WELCOME HOME, POPE FRANCIS!

WELCOME HOME, POPE FRANCIS!

After what has been termed an amazing homecoming trip by many in the media as well as by people following Francis’ trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, the Pope returned to Rome this morning from Paraguay and, during the long flight back to Italy, spoke with reporters. (news.va)

POPE FRANCIS - inflight interview

Following are two reports from that hour-long press conference:

CINDY WOODEN – CNS – ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PARAGUAY:

Before arriving in the United States in September, Pope Francis said, he will study American criticisms of his critiques of the global economy and finance.

“I have heard that some criticisms were made in the United States — I’ve heard that — but I have not read them and have not had time to study them well,” the pope told reporters traveling with him from Paraguay back to Rome July 12.

“If I have not dialogued with the person who made the criticism,” he said, “I don’t have the right” to comment on what the person is saying.

Pope Francis said his assertion in Bolivia July 9 that “this economy kills” is something he believes and has explained in his exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” and more recently in his encyclical on the environment.

In the Bolivia speech to grassroots activists, many of whom work with desperately poor people, the pope described the predominant global economic system as having “the mentality of profit at any price with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

Asked if he planned to make similar comments in the United States despite the negative reaction his comments have drawn from some U.S. pundits, politicians and economists, Pope Francis said that now that his trip to South America has concluded, he must begin “studying” for his September trip to Cuba and the United States; the preparation, he said, will include careful reading of criticisms of his remarks about economic life.

Spending almost an hour answering questions from journalists who traveled with him July 5-12 to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, Pope Francis also declared that he had not tried coca leaves — a traditional remedy — to deal with the high altitude in Bolivia, and he admitted that being asked to pose for selfies makes him feel “like a great-grandfather — it’s such a different culture.”

The pope’s trip to Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27 was mentioned frequently in questions during the onboard news conference. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro publicly thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican last December for helping them reach an agreement to begin normalizing relations.

Pope Francis insisted his role was not “mediation.” In January 2014, he said, he was asked if there was some way he could help. “To tell you the truth, I spent three months praying about it, thinking what can I do with these two after 50 years like this.” He decided to send a cardinal — whom he did not name — to speak to both leaders.

“I didn’t hear any more,” he said.

“Months went by” and then one day, out of the blue, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, told him representatives of the two countries would be having their second meeting at the Vatican the next day, he said.

The new Cuba-U.S. relationship was the result of “the good will of both countries. It’s their merit. We did almost nothing,” the pope said.

Asked why he talks so much about the rich and the poor and so rarely about middle-class people who work and pay taxes, Pope Francis thanked the journalist for pointing out his omission and said, “I do need to delve further into this magisterium.”

However, he said he speaks about the poor so often “because they are at the heart of the Gospel. And, I always speak from the Gospel on poverty — it’s not that it’s sociological.”

Pope Francis was asked about his reaction to the crucifix on top of a hammer and sickle — the communist symbol — that Bolivian President Evo Morales gave him July 8. The crucifix was designed by Jesuit Fr. Luis Espinal, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Bolivia in 1980.

The pope said the crucifix surprised him. “I hadn’t known that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and a poet, too. I just learned that these past few days,” he said.

Pope Francis said that he did know, however, that Espinal was among the Latin American theologians in the late 1970s who found Marxist political, social and economic analysis helpful for understanding their countries and their people’s struggles and that the Jesuit also used Marxist theories in his theology. It was four years after the Jesuit’s murder that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said plainly that Marxist theory had no place in a Catholic theology, the pope pointed out.

Espinal, he said, “was a special man with a great deal of geniality.”

The crucifix, the pope said, obviously fits into the category of “protest art,” which some people may find offensive, although he said he did not.

“I’m talking it home with me,” Pope Francis said.

In addition to the crucifix, Morales had given the pope two honors, one of which was making him part of the Order of Father Espinal, a designation that comes with a medal bearing a copy of the hammer-and-sickle crucifix.

