POPE FRANCIS ON FRENCH ABUSE REPORT: “TO YOU, LORD THE GLORY, TO US THE SHAME” – TRUE FREEDOM FLOWS FROM THE CROSS OF CHRIST – VATICAN TRIBUNAL ORDERS FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN FRAUD TRIAL – VATICAN ABUSE TRIAL: COURT CLEARS FORMER ALTAR BOY AND EX-YOUTH SEMINARY RECTOR OF CRIMES

There is such a quantity of important news today that I barely know where to start. There are reports about two trials being held in the Vatican as well as words spoken by Pope Francis at today’s general audience about a report from France on decades of sex abuse by clergy.

The general audience catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians continued with a remarkable text on freedom, based on Paul’s writings, from the Holy Father. I’ll start with the general audience and work my way through the Vatican trials.

POPE FRANCIS ON FRENCH ABUSE REPORT: “TO YOU, LORD THE GLORY, TO US THE SHAME”

Following his weekly general audience catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians and summaries in diverse languages given by monsignori who work in the Secretariat of State, Pope Francis, obviously feeling pain and sadness, spoke of the just-released report on sex abuse cases in the Church in France:

 “Yesterday, the French Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of French men and women religious received received the report from the independent commission on sexual abuse in the Church, charged with assessing the extent of the phenomenon of sexual assaults and violence against minors from 1950 onwards.  “Unfortunately,” lamented the Holy Father, “this resulted in considerable numbers. I wish to express to the victims my sadness and my pain for the traumas they have suffered and my shame, our shame, my shame, for the inability of the Church for so long to put them at the center of her concerns, assuring them of my prayers.

“And I pray – and we all pray together: ‘To you Lord the glory, to us the shame’: this is the moment of shame. I encourage the bishops and you, dear brothers who have come here to share this moment, I encourage the bishops and religious superiors to continue to make all efforts so that similar tragedies do not happen again. I express closeness and paternal support to the priests of France in the face of this trial, which is difficult but healthy, and I invite French Catholics to assume their responsibilities to ensure that the Church is a safe home for all. Thank you.”

TRUE FREEDOM FLOWS FROM THE CROSS OF CHRIST

Today’s general audience took place in a jam-packed Paul VI Hall, to the obvious delight of the many pilgrims and visitors present for the weekly gathering with the Holy Father. It was pouring rain outside but the hall was warm and sunny with miles and applause as Pope Francis continued his catechesis on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. (Vatican photo)

“We now consider the Apostle’s teaching on Christian freedom,” Francis began. “Freedom is a treasure that is truly appreciated only when it is lost. For many of us who are used to being free, it often appears to be an acquired right rather than a gift and a legacy to be preserved. How many misunderstandings there are around the topic of freedom, and how many different views have clashed over the centuries!”

“For Paul, that freedom is a gift, the fruit of our new life in Christ. Through baptism, we have been freed from our bondage to sin and freed for a life of generous love in obedience to the Gospel.”

“Above all,” the Holy Father emphasized, “St. Paul’s teaching about freedom is positive. The Apostle proposes the teaching of Jesus that we find in the Gospel of John as well: ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free’. Therefore, the call is above all to remain in Jesus, the source of truth who makes us free. Christian freedom, therefore, is founded on two fundamental pillars: first, the grace of the Lord Jesus; second, the truth that Christ reveals to us and which is He himself.”

Francis explained that, “The second pillar of freedom is the truth. In this case as well, it is necessary to remember that the truth of faith is not an abstract theory, but the reality of the living Christ, who touches the daily and overall meaning of personal life. How many people there are who have never studied, who do not even know how to read and write, but who have understood Christ’s message well, who have this freedom that makes them free.”

“The truth that Christ brings is in fact truthfulness about ourselves. Our journey along the path of Christian freedom is not easy, but guided and sustained by the love of the Crucified Lord, and by his liberating truth, we will find our ultimate fulfilment in accordance with God’s saving plan.”

VATICAN TRIBUNAL ORDERS FURTHER INVESTIGATION IN FRAUD TRIAL

A Vatican tribunal, which in July this year indicted 10 people, including Sardinian Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, of embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among the charges, today agreed with defense lawyers who, at a hearing on October 5 said the defendants had been deprived of their full rights and the trial should either end or re-start the investigations.

The tribunal today ordered prosecutors to turn over evidence that had not been heretofore seen by the accused, including a videotaped recording of a key witness, a monsignor who worked for the Secretariat of State whose statements led to a number of the indictments.

Only Cardinal Becciu of those indicted was present today among the magistrates and journalists in the courtroom.

At the October 5 hearing, the prosecutor basically admitted to procedural errors and, in a surprise move, instead of asking that the trial be declared null and void, admitted willingness to essentially start over by turning over the requested documents and video recordings.

The trial began on July 27..

