In St. Peter’s Square this morning, Pope Francis began his weekly talk on missionary zeal by noting “we now consider the teaching of Saint Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhoration Evangelii Nuntiandi, on evangelization in the modern world. Pope Paul insisted that evangelization is primarily a personal witness to the Gospel and its saving truth. For this reason, he stressed the importance, in all the baptized, of a living faith in the triune God, manifested in a life of holiness fully consistent with the message we proclaim.”

St. Paul VI “went on to say that the Church not only evangelizes, but is herself evangelized, that is, constantly called to conversion and interior renewal in the Spirit. A Church that evangelizes is entirely turned to God, the source of our salvation, and, at the same time, entirely engaged in a creative dialogue with the world, cooperating with the Lord’s gracious plan for the unity and peace of our human family.

The Holy Father then explained that “Every one of us is required to respond to three fundamental questions, posed in this way by Paul VI: “Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?” (cf. ibid.). Is there harmony: do you believe I what you proclaim? Do you live what you believe? Do you proclaim what you live? We cannot be satisfied with easy, pre-packaged answers. We are called upon to accept the risk, albeit destabilized, of the search, trusting fully in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in each one of us, driving us ever further: beyond our boundaries, beyond our barriers, beyond our limits, of any type.

“Read and re-read Evangelii nuntiandi,” urged Francis. “I will tell you the truth, I read it often, because it is Saint Paul VI’s masterpiece, it is the legacy he left to us, to evangelize.”

In a multi-language appeal at the end of the audience catechesis, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that “Saturday will be the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, and our thoughts turn to March 25th last year, when, in union with all the bishops of the world, the Church and humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace. I would therefore like to invite every believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the act of consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is Mother, may preserve us all in unity and peace.

And let us not forget, in these days, troubled Ukraine, who is suffering so much.”



I’m working on sorting out all of my photos from the past month and I expect many of you know that is no small task. Add to that the notice from Gmail that my storage is above 90% and needs to be cleaned or I can no longer send or receive emails! I actually spent about two hours trying to clean out mail boxes as well as my immense photo archive, transferring many thousands of pictures to my external hard drive. All in a day’s work!

More cleaning tomorrow but for now, some papal news…..


Pope Francis released his prayer intention for the month of October, calling on everyone to pray that all Christians might be missionary disciples and open to the demands of the Church’s evangelizing mission.

By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

“Jesus asks us all, and you as well, to be missionary disciples. Are you ready?”

Pope Francis opened The Pope Video—containing his prayer intention for the month of October—with that invitation to all Christians.

The Pope said we are all invited to be open to Jesus’ call and to live united to Him in the mundane events of our daily lives.

“Work, meeting other people, our daily duties, and the chance events of each day”: These are the opportunities we have to allow ourselves to be “guided by the Holy Spirit,” said the Pope.

He said other people easily take notice when our every action is motivated by Christ.

“And your testimony of life will inspire admiration, and admiration inspires others to ask themselves, ‘How is it possible for this person to be this way?’ ‘What is the source of the love with which this person treats everyone —the kindness and good humor?’”

Availability for the mission
Pope Francis also recalled that the mission is evangelization and not proselytism.

“The mission is based on an encounter between people, on the testimony of men and women who say, ‘I know Jesus, and I’d like you to know Him too’,” he said.

The Pope then urged all baptized Christians to be open to the demands of the Gospel.

“Let us pray that every baptized person may be engaged in evangelization, available to the mission, by being witnesses of a life that has the flavour of the Gospel,” he said.

Synodal and missionary Church
A press release accompanying The Pope Video, which is prepared by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, noted that the October intention comes during the same month in which the synodal process begins and World Mission Day is celebrated.

The Synod process kicks off on 10 October, and will launch a call for all Catholics to walk together as the “pilgrim and missionary people of God.”

According to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Mario Grech, a “synodal Church cannot be other than a missionary Church, because the mission necessarily starts with the dynamism of mutual listening.”

Discernment of the Spirit
Another aspect of Pope Francis’ prayer intention for October is the invitation to “discern and recognize how the Spirit of the Lord is calling us to face the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church.”

Fr. Frederic Fornos, SJ, International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, said the Pope is inviting all Christians to participate in that discernment process by rooting our actions in prayer.

