MARKING THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH – POPE ENCOURAGES RECONCILATION, SOLIDARITY, PEACE IN RWANDA – FRANCIS WELCOMES EL SALVADOR BISHOPS ON AD LIMINA VISIT – VATICAN PUBLISHES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO FATIMA

The main news story of the weekend was the Vatican’s confirmation that Pope Francis will make an apostolic trip to Egypt on April 28 and 29 in response to invitations from Egypt’s president, the Catholic bishops, Coptic Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of the Mosque of Al Azhar. He will visit the city of Cairo on this, his 18th foreign pastoral visit.

Weekend papal tweets:

SATURDAY: I invite you not to build walls but bridges, to conquer evil with good, offence with forgiveness, to live in peace with everyone.

SUNDAY: May St Joseph, Spouse of Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, bless you and watch over you. And best wishes to fathers!

MARKING THE SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH

Yesterday was, of course, March 19, a day normally marking the solemnity of St. Joseph and a big day in Italy because this feast also marks Father’s Day. However, because it fell on a Sunday in Lent, the solemnity of St Joseph and Father’s Day were transferred to today. However, I’m willing to bet that many Italian families got together Sunday to mark La Festa del Papà, Father’s Day!

If your name in Italy is Giuseppe (Joseph) or Giuseppina, March 19th if your name day, your onomastico. There are Italians for whom the onomastico is more important than the birthday. Many best wishes were sent out yesterday to Pope emeritus Benedict as he was born Joseph Ratzinger. By the way, on this solemnity churches and schools that bear the saint’s name hold festive celebrations.

March 19 was dedicated to Saint Joseph on a number of calendars as early as the 10th century, and it seems this became tradition in Rome in Rome by 1479.

Pope Francis on Sunday at the Angelus recalled the beatification the previous day in Bolzano, Italy of Joseph Mayr-Nusser. He said: “Because of his great moral and spiritual stature, Blessed Joseph is a model for the lay faithful, especially for fathers, whom we remember with great affection today.”

The new Blessed was a married layman and head of a family and big supporter of Catholic Action. However, when he was conscripted into the German army in 1944, he refused to take the so-called “Hitler oath,” was sentenced to death, and died on the way to Dachau concentration camp.

POPE ENCOURAGES RECONCILATION, SOLIDARITY, PEACE IN RWANDA

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis received the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in a private audience at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Monday.

President Kagame and his entourage subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were cordial:

“During the cordial exchanges, the good relations that exist between the Holy See and Rwanda were recalled. Appreciation was expressed for the notable path of recovery towards the social, political and economic stabilization of the country. Likewise noted was the collaboration between the State and the local Church in the work of national reconciliation and in the consolidation of peace, for the benefit of the whole Nation.”

Pope Francis, it went on, “conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi. He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events and, evoking the gesture of Pope St John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, he implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”

“In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the Statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion, the Pope also expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together, once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the centre.”

The Pope and the President then exchanged views “about the political, social and regional situation, with attention to those places that are suffering conflicts and natural calamities. A particular concern was expressed for the large number of refugees and migrants in need of help and support from the international community and from regional structures.”

FRANCIS WELCOMES EL SALVADOR BISHOPS ON AD LIMINA VISIT

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday received the prelates of El Salvador, who are in Rome for their ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’ visit.

Their visit takes place ahead of the March 24th feast day of the former Archbishop of San Salvador, Blessed Oscar Romero, and the 37th anniversary of his assassination by hired gunmen at the height of El Salvador’s civil war.

El Salvador, a Latin American Republic, has a population of around 6.5 million people, nearly 80 percent of whom are Catholic.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop José Luis Escobar’Alas of San Salvador and president of the Episcopal Conference said the primary pastoral challenges in El Salvador are “the defense of life, understood in its full sense as justice, truth and peace in a society marked by violence.”

He said the bishops are “working to recover family values, that is, of a solid and responsible family, which can save the whole of society.”

