rome bureau, to catch up on family news, children and new babies, impending weddings, interviews and documentaries planned, and so on. So many of these people are always behind the cameras. They are the people you don’t see but the ones who bring all the great images and stories that you do see on EWTN.

Before I move on, I want to share something with you that is considered an important part of Pope Benedict’s legacy:

POPE DECRIES ATTACK ON CHURCH IN DCR

Pope Francis is scheduled to leave for Africa on January 31st, visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR) and South Sudan. In South Sudan, it will be an ecumenical pilgrimage as he will be joined by the archbishop of Canterbury and by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The trip, originally scheduled for July 2022, had to be postponed on advice of the papal doctors.

Monday, in a telegram, the Pope decried an attack on a Pentecostal church in the DRC that killed at least 14 people and wounded over 40 others. Vatican news reported that the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Congolese army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is allied to ISIS. The telegram, sent by Cardinal secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the Pope’s name, was addressed to Rev. André Bokundoa-Bo-Likabe, President of the Church of Christ in Congo.

In an interview with Vatican News following the bombing, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, said the attack sent a worrying signal, “even more so because it confirms the involution of the situation on the ground.” People of DR Congo await ‘healing’ from Pope’s upcoming visit – Vatican News

(Vatican news also reported that Pope Francis has expressed his condolences for the deaths of at least 70 people who were killed on Sunday in a plane crash in the South Asian nation of Nepal)

POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO DCR AND SOUTH SUDAN IN 2023

POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO DCR AND SOUTH SUDAN IN 2023

The Holy See Press Office announced today that the previously scheduled papal trip to the DCR (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and South Sudan, that had been   postponed to health issues for Pope Francis, will now take place from January 31st to February 5th, 2023. The papal schedule was also released.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023 ROME – KINSHASA

Logo and motto of Pope’s journey to Democratic Rep. of Congo released – Vatican News

07:55 Departure by airplane from Rome/Fiumicino International Airport to Kinshasa 15:00 Arrival at Kinshasa “Ndjili” International Airport

15:00 OFFICIAL WELCOME

16:30 WELCOME CEREMONY at the “Palais de la Nation”

16:45 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC in the “Salle Présidentielle” of the “Palais de la Nation”

17:30 MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the garden of the “Palais de la Nation” Address of the Holy Father

Wednesday, 1 February 2023 KINSHASA

09:30 HOLY MASS at “Ndolo” Airport – Homily of the Holy Father

16:30 MEETING WITH VICTIMS FROM THE EASTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY at the Apostolic Nunciature – Address of the Holy Father

18:30 MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM SOME CHARITIES at the Apostolic Nunciature – Address of the Holy Father

Thursday, 2 February 2023 KINSHASA

09:30 MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AND CATECHISTS in Martyrs’ Stadium – Address of the Holy Father

16:30 PRAYER MEETING WITH PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND SEMINARIANS in the Cathedral “Notre Dame du Congo” – Address of the Holy Father

18:30 PRIVATE MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS at the Apostolic Nunciature

Friday, 3 February 2023 KINSHASA – JUBA

08:30 MEETING WITH BISHOPS at CENCO – Address of the Holy Father

10:10 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Kinshasa “Ndjili” International Airport

10:40 Departure by airplane from Kinshasa “Ndjili” International airport

to Juba

The Holy Father is making the Journey to South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

15:00 Arrival at Juba International Airport

 

South Sudan: Vatican unveils logo and motto of Pope ‘s visit – Vatican News

15:00 WELCOME CEREMONY

15:45 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC at the Presidential Palace

16:15 MEETING WITH THE VICE-PRESIDENTS OF THE REPUBLIC

17:00 MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the garden of the Presidential Palace – Address of the Holy Father

Saturday, 4 February 2023 JUBA

09:00 MEETING WITH BISHOPS, PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND SEMINARIANS in the Cathedral of Saint Therese – Address of the Holy Father

11:00 PRIVATE MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS at the Apostolic Nunciature

16:30 MEETING WITH INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS in the “Freedom Hall” – Address of the Holy Father

18:00 ECUMENICAL PRAYER at “John Garang” Mausoleum – Address of the Holy Father

Sunday, 5 February 2023 JUBA – ROME

08:45 HOLY MASS at “John Garang” Mausoleum – Homily of the Holy Father Angelus

11:00 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Juba International Airport

11:30 Departure by airplane from Juba International Airport to Rome

17:30 Arrival at Rome Fiumicino International Airport

POPE AT AUDIENCE: SPIRITUAL DESOLATION CAN STRENGTHEN US IF WE LISTEN TO GOD – ALSO THIS….

