POVERTY AFFECTS TOO MANY FAMILIES, SAYS FRANCIS – POPE IS “CLOSE TO CHINESE PEOPLE” WHO MOURN SHIPWRECK VICTIMS – CARDINAL PAROLIN ADDRESSES PARIS CONFERENCE, “EDUCATING TODAY AND TOMORROW” – BODIES OF FRANCISCAN CONFESSORS IN ROME FOR JUBILEE OF MERCY

On this day in 1963, Pope St. John XXIII died of stomach cancer, four and a half years after his election. His tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica:

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POVERTY AFFECTS TOO MANY FAMILIES, SAYS FRANCIS

At today’s general audience, Pope Francis said that, in continuing the series of catecheses on the family that he started many months ago, he intended to focus, starting today, on the vulnerabilities that families face in today’s world.

He began by explaining that, “today we consider one of the conditions that afflict too many families, namely, poverty. And yet, in the worst of circumstances, even in wartorn areas, how often these families persevere with dignity, entrusting themselves to the goodness of God. It is a miracle that even in extreme situations families continue to be formed and sustained.”

“Sadly,” said the Holy Father, “our modern economies often promote individual well-being at the expense of the family. As Christians, however, we must always look for ways to strengthen and support families, especially poorer ones.  The Church, as a mother, can never be blind to the sufferings of her children.  For each of us, this means choosing simplicity both individually and in our institutions, so as to break down walls of division and overcome all difficulties, especially poverty.”

As he has said on previous ocasions, including at the very start of his pontificate in March 2013,  Francis said, “a poorer Church will bear fruit for so many of her needy children.  Let us pray for the grace of conversion so that Christian families everywhere will be truly committed to helping their poorer brothers and sisters.”

POPE IS “CLOSE TO CHINESE PEOPLE” WHO MOURN SHIPWRECK VICTIMS

At the end of the weekly general audience, held today under a hot sun in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Chinese people following the capsizing Monday of a cruise ship on the Yangtze River. He spoke of the victims, their families and the rescue workers involved with the search for survivors from “The Eastern Star,” whose 456 passengers were mostly elderly people. At least 18 people are now confirmed to have died and 14 have been rescued.

“In a particular way I wish to express my closeness to the Chinese people in these difficult moments after the ferry disaster in the Yangtze River.  pray for the victims, their families and for all involved in the rescue efforts” he said.

In his greetings to the many pilgrims groups and associations following the audience catechesis, Pope Francis explained that June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that tomorrow, Thursday, is the Feast of Corpus Christi. “We learn from the Lord, who made Himself into sustenance so as to be more available to others, serving all those in need, especially the poorest families.”

To commemorate the feast of Corpus Christi, the Holy Father will say Mass at St. John Lateran, his cathedral church as bishop of Rome, ater which he will process on Via Merulana with the Blessed Sacrament from St. John to St. Mary Major where he will impart a Eucharistic blessing.

CARDINAL PAROLIN ADDRESSES PARIS CONFERENCE, “EDUCATING TODAY AND TOMORROW”

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin spoke this morning in Paris at the conference “Educating Today and Tomorrow,” organized by the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission at UNESCO and the Congregation for Catholic Education. The conference is celebrating 70 years since the founding of this United Nations body, the 50th anniversary of the conciliar declaration “Gravissimum educationis,” a key text for Catholic education, and 25 years since the Apostolic Constitution “Ex corde Ecclesiae,” a document of reference for Catholic universities.

His text focused on the four main educational challenges and perspectives in today’s “fragmentary and multi-ethnic” world, namely, putting humanity back at the center; comprehensive and quality education; education as shared responsibility; and education in dialogue and fraternity.

Cardinal Parolin stated that, “the Catholic Church has never viewed education and culture as mere instruments of evangelization, but rather as human dimensions with high intrinsic value.” Indeed, investing in the education of young generations is a precondition for the “development of peoples,” as Paul VI stated in “Populorum progressio.” This is why the Catholic Church “has put education at the centre of her mission and continues to view it as a priority.”

He also underlined the importance attributed to this theme by Vatican Council II, in which a full and complete education is proposed, aimed at laying the foundations for an inclusive and peaceful society open to dialogue.Tye cardinal then mentioned some current educational challenges and perspectives, such as the extreme fragmentation of knowledge and the worrying lack of communication between different disciplines.

Importantly, the Secretary of State underscored the need to counteract the concept of the human being as a machine for production, proposing instead a vision of the person, and reiterated the need for formation in dialogue and the construction of fraternity. (sources: VIS, SIR)

BODIES OF FRANCISCAN CONFESSORS IN ROME FOR JUBILEE OF MERCY

Il Mattino di Padova, in its online news edition, reports that Pope Francis has decided to bring the bodies of two beloved Capuchin confessors, Saints Padre Pio and Leopoldo Mandic, to Rome during the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the importance of the ministry of a confessor.

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The paper says that the exposition of their bodies will probably be one of themost anticipated events and biggest highlights of the entire Holy Year.

Il Mattino says that, while each of the two Franciscan confessors had long, nonstop lines of penitents before their confessionals, those lines will probably pale in comparison to the lines that will form to enter St. Peter’s Basilica on February 10, 2016, Ash Wednesday, the day the exposition begins. The paper quotes Pope Francis who, last year as he blessed a wood statue of Padre Pio, brought to Rome by the friars of San Giovanni Rotondo, said: “Padre Pio, we are now closer. I am blessing you but you, protect me.”

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St. Leopoldo Mandic was a famous Capuchin confessor who died in 1942 in Padua. After his death, he performed numerous and well-documented apparitions that strengthened his fame as a saint and the conviction that, through his intercession, one could obtain graces and miracles.

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At the Capuchin church in Padua, as happens at San Giovanni Rotondo, there is an uninterrupted flow of pilgrims who ask for graces and conversion. Over the years, there have been thousands of votive offerings – “PGR – for graces received”  – relative to prodigious and inexplicable healings. Pope Paul VI beatified Leopoldo on May 2, 1976 and St. John Paul canonized him on October 16, 1983.

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