VATICAN PUBLISHES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO FATIMA

The Vatican today published the schedule of Pope Francis’ apostolic journey to Fatima, Portugal on May 12 and 13. (photo: news.va)

The Holy Father is scheduled to arrive at Monte Real air base on Saturday afternoon, May 12 where he will be welcomed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Afterwards he will be taken by helicopter to Fatima’s stadium of Fatima before travelling by car to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima where he will pray in the Chapel of the Apparitions, greet pilgrims present, and recite the Holy Rosary with them.

On Sunday, Pope Francis’ will meet with Prime Minister António Costa at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House, following which he will celebrate Mass in the square of the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima.”

His final stop is a lunch with the bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House. Pope Francis will then return to Rome via Rome’s Ciampino Airport.

Here is the papal itinerary:

Friday May 12, 2017

14:00     Departure by air from Rome Fiumicino airport for Monte Real.

16:20     Arrival at the air base of Monte Real:  Welcome ceremony.

16:35     Private meeting with the President of the Republic in the Monte Real air base.

16:55     Visit to the air base chapel.

17:15     Transfer by helicopter to the stadium of Fatima.

17:35     Arrival at the Fatima stadium and transfer by open vehicle to the Shrine.

18:15     Visit to the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Prayer of the Holy Father.

21:30     Blessing of the Candles from the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Greetings from the Holy Father & Recital of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday May 13, 2017

09:10     Meeting with the Prime Minister at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

09:40     Visit to the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima”.

10:00     Holy Mass at the churchyard of the Shrine:  Holy Father’s homily & Holy Father’s greetings to the sick.

12:30     Lunch with bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

14:45     Farewell ceremony in the Monte Real air base.

15:00     Departure by air from the Monte Real air base, destined for Rome.

19:05     Arrival at Rome Ciampino airport.

 

THE SIX NEW BEATITUDES OF POPE FRANCIS – BE SALT AND LIGHT: EXPRESS FAITH IN PRAYER, SACRAMENTS AND SERVICE TO THE SUFFERING

THE SIX NEW BEATITUDES OF POPE FRANCIS

In his homily this morning at Mass for the small Catholic population of Sweden, Pope Francis focussed on the Beatitudes as recounted in the day’s Gospel according to Matthew, and added some “new” Beatitudes of his own.

In what was the final event of his overnight stay in southern Sweden to mark the start of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Holy Father celebrated Mass under gray skies and very chilly temperatures in a stadium in Malmo, where the faithful included Catholics from other Nordic countries as well as Filippino immigrants who work in these nations. (photo: news.va)

malmo-mass

“The Beatitudes,” said Francis, “are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian.  Here I would like to mention only one: ‘Blessed are the meek’.  Jesus says of himself: ‘Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart’.  This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love.  Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another.  It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity.

He explained that “the Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card.  They identify us as followers of Jesus.  We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.  Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.”

Pope Francis then created his own list of six Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart.  Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.  Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.  Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.  Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.  Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.  All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.”

Pope Francis’ homily was quite beautiful, encouraging all of us aim high, as the saints did, and to remember that today’s Solemnity of All Saints, is a “celebration of holiness.  A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism.  A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters.  A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others.”

Click here for that full homily:  http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-celebrates-mass-at-malmo

BE SALT AND LIGHT: EXPRESS FAITH IN PRAYER, SACRAMENTS AND SERVICE TO THE SUFFERING

Following Mass in the Malmo stadium Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis had a message for the faithful before reciting the Angelus. Thanking God for his visit, Francis said, “As Catholics, we are part of a great family and are sustained in the same communion.  I encourage you to express your faith in prayer, in the sacraments, and in generous service to those who are suffering and in need.  I urge you to be salt and light, wherever you find yourselves, through the way you live and act as followers of Jesus, and to show great respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities, and with all people of good will.” (photo news.va)

malmo-angelus

The Pope noted that, “In our life, we are not alone; we have the constant help and companionship of the Virgin Mary.  Today she stands before us as first among the saints, the first disciple of the Lord.  We flee to her protection and to her we present our sorrows and our joys, our fears and our aspirations.  We put everything under her protection, in the sure knowledge that she watches over us and cares for us with a mother’s love.