At that first hearing, tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone had ordered the consignment of all of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s recordings by August 10. However, the magistrates said that they would not comply with that order saying there was a risk that undue disclosure of the files audio and video that would have “irreparably compromised the right to privacy of people involved.”

Those recordings will now be turned over to the defense team. All remaining materials must be turned over by November 3 and the trial will resume on November 17.

A July 3, 2021 Vatican statement explained that, “The investigations, launched in July 2019 following a complaint by the Institute for the Works of Religion and the Office of the Auditor General, involved full collaboration between the Office of the Promoter and the Judicial Police Section of the Gendarmerie Corps. The investigations were also carried out in close and fruitful cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome and the Economic and Financial Police Unit – G.I.C.E.F. of the Guardia di Finanza of Rome. The cooperation of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Milan, Bari, Trento, Cagliari and Sassari and their respective judicial police sections was also appreciated.

“Elements also emerged against Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is being prosecuted, pursuant to the law, for the crimes of embezzlement and abuse of office, also in collaboration, as well as subornation.”

Subornation is inducing someone to commit an unlawful act or to commit perjury.

In its summary of the tribunal statement today, L’Osservatore Romano wrote: “(tribunal president) Pignatone ordered the partial restitution of documents to the promoter of Justice for the defendants: Monsignor Mauro Carlino, for all the crimes ascribed; Enrico Crasso, for some crimes; Tommaso Di Ruzza, former rector of the Financial Information Authority (Aif), for some offenses; Raffaele Mincione, Nicola Squillace and Fabrizio Tirabassi for all crimes ascribed. For Cardinal Becciu, on the other hand, a new interrogation will be carried out limited to the offenses of subornation (an attempt to get retractions from Perlasca) and peculato (payments of amounts drawn from the funds of the Secretariat of State to the Spes Coop Social cooperative, represented legally by his brother Antonino).

This trial is the result of the investigations begun in 2019 concerning financial malfeasance linked to the purchase of a London property by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. The purchase is reputed to have involved use of monies such as Peter’s Pence – intended only for papal charities – and that eventually led to enormous losses for the Vatican, including questionable fees paid to brokers for the various transactions.

VATICAN ABUSE TRIAL: COURT CLEARS FORMER ALTAR BOY AND EX-YOUTH SEMINARY RECTOR OF CRIMES

(CNA) – The Vatican tribunal cleared a priest who formerly served as a papal altar boy and the ex-rector of a Vatican-based youth seminary of crimes on Wednesday.

Defendant Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, 29, was acquitted of charges of violent sexual assault alleged to have taken place at the Pius X pre-seminary. The school’s former rector, 72-year-old Fr. Enrico Radice, was cleared of charges of cover-up.

The ruling came at the end of a year-long trial for alleged abuse at the Pius X pre-seminary, a residence in Vatican City for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.

The Vatican announced in May that Pope Francis had decided to move the pre-seminary outside of Vatican City State beginning in September

At the last hearings on July 15-16, the Vatican’s prosecutor had asked judges to sentence Martinelli to eight years in prison, with a reduction to four years, and to sentence Radice to four years in jail.

Tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone handed down the decision on Oct. 6. The court said that Martinelli could not be punished for crimes while he was a minor (in Vatican law, before his 16th birthday), clearing him of charges of abuse before Aug. 9, 2008.

For accusations of sexual violence from Aug. 9, 2008, to March 19, 2009 (the period before the alleged victim turned 16 years old and was no longer a legal minor), the court said the sexual acts “were proven in their materiality,” but lacked certainty that they were coerced.

In this case, the tribunal continued, the acts would constitute a different crime, “the corruption of minors,” but the statute of limitations had lapsed by four years when the lawsuit was filed in 2018.

The religious group Opera don Folci, which runs the pre-seminary and is overseen by the Diocese of Como, was a defendant in a civil suit regarding the abuse charges.

No decision in the civil suit was announced on Oct. 6.

Attorneys for the defendants, agreeing with the ruling on Oct. 6, said that “there were very many doubts” about whether the alleged crimes took place.

 

POPE FRANCIS TURNS TO ST. PAUL’S TEACHING ON JUSTIFICATION – “LISTEN!” IS THEME FOR WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

Greetings from Rome! I’m back in town after a marvelous, memorable and very, very happy vacation time that included, at the very end, four days in Cincinnati for a meeting with Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Those were four of the most remarkable days of my life, not just of my vacation.

I’ve been working today on uploading photos – hundreds of them – in an effort to share with you some small idea of where I have been and what I have been doing this past month – an idea of what a vacation could and should be!

Thanks for staying with me in this period. I heard from a number of you in this time and am grateful for your interest and friendship! Stay tuned for coming posts!