Click here for video of Pope Francis’ message (with subtitles in English): Pope’s October prayer intention: ‘May all Christians be missionary disciples’ – Vatican News




Today’s document from the Congregation for Clergy follows the 1997 Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesia de Mysterio, “On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the ministry of priests”, and the 2002 Congregation Instruction entitled, “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community.”

In his presentation of today’s document, Monsignor Andrea Ripa, undersecretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, notes that, “As was the case in 1997 and 2002, this Instruction does not contain ‘new legislation’; this is outside the remit and possibilities of an Instruction, the aim of which is to “set out the provisions of a law and develop the manner in which it is to be put into effect” (can. 34 §1, C.I.C.).

“Instead, this document proposes means to apply the law already in force in a better way, drawing on the experience of the Congregation for the Clergy in its service to the particular Churches. The current Instruction, therefore, is intended for the benefit of certain pastoral choices, some of which pastors have already introduced and have already been ‘experienced’ by the People of God for some time. This text aims to contribute to the evaluation of such choices, to correct and rethink them where necessary, with a view to improving upon the journey undertaken thus far, by harmonising particular law with universal law, while at the same time laying the foundations for a future path for pastoral care.”

The document is an answer in particular to those bishops who, facing decreased numbers of priests, therefore pastors, and the merging of parishes, have written over recent years to the Vatican for guidance.

In fact, Msgr. Ripa writes of the topic of grouping parishes together: “Taking the above-mentioned possibilities for diocesan restructuring into consideration, namely, the various ways of assigning and sharing in the exercise of pastoral care, the establishment of pastoral regions or units, together with the consequent union or suppression of Parishes, this Instruction is intended to offer Bishops and their collaborators, clerics and laity, the pastoral and canonical tools to work together for the greater good of the ecclesial community.”

The following is a summary of the 22-page Instruction, “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church.”


The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy released a new document to help guide the reform of parish communities. It is entitled “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.”

By Isabella Piro (vaticannews.va)

The Church offers space for everyone to find their place while respecting the vocation of each individual. This idea forms the core of the Instruction on the parish, which the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy released on Monday.

The document does not promulgate any new legislation, but proposes methods to better apply existing rules and canonical norms. The aim is to encourage the co-responsibility of the baptized and to promote pastoral care based on closeness and cooperation between parishes.

What emerges most forcefully from the Instruction is the urgency of missionary renewal, a pastoral conversion of the parish, so that the faithful may rediscover the dynamism and creativity which allows the parish to be always “going forth”, aided by the contribution of all the baptized faithful.

The Instruction consists of 11 chapters and can be divided into two parts: the first (chapters 1-6) offers a broad reflection on pastoral conversion, missionary outreach, and the value of the parish in the contemporary context. The second part (chapters 7-11) dwells on the subdivisions of parish communities, various pastoral roles that make them up, and the ways in which the governing norms are applied.

The parish: “A house among houses”
The Instruction describes the parish as “a house among houses” – a permanent sign of the Risen One in the midst of His people, according to the first part of the document.

The missionary nature of the parish is fundamental for evangelization. Globalization and the digital world have altered its specific link with the territory it encompasses. Therefore, the parish as such is no longer just a geographical space, but an existential space. It is precisely in this context that the parish’s “flexibility” emerges, allowing it to respond to the demands of the times and to adapt its service to the faithful throughout history.

Missionary renewal
The Instruction, therefore, stresses the importance of a missionary renewal of parish structures. Such renewal should steer clear of self-referentiality and rigidness. Rather, it should focus instead on spiritual dynamism and pastoral conversion based on the proclamation of the Word of God, the sacramental life, and the witness of charity. The “culture of encounter” should provide the necessary context for promoting dialogue, solidarity, and openness to all. In this way, parish communities will be able to develop a true “art of accompaniment”. In particular, the Instruction recommends the witness of faith in charity and the importance of caring for the poor which the parish evangelizes.

Every baptized person must be an active protagonist in evangelization. Therefore, a change of mentality and interior renewal is essential in order to carry out a missionary reform of pastoral care.

Naturally, these processes of change must be flexible and gradual, since every project must be situated in the real life of a community, without being imposed from above and without “clericalizing” the service of pastoral care.

Diocesan subdivisions
The second part of the Instruction opens with the analysis of the subdivisions within the diocesan territory.