Francis asked those present to keep him in their prayers, adding, “I keep you all very present in my own. Now, together, let us turn to Our Lady and pray the Angelus.”

Earlier the Pope expressed his “gratitude to Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm for his kind words, and to the civil authorities and all who helped in the planning and execution of this visit.” He also greeted the president and the secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation, the archbishop of the Church of Sweden, members of the ecumenical delegations and the diplomatic corps present for the occasion.

POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK CENTRAL ITALY

POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO EARTHQUAKE-STRUCK CENTRAL ITALY

On the October 4 feast of St. Francis (and the papal name day), with only a few people in the know, Pope Francis left the Vatican this morning for his promised visit to the towns severely struck by the August 24 earthquake in central Italy. I present a composite of various news agencies’ reports on the papal trip, along with several photos, including one by Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office:

On Tuesday Pope Francis made an unannounced private visit to the small Italian city of Amatrice to offer support to areas devastated by a massive earthquake in August, where he offered a message of comfort and hope “I let a bit of time pass, so that some things could be repaired such as the school, but from the first moment I felt that I had to come to you. Simply for nothing more than to pray. I pray for you,” the Pope said during his Oct. 4 visit.

He said that “closeness and prayer” were the offering he brought, and prayed that the Lord would bless those affected, and that the Virgin Mary would “comfort you in this moment of sadness, pain and trial.”

“Go forward, there is always a future, there are many loved ones who have left us. They have fallen here, let us pray to the Virgin for them. Let us do it together.”

The August 24 6.0-magnitude quake that hit central Italy left 298 dead.

FOTO DA TWITTER POPE VISITS AMATRICE

Pope Francis on Tuesday tweeted, “I want to bring the consolation of the Lord Jesus, with the caress and embrace of the whole of the Church to those struck by the earthquake”.

A 3.6-magnitude quake hit the part of central Italy that was devastated by the deadly August 24 earthquake during Pope Francis’s visit to the area on Tuesday. The quake, which was clearly felt by local people, took place at 14:41, seven kilometres from the town of Norcia.

The pontiff travelled to the town for a private visit aboard a VW Golf car with tinted windows and visited the temporary school set up the civil protection to meet students and teachers. He met elementary and middle school pupils who gave him drawings as a present, sources said. The pope spoke with each one of them, listening to what they had to say and hugging them, according to the sources.

After the visit, the pope went to the red zone of Amatrice, the part of the town still sealed off to the public after the earthquake, and walked amid the ruins of Lungo Corso Umberto I street accompanied by firefighters. The devastated town is where 234 of the overall fatalities occurred, according to civil protection figures. Piles of rubble that have yet to be cleared away and half-destroyed buildings are still visible.

A picture provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis greets  firemen as he arrives to meets people survived at earthquake in Amatrice, Italy, 04 October 2016. A devastating 6.0 magnitude earthquake early morning of 24 August left a total of 293 dead, according to official sources. ANSA/OSSERVATORE ROMANO EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The Vatican said the pope arrived in Amatrice Tuesday morning, accompanied by the bishop of Rieti, and started his tour at the school. He then planned to visit the hardest-hit area of the town, which remains largely closed due to security concerns.

Francis had made clear his intentions to visit the quake-stricken zone but without announcing a date. He indicated that he wanted to go alone “to be close to the people.”

The Pope later went to the “San Raffaele Borona” assisted living home in Rieti, where he greeted 60 patients – most of whom are elderly who lost their homes in the earthquake – one by one, and ate lunch with them.

Pope Francis said Tuesday on the second stage of his visit to the central Italian earthquake zone that he was “with” the people of Arquata del Tronto. “I’m with you,” he said. “Times will change, and you will be able to go on”.