Here are two stories from the Vatican today……

POPE FRANCIS TURNS TO ST. PAUL’S TEACHING ON JUSTIFICATION

At today’s general audience held in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis announced that, “in our continuing catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians, we now consider Saint Paul’s teaching on justification.” (Vatican photo)

He defined justification in his opening paragraph, speaking in part off the cuff: “What is justification? We, who were sinners, have become just. Who justified us? This process of change is justification. We, before God, are just. It is true, we have our personal sins. But fundamentally, we are just. This is justification. …In the Letter to the Galatians, just as in the Letter to the Romans, Paul insists on the fact that justification comes through faith in Christ. “But, Father, I am just because I keep all the commandments!” Yes, but justification does not come from that. It comes before that. Someone justified you, someone made you just before God. “Yes, but I am a sinner!” Yes, you justified, but a sinner. But fundamentally, you are just. Who justified you? Jesus Christ. This is justification.

“For the Apostle,” said the Holy Father, “God in his mercy, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, has offered definitive forgiveness and salvation to sinners, thus reconciling us to Himself. Paul’s encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus led him to understand that we are justified not by the observance of precepts and our own efforts, but by the grace of God through faith in Christ.”

Pope Francis stated that, “While the law remains a holy gift of God, and obedience to the commandments is essential to our spiritual life, the grace of God, freely bestowed in Christ, is primary. The faith born of our experience of God’s saving love should transform every aspect of our lives and bear fruit in acts of charity…”

Following the catechesis, Francis said he had “learned with sorrow of the news of the armed attacks last Sunday against the villages of Madamai and Abun, in northern Nigeria. I pray for those who have died, for those who were wounded, and for the entire Nigerian population. I hope that the safety of every citizen might be guaranteed in the country.”

Click here for full catechesis in English and video of the general audience: General Audience – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis | Vatican.va

“LISTEN!” IS THEME FOR WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

Pope Francis has chosen the single word, “Listen!” as the theme for the 56th World Communications Day, which will be celebrated in 2022. Announcing next year’s theme, the Holy See says, “Pope Francis is asking the world to listen again.”

By Holy See Press Office

This is the theme that the Holy Father Francis has chosen for the 56th World Communications Day, to be celebrated in 2022: “Listen!”

After the Message of 2021, which focused on going and seeing, in his new Message for World Communications Day 2022 Pope Francis asks the world of communication to learn to listen again.

The pandemic has affected and wounded everyone, and everyone needs to be heard and comforted. Listening is also fundamental for good information. The search for truth begins with listening. And so does witnessing through the means of social communication. Every dialogue, every relationship begins with listening. For this reason, in order to grow, even professionally, as communicators, we need to relearn to listen a lot.

Jesus himself asks us to pay attention to how we listen (cf. Lk 8:18). To be able to truly listen requires courage, and a free and open heart, without prejudice.

At this time when the whole Church is invited to listen in order to learn to be a synodal Church, we are all invited to rediscover listening as essential for good communication.

POPE FRANCIS PLAYS TABLE SOCCER AT GENERAL AUDIENCE 

POPE FRANCIS PLAYS TABLE SOCCER AT GENERAL AUDIENCE 

At the end of the general audience in the Paul VI Hall, while making the rounds to greet pilgrims, Pope Francis spent a few moments playing table football (aka soccer) with a young man. Immediately captured by the photographers, the smiling and amused Pontiff did not hesitate to share some exchanges at the white football game table that had been brought especially for him inside the Paul VI Hall. (Source: ANSA Italian news agency. Story and photo appeared on ilfaroonline.it)

PS. Pope Francis is know to be a huge soccer fan and is said to still carry his membership card in the Argentinian soccer club San Lorenzo.

AUGUST 11, FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI

Today I wanted to give you a gift, the gift of the life of a beautiful saint, Clare of Assisi. Call all your friends named Clare or Clara or Chiara or derivatives thereof to wish them a splendid name day!

On this very day of the patron saint of television, I had a splendid afternoon interviewing Jonathan Roumie who is Jesus Christ in the extraordinarily successful television series, The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins, producer, director and writer of The Chosen and Neal Harmon, CEO of Angel Studios. You’ll love hearing how the name Angel was chosen. And you’ll learn everything you want to know about crowd-funding!

It was an uplifting day all around, in addition to which Jonathan and Dallas had great stories and videos about their meeting with Pope Francis this morning at the end of the general audience. (see Instagram jonathanroumieofficial).

There was a bit of a mystery this morning at the end of the audience and before the Pope came down to greet those in the prima file, the front row. He either asked for his phone to be brought to him or someone handed him a phone after he had prayed the Our Father. He then exited the Paul VI Hall for a period of time that seems to be ill defined – a couple of minutes? – and came back in to greet people.

EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez captured this image. Media tried to get the press office to say something but total silence has followed. I did hear the story from a friend who attended the audience. Why would we want to know? Well, for a pope to ask for or be handed a phone before the actual completion of a weekly audience, a pope who leaves the stage and then comes back to greet people, is extraordinarily unusual, maybe a first time ever. Common sense says it had to be an urgent matter.

