A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

A YEAR OF MERCY ENDS, A HOLY DOOR IS CLOSED, THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS GROWS

This past weekend was jam-packed with important ecclesial moments: the consistory Saturday to create 17 new cardinals, the closing on Sunday of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and the end of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy and the signing by Pope Francis’ of his post Jubilee Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, (“Mercy and Misery”) at the end of Mass.

With the new cardinals, there are now 228 members of the College of Cardinals: 121 cardinal electors, that is, cardinals under the age of 80 who can vote in a future conclave and 107 non electors, those over the age of 80 who, though they may not vote in a conclave could theoretically be elected Pope.

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SATURDAY: “A MYSTAGOGY OF MERCY: LOVE, DO GOOD, BLESS AND PRAY

In his homily at Saturday’s consistory for the creation of new cardinals, Pope Francis told the new Eminences that, “The Gospel passage we have just heard (cf. Lk 6:27-36) is often referred to as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’.  After choosing the Twelve, Jesus came down with his disciples to a great multitude of people who were waiting to hear him and to be healed.  The call of the Apostles is linked to this ‘setting out’, descending to the plain to encounter the multitudes who, as the Gospel says, were ‘troubled’.

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“Instead of keeping the Apostles at the top of the mountain, their being chosen leads them to the heart of the crowd; it sets them in the midst of those who are troubled, on the “plain” of their daily lives.  The Lord thus shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’.”

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The Holy Father explained that, “there are four actions that will shape, embody and make tangible the path of discipleship.  We could say that they represent four stages of a mystagogy of mercy: love, do good, bless and pray.  I think we can all agree on these, and see them as something reasonable.”

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Then he noted that “the problem comes when Jesus tells us for whom we have do these things.  Here he is very clear.  He minces no words, he uses no euphemisms.  He tells us: love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you (cf. vv. 27-28).

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“Ours is an age of grave global problems and issues,” continued Francis. “We live at a time in which polarization and exclusion are burgeoning and considered the only way to resolve conflicts.  We see, for example, how quickly those among us with the status of a stranger, an immigrant, or a refugee, become a threat, take on the status of an enemy. An enemy because they come from a distant country or have different customs. An enemy because of the color of their skin, their language or their social class. An enemy because they think differently or even have a different faith.  An enemy because…

“And, without our realizing it, this way of thinking becomes part of the way we live and act.  Everything and everyone then begins to savour of animosity.  Little by little, our differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence.  How many wounds grow deeper due to this epidemic of animosity and violence, which leaves its mark on the flesh of many of the defenseless, because their voice is weak and silenced by this pathology of indifference!  How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us!  Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings.

“The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting.  We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the Church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals. We come from distant lands; we have different traditions, skin color, languages and social backgrounds; we think differently and we celebrate our faith in a variety of rites.  None of this makes us enemies; instead, it is one of our greatest riches.”

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SUNDAY: A HOLY DOOR OF MERCY IS CLOSED BUT NOT THE HEART OF JESUS

In his homily at Mass on Sunday, Solemnity of Christ the King, after closing the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis said, “even if the Holy Door is closed, the true door of mercy, which is the heart of Christ, always remains open wide for us.” And he explained that the power of Christ the King “is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things.”

“In order to receive the kingship of Jesus,” said the Holy Father, “we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him.  How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world.  How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross.  The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works.

“This Year of Mercy,” he continued, “invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential.  This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission.  Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.”

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MONDAY: POST JUBILEE APOSTOLIC LETTER, MISERICORDIA ET MISERA.

Pope Francis signed his Post Jubilee Year Apostolic Letter, Misericordia et Misera, at the end of Mass Sunday and it was made public Monday morning, November 21. In this 7,400-word letter the Pope wrote: “In light of the ‘great graces of mercy’ we have received during the Jubilee, our first response is to give thanks to the Lord for His gifts. But in going forward, we must also continue to celebrate mercy, especially in the liturgical celebrations of the Church, including in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and in the other Sacraments, especially in Reconciliation and in Anointing of the Sick, the two ‘sacraments of healing’.”