The pope visited a hamlet in Arquata, Pescara del Tronto, which was flattened in the August 24 quake killing 48 of the 51 victims in the Marche region. He spent a few minutes in silent prayer.

Pope Francis on Tuesday also visited San Pellegrino di Norcia, one of the places most severely struck in the Umbria region. He met local people in the village square together with the bishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Renato Boccardo. A tent camp at San Pellegrino was recently taken down. The 6.0-magnitude quake killed almost 300 people in Lazio and Marche and caused severe damage in the neighboring regions of Umbria and Abruzzo.

FROM VATICAN RADIO –

After stopping for almost two hours with the elderly in Borbona, the Pope made a brief stop at the Command Post of the Fire Brigade in Cittareale – base camp for the earthquake zone.  He then traveled to Accumoli, one of the cities most affected, where he greeted several people including the mayor, in Piazza San Francesco and he prayed in front of the Church of San Francesco destroyed by the earthquake.

From there he traveled to Pescara del Tronto, stopping three times along the way to greet which has the task three stops along the way to greet small groups of people. Shortly before 14:00, the Holy Father arrived in Arquata del Tronto.

In the visit to Pescara Del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto, the Pope was accompanied by Most Reverend Giovanni D’Ercole, bishop of Ascoli Piceno. In Arquata del Tronto, the Pope greeted more than 100 people, addressing a few words to them and praying with them. He also visited a make-shift school that was set up in the tent city.

Here are the Pope’s words to the earthquake victims of Arquata:

“Good afternoon to you all. I wanted to be close to you right now and say to you that you are in my heart and I know, I know your suffering and your anguish, and I also know about your dead, and I am with you, and so I wanted to be here today.

“Now we pray to the Lord to bless you and pray for your loved ones who have stayed there … and gone to heaven. Ave Maria …. [Blessing]

“And courage, always going forward, always forward. Times will change and you will be able to move forward. I am close to you, I’m with you.”

This evening Pope Francis arrived at the last stop on his journey through the earthquake zones: San Pellegrino di Norcia in Umbria.  He was accompanied by the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Most Reverend Renato Boccardo.  The Pope prayed in the red zone in front of the San Pellegrino church which was heavily damaged.  He then greeted the people who were waiting for him outside and using the police megaphone, addressed these words to them: “I greet you all. I was close to you and I feel very close in this time of sadness and pray for you and ask the Lord to give strength to move forward. And now I invite you to pray all together the Hail Mary.”

At 15:30 Pope Francis returned to Rome.

PAPAL Q&A ON MARRIAGE, GENDER IDEOLOGY, PEACE, U.S. ELECTIONS, FUTURE TRIPS, AND MUCH MORE

I had a great weekend in Florence with my two cousins and will try to find some time to post a few photos but for now, just a report on Pope Francis’ press conference after his three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan.

PAPAL Q&A ON MARRIAGE, GENDER IDEOLOGY, PEACE, U.S. ELECTIONS, FUTURE TRIPS, AND MUCH MORE

As you know, Pope Francis returned to Rome last night from a three-day trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan. On the return flight to Rome, as is by now traditional, especially when the flight is long and time allows, the Pope held a “presser, a press conference with the journalists aboard the flight. (photo news.va – Pope Francis and Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office)

pope-presser

Ample news summaries have been written of some of the papal comments on the war against marriage, gender ideology, the U.S. election, peace in the world, possible consistories to create new cardinals, future papal trips and many more topics.

One talk highlighted by many in the media were the Holy Father’s off-the-cuff remarks on Saturday October 1 when, after celebrating Mass for the country’s small Catholic populace, he addressed hundreds of priests, seminarians, men and women Religious and pastoral workers. He did not use a prepared speech, rather, he listened to testimonies, took ample notes and then answered questions of made comments in an extemporaneous manner.