POPE AT AUDIENCE: SPIRITUAL DESOLATION CAN STRENGTHEN US IF WE LISTEN TO GOD

During his catechesis at the general audience, Pope Francis says desolation and sadness, though considered to be negative experiences, can teach us important things and strengthen us spiritually, if we know how to traverse it with openness and awareness.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ (Vatican news)

Continuing his cycle of reflections on the theme of discernment, Pope Francis said that discernment, which is not primarily a logical procedure, is “based on actions, and actions have an affective connotation which must be acknowledged, because God speaks to the heart.”

He focused his catechesis during the Wednesday general audience on the first affective mode and an object of discernment: desolation.

Desolation

Recalling the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis said desolation can be defined as “darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad and as if separated from his Creator and Lord.”

He noted that all of us have experienced desolation in some way but the problem we face is how to interpret it, because desolation has something important to tell us and we risk losing it if we are in a hurry to free ourselves of the feeling of emptiness.

He added that inasmuch as we would all like a life that is always joyful, cheerful and fulfilled, this is not always possible and would also not be good for us as “the change from a life oriented towards vice can start from a situation of sadness, of remorse for what one has done.”

Remorse

Explaining further, Pope Francis said that the word “remorse”, from the etymological viewpoint, means “the conscience that bites (in Italian, mordere) that does not permit peace.”

In fact, Alessandro Manzoni in his book “The Betrothed” described remorse as an opportunity to change one’s life in the famous dialogue between Cardinal Federico Borromeo and the Unnamed, who, after a terrible night, presents himself destroyed by the cardinal, who addresses him with surprising words.

Sadness

Pope Francis also stressed the importance of learning to “read” sadness, which is mostly considered negatively, but instead, “can be an indispensable alarm bell for life, inviting us to explore richer and more fertile landscapes that transience and escapism do not permit.”

St. Thomas, in the Summa Theologica, defines sadness as “a pain of the soul” – like the nerves for the body, it redirects our attention to a possible danger, or a disregarded benefit. Hence, sadness is “indispensable for our health; it protects us from harming ourselves and others” and “would be far more serious and dangerous if we did not feel this,” the Pope said.

Moreover, for those who have the desire to do good, sadness is “an obstacle with which the tempter tries to discourage us” and in that case, one must act in a manner exactly contrary to what is suggested, determined to continue what one had set out to do.

The Pope further recalled the Gospels’ reminder that the road to goodness is narrow and uphill, requiring combat and self-conquest. He urged those who wish to serve God not to be led astray by desolation, especially as some people, unfortunately, abandon a life of prayer or choice they have made, driven by desolation, “without first pausing to consider this state of mind, and especially without the help of a guide.”

“A wise rule says not to make changes when you are desolate. It will be the time afterwards, rather than the mood of the moment, that will show the goodness or otherwise of our choices.”

Trials are an important moment

Pope Francis then pointed to the example of Jesus who repelled temptations with an attitude of firm resolution. Trials assailed him from all sides, but Jesus was determined to do the will of the Father and they failed to hinder his path.

In spiritual life, said the Pope, “trial is an important moment” because “when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials” (Sir 2:1). Similarly, a professor only accepts that a student has passed the test after he has examined the student to see if the student knows the essentials of the subject.

“If we know how to traverse loneliness and desolation with openness and awareness, we can emerge strengthened in human and spiritual terms. No trial is beyond our reach.”

Pope Francis concluded by re-echoing St. Paul’s words that no one is tempted beyond his or her ability, because the Lord never abandons us, and with him close by, we can overcome every temptation.

ALSO THIS…

POPE FRANCIS DECRIES “HORROR” CONTINUING TO BLOODY DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. At the end of the general audience, the Pope condemned the “unacceptable” terror attack against defenseless civilians at a Catholic mission hospital and appealed for peace in the African country battered by ongoing violence. “We watch in horror as events continue to bloody the Democratic Republic of Congo. Let us pray for the victims and their families, as well as for the Christian community and the inhabitants of that region, who have been exhausted by violence for too long.” The Pope said he “strongly deplores the unacceptable assault” that took place in recent days in the village of Maboja in the country’s North-Kivu province. He decried the deaths of the “defenceless,” recalling that among the dead was religious sister, Sister Sylvie Kalima, a healthcare worker. Pope condemns DR Congo attacks: ‘We watch in horror’ – Vatican News