The breaking news of that document was Pope Francis’ decision to extend indefinitely the permission he gave to priests at the start of the Holy Year of Mercy to absolve those who have committed the sin of abortion, an excommunicable offense.

In the Apostolic Letter he wrote: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.” And he also said: “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled” with God.

Because abortion has always been a very grave sin, punishable by excommunication, the possibility of granting forgiveness always rested under the authority of a bishop. A bishop could hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who had been specifically trained in this area. However, in 2015, Pope Francis had said he was allowing all priests to grant absolution for an abortion for the duration of the Holy Year, which ran from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016.

Now, with a view to carrying out Francis’ vision of a merciful Church, priests may, on a permanent basis, absolve the sin of abortion, an act the Pope has called “this agonizing and painful decision.” Francis asked priests “to be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation” for faithful who had abortions.

Here is what he wrote, in part in the Apostolic Letter:

The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.

“A favorable occasion for this could be the 24 Hours for the Lord, a celebration held in proximity to the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This initiative, already in place in many dioceses, has great pastoral value in encouraging a more fervent experience of the sacrament of Confession.

  1. Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year,[14] is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.

“For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins.[15] For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.

Pope Francis also invites the Church to Celebrate a World Day of the Poor:

“During the ‘Jubilee for Socially Excluded People’, as the Holy Doors of Mercy were being closed in all the cathedrals and shrines of the world, I had the idea that, as yet another tangible sign of this Extraordinary Holy Year, the entire Church might celebrate, on the Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the World Day of the Poor. This would be the worthiest way to prepare for the celebration of the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, who identified with the little ones and the poor and who will judge us on our works of mercy (cf. Mt 25:31-46). It would be a day to help communities and each of the baptized to reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel and that, as long as Lazarus lies at the door of our homes (cf. Lk 16:19-21), there can be no justice or social peace. This Day will also represent a genuine form of new evangelization (cf. Mt 11:5) which can renew the face of the Church as She perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy.”

Click here for the complete Apostolic Letter: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20161120_misericordia-et-misera.html

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VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS – THE STORY BEHIND THE HOLY DOOR OF ST. PETER’S BASILICA

Monday, November 21, the Vatican will publish an Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis on the occasion of the closing of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. The Letter’s title is “Mercy and Misery.”

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS

This weekend, as the Church welcome 17 new cardinals, 13 of whom are under the age of 80 and will be among the 121 cardinal electors in a future conclave, I take you inside the College of Cardinals on “Vatican Insider.” What is a cardinal? How are they chosen? What are their duties? What does the College do as a whole? When was it founded? And so on….(photo: news.va 2015 consistory)

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In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

THE STORY BEHIND THE HOLY DOOR OF ST. PETER’S BASILICA

As you know, Pope Francis will close the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica this Sunday, thus officially ending the Jubilee of Mercy that began last December 8th. This Holy Door is always the first to be opened and the last to be closed. This photo shows Francis opening that door last December:

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St. Peter’s Holy Door was donated by Swiss Catholics to Pope Pius XII (1939-58) for the 1950 Holy Year. Designed by Siena artist Vico Consorti, and inaugurated on December 24, 1949, it has 16 panels, 15 of which depict scenes from the Old and New Testament. The last panel shows Pius XII opening this door.

Pilgrims entering the various Holy Doors are not really allowed ample time to explore the door itself, its symbolism and artistry or to touch part of it or even to say a prayer. Therefore, if you click here, you’ll be able to see those individual panels and read a brief explanation: http://stpetersbasilica.info/Interior/HolyDoor/Panels/HD-panels.htm

Here is a link to a piece by Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick on the foundry that produced these panels. Veronica has just retired but Vatican Radio re-aired this story, noting that it was the grandson of the original foundry owner, Ferdinando Marinelli who invited her to visit the family foundry.