Who was the Pope speaking to? One Twitter account showed the following close-up of the phone and the person on the other end was either Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra or someone using his phone. He is a Venezuelan prelate and was named Substitute for the Secretariat of State on August 15, 2018, effective October 15 that year.

The Pope does not look too happy in the photo posted on this Twitter account: Francesco Antonio Grana on Twitter: “S.E. Mons. Edgar Peña Parra https://t.co/mapNBf1Eks” / Twitter

AUGUST 11, FEAST OF SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI

(Franciscanmedia.org) One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.

The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, Clare was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.

At 18, Clare escaped from her father’s home one night, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed her long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. Clare clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair, and remained adamant.

Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity, and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule that Francis gave them as a Second Order. At age 21, Francis obliged Clare under obedience to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death

The Poor Ladies went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat, and observed almost complete silence. Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: “Our bodies are not made of brass.” The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade Clare to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”

Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of Clare’s life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick and washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals, and bishops often came to consult her—Clare herself never left the walls of San Damiano.

Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. Clare was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.

A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. Clare had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled.

WEEKLY GENERAL AUDIENCES RESUME IN PAUL VI HALL – POPE APPEALS FOR CONCRETE HELP FOR LEBANON ONE YEAR AFTER PORT EXPLOSION

WEEKLY GENERAL AUDIENCES RESUME IN PAUL VI

After his summer pause of a month that included colon surgery exactly a month ago, Pope Francis today resumed the weekly general audiences and continued a catechesis he had started on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The audience was held in the air conditioned Paul VI Hall and, though the hall was not filled to capacity, there did not always seem to be social distancing among the enthusiastic pilgrims.

When the Pope entered the hall to great applause, he was wearing a mask but that came off rather quickly. He did not put it back on when he met some of the bishops in attendance at the audience. (photos Daniel Ibanez EWTN)

He began the catechesis by stating, “we now consider Paul’s insistence on complete fidelity to the Gospel. For Paul, the proclamation of the Christian message was his very life. What he preached to the Galatians was in fact the apostolic kerygma, which summarized the fulfilment of all God’s promises in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, rose on the third day, and appeared to Peter.”

Kerygma come from an ancient Greek word and means “proclamation,” the proclaiming of the Gospel. It is used in the New Testament.

“When it comes to the Gospel and to the mission to evangelize, Paul is enthusiastic! Everything in him is dedicated to this proclamation, and has no interest other than the Gospel.”

Francis said, “This explains why, at the beginning of the Letter, Paul urges the Galatians so forcefully not to turn away from the freedom brought by the Gospel. For that Gospel, entrusted to the apostles, offers to all – ourselves included – the assurance of new life and freedom flowing from the cross of Christ and the gift of his Holy Spirit.”

POPE APPEALS FOR CONCRETE HELP FOR LEBANON ONE YEAR AFTER PORT EXPLOSION

At the end of the audience catechesis in eight languages, the Holy Father had greetings for various groups, as well as a heartfelt appeal for Lebanon:

“In these days, I think especially of the beloved country of Lebanon a year after the terrible port explosion in its capital, Beirut, with its toll of death and destruction. I think above all of the victims and their families, the many injured, and those who lost their homes and livelihoods. So many people have lost the desire to go on.

“During the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon last July 1st, together with Christian religious leaders, all of us listened to the hopes and aspirations, the frustrations and weariness of the Lebanese people, and we prayed for God’s gift of hope to overcome this difficult crisis.

“Today I would also appeal to the international community to offer Lebanon concrete assistance, not only with words but with concrete actions in undertaking a journey of ‘resurrection’. It is my hope that the current International Conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will prove productive in this regard.

“Dear Lebanese friends, I greatly desire to visit you and I continue to pray for you, so that Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

Today’s weekly papal general audience took place once again in the Vatican’s San Damaso courtyard on a warm, muggy day that did not discourage hundreds of faithful from climbing the great (and breathtaking!) staircase that brings you from St. Peter’s Square to the courtyard via the Bronze Gate.

There was one person present who was as recognizable as the pontiff dressed in his trademark white and that was Spiderman in his trademark red and blue body suit with grey webbing!   Pope Francis knew who he was and seemed to enjoy their encounter immensely!

It’s a terrific story and CNA’s Hannah Brockhaus tells us why Spiderman was at the general audience: Why was Spider-Man at Pope Francis’ general audience? (catholicnewsagency.com)

Before starting his catechesis, Francis spent about 45 minutes walking around the San Damaso courtyard, greeting scores of people, blessing babies, men and women religious, the elderly – basically just about anyone leaning against one of the barriers. Hands flew out from all directions to simply touch the pope but many today also had pen and paper (or a book or anything the Pope could write on) and asked for – and received – an autograph!