Francis spoke at length on marriage and commented on one woman’s remarks by noting that she “mentioned a great enemy of marriage today: gender theory. Today the whole world is at war trying to destroy marriage but it is a war fought with words, not weapons.”

Her remarks to Pope Francis focused on the growing pressure on people – couples and families – to accept homosexuality and gender ideology, and also on what she called the “marginalization” of the Christian vision of the family. Francis said there are “certain ideologies that destroy marriage, and thus we need to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.”

The Holy Father stressed that, “marriage is the most beautiful thing God created. …As man and woman have been created in God’s image, it is when the two become one that His image is reflected.” Francis said he understood the trials and difficulties that can come with marriage and noted that sometimes couples seek to resolve things on a path to divorce. But, he said, “when divorce happens, two people pay: “God pays, because God is the one Who made them one, and when they divorce, they soil what God has made.”

Children also pay the price of the separation, said Francis. “You don’t know, you have no idea how much children suffer when they see parents fight and separate.”  He also noted that, although “complex situations” can exist, “you must do everything to save a marriage.”

The Catholic News Agency crew had a very late night – or early morning, depending on how you look at it! – as they combined efforts to translate the entire 4,700-word in-flight presser. On its website, Vatican Radio used the CNA summary of the papal remarks on the plane to Rome from Azerbaijan.

Below are some of the fair and well-balanced headlines summarizing a few of the papal comments:.

Pope Francis: Love those who struggle, but don’t push gender theory on kids

Pope says walk with trans persons, but fight gender theory

Pope Francis green-lights opening of Fr. Jacques Hamel beatification process

Pope sees ‘global war’ against marriage, urges church help for couples

Following is the transcript of the papal Q and A. It is lengthy and, at times, seems repetitive and possibly even rambling but that is not the translation which is faithful to the Pope’s words. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-azerbaijan-24352/

POPE TO EMBARK ON THREE-DAY TRIP TO GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN

Just one piece of news today – the days are filled with visitors, two cousins who are my houseguests, preparations for the blessing tomorrow of the new EWTN offices and then on Thursday the annual North American College diaconate ordination in St. Peter’s Basilica followed by a reception at the College…a momentous event in the life of the young men who will be ordained priests in their own dioceses next summer.

POPE TO EMBARK ON THREE-DAY TRIP TO GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN

The Vatican has released details of the Holy Father’s upcoming three-day trip to the republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, his 16th foreign apostolic visit. The trip will take place on the themes of peace and brotherhood, concluding his message of peace during his June trip to neighboring Armenia last June.

Pope Francis is scheduled to leave the Vatican on Friday morning, headed for the Georgian capital Tbilisi. His first encounter there will be with the president, with government authorities and representatives of civil society gathered at the imposing presidential palace. From there he goes on to meet the country’s Orthodox leader Patriarch Elia, who was also on hand for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the newly independent nation back in 1999.

The final event on Friday will be a visit to the Syro-Chaldean church of St Simon the Tanner, one of three different rites making up the small Catholic community in the former Soviet nation. The Pope will join Syro-Chaldean bishops from around the world to pray for peace in Syria and Iraq.

The Holy Father starts his second day with Mass at a stadium in Tbilisi named after one of Georgia’s most famous footballers. Significantly, a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate will also be present at the Mass, a sign of growing friendship despite the many doctrinal difficulties that continue to divide leaders of the two Churches.

In the afternoon, the Pope will meet with priests, religious and seminarians at one of the two Catholic parishes in the capital, before greeting several hundred disabled and vulnerable people being cared for by members of the Camilian order.  The Pope’s final event in Georgia will be a visit to the patriarchal cathedral in the nearby ancient city of Mtshketa, listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

On his third and final day, Pope Francis flies from Tbilisi to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan where he’ll celebrate Mass for the tiny Catholic community at the only parish church run by the Salesian order. In the afternoon he’ll make a courtesy visit to the president and meet the region’s Muslim leader, Sheik Allashukur Pashazade, before taking part in an interfaith encounter with representatives of all the other religious communities in the country.