She met him in Florence, says the Vatican Radio account, at his window on the world, an enchanting gallery on the banks of the River Arno seething with a myriad of bronze statues from different eras. Among them the impressive ‘Giambologna Neptune’, who seems to greet you as you enter.

And it was by this towering statue that Ferdinando Marinelli greeted her, ready to drive across the Tuscan countryside to his foundry which lies on the way to Siena, Vico Consorti’s city.

She was eager to visit his foundry and aware it was not the one where the Holy Door was cast by his grandfather but another more recent one. She knew too that Ferdinando Marinelli was sure to treasure that age old rapport of his foundry with the Vatican despite the more modern outreach he now enjoys right across the world. No surprise as for centuries the Church and the world of art have enjoyed an extremely prolific love affair.

Click here to catch a glimpse of Veronica Scarisbrick’s tour at the foundry http://www.fonderiamarinelli.it/

JUBILEE OF MERCY WINDING DOWN: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY

JUBILEE OF MERCY WINDING DOWN: COUNTDOWN TO SUNDAY

We might easily ask at some point: Where has the year gone? So many special events and audiences and Jubilee moments and the papal Mercy Friday surprise visits to the elderly, to children, to prisoners, to the sick, etc. The Pope called for this Year of Mercy on March 13, 2015, the second anniversary of his election.

Just a brief look at this past weekend, the penultimate Jubilee weekend:

SATURDAY in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis enthusiastically thanked some 600 of the total 4,000 Holy Year volunteers who assisted pilgrims from across the globe during the Jubilee: “You have been fantastic! I thank you,…. for your precious service that has allowed so many pilgrims to give life to this experience of faith in a positive way. Also Saturday: Pope Francis presided over the last special Saturday audience for the Jubilee of Mercy during which he called on Christians to witness to God’s mercy by being inclusive.

SUNDAY, as Holy Doors were closed in Rome at three papal basilicas, and in the dioceses and many shrines of the world, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for some 6,000 poor and homeless people from countries in Europe and Africa. In his homily, he said: “We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news.”

Pope Francis had held a special audience on Friday with over 4,000 poor people who he said “are at the heart of the Gospel, …concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons.”

It was the poor who are in the heart, mind and words of Pope Francis who were seated in places of honor at a concert for them on Saturday and in the front pews during Sunday’s Mass.

On a personal note: Saturday I went to the basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls as, of all the astonishing things, I realized I had not gone through the Holy Door here! I had time to explore this magnificent church once again, up close and personal, to take a few photos with my phone and to say the rosary.

You may have seen my Joan’s Rome Live video on Facebook about this mini pilgrimage, and here are some photos.

The very first photo shows, on the left side of the picture, one part of the Holy Door that pilgrims walked through this Jubilee year: That door was closed yesterday. On the right side of the photo is what is the back of the Holy Door that you see when you are inside the church. These will be closed and sealed against each other until the next scheduled Ordinary Holy Year in 2025.

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The center door of the basilica-

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Some interior shots, including the tomb of St. Paul –

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Some exterior shots as you exit the basilica –

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Some current excavation work –

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The Pope is always the first person to open a Holy Door on St. Peter’s Basilica, and other Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are opened after that. At the end of a Holy Year, the reverse is true: Holy Doors in Rome and around the world are closed before the Pope closes St. Peter’s Holy Door. This was also clear in the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy.

Francis closes the Holy Door of St. Peter’s on Sunday, November 20, Feast of Christ the King, a feast that was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 at the end of the Holy Year of 1925.

Vatican Radio had the following story on the closing yesterday, Sunday, November 13 of the Holy Doors at three papal basilicas – St. John Lateran, St Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

Representing the Pope in the Basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul Outside the Walls were the archpriests of the Basilicas, respectively: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló and Cardinal James Michael Harvey.