You could sense the Pope’s joy at this encounter. Covid had snuffed out so many meetings since March of 2020 and these are always occasions that popes look forward to. Thus, being in the presence of the faithful is really a pick-me-up for the Pope.

The Holy Father began a new catechesis this week with reflections on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. The Pope explains who the Galatians were and how they had settled in what is modern day Turkey. I found the catechesis especially interesting as it makes Paul and his travels and the people and nations to whom he brought the Gospel very alive and colorful. And I may have enjoyed it because I’ve travelled in his footsteps!

I went on a pilgrimage to Turkey “in the footsteps of St. Paul” a few years back and it was one of the most remarkable trips I’ve ever taken! I was also in Turkey for Pope Benedict’s trip years to Ankara, Istanbul and Mary’s House in Ephesus – more unforgettable days! My very first trip to Turkey was in June 1996 when I was a member of the Holy See delegation to the United Nations conference on Human Settlements “Habitat” in Istanbul. Several incredible weeks!

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

Pope Francis began the audience by explaining that, “after the long itinerary dedicated to prayer, today we begin a new cycle of catechesis. I hope that with this itinerary of prayer we have succeeded in praying a little better, praying a little more. Today I would like to reflect on some themes proposed by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians. It is a very important Letter, I would even say decisive, not only for getting to know the Apostle better, but above all in considering some topics that he addresses in depth, showing the beauty of the Gospel.” (CNA photo)

“In this Letter,” said the Pope, “Paul makes many biographical references that allow us to understand his conversion and his decision to place his life at the service of Jesus Christ. He also deals with some very important themes for the faith, such as freedom, grace and the Christian way of life, which are extremely topical since they touch on many aspects of the life of the Church today. This letter is very topical. It seems to be written for our times.”

Francis noted that, “the first feature that emerges from this Letter is the great work of evangelisation carried out by the Apostle, who had visited the communities of Galatia at least twice during his missionary journeys. Paul addresses the Christians of that territory. We do not know exactly which geographical area he is referring to, nor can we state with certainty the date on which he wrote this Letter. We do know that the Galatians were an ancient Celtic population who, after many vicissitudes, had settled in the extensive region of Anatolia that had as its capital the city of Ancyra, today Ankara, the capital of Turkey.”

“Paul relates only that, due to illness, he was obliged to stay in that region (cf. Gal 4:13),” said the Holy Father. “Saint Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, finds instead a more spiritual motivation. He says, ‘they went through the region of Phry’gia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the Word in Asia’ (16:6).”

However, explains the Pope, “the two facts are not contradictory: rather, they indicate that the path of evangelisation does not always depend on our will and plans, but requires a willingness to allow ourselves to be shaped and to follow other paths that were not foreseen. (CNA photo)

Francis pointed out that we see “in his indefatigable work of evangelisation, the Apostle succeeded in founding several small communities scattered throughout the region of Galatia. Paul, when he arrived in a city, in a region, did not construct a great cathedral immediately, no. He created small communities that are the leaven of our Christian culture today. He began by making small communities. And these small communities grew, they grew and they went forward. Today, too, this pastoral method is used in every missionary region. I received a letter last week, from a missionary in Papua New Guinea, telling me that he is preaching the Gospel in the forest, to people who do not even know who Jesus Christ was.”

He then highlights Paul’s “pastoral concern,” stating that, “after founding these Churches, he became aware of a great danger to their growth in faith – the pastor is like a father or a mother who immediately aware of dangers to their children. They grow, and dangers present themselves.”

“Indeed, some Christians who had come from Judaism had infiltrated these churches, and began to sow theories contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, even going so far as to denigrate him. They began with doctrine – “No to this, yes to that”, and then they denigrated the Apostle. It is the usual method: undermining the authority of the Apostle.”

“Not only that,” stressed Pope Francis, “those adversaries argued that Paul was not a true apostle and therefore had no authority to preach the Gospel. Let us think about how in some Christian communities or dioceses, first they begin with stories, and then they end by discrediting the priest or the bishop. It is precisely the way of the evil one, of these people who divide, who do not know how to build. And in this Letter to the Galatians we see this process.”

The faithful in Galatia thus “felt lost and uncertain about how to behave: “But who is right? This Paul, or these people who now come teaching other things? Who should I listen to?” In short, there was a lot at stake!!

The Holy Father concluded his first catechesis by noting that, “following the teaching of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Galatians will help us to understand which path to follow. The path indicated by the Apostle is the liberating and ever-new path of Jesus, Crucified and Risen; it is the path of proclamation, which is achieved through humility and fraternity – the new preachers do not know what humility is, what fraternity is. It is the path of meek and obedient trust – the new preachers know neither meekness nor obedience. And this meek and obedient way leads forward in the certainty that the Holy Spirit works in the Church in every age. Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us.”

