If you attended this morning’s weekly general audience, you heard Pope Francis deliver a catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul’s travels and appeal to Iraqis to pursue dialogue in the face of violence in their country and saw him bless two statues of Our Lady of Lujan, one for the UK, a second for Argentina.
POPE AT AUDIENCE: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE UNCHAINED POWER OF THE GOSPEL
Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience says the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission.
By Lydia O’Kane (vaticannews)
Despite pilgrims and tourists having their umbrellas to the ready for Wednesday’s general audience, the brief drizzle that descended on St Peter’s Square eventually turned into a clear sky as Pope Francis reflected on his continuing catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles.
He told those gathered that in this book, one can see how “the Holy Spirit is the protagonist of the Church’s mission: it is He who guides the journey of the evangelizers showing them the path to follow.”
St Paul’s missionary journey
The Pope said this can be clearly seen when the Apostle Paul, having come to Troad, receives a vision begging him to come to Macedonia and help the people there. The Apostle, said Pope Francis, has no hesitation; he leaves for Macedonia, sure that it is God Himself who sends him, and arrives in Philippi.
The conversion of Lydia
The Pontiff explained to those present that the power of the Gospel is directed above all to the women of Philippi, in particular to Lydia, a merchant dealing in purple dye, and a believer in God to whom the Lord opens her heart “to adhere to the words of Paul”.
Lydia, continued Pope Francis in fact, “welcomes Christ by receiving Baptism together with her family and welcomes those who belong to Christ, hosting Paul and Silas in her house. … Here we have the witness of the arrival of Christianity in Europe: the beginning of a process of inculturation that still lasts today.” he said.
The Pope went on to describe how, after having received hospitality at Lydia’s house, Paul and Silas then find themselves having to deal with the harshness of prison. He remarked that they go from the consolation of this conversion of Lydia and her family, to the desolation of prison where the key is thrown away for having healed a slave girl in the name of Jesus.
Speaking off the cuff, the Pope said that this slave’s masters made much money out of getting her to tell people’s fortunes.
Even today, Pope Francis commented, “there are people who pay for this” recalling that in his former diocese, in a very large park, there were more than 60 tables where fortune tellers read palms and people believed and paid.
Prison and a jailer’s baptism
By praying fervently to the Lord, said the Pope, “Paul and Silas are freed of their chains by a sudden earthquake. This prompts their jailer to ask how he too can be saved, and after hearing the word of the Lord, he receives baptism together with his family.”
Concluding his catechesis, the Pope underlined how “in these events we see the working of the Holy Spirit and the unchained power of the Gospel.”
POPE URGES IRAQIS TO PURSUE DIALOGUE, AS HUNDREDS KILLED IN PROTESTS
Pope Francis appeals to all citizens of Iraq to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation in search of solutions, after nearly a week of renewed anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.
By Devin Watkins (vatcannews)
At least 250 people have died throughout Iraq in connection with massive anti-government protests during the month of October.
On Monday, masked gunmen murdered 18 protesters and wounded over 800 others in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. Protesters said they were unsure if the gunmen were special forces, riot police, or militias backed by Iran.
Dialogue and reconciliation
Pope Francis sent his thoughts to all Iraqis on Wednesday and appealed for both the government and protesters to pursue the path of dialogue. He was speaking at the end of the weekly general audience.
“As I express my condolences for the victims and my closeness to their families and the wounded, I invite the authorities to listen to the cry of the people who are asking for a dignified and peaceful life,” said the Pope. “I urge all Iraqis, with the support of the international community, to pursue the path of dialogue and reconciliation and to seek the right solutions to the challenges and problems of the country.”
Pope Francis also assured the nation’s people of his constant prayer that they “may find peace and stability after so many years of war and violence, in which they have suffered so much.”
“Where are Iraq’s riches?”
Bishop Shelmon Warduni, the president of Caritas Iraq, voiced his appreciation for the Pope’s appeal, in an interview with Vatican Radio.
The emeritus auxiliary bishop of Baghdad called on Iraq’s leaders to stop protecting their own interests and “their own pockets” but rather to think about their citizens who are poorly treated.
He urged the international community to pay attention to those poor people “who studied hard but can’t find work.” Bishop Warduni said Iraqis are protesting to demand that their rights be respected by “a government that exploits its own people. … How is it possible for Iraq to be so rich – so rich – but the people are still forced to cry out for work?”
Corruption breeding discontent
Widespread discontent over economic hardship and corruption sparked the first wave of protests earlier in October in which 149 people were killed. A second wave of anti-government demonstrations began on Friday. At least 73 people have died since then.
The unrest is centered in Shiite-majority areas, and most of the anger seems directed at Shiite political parties and militias, which are often supported by neighboring Iran.
POPE FRANCIS BLESSES OUR LADY OF LUJÁN STATUES DURING GENERAL AUDIENCE
During the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis met bishops of the Armed Forces – the military ordinariate – from both the UK and Argentina where they exchanged a replica of the statue of Our Lady of Luján, which was brought to the UK by British troops during the Falkland War in 1982.
During the ceremony in St Peter’s Square, two copies were blessed by Pope Francis.
The statue of the Virgin Mary, Patroness of Argentina, will be returned to its native country. A replica will be presented to the Catholic Military Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George in Aldershot, England.
After his installation as bishop of the Armed Forces, Bishop Mason was contacted by Bishop Olivera, who asked if the statue could be returned.
The offer of a replica for the Aldershot Cathedral was also made, which Bishop Paul was more than happy to accept.
The story goes that when Argentinian troops invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982, they brought with them the statue, a copy of the 1630 original, which is located in the Basilica of Lujan in Argentina.
St. John Paul II visited the original statue in Luján in 1982.
The statue which was left behind in a Church in Port Stanley was then packed up on a military transport to the UK and ended up at the Catholic Military Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot.
It has stayed there since as a focus for prayer offered for the fallen of both sides of the Falklands conflict.