IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

As you hopefully know by now, two events in the Vatican with Pope Francis are scheduled for coming days: tomorrow, March 25, feast of the Annunciation (12 noon Rome time), and Friday, March 27 from 6 to 7 pm Rome time (announced by Francis at Sunday Angelus: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-calls-for-christians-to-unite-in-prayer-for-end-to-pandemic.html)

I have been asked by many people if the prayer the Pope has asked all Christians to recite, the Our Father, when he does so at noon tomorrow will be said around the world by Christians in sync with Rome or at their local time zone noon hour.

According to the following reports (and others I’ve read), the prayer will be in sync with Rome:

(CNS) – Pope Francis has invited Christians around the world to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by joining him at the same time in praying the Lord’s Prayer at 7 a.m. Eastern time (noon in Rome) on Wednesday, March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.

(www.vaticannews.va) – “The Philippine Catholic Church is joining two worldwide prayer initiatives of Pope Francis this week as a response to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. It is also reaching out to the homeless in the capital. “Heeding the Pope’s invitation, we recommend that we will pray together the Lord’s Prayer at 7:00 pm on March 25,” wrote Fr. Marvin Mejia, Secretary-General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a circular on Monday. Speaking during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, Pope Francis called on Christians to respond to the pandemic with the “universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness. … In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven,” he said. He particularly invited Christian communities and leaders of Christian Churches to join in reciting the Our Father at noon on Wednesday, March 25, Rome time, or at 7:00 pm in the Philippines. (By Robin Gomes – vaticannews)

IN BRIEF (SO TO SPEAK)

PAPAL MESSAGE FOR WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS – Pope Francis sends a message to mark the 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on May 3. Pope Francis begins his message by recalling a letter he wrote last year in which he chose four key words – pain, gratitude, encouragement, and praise – as a way of “thanking priests and supporting their ministry.” Today, he says, those same words can “be addressed to the whole people of God,” alongside a passage from Matthew’s Gospel that recounts the “remarkable experience of Jesus and Peter during a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee” (cf. Mt 14:22-33). Pope Francis says, “After the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and precede Him to the other shore, while He took leave of the people.” He explains: “The image of the disciples crossing the lake can evoke our own life’s journey.”  FULL STORY: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-03/pope-francis-sends-message-for-world-day-of-prayer-for-vocations.html

U.S. SEMINARY STUDENTS SENT HOME: (CNA).- Amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Pontifical North American College seminary has sent students to return to their homes and dioceses in the U.S. NAC rector Fr. Peter Harman told CNA by email March 23 that the decision to send students home had been made “in consultation with” the seminary’s board of governors. He added that about 20 or so students would stay at the seminary with the faculty as they are unable to get home or would not have a place to self-quarantine. Harman said seminarians will undergo a 14-day quarantine after returning home and their studies will continue through the means established by the Roman universities at which they take classes. “We made this decision for their safety, thinking that being in smaller groups at home would be safer than one large campus, not being able to assure direct health care here for the indefinite future,” he said. “We still have everyone healthy, and would rather undergo this convenience than jeopardize their health.”

VATICAN NEWSPAPER SUSPENDS PRINT PUBLICATION: L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily newspaper, announced today in its print and online editions that, as of March 26, it will have to temporarily suspend the printed editions of the paper in its daily, weekly and monthly editions until the coronavirus situation ends, and working conditions can return to normal. Distribution to newsstands in the city and printed copies to be mailed will halt. In fact, the newspaper will continue to be edited and can be viewed in digital format on the web page: www. Osservatoreromano.va in its new guise, simpler and more integrated with the Vatican News site, which will be inaugurated tomorrow, Wednesday 25 March, solemnity of the Annunciation. For those wishing to receive the paper in digital form, send your email address to: helpdesk@spc.va (JFL: daily, weekly and monthly editions are in Italian. I am not sure if the digital paper includes the weekly editions in other languages – am checking on that. I believe this is the first time in the paper’s history – founded July 1, 1861 –  that it has suspended printing. I have heard that some copies may be printed for Pope Francis, for the pope emeritus and for the Secretary of State. Click here for the March 13 and March 20 editions in English: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-03/osservatore-romano-pdf-english-weekly-edition.html

CORONAVIRUS IN THE VATICAN (HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE): Answering questions from journalists, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni, said: “At present there are four cases of coronavirus positivity found (in Vatican staff): in addition to the first case previously reported, one case is an employee of the Merchandise Office and two are employees of the Vatican Museums. The four people had been placed in solitary confinement before they tested positive and their isolation has lasted for over 14 days; currently they are being treated in Italian hospitals or at home.”