 

POPE FRANCIS CONCLUDES YEARLONG CATECHESIS ON PRAYER

POPE FRANCIS CONCLUDES YEARLONG CATECHESIS ON PRAYER

Today’s general audience took place in a sun-splashed San Damaso courtyard in the Apostolic Palace in then presence of hundreds and hundreds of faithful. Today was Pope Francis’  21st catechesis of the year 2021 and the 362nd of his pontificate.

Francis announced at the start of the catechesis that “today we conclude our series of catecheses on prayer by turning once again to the prayer of Jesus. In the final hours of his life, Jesus’ constant dialogue with the Father becomes all the more intense, as he approaches his saving death and resurrection.”

Calling the Last Supper the “great priestly prayer,” he said “Jesus intercedes for his disciples and for all those who will believe through their word. In the agony in the garden, he offers his anguish to the Father and lovingly embraces his will. At the darkest hour of his suffering on the cross, Jesus continues to pray, using the traditional words of the Psalms, identifying himself with the poor and abandoned of our world.” (vatican media)

The Holy Father underscored that Jesus “was not a philanthropist who took care of human suffering and illness: He was and is much more,” offering us “total salvation, messianic salvation, that gives hope in the definitive victory of life over death.”

In those moments, the crucified Lord takes upon himself the burden of all the sins of the world. For our sake, he experiences the distance separating sinners from God, and becomes the supreme and eternal intercessor for all mankind.

Francis explained that “this is the final catechesis of this cycle on prayer: remember the grace that we do not only pray, but that, so to speak, we have been “prayed for”, we have already been received in Jesus’ dialogue with the Father, in communion with the Holy Spirit. Jesus prays for me: each one of us can take this to heart. We must not forget. Even in the worst moments.”

“We are already welcomed into Jesus’ dialogue with the Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit,” concluded the Pope. “We were willed by Christ Jesus, and even in the hour of His passion, death and resurrection, everything was offered for us. And so, with prayer and with life, there remains only to have courage and hope, and with this courage and hope, to feel the prayer of Jesus strongly and to keep on going: so that our life may be one of giving glory to God in the knowledge that He prays for me to the Father, that Jesus prays for me.”

Click here for video of entire audience: Pope at Audience: On the Cross, Jesus prayed for each of us – Vatican News

SOLIDARITY A MUST IN A POST-COVID WORLD

In what was could be considered a minor historical day for the Holy Father and Vatican, Pope Francis held his first weekly general audience in the presence of faithful since last March. Because of the coronavorus pandemic, the Pope has presided over these weekly events via live streaming for months, coming to the faithful from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace.

It was obvious from a number of things for those who attended the audience or followed on television, that the Vatican had carefully thought out how to accommodate the faithful without endangering anyone’s health. Two sections were marked off in the courtyard by wooden barriers, each section capable of seating 250 people at the current social distancing requirements.

This is from Tuesday afternoon:

Pilgrims could start going through security at 7:30 for the audience that began at 9:30 am. After security they would have temperatures taken, hands had to be sanitized and then there was the long climb up several huge, deep staircases to reach the San Damaso courtyard. I am sure there were many breathless people at the final step! I did see one baby carriage in the crowd as I watched tv coverage and had to wonder how it got to the courtyard (was elevator use allowed?).

All pilgrims wore facemasks as required but the Holy Father did not as he greeted people, shook a few hands, caressed several young people and did the elbow-to-elbow greeting so popular in Italy. The Secretariat of State monsignori who gave the summaries of the papal catechesis did not wear masks either. Nor was the microphone sanitized after each use has been suggested in such gatherings (as far as I could tell, although it might have been cleaned and simply not shown on tv).

The Holy Father seemed really very happy to be back in the presence of the faithful, as could be seen both before and after the catechesis in his interaction with the faithful. The courtyard is indeed a much more intimate setting for such a gathering than is St. Peter’s Square or even the Paul VI Hall which can seat 7,500 people.

SOLIDARITY A MUST IN A POST-COVID WORLD

ope Francis, continuing his reflections on the current pandemic, began by noting “we have seen how closely connected we are, dependent on one another precisely because we were created by God and share a common home. We can only emerge stronger from the present crisis if we do so together. The Church’s social doctrine thus speaks of the need for the virtue of solidarity.” (following photos by EWTN’s Daniel Ibanez)

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“The word ‘solidarity’ is a little worn and at times poorly understood,” said the Pope, “but it refers to something more than a few sporadic acts – the odd sporadic act – of generosity. Much more! It presumes the creation of a new mindset; a new mindset that thinks in terms of community and the priority of life of all over the ‘appropriation of goods by a few’. This is what ‘solidarity’ means.”

