A LENTEN PILGRIMAGE IN ROME: SAN GIORGIO IN VELABRO – POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES ROME’S PASTORS

A LENTEN PILGRIMAGE IN ROME: SAN GIORGIO IN VELABRO

Today’s Lenten Station Church in Rome is San Giorgio in Velabro. For further info, visit the following sites.

https://www.pnac.org/station-churches/week-of-ash-wed/thursday-after-ash-wednesday-san-giorgio/

http://rometour.org/church-san-giorgio-velabro.html

Stephen Weigel, son of author George Weigel, put this video together for the North American College – a video pilgrimage of Rome’s Lenten Station Churches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQa1QwNZ5Yw

POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSES ROME’S PASTORS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday addressed the parish priests of the Diocese of Rome, reflecting with them on the ‘progress of faith’ in the life of a priest.

He was welcomed to Rome’s Cathedral by his Vicar, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, and heard the confessions of around a dozen priests before delivering his address.

Pope Francis spoke to Rome’s parish priests on Thursday about the progress of faith in the life of a priest in three main points: memory, hope, and discernment of the moment.

In remarks prepared for the event, the Holy Father said, “Memory, as the Catechism says, is rooted in the faith of the Church, in the faith of our fathers; hope is that which sustains our faith; and discernment of the moment I hold present at the moment of acting, of putting into practice that ‘faith which operates through charity’.”

pope-pastors

Growth in faith

He said that “growing in faith” implies a “path of formation and of maturation in the faith”.

Turning to Evangelii Gaudium as a guide, he said, “Taking this seriously means that ‘it would not be right to see this call to growth exclusively or primarily in terms of doctrinal formation.’ (EG, n.161) Growth in faith happens through encounters with the Lord during the course of our lives. These encounters act as a treasure of memory and are our living faith, in a story of personal salvation.”

To illustrate, he gave the example of a basketball player who pivots on a stable foot while remaining flexible with the rest of his body to protect the ball from his opponent. “For us that foot pinned to the ground, around which we pivot, is the cross of Christ.”

Memory is remembering the promise of the Lord

Pope Francis said a faith nourished on memory of past graces “confers on our faith the solidity of the Incarnation”.

“Faith feeds on and is nourished by memory: The memory of the Covenant which the Lord has made with us. He is the God of our fathers and grandfathers. He is not a God of the last moment, a God without a family history, a God which – to respond to each new paradigm – should throw out precedents as if they were old and ridiculous.”

He said faith can even progress “backwards” in a “revolutionary return to the roots”.

“The more lucid the memory of the past, the more clear the future opens up, because it is possible to see the truly new path and distinguish it from the path already taken, which has never led anywhere meaningful.”

Hope is the guiding star which indicates the horizon

The Holy Father went on to speak of hope, which “opens faith to the surprises of God.”

“Faith is sustained and progresses thanks to hope. Hope is the anchor anchored in the Heavens, in the transcendent future, of which the temporal future –considered in a linear form – is only an expression. Hope is that which gives dynamism to the rearwards-looking glance of faith, which conduces one to find new things in the past – in the treasures of the memory – so that one can encounter the same God, which one hopes to see in the future.”

Discernment at every fork in the road to find next step in love

The Pope then examined discernment, which “is what makes faith concrete…, what permits us to give credible witness”.

He said, “The discernment of the opportune time (Kairos) is fundamentally rich in memory and in hope: remembering with love, I aim my gaze with clarity to that which best guides to the Promise.”

He also spoke of two moments in the act of discernment: first, a step back “to better see the panorama”; second, a step forward “when, in the present moment, we discern how to concretize love in the possible good, that is, for the good of the other. The highest good of the other is to grow in faith.”

Pope Francis then examined the figure of Saint Peter who was “sifted like grain” (Luke 22:31).

He said the paradox of Saint Peter is that “he who must confirm us in the faith is the same one whom the Lord often rebukes for his ‘lack of faith’”.

“We see that Saint Peter’s faith has a special character: it is a proven faith, and for this he has the mission to confirm and consolidate the faith of his brothers, our faith.”

 

POPE FRANCIS HOLDS EMOTIONAL ENCOUNTER WITH EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

Papal tweet on January 5: May charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other.