 

THE DEVIL HAS TWO WEAPONS, SAYS FRANCIS, “DIVISION AND MONEY” – VATICAN RELEASES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO SWEDEN – “LAST CONVERSATIONS” BY POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT DEBUTS TODAY

Join me this weekend on VATICAN INSIDER for Part II of my conversation with Fr. Brian Kolodeijchuk, MC, the postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization. He has, of course, terrific insight and wonderful stories about this nun who was larger than life for everyone who came into contact with her. This is the end of an amazing week in Rome that began with the canonization of Mother Teresa, now St. Teresa of Calutta but still ‘Mother Teresa’ to so many around the world who knew and loved this miniscule woman who was a giant of integrity and sanctity.

20160322_093547

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=

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which Pope died after 12 days in office?

(Remember, do NOT email me – just enjoy!)

THE DEVIL HAS TWO WEAPONS, SAYS FRANCIS, “DIVISION AND MONEY”

Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday told bishops that division, gossip and money are weapons in the hands of the devil.

Speaking to a group of recently appointed bishops of mission countries at the end of a formation course organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pope said each bishop is called to give testimony of God’s love, care and mercy with their own lives and example. (photo: news.va)

mission-bishops

Pointing out that bishops of mission countries come from places that are “different and distant”, each of you – Pope Francis said – has “the great privilege and responsibility of being on the front lines of evangelization”.

Inviting them never to forget that one of their foremost duties is to respond immediately to the requests and needs of their priests, the Pope warned them against the evils that can wreak damage and destroy their mission to evangelize.

He reminded them that a missionary bishop’s first duty as a pastor is to reach out to the lost sheep and to bring the joy of the gospel to those who perhaps do not know Jesus or have rejected him.

He spoke of the vocation of the episcopal ministry saying that each bishop is called give testimony of Jesus’s care and love for all men and women also through their own personal example.

And he warned of the dangers that can foil this vocation mentioning specifically the factors that – he said – become weapons in the hands of the devil bent on destroying the Church.

“The devil – he said – has two weapons: the main one is division; the other is money”.

And saying that the devil slips in through one’s pockets and wreaks havoc through ‘the tongue’, Pope Francis described the tendency to gossip as “a terroristic” one.

“He who gossips is a terrorist who throws a bomb” – because gossip, he said, destroys.

Urging those present to fight against divisions which can destroy the local Church and the universal Church, he said there are many difficult challenges to overcome, but thanks to the grace of God, thanks to prayer and thanks to penitence, it is possible.

Pope Francis concluded his address to the new missionary bishops urging them to take good care of the people of God who have been entrusted to them, to take good care of their priests, and of their seminarians. “This – he said – is your job”.

VATICAN RELEASES ITINERARY FOR PAPAL TRIP TO SWEDEN

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday released details of Pope Francis’ trip to Sweden at the end of October to mark the joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The Pope is scheduled to leave from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 8.20 on the morning on Monday October 31st and arrive in the southern Swedish city of Malmö at 11.00.

Following an official welcome, the Pope will travel to the nearby city of Lund and pay a courtesy visit to the Swedish royal family before leading an ecumenical prayer service with Lutheran leaders in Lund cathedral.

In the afternoon the Pope will take part in a second ecumenical event in Malmö arena and meet with delegations of different Christian Churches present for the occasion.

The following morning, Tuesday November 1st, the Pope will preside at Mass in Malmö  for the Swedish Catholic community before travelling back to the international airport there for an official departure ceremony.

The papal plane is scheduled to leave Malmö at 12.45 and arrive back at Rome’s Ciampino airport at 15.30.

“LAST CONVERSATIONS” BY POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT DEBUTS TODAY

(Vatican Radio) A new book of interviews by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI hit bookshelves Friday in the Italian language. The book entitled “The Last Conversations”, by German journalist Peter Seewald covers a number of themes including his decision to resign.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, former head of Vatican Radio and president of the Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI ) Foundation, spoke to the radio’s Lydia O’Kane about some of the key themes.