“Think of the account of the Tower of Babel,” said Francis. “which describes what happens when we try to reach heaven – that is, our destination – ignoring our bond with humanity, creation and the Creator. It is a figure of speech. This happens every time that someone wants to climb up and up, without taking others into consideration. Just myself, no? Think about the tower. We build towers and skyscrapers, but we destroy community. We unify buildings and languages, but we mortify cultural wealth. We want to be masters of the Earth, but we ruin biodiversity and ecological balance.”

Still on the image of the Tower of Babel, Pope Francis said, “I remember a medieval account of this ‘Babel syndrome’ that occurs when there is no solidarity. This medieval account says that, during the building of the tower, when a man fell – they were slaves, weren’t they? – and died, no-one said anything, or at best, ‘Poor thing, he made a mistake and he fell’.

“Instead,” he continued, “if a brick fell, everyone complained. And if someone was to blame, he was punished. Why? Because a brick was costly to make, to prepare, to fire… All of this. It took time to produce a brick, and work. A brick was worth more than a human life. Every one of us, think about what happens today. Unfortunately, something of the type can happen nowadays too. When shares fall in the financial markets, all the agencies report the news – we have seen it in the newspapers in these days. Thousands of people fall due to hunger and poverty, and no-one talks about it. Pentecost is diametrically opposed to Babel.”

“In the midst of crises,” concluded Francis, “a solidarity guided by faith enables us to translate the love of God in our globalised culture, not by building towers or walls – and how many walls are being built today! – that divide, but then collapse, but by interweaving communities and sustaining processes of growth that are truly human and solid. And to do this, solidity helps.

POPE SETS SEPTEMBER 4 AS DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR LEBANON

POPE SETS SEPTEMBER 4 AS DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR LEBANON

day’s general audience, held in the San Damaso courtyard, was the first since February in the presence of the faithful. Approximately 500 attended this week’s audience.

At the end of the general audience catechesis in Italian and summaries in a number of languages, Pope Francis, in the presence of a priest from Lebanon, made a heartfelt appeal for aid to that “beloved nation.”

Fr. Georges Breidi, 35, of the Congregation of the Maronite Lebanese Missionaries who is studying in Rome at the Gregorian University, presented the Holy Father with a Lebanese flag. As Fr. Breidi stood, holding one end pf the flag, Pope Francis held another as he read his appeal. The priest later said brief words in Italian and both the Pope and priest stood together with the faithful present at the audience to pray in silence for Lebanon. (Vatican media photo)

Dear brothers and sisters, one month after the tragedy that struck the city of Beirut, my thoughts still go to dear Lebanon and its particularly tried population. And this priest who is here has carried the flag of Lebanon to this audience.

As Saint John Paul II said thirty years ago at a crucial moment in the country’s history, I too repeat today: “Faced with the repeated tragedies that each of the inhabitants of this land knows, we become aware of the extreme danger that threatens the very existence of the country. Lebanon cannot be abandoned in its solitude “(Apostolic Letter to all the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the situation in Lebanon, 7 September 1989)

For over a hundred years, Lebanon has been a country of hope. Even during the darkest periods of its history, the Lebanese have kept their faith in God and demonstrated the ability to make their land a place of tolerance, respect and coexistence unique in the region. The affirmation that Lebanon represents something more than a state is profoundly true: Lebanon “is a message of freedom, it is an example of pluralism both for the East and for the West” (ibid.). For the good of the country itself, but also of the world, we cannot allow this patrimony to be lost.

I encourage all Lebanese to continue to hope and to find the strength and energy necessary to start again. I ask politicians and religious leaders to engage with sincerity and transparency in the reconstruction work, dropping partisan interests and looking at the common good and the future of the nation. I also renew my invitation to the international community to support the country to help it emerge from the serious crisis, without being involved in regional tensions.

In particular, I address the inhabitants of Beirut, severely tested by the explosion: take courage, brothers and sisters! May faith and prayer be your strength! Do not abandon your homes and your heritage, do not let the dreams fail of those who have believed in the future of a beautiful and prosperous country.

Dear pastors, bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, lay people, continue to accompany your faithful. I ask you bishops and priests for apostolic zeal; I ask you for poverty, no luxury, poverty with your poor people who are suffering. You must give the example of poverty and humility. Help your faithful and your people to stand up and be protagonists of a new rebirth. May all of you be agents of harmony and renewal in the name of common interest, of a true culture of encounter, of living together in peace, of brotherhood. A word so dear to St. Francis: brotherhood. May this harmony be a renewal in the common interest. On this foundation it will be possible to ensure the continuity of the Christian presence and your invaluable contribution to the country, the Arab world and the whole region, in a spirit of brotherhood among all the religious traditions that exist in Lebanon.

It is for this reason that I would like to invite everyone to live a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon this Friday, September 4. I intend to send my representative that day to Lebanon to accompany the population: the Secretary of State (Cardinal Pietro Parolin) will go in my name to express my closeness and solidarity. We offer our prayers for all of Lebanon and for Beirut. We are also close with the concrete commitment of charity, as on other similar occasions. I also invite the brothers and sisters of other confessions and religious traditions to join this initiative in the ways they deem most appropriate, but all together.