POPE AT SPIRIT OF ASSISI: GOD’S NAME ‘CANNOT BLESS TERROR AND VIOLENCE’; At the Community of Sant’Egidio’s ‘Cry for Peace’ at the colosseum, Pope Francis reiterated that religions cannot be used for war, and called for nations to defuse conflicts with the weapon of dialogue. “Religions cannot be used for war. Only peace is holy and no one is to use the name of God to bless terror and violence. If you see wars around you, do not resign yourselves! The people desire peace.” This was the appeal of Pope Francis, along with religious leaders, during the closing ceremony of the annual ‘Spirit of Assisi’ prayer for peace on Tuesday afternoon at Rome’s iconic colosseum. The Pope recalled that these words he and religious leaders declared together a year ago, … adding “Let us never grow resigned to war. Let us cultivate seeds of reconciliation. Today let us raise to heaven our plea for peace.” Pope at Spirit of Assisi: God’s name ‘cannot bless terror and violence’ – Vatican News

POPE WILL NOT PRESIDE CORPUS CHRISTI MASS, PROCESSION – POPE TO SAY MASS IN ROME FOR CONGOLESE COMMUNITY – ASIF PRESIDENT: “NEW STEPS FORWARD, WE MUST NOT LOWER OUR GUARD”

POPE WILL NOT PRESIDE CORPUS CHRISTI MASS, PROCESSION

As Pope Francis continues to suffer from knee pain, the Holy See Press Office said in an announcement today that he will not preside over the traditional Corpus Christi Mass at St. John Lateran esplanade and procession from the cathedral of St. John to the basilica of St. Mary Major.

Corpus Christi falls on Thursday, June 16, this year but in 2017 Pope Francis moved the celebration to the following Sunday in the hope that greater numbers of faithful could attend.

In 2020 and 2021, only the Mass was scheduled. It took place in St. Peter’s Basilica with a small number of faithful and was not followed by a procession.

The Vatican statement said: “Due to the limitations imposed on the Pope by his knee pain and because of the specific liturgical needs of the celebration, the Holy Mass and procession with the Eucharistic Blessing will not be celebrated on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.”

For several years, Pope Francis followed tradition. He broadened that in 2017 and following years by celebrating the Mass and procession in parishes in and around Rome.

UPDATE. The Italian language Vatican news site announced that Corpus Christi celebrations in Vatican City on Thursday have been entrusted to Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of the Vatican basilica and vicar general of the Holy Father for Vatican City. The celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Domini will take place at the Altar of the Chair on June 16 at 9:45am with Lauds, followed by Mass at 10.30. At the end of the Mass there will be a Eucharistic procession with Eucharistic blessing. In the afternoon, Vespers of the Solemnity to be celebrated at 5:00pm.

POPE TO SAY MASS IN ROME FOR CONGOLESE COMMUNITY

Addressing participants at the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa, Pope Francis exhorted them to embrace the meaning and strength of their charism, and invited them to be apostles and witnesses through prayer and fraternity.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Pope Francis on Monday received in audience the participants of the General Chapter of the Missionaries of Africa (The White Fathers) in the Vatican. (Vatican photo)

In his address, the Holy Father expressed regret about having postponed his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, originally scheduled for the first week of July. He said that it is hard at his age to go on a mission but he draws courage from their prayers and example and is hopeful that he would be able to visit these peoples “whom he carries in his heart.” He announced, however, that he would celebrate a Mass with the Congolese community in Rome on Sunday, 3 July. Pope to Missionaries of Africa: An apostle of Christ is a witness – Vatican News

ASIF PRESIDENT: “NEW STEPS FORWARD, WE MUST NOT LOWER OUR GUARD”

We feature an interview with the President of the Vatican’s Supervisory and Financial Information Authority on the occasion of the publication of its 2021 report: “The development and strengthening of a network of international collaboration are constant objectives and priorities.”