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF MEDITERRANEAN SHIPWRECK – POPE FRANCIS: THE OUR FATHER IS THE SYNTHESIS OF EVERY PRAYER – BONES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY DATE TO END OF 1800s

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF MEDITERRANEAN SHIPWRECK

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered migrants who drowned in a shipwreck earlier this week.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis has once again called on the international community “to act with speed and decisiveness” to address the issue of migration. His appeal came during the Sunday Angelus, when he prayed for victims of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean earlier this week.

Scores of migrants are feared drowned after a boat carrying migrants from Libya sank about 8 km from the coast of Libya on Wednesday. It is believed to be the worst shipwreck on the Mediterranean this year. Authorities said at least 115 are missing, while 134 were rescued. One body was recovered.

According to the UN refugee office, a total of 164 people had already died on the route between Libya and Europe in the first four months of 2019.

In his remarks on Sunday, Pope Francis called for action “to avoid a repetition of such tragedies, and to ensure the security and dignity of all.” He concluded his appeal by asking those present “to pray with me for the victims and for their families… and also, from the heart, to ask: ‘Father, Why?’”

POPE FRANCIS: THE OUR FATHER IS THE SYNTHESIS OF EVERY PRAYER

At the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Our Father, “one of the most precious gifts” Jesus has left us.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis said that the disciples wanted “to experience the same ‘quality’” of prayer was present in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. “They could see that prayer was an essential dimension in the life of their Master,” he said, noting that, “each of His important actions was characterized by extended periods of prayer.” They recognized, too, that Jesus “did not pray like the other masters of the time,” rather, “His prayer is an intimate link with the Father.”

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the Pope said, the Lord did not simply “give an abstract definition of prayer, or teach an effective technique for praying in order to ‘obtain’ something.” Instead, Jesus shared with them His own experience of prayer, “putting them directly in contact with the Father, and arousing in them a longing for a personal relationship with Him.”

This, Pope Francis said, “is the novelty of Christian prayer: It is a dialogue between people who love one another, a dialogue based on trust, sustained by listening, and open to the commitment to solidarity.”

The prayer Jesus taught them, the Our Father, “is one of the most precious gifts left to us by the divine Master during His earthly mission,” the Pope said. With this prayer, Jesus teaches us “to enter into the Fatherhood of God, and shows us the way to enter into prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the way of filial trust.” The Our Father, he said, “is the synthesis of every prayer, and we always address it to the Father in communion with our brothers and sisters.”

BONES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY DATE TO END OF 1800s

The Vatican released communications on Sunday, July 28, on the work done over the weekend in Vatican City’s Teutonic cemetery to analyze bone fragments found in two ossuaries to see if any bones or fragments belong to Manuela Orlando, the daughter of an Italian employee and citizen who disappeared on June 22, 1983, never returning home after a music lesson.

The Vatican has been examining graves and ossuaries since July 11, following an anonymous letter that arrived at the Orlandi home in the summer of 2018 that suggested Manuela’s remains could be found in the Teutonic cemetery where there was an angel and the words “requiescat in pace (rest in peace).”

Workers survey bones taken from an ossuary at the Teutonic cemetery in this image released by the Vatican July 27, 2019. The bones were inspected in the hope of finding the missing remains of a German princess and duchess and possibly the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983. The Vatican announced that none of the bones postdate the 1800s. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See VATICAN-BONES-ORLANDI July 29, 2019. 

Sunday’s Vatican statement said, “At 9.15 am this morning, as indicated yesterday, the morphological analysis of the findings discovered in the ossuaries in the Teutonic cemetery was resumed, as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Present were Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and the COS, the Operative Security Center of the Vatican Gendarmerie, the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State Court, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer and expert appointed by the Orlandi family and the officer in charge of the Judicial Police of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps.

“At 12.30 the work in the cemetery was concluded. as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Professor Giovanni Arcudi, assisted by his staff – in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – completed the morphological analysis of the contents of the ossuaries (several hundred partially intact bone structures and thousands of fragments). During the forensic anthropological investigations, Prof. Arcudi did not find any bone structures that date back to a later period than the end of 1800.