According to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year, many of them crossing the thresholds of the Holy Doors.

The opening of the door symbolically illustrates the concept that pilgrims are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of Jubilee, and walking through the Holy Door they were able to receive a plenary indulgence.

During his homily for the Mass at St. John Lateran, Cardinal Agostino Vallini spoke about how the Holy Door, just closed, was a visible sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, a year in which we learned “once again” that the fate of the world is not in the hands of men, “but in the mercy of God.”

He said that meditating on God’s mercy this year we have learnt that mercy is not a sign of weakness or surrender, but the “strong, magnanimous,” radiation of the loving omnipotence of the Father, who “heals our weaknesses, raises us from our falls and urges us to do good.”

Cardinal Abril y Castelló pointed out that although the Holy Door is being closed, “God’s door of mercy is always open” and he urged the faithful to be strong in this certainty and become credible witnesses of mercy in the world.

And in his homily, Cardinal Harvey also referred to the solemn closing of the Basilica’s Holy Door saying that “at the same time, we open an inner door to the next stage of our journey of faith, hope and charity”.

During his Angelus reflections on Sunday Pope Francis also pointed out that Holy Doors were being closed across the world, signaling the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.

“On the one hand, he said, the Holy Year has urged us to keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Kingdom, and on the other, to build a future on earth, working to evangelize the present, so as to make it a time of salvation for all.”

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER – “POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS – A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS – MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

This final Jubilee of Mercy events, prior to the closing in coming days and next Sunday of the Holy Doors of the papal basilicas, take place this weekend and they feature the poor and homeless, as you shall see.

Today, contrary to my usual lunch routine, I took a brief break outside the office and met some friends from the U.S. for lunch as that was the only free time they had in their Italian pilgrimage. As I walked the three blocks to “La Vittoria,” scores of people were walking towards me, each person carrying one or more sizeable square white boxes on top of which was a small aluminum container like the kind you’d put leftover food in. I am guessing the boxes contained either a meal or a gift for the homeless who had just spent time with the Pope. As I was running a few minutes late for lunch, I did not stop to ask what the boxes were so that is just an educated guess but, knowing Pope Francis’ many gestures of this kind in the last three years, that would not surprise me..

THE TABLES ARE TURNED ON VATICAN INSIDER

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider when the tables are turned and I am the guest in Part II of an interview by Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer, host of the very popular Sirius radio program, “Busted Halo.” Fr. Dave interviewed me when I was in New York for a book-signing event, and we talk about my book, “A Holy Year in Rome,” my work, the Vatican, and so many topics. So tune in for a fun conversation, including a story about a unique day in my life.

I want to thank Fr. Dave as well as Sirius Radio for giving me the chance to air this fun program. I had a ball doing it and I think you’ll be able to tell when you listen – and you’ll probably laugh right along with us at several moments. Fr. Dave is really quite special and he touches the lives of many people through Busted Halo (http://bustedhalo.com/).

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

“POVERTY IS THE GREATEST WAR,” POPE TELLS HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday welcomed to Rome more than 6000 people, men and women from various European nations, who have lived, or are even now, living on the street. The Jubilee for Socially Excluded Persons embraced not only the homeless, but also disadvantaged persons and people living in poverty. (photo news.va)

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The event was made possible with the help of “Fratello”, an association which organizes and hosts events with and for people in situations of exclusion, in partnership with associations assisting such people.

Following testimonies from two of the participants, Pope Francis addressed the crowd, speaking off the cuff and thanking them for coming to Rome to meet with him and to pray for him. The Holy Father reflected on some of the ideas brought up by the two men who spoke before him.

The first was that average human beings do not differ from the “great” of the world. All men and women, the great and the small, have their own passions and dreams. “Don’t stop dreaming!” the Pope insisted. The poor, he continued, are at the heart of the Gospel; they came to Jesus precisely because they dreamed that the Lord would help and heal them.