Vatican News

The Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) has published its latest report. ASIF is the authority of the Holy See and the Vatican City State for supervision in matters regarding the prevention and countering of money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and financial intelligence. ASIF President Carmelo Barbagallo tells us more about the report in the following interview. ASIF President: “New steps forward, we must not lower our guard” – Vatican News

 

POPE FRANCIS WEIGHS IN ON FAKE NEWS, “A SIGN OF INTOLERANT AND HYPERSENSITIVE ATTITUDES” – POPE DECRIES “UNTHINKABLE, BARBARIC” TREATMENT OF YEZIDIS – AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE AND PERU, APPEAL FOR PEACE IN DRC

Today is January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists. In years past, the late Pontifical Council for Social Communications used to organize a Mass for journalists on this date at Santa Maria in Traspontina on Via della Conciliazione. It was always a well-attended event and members of the media were lectors and sang in the choir. I enjoyed going to those Masses and praying for our mission as journalists, and I hope they resume some day.

This year, officials of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications (SPC) assisted in organizing the annual meeting of Catholic journalists and Church communications professionals that took place this year in Lourdes, France. The SPC was co-organizer of the gathering with the Federation of the Catholic Media and SIGNIS. The theme this year was, “Media and Truth,” inspired by Pope Francis’ Message for World Communications Day 2018. Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin addressed the media.

One year on this feast day, Cardinal John Foley, who headed the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for many years, gave a talk and, with his never-failing sense of humor and a touch of self-deprecation, pointed to three similarities between himself and St. Francis de Sales: “We were both bishops, both in communications and both of us were bald!”

POPE FRANCIS WEIGHS IN ON FAKE NEWS, “A SIGN OF INTOLERANT AND HYPERSENSITIVE ATTITUDES”

Today, feast of St, Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ Message for the 52nd World Day of Social Communications on May 13. It is entitled, “’The truth will set you free’ (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace.”

CLICK HERE FOR ENGLISH: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2018/01/24/0062/00120.html#en

It is a riveting read and, if I had the time, I’d email it to every major secular news organization. It does not take that long to read and you’ll find yourself saying every few lines, “right on, Holy Father!”

I don’t see how one could call oneself a serious journalist who strives for the truth and then disagree with what the Holy Father writes.

The following paragraphs of the papal Message best describe how I see my work, my mission as a journalist (mission being a word that Pope Francis also uses):

“The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge; people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language. If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news.

“In today’s world, theirs is, in every sense, not just a job; it is a mission. Amid feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop, they must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons. Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives. That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.”

POPE DECRIES “UNTHINKABLE, BARBARIC” TREATMENT OF YEZIDIS

At nine this morning in a small room of the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received in audience a representation of the Yezidi community in Germany. Here are his words to them in my translation:

“Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you fraternally and I thank you for this encounter through which I can ideally embrace all members of the Yezidi community, in particular all those who live in Iraq and Syria. My thoughts and prayerful solidarity go to the innocent victims of such unthinkable and inhuman barbaric actions. It is unacceptable that human beings are persecuted and killed because of their religious belief. Every person has the right to freely and without restrictions profess their own religious creed. Your history, rich in spirituality and culture, has been unfortunately marked by unspeakable violations of the fundamental human rights of the person: kidnappings, slavery, torture, forced conversions and murder. Your shrines and places of worship have been destroyed. The most fortunate among you have been able to flee, but leaving everything you had behind, including your dearest and most sacred possessions. In many parts of the world there are still ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians, persecuted because of their faith. The Holy See never tires of intervening to denounce these situations, asking for recognition, protection and respect. At the same time the Holy See exhorts people to dialogue and reconciliation in order to heal everyone.

“In the face of the tragedy that is taking place and harming your community, one sees how, as the Gospel says, from the heart of man can explode the darkest forces, capable of reaching the point of planning the annihilation of one’s brother, of considering him an enemy or even an individual who does not have human dignity. I also think of the members of your community who are still in the hands of terrorists; I sincerely hope that everything will be done to save them, as well as trying to find those who are missing and to identity and give a worthy burial to those who have been killed. The international community can no longer remain a silent and insert spectator in the face of your drama. I therefore encourage institutions and people of good will to contribute to rebuilding your homes and places of worship, and to make concrete efforts to creating ideal conditions for the return of refugees to their homes and to preserving the identity of the Yezidi community. God help us in building together a world where everyone can live in peace and fraternity.”

AUDIENCE CATECHESIS FOCUSES ON PAPAL TRIP TO CHILE, PERU, APPEAL FOR PEACE IN DRC

Following his meeting with the Yezidis residing in Germany, the Holy Father proceeded to the Paul VI Hall where he encountered a group of ill people, including a number of children suffering from leukemia from Terra dei Fuochi, an area in southern Italy, accompanied by their parents.