“The consultant (for the family) requested a laboratory check on about seventy bone findings; Prof. Arcudi and his team did not endorse the request because the same bony structures have very ancient dating characteristics. For these reasons, the samples were collected and kept at the Gendarmerie Command available to the Promoter of Justice.

“In communicating these operations, the Holy See confirms its desire to seek the truth of the story of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi and categorically denies that this attitude of full cooperation and transparency can in any way mean, as some people sometimes say, an implicit admission of responsibility.

“The search for truth is in the interest of the Holy See and the Orlandi family. The transparent will of the Holy See has already emerged, in addition to the investigations and examinations in progress at the Teutonico cemetery as in those carried out by Italian authorities following a report by the Vatican gendarmerie, at the headquarters of Villa Giorgina, the nunciature in Italy. A request for dismissal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome was communicated on 3 July.

“As to Villa Giorgina: bones found there July 25, 2018, were ascertained by Italian authorities to date back to a period between 90 and 230 AD. This belies any connection with the painful disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.”

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER” – POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

POPE DELIVERS FINAL CATECHESIS ON THE “OUR FATHER”

In a (finally) sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience and began by noting, “Today we conclude our catechesis on the ‘Our Father’.”

He said, “Jesus has revealed to us that Christian prayer begins with the audacity to call God ‘Father’. Indeed, each of the expressions that our Lord himself uses in prayer brings to mind the text of the ‘Our Father’.

“Throughout the New Testament,” continued Francis, “it is clear that the first principle of every prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes into the hearts of the disciples. Herein lies the mystery of Christian prayer: that by grace we are drawn into the Holy Trinity’s dialogue of love. On the cross Jesus cries out: ‘My God, my God’, and we see here the fulcrum of his relationship with the Father. This also reflects the heart of our own trust and prayer.

The Holy Father said in conclusion, “At the end of this catechesis, let us repeat this prayer of Jesus: ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children’.”

In the multi-lingual greetings that follow the audience catechesis and summaries in seven languages, Francis, through an English-speaking monsignor from the Secretariat of State, greeted the “English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Tanzania, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!”

In greetings to French pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of a murdered missionary sister, whose body was found in the Central African Republic on the same day a missionary priest was killed in Mozambique. He called the Spanish missionary “a woman who has given her life for Jesus in the service of the poor.”

Sister Inés Nieves Sancho, 77, was found murdered near her home in the Central African Republic on Monday morning. Her body was found horribly mutilated at her workshop in the village of Nola, which is part of the Diocese of Berberati, according to the Osservatore Romano. At some point during the night between Sunday and Monday, unknown assailants entered Sister Inés’ home and forcibly took her to the workshop where she regularly held sewing lessons for local girls to help improve their lives. There her attackers decapitated her and mutilated her body.

There was a new language in the papal greetings today. Added to French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Polish and Italian, Francis greeted pilgrims in Ukrainian: “I cordially greet the Ukrainian pilgrims, especially the group of soldiers who participated in the annual National Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes. I continually pray to the Risen Lord, so that he fills the hearts of the Ukrainians with love and serenity and gives his peace to the whole country. God bless you all!”

After the general audience was over and Catholic prelates and several others lined up to meet the Pope, the Holy Father greeted Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. (source: vaticannews)

POPE FRANCIS SENDS GREETINGS AND A BLESSING TO CHINESE CATHOLICS

At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis, in a reference to the upcoming feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, expressed his “special closeness and affection to all the Catholics in China who, among daily labors and trials, continue to believe, to hope, and to love.”

Speaking directly to the faithful in China, the Holy Father said, “May our Mother of Heaven help you all to be witnesses of charity and fraternity, always remaining united in the communion of the universal Church.”

Francis then assured the Chinese faithful of his own prayers and his blessing, before leading the pilgrims at the audience in praying the Hail Mary for Chinese Catholics.

An image of Our Lady, Help of Christians, is found in the Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai, and is an object of special devotion to the faithful in China.