Scroll down in this link to listen:  http://www.news.va/en/news/fr-lombardi-pope-emeritus-benedict-xvis-new-book-a

For Fr. Lombardi there are two very important aspects of this book. The first he says, is the witness Pope Emeritus Benedict gives as he lives this last phase of his life. “The last time of his life is preparation to (for) the encounter with God. This is a very important witness, profound, spiritual; a witness of faith.”

Fr Lombardi goes on to say that this theme “justifies this book”, because his explanation of “how he experiences now the presence of God in his life is something that is precious and urgent…”

Theme of resignation

Another key theme, says Fr. Lombardi, is “how he gives again clearly – and I think in a definitive way – the reasons for his resignation, eliminating every rumor, every false interpretation as consequence of the scandals of the difficulties.”

“No,” (Benedict) says no, “it was a time I had already overcome the difficulties and then there was the good time to take a decision before God in total responsibility and this I have done and I am happy with this decision and I have not changed my mind.””

Recalling other interesting themes and points in the book, Fr. Lombardi mentions Pope Benedict’s reflections on his participation at the Second Vatican Council, and his collaboration with St John Paul II.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s “The Last Conversations” is published worldwide in Italian September 9th. It is due in English in November. The title is “Last Testament: In His Own Words.”

CNA/EWTN NEWS, in an article dated today, September 9, wrote:

Though he has rarely spoken since resigning from the papacy, Benedict XVI granted several lengthy interviews to German journalist Peter Seewald shortly after stepping down – conversations that touched on themes such as the reform of the Curia, his resignation and his thoughts on Pope Francis.

The interviews, conducted a few months after Benedict’s Feb. 28, 2013, resignation, were released as a book in several languages Sept. 9. The English language version, Last Testament, is due to be published in November.

About 240 pages in length, the book in German is titled Letzte Gespräche. It “touches upon all the most important stages of life of Joseph Ratzinger.”

These stages include Benedict’s childhood under the Nazi regime, the discovery of his vocation to the priesthood, the hardships of the war and his time in the Vatican until his election to the papacy. It also covers “the anxiety” of his first few days as successor of St. Peter, as well as his “painful” decision to resign and his thoughts on Pope Francis.

n his responses to Seewald, Benedict speaks about himself, his faith, his weaknesses, his private life, the scandals and controversial issues of his reign, and his papacy in general, explaining the reason for his choice to resign – “initially only communicated to a few trusted people to avoid leaks,” Corriere della Sera reports.

The retired Pope also speaks about the reform of the Roman Curia, the “Vatileaks” scandal that many pinned as the reason for his stepping-down, and outlines the differences between him and Francis in light of “his own peculiarities” and those of his Argentine successor.

He also mentions the “gay lobby” at the Vatican – a group of four to five persons, which he says he was able to break up.

In a June 28 ceremony at the Vatican marking his 65th anniversary as a priest, Benedict told Pope Francis that from the moment of his election and every day since “your goodness…moves me interiorly, brings me inwardly more than the Vatican Gardens.”

“Your goodness is a place in which I feel protected,” he said of his successor.

Seewald, the author of the new book, is also the author of the 2010 book-length interview with Benedict titled “Light of the Word: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.” He had previously published two other books on then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, ““Final Conversations,” then, will mark the journalist’s fourth book on Benedict from before his election to the throne of Peter, during his papacy and now after his resignation.

CNA contacted Seewald for comment on the book, however, the author said that for the moment, he prefers not to speak.   In an interview with CNA when “Light of the World” came out in 2010, Seewald said Benedict “is one of the greatest minds of the Catholic Church; someone with a great heart and…a fighter by nature, someone who remains standing amidst the storms, someone who is not afraid.”

“He is someone who does not get stuck in the past or in the present. He is someone who is very much a part of our times,” Seewald said, adding that he has always considered Benedict “a very modern man, someone who is always accessible, who promotes and seeks dialogue.”