Pope Francis said he’s never accepted such honors; “it’s just not for me,” he said. But Morales had given them to the pope with “such goodwill” and such obvious pleasure at doing something he thought would please the pope that the pope said he could not refuse. “I prayed about this,” the pope told reporters. He said he did not want to offend Morales and he did not want the medals to end up in a Vatican museums storeroom. So he placed them at the feet of a statue of Mary and asked that they be transferred to the national shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana.

Pope Francis also was asked about his request in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that people pray for the October Synod of Bishops on the family “so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it — by making it part of his ‘hour’ — into a miracle.”

The pope told reporters, “I wasn’t thinking of any point in particular,” but rather the whole range of problems afflicting families around the world and the need for God’s help for families.

ANNA SCHNEIBLE: VATICAN CITY, JUL 13, 2015 /(CNA/EWTN NEWS).

During a press briefing on the return flight from South America, Pope Francis clarified that his call for prayer ahead of the upcoming Synod on the Family referred to today’s family crisis generally – not, as some media have sources speculated, to “any point in particular.”

“The family is in crisis, you know,” the pontiff told journalists in reference to remarks made near the beginning of his week-long voyage to the continent of his birth, stressing that he was speaking about this crisis “in general.” The Pope explained his words were a call for prayer “that the Lord would purify us from the crises” among families, such as are described in the Instrumentum Laboris – or “working document” – for October’s Synod.

“The family is in crisis: May the Lord purify us, and let’s move forward!” he said.

Sunday’s wide-ranging press briefing on the papal plan en route to Rome came at the conclusion of Pope Francis’ July 5-13 trip to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The journalist’s question about the Synod on the Family was in reference to the pontiff’s July 6 Mass, the first major event of his visit to Ecuador, in which he prayed for Christ to turn what seems “impure, scandalous or threatening” about the Synod into a “miracle.” In the same homily, the Pope said the Synod would examine “concrete solutions to the many difficult and significant challenges facing families.”

Some media outlets have interpreted these remarks as heralding changes in the Church’s teaching on family issues. These speculations include a more “welcoming” approach to gay couples, and the allowance for divorced and remarried couples to receive the sacraments. However, during the July 12 press briefing Pope Francis explained the context of his remarks were in reference to the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana, in which Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into “fine wine” at the request of his mother.

The pontiff said he was showing how Jesus had the power to turn the “dirty” water of purification into the finest wine. “The jugs of water were full, but they were for the purification,” Pope Francis said. “Every person who entered for the celebration performed his purification and left his ‘spiritual dirt.’ It was a rite of purification before entering into a house or the temple, no? Now we have this in the holy water – that is what has remained of the Jewish rite.” “I said that precisely Jesus makes the best wine from the dirty water – the worst water. In general, I thought of making this comment.”

This year’s Synod on the Family, to be held on Oct. 4-25, will be the second and larger of two such gatherings to take place in the course of a year. Like its 2014 precursor, the focus of the 2015 Synod of Bishops will be the family, this time with the theme: “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.”

The 2014 meeting became the subject of widespread media attention, largely owing to proposals by a small number of prelates to rethink the Church’s practice regarding the admission to Holy Communion for divorced persons who have remarried without obtaining an annulment.

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IN INTERVIEW WITH ARGENTINE PAPER, POPE TALKS OF SYNOD, CURIA REFORMS, VATICAN BANK, FUTURE TRAVELS – NEWS IN BRIEF: VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE – IOR PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST TWO FORMER MANAGERS

I hope each one of you can someday experience December 8, the Immacolata, the day devoted to the Immaculate Conception, in Rome. This solemnity is a national holiday and hugely important for Italian families. There were tons of visitors in Rome and I don’t remember when I saw so many families visiting monuments, at the papal Angelus, filling the tables at local restaurants, and so on.

Several main streets in the center of Rome were closed for Pope Francis’ visits, first to St. Mary Major basilica in mid-afternoon and then to the Spanish Steps, Pza. di Spagna, to crown the image of Mary there. Traffic went, as the Romans love to say, “in tilt,” but the closed streets made for great walking around Rome’s historic center and shopping area.