In May of 2007, in his Letter to Chinese Catholics, Benedict XVI asked that the May 24 feast of Mary, Help of Christians be celebrated as a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. The following prayer, published in 2008, was composed by Pope Benedict for the occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!
(source: vaticannews)

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Michael Warsaw, CEO of EWTN, was recently in town for a number of events and he announced to the staff in our meeting with members of EWTN’s board, that an EWTN news agency had been formed for and in Africa – ACI Africa. The story was carried by FIDES, the news arm of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, It featured the words of Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, president of the Pontifical Mission Societies, in his homily during Mass for EWTN: http://www.fides.org/en/news/66009-AFRICA_ACI_Africa_agency_is_born_Archbishop_Dal_Toso_A_sign_of_hope_for_the_continent

On another topic: As you will see in the photo below, the weather in Rome did no favors to those attending the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. It is quite chilly here (48 degrees as I write at 3 pm) and coats and heavy jackets, perhaps even layered clothing, are the order of the day! We have been averaging only one entirely sunny day every week – days that verge on being warm but generally offer cloud cover, light showers or torrential downpours. Feels a lot more like October, especially since heat has been turned off in most buildings for over a month, and there are no warm temps to compensate for the chill and humidity in the air.

POPE INVITES 8 REFUGEE CHILDREN TO JOIN HIM IN POPEMOBILE

The Holy Father, making his way to the podium in front of St. Peter’s Basilica before the general audience this morning, asked the popemobile driver to stop to allow eight children to jump aboard for a ride. The 8 children had come from Libya on a boat several different nationalities, including Syria, Nigeria and Congo, and are currently hosted with families in the “Mondo Migliore” (Better World) Center of Rocca di Papa and followed by the “Auxilium” Cooperative. They were all wearing T-shirts that said, “Welcome, protect, promote and integrate” the appeal coined by Pope Francis in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

The self-funded “Humanitarian Corridors” project, which Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld, is carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. It aims to avoid migrant journeys on boats in the Mediterranean in which so many – usually trafficked people – have died, and at the same time fight human trafficking. (photo by Daniel Ibanez EWTN-ACI)

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON FINAL PETITION OF OUR FATHER, “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”

Following is the English summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis on the “Our Father.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our Father”, we now consider the final petition: “Deliver us from evil”. This recognizes that life is fraught with difficulties, that evil is present in all of our lives, and so this final cry of the “Our Father” powerfully confronts the complete range of evil. Jesus himself, moreover, has experienced the full impact of evil in his passion: not only death but death on a cross; not just loneliness but scorn; nor merely bad-will but cruelty.

The Holy Father reflected at length on the presence of evil in the world. He said the word used in the original Greek (πονηρός) evokes “the presence of evil that seeks to grab hold and bite at us, and from which we ask God for delivery. … History books are a bleak catalogue of how our existence in this world has often been a failed adventure.”

Francis noted, “There is a mysterious evil which is surely not the work of God, but which silently penetrates the folds of history.”

But, the Pope noted, the person who prays is not blind and sees clearly that evil is in contradiction with the mystery of God.

“The last cry of the Our Father is hurled against this evil,” he said, “which encompasses the most diverse experiences, including mourning, the suffering of innocents, slavery, the exploitation of others, and the cries of innocent children.”

Francis stated that, “the ‘Our Father’ resembles a symphony that seeks to be fulfilled in each one of us, for however much we may be subjected to wickedness, Jesus will come to our aid.”

“Jesus’ prayer on the cross – ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ – bequeaths us the most precious patrimony: the presence of the Son of God who delivers us from evil. Indeed, from here flows the gift of his peace, which is stronger than every evil; and herein lies our hope!” (source: Vaticannnews)

EVEN IN TEMPTATION WE CAN COUNT ON OUR FATHER NOT TO ABANDON US

EVEN IN TEMPTATION WE CAN COUNT ON OUR FATHER NOT TO ABANDON US

Wednesday, May 1 marks International Labor Day in many parts of the world. It is also the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. At the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the Our Father, focusing on the petition, “Lead us not into temptation.”

He also noted the May 1 holiday and called that the low employment rates that mark the current situation across the world as a “global tragedy”. At the end of his catechesis, in fact, Francis asked the patron saint of workers, St. Joseph, to intercede for those who have lost their jobs or are unable to find work.

In his teaching on the “Our Father,” the Pope reflected on the invocation: “Lead us not into temptation,” and pointed to recent discussions on a possible change in the wording of that petition to read “abandon us not when in temptation.”