“I would say he is an upright man and by far one of the greatest figures of our time…he is man who is always willing to listen, because he is not only a great thinker, he is also a great spiritual teacher.”

In a world that is “often blind,” it’s important to have someone “with this unbreakable attitude of openness,” he said, voicing his belief that Benedict “will be much better appreciated in the future” than he was at that time.

This article was originally published July 1, 2016.

BLESSINGS BY THE BUCKETLOAD! – MERCY IS REAL WHEN IT IS LIVED AND PRACTICED

BLESSINGS BY THE BUCKETLOAD!

I thank the Lord every morning when I get up for giving me another day – a day to enjoy his creations, my home and family, a day to be with friends, to travel, dine, laugh and share stories with those near and dear to me and, very importantly, to work to teach about and build His Church. A day to experience the thousandfold blessings that seem to envelope me every day of my life!

Today I am giving extra special thanks to the Lord because it has been an extra special birthday every moment since awakening. I spent part of he morning reading over 150 cards and email messages and opening a gift from a friend in the U.S. That was followed by a hair trim at noon, and I wonder how many of you have a hairdresser who would give you this for your birthday! Heart-shaped Margarita pizza with “Best Wishes Joan” in mozzarella!

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I then joined a group of friends and, as it turns out, fans of my work on EWTN and my book on the Holy Year at La Vittoria restaurant where, for many years now, I have always had my birthday lunch. Bob Moynihan of Inside the Vatican, his right hand gal, Debbie Tomlinson and Michael Hesemann have been in Rome and are leaving late this afternoon for Bavaria, Germany, where they and a small pilgrimage group will be visiting towns associated with Pope emeritus Benedict, né Joseph Ratzinger’s youth. If I’d not already explored these marvelous towns, I’d be jealous!

La Vittoria’s owner, my good friends Claudio and his wife Palmerina, gave me these magnificent flowers! You may well remember the big birthday bash I had a year ago at La Vittoria!

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CLAUDIO - FLOWERS

I also received others gifts, including a bottle of red wine from Armenia from Michael and a delightful summer straw hat in this great bag from Bob’s group.

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BIRTHDAY BAG

Tons of fun and laughter and photos and stories – and that was just by lunch time. Celebrations continue!

PS. I just checked and I have about 150 more emails and cards to read!

MERCY IS REAL WHEN IT IS LIVED AND PRACTICED

At today’s special Jubilee audience in a very hot St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis focused on the Works of Mercy, saying mercy is real and true when it is lived and practiced.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: During this Holy Year of Mercy, we have not only considered the gift of God’s mercy in itself, but also the works of mercy which we are called to practice as part of the Christian life. To paraphrase Saint James, we can say that mercy without works is dead. To be merciful like God our Father demands constant sensitivity to the needs, material and spiritual, of those around us. Jesus himself tells us in no uncertain terms that we will be judged by the mercy we show to the poor: those who hunger and thirst, the naked, the stranger, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:35-36).

“Particularly in our prosperous societies, Christians are called to guard against the temptation of indifference to the plea of so many of our brothers and sisters.  In our rapidly changing and increasingly globalized world, many new forms of poverty are appearing. In response to them, may we prove creative in developing new and practical forms of charitable outreach as an expression of the way of mercy.”

At the end of his catechesis in English, he spoke of his trip to Armenia and announced further travel plans:

“This past weekend I made a Pastoral Visit to Armenia, the first nation to embrace the Christian faith and a people which has remained faithful even in the midst of great trials. I also plan to go to Georgia and Azerbaijan in the near future, to affirm the ancient Christian roots of those countries and to support every effort to encourage peace and reconciliation in a spirit of respect for all.  With gratitude for the welcome and fellowship showed me by the Armenian Apostolic Church, I ask the Virgin Mary to strengthen Christians everywhere to remain firm in the faith and to work for a society of ever greater justice and peace.”