Pope Francis then turned to another expression, “Life becomes beautiful.” This signifies dignity, he said. “The ability to encounter beauty, even in things that involve the most sadness and suffering, is something that only men and women who have dignity can have.” He emphasized the virtue of solidarity, when people – especially those whose lives are difficult – are able to have compassion for others who are suffering even more. And he thanked those present for their example of solidarity, asking them to teach solidarity to the world.

Finally, Pope Francis spoke on the theme of peace, calling on everyone to continue to work in favour of peace in the world. “The greatest poverty is war!” he said. “It is the poverty that destroys… We need peace in the world! We need peace in the Church!”

Following his address, a group of the poor and disadvantaged, who had joined Pope Francis on the stage, gathered round the Pope, placing their hands on him, and praying for him.

(AP) – Pope Francis asked homeless people during a moving ceremony Friday to pardon all the Christians who turn away from the poor instead of helping them.

Francis stood silently in a Vatican auditorium with his head bowed as he let several homeless individuals place their hands on his shoulders or clutch his cassock.

Some 4,000 people from 22 countries who either are now homeless or who spent years living on streets filled the auditorium in one of Francis’ final events during the Catholic Church’s Holy Year of Mercy.

“I ask pardon,” the Pope said, on behalf of Christians who, “faced with a poor person or a situation of poverty, look the other way.”

After some of the homeless recounted their difficult lives, Francis praised the poor for holding fast to their dignity.

He asked his homeless guests to stay seated while he stood to pray that God “teach us to be in solidarity because we are brothers.”

A NOVEMBER CONCERT TO BENEFIT THE HOMELESS

The Vatican will host a concert for the homeless of Rome tomorrow, November 12, in the Paul VI Hall at 6:30 pm, with the homeless and poor as the guests of honor. All proceeds will be sent to Pope Francis for his charities. Among the sponsors is the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the council that has been in charge of the Holy Year of Mercy.

Dubbed “With the Poor and for the Poor,” there will be the possibility at the end of the convert for attendees to give free-will donations for the papal charities, including the building of a new cathedral in Moroto, Uganda, and an agrarian school in Burkina Faso.

Following the concert, Jubilee Year volunteers and members of the choir of the Diocese of Rome will distribute a meal and a small gift to the invited guests as a reminder of the evening.

Performers include the Roman Symphonic Orchestra and the National Choir of Saint Cecilia, directed by Academy Award-winner Ennio Morricone. Some of his best works will be featured. Msgr. Marco Frisina will direct the choir of the Diocese of Rome.

Tomorrow morning at 10, in 8 Roman churches, there will be testimonies by homeless people from around Europe in as many languages. Those churches are: San Salvatore in Lauro (English) – Santa Monica (Dutch) – San Luigi dei Francesi (Portuguese) – Santi XII Apostoli (French) – San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (Polish) – Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) (German) – Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Italian) – Sant’Andrea della Valle (Spanish) and Santa Maria Maddalena in Campo Marzio (Slovakian).

At 5 tomorrow evening, there is a prayer Vigil of Mercy in St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.

MERCY FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS MEETS 7 YOUNG MEN WHO LEFT PRIESTHOOD

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday met a group of young men who have left the priesthood during the past years to show his closeness and affection towards them. His surprise visit to an apartment in the outskirts of Rome to meet with the group made up of five Italians, a Spaniard and a man from Latin America, came as part of his traditional gestures of Mercy on one Friday a month during this Jubilee Year.

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A Vatican statement said the young men in question took the difficult decision to leave the priesthood despite opposition in many cases from their fellow priests or their families after serving for several years in parishes where loneliness, misunderstanding, fatigue arising from their many responsibilities prompted them to rethink their choice. It said the men spent months and years wrestling with uncertainty and doubts before coming to the decision they had made a mistake by becoming priests and therefore decided to leave and form a family.