This famous square in the heart of Rome is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647. Every year, early in the morning of December 8, Roman firemen place a garland atop the statue of Mary Immaculate and by day’s end, thousands of Romans will have followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. Single flowers as well as bouquets are placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue and Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arrange them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Piazza di Spagna in 1856 to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception two years earlier.

Sunday, on my blog and my Facebook page, I posted photos and videos of Pearl Harbor to mark the 73rd anniversary of the “day of infamy,” December 7, 1941. These were pictures and videos that I took at Pearl Harbor this summer and last summer.

I took the day off yesterday, but just from writing. I went to Mass and had lunch at the Pontifical North American College as the Immaculate Conception is the seminary’s feast day. In fact, exactly 155 years ago yesterday, a dozen young men entered the first campus of our new national seminary at 30 Via dell’Umiltà, the 410-year old building that was originally a convent for Dominican Sisters, and given by Pope Pius IX to the American bishops for use as their Rome seminary.

Today, the Casa Santa Maria, as it is known, houses the U.S. Bishops Office for Visitors to the Vatican where many people, on Tuesday afternoons, pick up the tickets that they had previously requested via email for the Wednesday papal general audience.

After a wonderful lunch in very special company at NAC, I came home briefly, only to leave again about 5:45 to join the Marian Fathers and invited guests at their generalate for vespers and dinner on this, the feast day of the order. I have been invited to this for a number of years now and it is always a joy to help the Marians mark their feast day. I am sure most of you know one of the Marians – Fr. Joseph Roesch –from his appearances on EWTN, especially for the feast of Divine Mercy.

IN INTERVIEW WITH ARGENTINE PAPER, POPE TALKS OF SYNOD, CURIA REFORMS, VATICAN BANK, FUTURE TRAVELS

Pope Francis recently gave an interview to the Argentine newspaper, “La Nacion,” touching on a wide variety of subjects including the recent synod, the reform of the Curia and Vatican bank, nominations, his health, futured travels, and other issues. Following is a Vatican Radio summary of the topics treated, after which I have placed two links to the full interview, translated in to English, in two parts.

In the interview, Pope Francis describes the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family as “an open space, protected by the Holy Spirit”. It is not a parliament, he said, and it is a “simplification” to say that the Synod Fathers were divided into two opposing factions. What was important, said Pope Francis, was to “speak with clarity and listen with humility”.

Responding to a question about how the topic of homosexuality was dealt with at the Synod, the Pope said no one at the gathering had spoken about gay marriage. What was discussed, he said, involved families that include a homosexual son or daughter and, therefore, how to assist these families. “We spoke about the family and about homosexual persons in relation to their families”, said Pope Francis, “because this is a reality we encounter in the confessional”. He also stressed that people should not allow themselves to be influenced by what they read in individual news reports or articles concerning the Synod, but should go back and read what was actually said there. What really matters, he said, “is the post-synodal report, the final message and the Pope’s discourse”. “We must not be afraid”, he added, “to go forward guided by the Holy Spirit”.

Referring to his closing speech at the Synod, Pope Francis confirmed what he’d said regarding “not touching any item of Church doctrine on marriage”. There are many pastoral difficulties related to divorced and remarried Catholics, he said, but “it is not a solution if we give them Communion. This alone is not a solution: integration is the solution”. “It’s true they are not excommunicated, but they cannot be baptismal godparents, they cannot be readers at Mass, they cannot distribute Communion, they cannot teach catechism classes, so it appears they are, in fact, excommunicated”. This is why, said the Pope, “we need to open the doors a little”. Pope Francis made the comparison of allowing a “corrupt politician” to act as a godparent simply because he or she has been “married in Church”. Responding to those who speak about creating confusion, the Pope said: “I constantly make speeches and give homilies, and this is the Magisterium”. This, he said, “is what I think and not what the newspapers say I think…Evangelii Gaudium is very clear”.