Francis then proceeded to St. Peter’s Square where the faithful heard a catechesis on the Pope’s just-completed trip to Chile and Peru. (AFP photo)

“Dear brothers and sisters,” said the English language summary of the catechesis, “in my recent Apostolic Journey to Chile and Peru, I had the joy of encountering God’s pilgrim people and encouraging the growth of social harmony in respect for the rich diversity of those nations. In Chile, I stressed the importance of listening to the voices of all: the poor, the young and the elderly, the immigrant and the voice of the earth itself. I encouraged the Church in its path of purification and renewal, and, appealing to the example of Saint Alberto Hurtado, I encouraged educators to help the young to share in the building of a just and inclusive society.

“In Peru, I expressed my confidence that the nation’s environmental, spiritual and cultural riches can contribute to building unity and cooperation in meeting the grave challenges facing society. In my meeting with the Amazonian peoples, I stressed the importance of mutual respect and care for the natural environment. In Trujillo, hard hit by natural disasters, I invited all to work together in confronting the social problems of crime and the lack of education, employment and housing. In Lima, I concluded my visit to these two countries by appealing to the example of the saints and asking their intercession as the Church pursues the path of conversion and mission, and strives to be a messenger of unity, hope and peace for all peoples.”

After the catechesis in various language summaries, Francis expressed a heartfelt appeal for the deteriorating situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: “Unfortunately, troubling news continues to come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Therefore, I renew my call for everyone to commit to avoiding all forms of violence. On her part, the Church wants nothing other than to contribute to the peace and to the common good of society.”

POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!” – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

POPE TO CATECHISTS: THE KEY MESSAGE OF THE FAITH IS “THE LORD HAS RISEN!”

There was a beautiful Mass Sunday morning in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for the Jubilee of Catechists with tens of thousands of them from around the world filling the Square.

catechist-mass

“On this Jubilee for Catechists,” said the Pope in his homily, “we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and center: The Lord is risen! Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centerpiece, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen! The Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this.”

Francis reminded the catechists that, “Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming the blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.”

In addressing the faithful in St. Peter’s Square following Mass and ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the two Mexican priests who had been abducted and killed the previous Sunday – and just hours before hearing of the same fate for a third Catholic priest.  He prayed that ongoing violence in Mexico might end.

In fact, the archdiocese of Morelia announced that the body of a priest abducted in Mexico a week ago and shot at point blank range has been found, just hours after Pope Francis had issued a heartfelt appeal for an end to the violence in that country. Fr. Jose Lopez Guillen had, like the two priests last week, been robbed and abducted in the western Mexican State of Michocan on the very same day the bodies of the other two priests were found.

The Holy Father also expressed his support for the pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican bishops. Saying: “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”

The abduction and murders of the three priests in the space of a week occurs at a time when Church leaders have been requesting increased protection for clergy. The violence against clergy takes place as the Church in Mexico takes a strong stance in defense of traditional marriage, at he same time that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to change laws so that to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions and equate them as marriage.

The Catholic Multi-Media Center notes that 15 priests have been murdered in Mexico in less than four years.

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES PRESIDENT OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The press office today released the declaration that you can read below about the visit by President Joseph Kabila of the Congo to Pope Francis. However, members of the press pool attending the audience noted that the atmosphere seemed decidedly different from other papal audiences with heads of State. AP reported: “The audience Monday was a brief 20 minutes, with interpreters. The pope didn’t greet Kabila in the reception room where, according to Vatican protocol, Francis would normally greet a visiting head of state. Rather, a glum-looking Francis waited for Kabila in his library.” (AP photo)

kabila

Here is the Vatican report:

Today, Monday 26 September 2016, the Holy Father received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, who subsequently met with His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

In a statement, the Holy See’s Press Office said during the “cordial discussions,” the good relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were evoked, “with particular reference to the important contribution of the Catholic Church in the life of the nation, with its institutions in the educational, social and healthcare spheres, as well as in development and the reduction of poverty. In this context, mutual satisfaction was expressed for the signing of the framework Agreement between the Holy See and the State, which took place on 20 May this year.”

Particular attention was paid, the comunique continues, “to the serious challenges placed by the current political challenge and the recent clashes that have occurred in the capital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration between political actors and representatives of civil society and religious communities, in favor of the common good, through a respectful and inclusive dialogue for the stability of peace in the country.”

Finally, the Parties focused on the persistent violence suffered by the population in the east of the country, and on the urgency of cooperation at national and international levels, in order to provide the necessary assistance and to re-establish civil co-existence.