The Holy Father said, “It is with this penultimate invocation that our dialogue with our heavenly Father enters, so to speak, in the midst of the drama of the battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. ”

He then pointed to translation issues and said, “it is not easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek version of the (Our Father) prayer,” adding “all modern translations are a bit lame.”

However, said Francis, we know one thing for sure: God who loves His children “will not seek to put temptations in our way. …Let’s not forget, a father does not set traps for his children.”

He explained that even Jesus, in his earthly life, had trials and temptations, and said, “this experience of the Son of God makes him completely our brother.” One example would be the devil tempting Jesus during 40 days in the desert, and a second would be when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsamane and, knowing he was about to die for mankind’s salvation, nonetheless told His Father, “thy will be done.”

Such examples, said the Pope, show us that God never leaves His Son alone. A father does not abandon his children. And we can count on God, Our Father: “He is with us when he gives us life, during our lives, in moments of joy and of trouble, he is with us in sadness and in defeat, when we sin. He is always with us because a Father cannot abandon us. …He is a Father who always fights for us, and not against us.”

Thus, said Francis, “we pray to our Father ‘lead us from times of temptation’,
but when this time comes, ‘show us we are not alone, show us that Christ has already taken upon himself the weight of our cross, show us that Christ is calling on us to carry it with him, and help us to abandon ourselves to Your fatherly love.”

Here is the summary of the papal catechesis that was read to English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the “Our
Father,” we now consider the penultimate invocation: “Lead us not into
temptation.” Here our dialogue with God enters into the drama of the
battle between our freedom and the snares of the evil one. It is not
easy to accurately capture the exact meaning of the original Greek,
but we can certainly say that God does not seek to put temptations in
our way. Both tribulation and temptation, moreover, are mysteriously
present even in the life of Jesus, and this experience makes him
completely our brother. In the desert and in the garden of Gethsemane,
Jesus overcomes any temptation to abandon the Father’s will. When we
in turn are tempted, we know that we are not alone: for Christ has
already taken on himself the weight of our cross, calling us to carry
it with him and to entrust ourselves to the Father’s faithful love.

GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

You know the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the day!”

My day has been fairly upside down because of a number of unexpected events but I always try to find time to post a blog – I think the Lord knows that is always one of my plans for the day!

There is time for an update on my appearance on Newt Gingrich’s podcast, “Newt’s World”. I just learned we are over 21,000 downloads and counting. Heartfelt thanks for the enthusiastic emails I’ve received since the podcast aired Sunday! Two links:

Newt’s World Ep 11: Cookies With The Pope – Joan Lewis


To listen now: https://art19.com/shows/newts-world/episodes/c2005fcc-ced9-477e-885e-cba72c7ba1bb

GOD WILLED AND LOVED OUR LIFE INTO BEING

Pope Francis this morning in St. Peter’s Square continued his weekly catechesis on the “Our Father,” telling the faithful present, “we now consider the expression: ‘as we forgive those who trespass against us’.”

He began by noting that, “Since everything we have, including our very existence, comes as a gift from God, we are always in his debt, for our life was not simply willed, it was also loved into being.

“We can be confident, then,” he added, “that the Lord will always forgive our trespasses when we ask him with contrite hearts. Yet this grace also calls us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us. We see this in the parable of the unmerciful servant, who though having his own enormous debt written off, in turn refuses to cancel a much smaller debt owed to him. The message is clear: if you refuse to forgive, then you will not be forgiven.”

Francis then explained that, “God’s abundant grace is always demanding. Those who have received so much must learn to give as much, without holding some back for themselves.”

The Holy Father illustrated with a story of a priest he knew who went to hear the confession of a lady who was on her deathbed.

The Pope said, “the priest asked her if she repented of all her sins. ‘Yes’ was her answer.”

“Then the priest asked: ‘Do you forgive others? And the lady, at the point of death, said: ‘No.’

“The priest was distressed. If you do not forgive, God will not forgive you.”

If we have problems forgiving others, said Pope Francis, we need to ask the Lord to help us to forgive.

Forgiveness stops spread of evil
Pope Francis noted that Jesus inserts the power of forgiveness into human relationships, saying it fills the gap left by justice in the world.