CNA added this: According to the Vatican, when the Pope entered the apartment he was met with “great enthusiasm” both on the part of the children, who gathered around his legs to give him a hug, as well as the parents.

The young men felt the Pope’s “closeness, and the affection of his presence.”

Francis listened attentively to each of their stories, paying particular attention to the development of the legal proceedings in each of the individual cases. When a man leaves the priesthood, he must undergo a process called “laicization,” in which his priestly faculties for administering the sacraments are removed.

The Pope conveyed to everyone his friendship and personal interest, the communique noted.

By visiting the young men and their families, Pope Francis “wanted to give a sign of mercy to those who live in a situation of spiritual and material hardship, highlighting the need that no one feel deprived of the love and solidarity of the pastors.”

 

JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY HAS DRAWN NEARLY 20 MILLION TO ROME

JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY HAS DRAWN NEARLY 20 MILLION TO ROME

The Holy See Press Office Thursday morning held a press conference featuring Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, who presented the final major celebrations associated with the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican: the Jubilee for Prisoners on November 5 and 6; and the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded from November 11 to 13.

Each particular Jubilee will culminate with Mass.

The Jubilee for Prisoners will involve a contingent of persons currently serving penal sentences in Spain, along with persons of several different nationalities currently incarcerated in Italy, as well as hundreds of people  either released on parole or who have served their sentences and are working to rejoin society. Over 1,000 people currently serving time or who have served time in prison are expected to take part in the Jubilee in Rome, according to official estimates from the Council for New Evangelization.

On Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to confess in the Jubilee churches and make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Mass with the Holy Father is scheduled to begin at 10 AM on Sunday, following an hour-long series of testimonies given by four people whose lives have been changed through the experience of crime and punishment: a prisoner who has experienced conversion, who will speak with the victim with whom he is reconciled; the brother of a victim of a deadly crime who has become the instrument of mercy and forgiveness; a minor who is serving his sentence; and an agent of the Penitentiary Police, who has daily contact with inmates.

“We will listen to their life experience,” explained Archbishop Fisichella, “and we will understand that the theme of mercy is not a theoretical word, but a genuine daily action that often represents a real existential challenge.”

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The following weekend, starting Friday. November 11 and concluding Sunday the 13th, the Church will mark the Jubilee of Socially Excluded Persons. This includes anyone and everyone who, for reasons ranging from economic precariousness to disease, loneliness or lack of family ties, have difficulties and often remain at the margins of society, without a home or a place to live.

“People,” said Archbishop Fisichella, “we meet every day, people our eyes do not want to see, and from whom we look away.”

Approximately 6,000 participants from different countries are expected: France, Germany, Portugal, England, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Switzerland. The organization started by the French organization Lazare, founded by Etienne Villemain.

Participants will have an intense Jubilee program: Friday at 11:30 AM in the Paul VI Hall, they are scheduled to meet Pope Francis, who will listen to some of their testimonies and at the end will meet with them. There will be opportunities to hear testimony on Saturday at 10 AM in the following churches: San Salvatore in Lauro for the English language; Santa Monica for Dutch, St. Louis of France for Portuguese; XII Apostles for French; St. John the Baptist of the Florentines for Polish; Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) for German; Santa Maria sopra Minerva for Italian; Sant’Andrea della Valle for Spanish and Santa Maria Maddalena in the Campus Martius for Slovak.

Saturday afternoon at 5, there will be a Vigil of Mercy in the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, preceded by a brief pilgrimage to the Basilica’s Holy Door, starting from the front gardens.

On Sunday, the Holy Father will preside at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 AM, following which he will lead all the faithful in the recitation of the Angelus prayer.

Sunday, November 13 will mark the closing of the Doors of Mercy in all churches and shrines throughout the world, including those of the three papal basilicas: St. Paul’s Outside the Walls at 5 PM; St. John Lateran at 5:30 PM and Saint Mary Major 6 PM.