First, the document explains, parishes should follow the key factor of proximity, while taking into account the similarities of the population and the characteristics of the territory. The document then dwells on the specific procedures relating to the incorporation, merging or division of parishes, and on those relating to the Vicariates Forane (also known as a Deanery), which bring together several parish units, and the pastoral units that group several Vicariates Forane.

Parish priest: “pastor” of the community
The Instruction then delves into the theme of assigning the pastoral care of parish communities, both in ordinary and extraordinary ways.

First of all, the role of the parish priest as “pastor” of the community is underlined. He is at the service of the parish, and not the other way around. His role “involves the full care of souls.” The parish priest must therefore have received the Order of the Presbyter, excluding any other possibility.

He is the administrator responsible for parish property and is the juridical representative of the parish. He ought to be appointed for an indefinite period of time, since the good of souls demands stability and implies knowledge of the community. However, the Instruction recalls that a Bishop may appoint a parish priest for a determined period, provided it is not less than five years and that the Episcopal Conference has established this by decree.

When he has reached the age of 75, the parish priest has the “moral duty” to present his resignation, though he does not cease from office until the Bishop has accepted it and communicated his acceptance in writing. In any case, acceptance will always be for a “just and proportionate cause”, so as to avoid a “functionalistic” conception of the ministry.

Deacons: ordained ministers, not ‘half-priests and half-laymen’
A portion of the eighth chapter is dedicated to deacons. They are collaborators of the Bishop and the priests in a singular mission of evangelization. Deacons are ordained ministers and participate to a degree of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, especially in the area of evangelization and charity, including the administration of goods, the proclamation of the Gospel, and service at the Eucharistic table.

They are not to be considered as “half-priests and half-laymen”, according to the Instruction which quotes Pope Francis, nor is their vocation to be considered from the perspective of clericalism or functionalism.

Witness of consecrated persons and generous commitment of laity

The Instruction published by the Congregation for the Clergy also reflects on consecrated men and women, as well as the laity, within parish communities.

Consecrated men and women contribute in the first place from their “‘being’, that is, from the witness of a radical following of Christ.” Lay faithful participate in the evangelizing action of the Church. They are called upon to make a “generous commitment” through the general witness of their daily lives, lived in conformity with the Gospel, while placing themselves at the service of the parish community.

Lay faithful can also be instituted as Lectors and Acolytes (i.e. for service at the altar) on a stable basis, by means of the relevant rite. But they must be in full communion with the Catholic Church, have received adequate formation, and lead exemplary personal lives.

In addition, in exceptional circumstances, they may receive other assignments from the Bishop, “at his prudent judgement”. These include celebrating the Liturgy of the Word and funeral rites, administering Baptism, assisting at marriages – with the Holy See’s permission – and preaching in a Church or oratory in case of need.

Under no circumstances, however, may lay people give the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Bodies of ecclesial co-responsibility
The Instruction also reflects on parish bodies of ecclesial co-responsibility, including the Parish Finance Council, which is constituted as a consultative body, is presided over by the pastor, and is formed of at least three members.

The document says the administration of a parish’s goods is “an important area of evangelisation and evangelical witness, both in the Church and in civil society.” All goods belong to the parish and not to the parish priest, the Congregation for the Clergy reaffirms. The task of the Parish Finance Council will therefore be to foster a “culture of co-responsibility, of administrative transparency, and of service to the needs of the Church.”

The Parish Pastoral Council is also consultative in nature, and is “highly recommended”. “Far from being simply a bureaucratic organ, the Pastoral Council highlights and realizes the centrality of the People of God as the subject and active protagonist of the evangelizing mission, in virtue of the fact that every member of the faithful has received the gifts of the Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation.”

Its main function is to offer practical proposals for the parish’s pastoral and charitable initiatives, in harmony with the objectives of the diocese. Proposals require the favorable acceptance of the pastor in order to become operative.

No ‘tax on the Sacraments’: an offering is a free act
The final chapter dwells on offerings for the celebration of the Sacraments.

They must be “a free act” on the part of the one offering, and should not be requested as if it were a tax or a fee. Priests are urged to offer a virtuous example in their use of money, through a sober lifestyle and transparent administration of parish goods. In this way, the faithful will be encouraged to contribute willingly to the needs of the Parish, which are also their own.