And now I ask you to entrust our anxieties and hopes to Mary, Our Lady of Harissa. May she support those who mourn their loved ones and instill courage in all those who have lost their homes and part of their lives with them. May she intercede with the Lord Jesus so that the Land of Cedars may flourish again and spread the perfume of living together throughout the Middle East Region. And now I invite everyone, as far as possible, to stand up in silence and pray in silence for Lebanon.

 

WELCOME CHRIST’S GIFT OF HOPE IN DIFFICULT TIMES – THERE’S ALSO THIS….

WELCOME CHRIST’S GIFT OF HOPE IN DIFFICULT TIMES

In his final general audience to be streamed live from the papal library in the Apostolic Palace because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on healing the world and made the universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope his focus.

He asked the faithful to “welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ,” especially in times when so many “risk losing hope.” It is Christ, he said, who “helps us to navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” said the Holy Father, “In our continuing reflections on the effects of the current pandemic, we have seen how our world’s problems are becoming ever more evident and indeed more serious. Among these is social inequality, itself the fruit of an unjust global economy that creates boundless wealth for a relative few and greater impoverishment for the rest of our human family.”

Francis explained that, “In God’s plan, the earth was created as a garden, to be cultivated, not brutally exploited. As stewards of creation, we are called to ensure that its fruits, which are destined for all, are in fact shared by all. The Church reminds us that the principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods is the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”

The Pope stated, “When millions of people lack access to primary goods, when inequality and lack of opportunity threaten the very fabric of society, and when greed endangers the very environment in which we live, none of us can stand by idly.”

He stressed that, “Christian hope, which trusts in the transforming grace of the risen Christ, impels us to work for the healing of our world and the building of a more just and equitable social order.

Concluding, Pope Francis invited the faithful to “think about the children”, so many of whom are suffering due to this unjust economic system. Many are dying, hungry, lacking the opportunity to an education. After the crisis, he stressed, we must be better.

In language greetings following the catechesis, Pope Francis had special words for the Polish faithful: “I cordially greet all the Poles. Dear brothers and sisters, today the Church in Poland celebrates the solemnity of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. Carrying the memory of my visit to that shrine alive in my heart four years ago on the occasion of WYD, today I join the thousands and thousands of pilgrims who gather there, together with the Polish Episcopate, to entrust themselves, their families, all humanity to her maternal protection. Pray to the Blessed Mother, to intercede for all of us, and especially for those who in various ways suffer from the pandemic, and bring them relief. Please pray for me too. God bless you!”

THERE’S ALSO THIS….

SAINT MOTHER TERESA was born on August 26, 1910 so today is the 110th anniversary of her birth!

CARDINAL ALBINO LUCIANI, PATRIARCH OF VENICE WAS ELECTED TO THE PAPACY 42 years ago today, taking the name John Paul, the first Pope ever to have a double name. He was also the first pope to abandon the coronation ceremony, not wearing the triple tiara. The Eucharistic celebration thus became the first papal inauguration ceremony. He was the last Pope to use the sedia gestatoria, the elevated chair by which Popes were formerly carried into rooms. He was the first Pope born in the 20th century, and the last Pope to die in the 20th century, after a pontificate of only 33 days, dying of a heart attack on September 28. He was not known as John Paul I until Cardinal Wojtyla succeeded him and took the name John Paul II.

I was in Rome when he was elected. Years after his death, a priest friend in the Vatican told me that one day early in his brief pontificate, the Pope was signing a document. A priest assistant was at his side as he wrote, in Latin, Joannes Paulus I – John Paul I – and said “Your Holiness, you would only be John Paul I if there was a John Paul II. Pope Luciani looked up, smiling, and said, “There will be a John Paul II!”

For more: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-08/pope-john-paul-i-election-anniversary-42-years.html

GENERAL AUDIENCES WITH FAITHFUL TO RESUME SEPTEMBER 2:   The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household announced today that as of Wednesday, September 2, Pope Francis’s general audience will once again take place “with the participation of the faithful.” Following the hygiene directives issued by the competent authorities, the audiences for the month of September will be held in the Apostolic Palace’s San Damaso courtyard. They are open to anyone who wishes to participate and no ticket is necessary. Audiences will start at 9:30 am. Entry will be through the Bronze Gate under the right colonnade of St Peter’s Square starting at 7:30 am.

VATICAN NEWS FEATURED MELANIA TRUMP: “Republican Convention: Melania Trump appeals for racial unity – First Lady Melania Trump appeals for racial harmony and expresses compassion for those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic on the second day of the Republican party convention.” To read more: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-08/republican-convention-melania-trump-appeals-for-racial-unity.html</a