Pope Francis also spoke about the reform of the Curia, describing it as “a slow process” and not one that will conclude in 2015. One of the proposals includes combining the Council of the Laity with that of the Family and with the Council for Justice and Peace, he explained. But the most important reform, said the Pope, is a spiritual one, “the reform of hearts”. He also anticipated that he is preparing a special Christmas message for members of the Curia and another for Vatican employees and their families who he will meet in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Meanwhile, economic reforms are “moving ahead well”, he said, and the Vatican Bank, or IOR, “is working extremely well”.

Responding to a question about his health, Pope Francis said he feels the usual aches and pains of someone his age “but I am in God’s hands and until now I’ve managed to keep up a relatively good rhythm of work”. “God has given me a good dose of recklessness”, he said.

Finally, the Pope mentioned a series of possible apostolic trips: “perhaps to Argentina in 2016” and other visits to three countries in Latin America and Africa next year. With upcoming elections in Argentina, the Pope said he would not be receiving politicians from that country in audience so as not to “interfere” with the democratic process. He also clarified reports concerning the so-called dismissal of the Commander of the Vatican Swiss Guard recently, confirming his personal admiration for the Commander and how he had been replaced after the normal conclusion of his mandate to that position.

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750350-pope-francis-god-has-bestowed-on-me-a-healthy-dose-of-unawareness

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750351-the-synod-on-the-family-the-divorced-and-remarried-seem-excommunicated

NEWS IN BRIEF: VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE

For the full stories from Monday, December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception and today, Tuesday, December 9, click here: http://www.visnews-en.blogspot.it/

AT THE DECEMBER 8 ANGELUS, Pope Francis said the message of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is, “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us. He spoke from the window of his study to pray the noon Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He explained that, in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace,” since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, ‘Be it done to me according to your word’. She does not say ‘I will do it according to your word’, but rather, ‘Be it done to me…’.” He stressed that, “None of us can buy salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the Lord! A free gift from God that arrives in us and lives within us. As we have received freely, so we are called to give freely, in imitation of Mary. … Because, if everything has been given, everything must be given b

PAPAL MESSAGE TO CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Pope Francis’ message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, was read Tuesday at the two-day conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that began on December 8 in Vienna, Austria. It said, in part: “The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass killing, more attention must be given to the ‘unnecessary suffering’ brought on by their use. …. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources that would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.” Noting that, “the desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart,” the Pope “encouraged sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states.”

POPE FRANCIS SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pope wrote that the cardinal dedicated “long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See,” and assured his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in “a long friendship,” so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated “such intense and generous commitment to the Church.”

THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS Tuesday issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place in Rome from October 4-25 on the theme, “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” The Lineamenta, the first document for the 2015 synod, as indicated by Pope Francis in his concluding speech of the October 2014 synod, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. To facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod’s progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod. The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va

TUESDAY MORNING, CARDINAL PETER TURKSON, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace,” presented the international online bullying awareness campaign, “Stop Threats on the Internet,” in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The presentation in the Holy See Pres Office also included Fr. Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” Presenters confronted the issues of Internet bullying, “a new form of violence,” the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected,” the sociological studies that examine the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children, and family relationships in an Internet-connected, globalized world

IOR PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST TWO FORMER MANAGERS

The Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR, Institute for Works of Religion, popularly known as the Vatican Bank,) confirmed Saturday in a press release that “it pressed charges against two former managers and a lawyer some months ago, underlining its commitment to transparency and zero tolerance, including with regard to matters that relate to a more distant past.

The charges submitted to the Vatican’s law enforcement authorities relate to circumstances recorded between 2001 and 2008 that have emerged in the internal review process initiated in early 2013. The accounts held by the concerned individuals at the IOR have recently been seized by order of the Promoter of Justice.

“We are very pleased that the Vatican Authorities are taking decisive action,” said Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the IOR Board of Superintendence. Given the ongoing judicial enquiry, the IOR will refrain from further public statements.