“We are confident,” concluded Archbishop Fisichella, “that these two Jubilee events will be experienced with the same intensity and experience of prayer with which we have seen the entire Jubilee celebrated.” (JFL: end of Year of Faith)

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That enthusiasm was on display October 22nd when an extraordinary crowd of 93,000 people participated in the extraordinary Jubilee audience held once each month on a Saturday during the Jubilee Year. The archbishop said that was the highest number yet for a Jubilee audience.

The Jubilee of Mercy official website – http://www.im.va – estimates that 19,797,652 people have participated in the Jubilee in Rome through the end of October. (Vatican Radio)

 

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO DEACON HAROLD BURKE-SIVERS – POPE RAISES MEMORIAL OF MARY MAGDALENE TO LITURGICAL FEAST – VATICAN STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT WITH AUDITING FIRM – VATICAN TO ISSUE €2 COIN TO MARK GENDARME ANNIVERSARY

Here is Pope Francis’ daily tweet at the start of the three-day Jubilee for the Sick and Disabled: The tenderness of God is present in the lives of all those who attend the sick and understand their needs, with eyes full of love.

VATICAN INSIDER TALKS TO DEACON HAROLD BURKE-SIVERS

My special guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Portland and, as his card says, a Catholic Evangelist and Speaker. Deacon Harold, as he is known on EWTN and in many parts of the world, is a very charismatic speaker who, in fact, gave a talk during the recent three-day Jubilee of Deacons in Rome.

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With Deacon Dan Borne and his wife Lissette

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Three permanent deacons and their wives joined Deacon Harold at my home for what I called a “mini Jubilee of Deacons and they shared their experiences with each other, in what was a mutual learning experience – also for me. Deacon Harold’s schedule included time for the interview you will hear this weekend. I think the sub-title could be “all you ever wanted to know about permanent deacons but were afraid to ask!”

It is surprising what people do not know about permanent deacons so this will be my focus in coming weeks.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE RAISES MEMORIAL OF MARY MAGDALENE TO LITURGICAL FEAST

(Vatican Radio)  It was announced on Friday that Pope Francis has decided to raise the celebration of the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a liturgical Feast.

In the modern Church calendar, saints may be commemorated with a memorial (optional or obligatory), feast, or solemnity. (news.va photo)

MAry Magdalene

The decree was signed on June 3, 2016, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.

In a letter announcing the change, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Arthur Roche, writes the decision means one “should reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the New Evangelization, and the greatness of the mystery of Divine Mercy.”

Archbishop Roche drew attention to the fact Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the Resurrection, and is the one who announced the event to the Apostles.

“Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter,” he writes.

“The Holy Father Francis took this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to signify the importance of this woman who showed a great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” writes Archbishop Roche.

He also notes Saint Magdalene was referred to as the “Apostle of the Apostles” (Apostolorum Apostola) by Thomas Aquinas, since she announced to them the Resurrection, and they, in turn, announced it to the whole world.

“Therefore it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same grade of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, and shines a light on the special mission of this woman, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church.”

VATICAN STATEMENT ON AGREEMENT WITH AUDITING FIRM

(Vatican Radio) The Press Office of the Holy See released a statement on Friday, clarifying the reason for which the independent audit of some areas of Vatican finances being conducted by the financial services agency, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had been suspended, and announcing a new agreement between the parties, under which the accounting firm shall resume its work. Below, please find the full text of the official English-language statement.