“Not everything in life is resolved by justice. Especially where it is necessary to put a stop to evil, someone must love beyond what is necessary, in order to restart a story of grace. Evil knows how to take revenge, and, if we do not interrupt it, [evil] risks spreading, suffocating the whole world.”

Thus, Pope Francis concluded, “this Easter week is an opportunity to offer others the most precious gift we have received: forgiveness.” (vaticannews)

“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST” – ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

“WE ARE CAPABLE OF LOVING BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN LOVED FIRST”

Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Our Father during his weekly general audience, focusing on “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”.

The audience took place in St. Peter’s Square under gray and rainy skies, soaking the nearly 15,000 faithful present for the papal catechesis. (Photos: Lucia Ballester for CNA)

The monsignori from the Secretariat of State who provide the various language translations of the weekly catechesis and papal greetings, as well as the visiting bishops and cardinals, who are normally seated near the papal platform but not covered from the elements, today were all bunched today under the protective canopy of the platform, just behind Pope Francis.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” began the Holy Father, “in our continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father’, we now consider how Jesus teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’. Just as we need bread, so we have need of forgiveness. Every day!”

Francis noted that, “in the original Greek of Matthew’s Gospel, the word used for ‘trespasses’ carries the meaning of being in debt, and so Christians pray asking that God will forgive their debts. We are truly in debt to God because everything we have has come as a gift from Him: our life, parents, friends, creation itself. Likewise, we are only capable of loving because we have been loved first; we are able to forgive only because we ourselves have received forgiveness.”

But even if we were perfect, saint-like people who never strayed “we would always remain children who owe everything to the Father,” explained the Pope.

He then warned against pride, defining it “the most dangerous attitude for every Christian life.” Pride is the worst sin, and quite insidious because it can “infect even people who live an intense religious life”. He then cited the First Letter of St John, saying, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”

Francis asked, “How can we not recognize, in the bonds of love that precede us, the providential presence of God’s love? None of us can love God as He has loved us. We need only gaze at a crucifix to realize this. Let us pray, then, that even the holiest in our midst will never cease to be in debt to the Lord. O Father, have mercy on us all!”

ETHICAL CHALLENGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE CONSIDERED AT VATICAN WORKSHOP

Personalized medicine represents a revolution in medical science and raises several ethical challenges, says Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan.
By Devin Watkins (vaticannews)

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosts a workshop in the Vatican this week on “The Revolution of Personalized Medicine.”

The event carries a provocative subtitle: “Are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?”

Personalized medicine is a therapeutic approach that separates people into different groups according to their genetic information in order to tailor decisions, interventions, and drug therapy to the individual patient.

Professor Yechiel Michael Barilan, an expert in Internal Medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, is the workshop’s Academic Director.

Professor Barilan told Vatican News’ Gabriela Ceraso that personalized medicine represents a dual revolution.

It promises a partial revolution in medicine, he said, because it aims at getting “more and more specific at the molecular level of every disease.” This means examining the genomic and molecular features of diabetes, for instance.

The bigger revolution, said Prof. Barilan, is “to try to abandon the concept of disease altogether and, on one hand, just collect lots of biological data (proteins, genes), have the computers calculate them, like Google does, and then come out with specific health instructions”.

Ethical challenges
Prof. Barilan admitted that personalized medicine poses several ethical challenges.

One general risk is conflict of interest and bias in the industry, though, he said, every industry runs this risk.

The doctor-patient relationship could also suffer as a result of personalized medicine, because computers could come between the two as they are relied upon in the place of doctors to analyze patient data.

“There is also a risk of having a new definition of what health is, and it’s not necessarily what we as persons and humans believe health is,” he said.

Risk of alienation
Personalized medicine, said Prof. Barilan, even runs the risk of alienating certain people from society, because they carry genetic traits or disease markers that could be classified as “high risk” or they might have a low response-rate to therapy.

It might even cause the “reorganization of human society along the lines of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you are as a biological creature,” he said.

Ultimate human goals
Prof. Barilan said the issues surrounding personalized medicine – and science in general – is related to “ultimate human goals,” or the perceived purpose of human life.

“Doing science and doing medicine without thinking about ultimate human goals and values is, in a way, futile or shallow, and could be extremely harmful.”

Both the Vatican and the scientists present at the workshop share a commitment to ultimate human goals, said Prof. Barilan, even if there is disagreement over what those goals may be.