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As previously noted, with respect to the relationship between the Holy See and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) it was deemed useful to suspend auditing activity to examine the meaning and scope of certain contract clauses, as well as to examine the manner in which the contract was executed. Together with PwC, those issues were duly examined in an atmosphere of serene collaboration, resolving the questions originally identified. In particular, it was recognized that, by law, the task of performing the financial statement audit is entrusted to the Office of the Auditor General (URG), as is normally the case for every sovereign state.  Given that, in conformity with the legal framework in force this institutional responsibility falls upon the URG, PwC will play an assisting role and will also be available to those dicasteries that wish to avail themselves of its support and consulting services. It is important to clarify that, contrary to what has been reported by some sources, the suspension was not due to considerations regarding the integrity or the quality of PwC’s work, nor is it attributable to the desire of one or more entities of the Holy See to hinder reforms. The path towards a correct and appropriate implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) is normally complex and prolonged. That path requires a series of legislative choices as well as the adoption of administrative and accounting procedures, which are presently under development. Keeping in mind the valued activity already carried out by PwC, the Holy See announces that the parties, have entered into a new agreement which, in conformity with the institutional framework, provides for a broader collaboration with PwC that is adaptable to the Holy See’s needs. This agreement permits all of the entities of the Holy See to participate more actively in the reforms under way. With this initiative, the Holy See will promptly reassume its collaboration with PwC. The commitment to the economic-financial audit of the Holy See and of the State of Vatican City has been, and remains, a priority.

VATICAN TO ISSUE €2 COIN TO MARK GENDARME ANNIVERSARY

(From coinworld.com) – The Vatican City is issuing a €2 coin to mark the bicentennial anniversary of the local police force.

The Vatican City in June will celebrate the the 200th anniversary of the Vatican Guard with a commemorative €2 coin.

Honored on this coin are the members of the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City, the police for Vatican City. The Vatican Guard should not to be confused with the more well known Swiss Guard, which serves as the de facto military of Vatican City.

Though the coin is a circulating denomination, the Vatican City issues few of its coins actually into circulation, and all 105,000 of these Vatican Guard coins are intended for collector sales.

In 1816, after the dissolution of the Napoleonic empire, Pope Pius VII founded the Papal Carabinieri Corps for the service of the Papal States. It has been renamed several times, most recently in 2002, with the current name being Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City.

The obverse of the coin features a singular Vatican guard in front of the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. At the top, in semi-circle is an inscription translating to “police force” with the 1816 and 2016 dual dates.

The name of the issuing entity and the designer name, D. LONGO, also appear. The ringed-bimetallic coin has a copper-nickel core and copper-aluminum-nickel ring.

The coin’s outer ring depicts the 12 stars of the European flag. The common reverse shows a map of the European Union.

The €2 coin weighs 8.5 grams and measures 25.75 millimeters in diameter.

Each nation is allowed to issue up to two different circulating commemorative designs annually, with designs of their choosing, though few nations issue the maximum number of designs.

Joint euro programs like the 2015 coins honoring the 30th anniversary of flag of the European Union do not count toward this limit.

 

A JUBILEE EVENT – “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

A JUBILEE EVENT – “24 HOURS FOR THE LORD”

March 4, 2016 – March 5, 2016
St. Peter’s Basilica

Friday, March 4
5:00 p.m. Opening Penitential Celebration with Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

9.00 p.m. Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration will begin in the following churches:
– Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore (Piazza Navona)
– Santa Maria in Trastevere (Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere)
– Chiesa Sacre Stimmate di S. Francesco (Largo Argentina)

The churches will remain open continuously into the night with priests available to hear confessions.

Sacro Cuore (Pza. Navona):

SACRED HEART CHURCH

Santa Maria in Trastevere:

SANTA MARIA IN TRASTEVERE

Church of the Holy Stigmata:

STIGMATA CHURCH

Saturday, March 5
10.00 a.m. Confessions and Eucharistic Adoration
In the church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore.
The church will remain open continuously with priests available to hear confessions until 16:00.

5.00 p.m. Closing celebration of thanksgiving presided by Archbishop Rino Fisichella in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia.

Santo Spirito:

SANTO SPIRITO

http://www.im.va/content/gdm/en/roma/grandi-eventi/2016-03-04-24ore.html