POPE FRANCIS HOLDS EMOTIONAL ENCOUNTER WITH EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

Pope Francis met on Thursday with hundreds of Italians from the archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes over the past six months. The central Italian town of Amatrice and surrounding areas were hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake in August which killed nearly 300 people. Other powerful quakes caused major damage in the same region on October 26th and 30th, with the latest tremors reported in Spoleto last Monday, January 2nd.

earthquke-victims

Around 800 people, led by their Bishop Renato Boccardo and local civic authorities, travelled to Rome for the audience in the Paul VI hall. Many of them had lost their houses, livelihoods and friends or family members in the largest earthquakes which reduced parts of many towns and villages to piles of rubble.

Regional reconstruction: Pope Francis sat and listened as a survivor and a local parish priest described the immense suffering of people, now seeking to rebuild their shattered communities. In his off-the-cuff response, the Pope said the worst thing to do in such circumstances was to offer a prepared sermon, but instead he reflected on the work of physical, mental and spiritual reconstruction that has been taking place throughout the region.

Healing hands: Pope Francis spoke of the wounds which have affected those who’ve lost their loved ones and the importance of crying together as they seek to heal the pain. He spoke too of the healing hands of doctors, nurses, firemen and all those who worked together to pull survivors from the rubble or offer help to those most in need.

Sharing and solidarity: Finally the Pope spoke of the spirit of solidarity and nearness which is vital for the reconstruction process. While everyone affected by the earthquakes will continue to bear scars, he said it’s important to find the courage to dream again.  Sharing and remaining close together, he said, makes us more courageous and more human as we face this daunting task.

Amatrice visit: The Pope’s words come three months after he made a surprise visit to Amatrice and two neighbouring towns to meet with survivors and relatives of victims. During the visit, he said he had not come to make speeches, but simply to be close to those suffering and to pray with all those affected by the earthquakes. (Vatican Radio)

 

POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

Video Message of His Holiness Pope Francis To the General Assembly of the USCCB 14-17 November 2016

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you.  Just a year ago, I was with you during my Pastoral Visit to the United States.  There I was impressed by the vitality and diversity of the Catholic community.  Throughout its history, the Church in your country has welcomed and integrated new waves of immigrants.  In the rich variety of their languages and cultural traditions, they have shaped the changing face of the American Church.

In this context, I would commend the coming Fifth National Hispanic Pastoral Encuentro.  The celebration of this Fifth Encuentro will begin in your Dioceses in this coming January and conclude with a national celebration in September 2018.

In continuity with its predecessors, the Encuentro seeks to acknowledge and value the specific gifts that Hispanic Catholics have offered, and continue to offer, to the Church in your country.  But it is more than that.  It is part of a greater process of renewal and missionary outreach, one to which all of your local Churches are called.

Our great challenge is to create a culture of encounter, which encourages individuals and groups to share the richness of their traditions and experiences, to break down walls and to build bridges.  The Church in America, as elsewhere, is called to “go out” from its comfort zone and to be a leaven of communion.  Communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope.

We need to become ever more fully a community of missionary disciples, filled with love of the Lord Jesus and enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel.  The Christian community is meant to be a sign and prophecy of God’s plan for the entire human family.  We are called to be bearers of good news for a society gripped by disconcerting social, cultural and spiritual shifts, and increasing polarization.

It is my hope that the Church in your country, at every level, will accompany the Encuentro with its own reflection and pastoral discernment. In a particular way, I ask you to consider how your local Churches can best respond to the growing presence, gifts and potential of the Hispanic community.  Mindful of the contribution that the Hispanic community makes to the life of the nation, I pray that the Encuentro will bear fruit for the renewal of American society and for the Church’s apostolate in the United States.

With gratitude to all engaged in the preparation of the Fifth Encuentro, I assure you of my prayers for this important initiative of your Conference.  Commending you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful of your local Churches, to the prayers of Mary Immaculate, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

For Spanish text, click here: http://www.news.va/es/news/video-mensaje-del-papa-a-la-asamblea-general-de-la

POPE TO JOURNALISTS: FOSTER TRUTH, PROFESSIONALISM, RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY

Today is one of those days when even a 15-minute delay in back to back appointments can wreak havoc on a schedule. Because of a slew of meetings that start late afternoon and go into mid-evening, I don’t have time to post all the items I had planned but below you will find the most important piece of news today, a talk by Pope Francis to an Italian group of journalists.

What the Holy Father said must be an integral party of our work – truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity – is what I try to do with every word I write, every TV segment I tape, every radio show on which I appear.  All the extra time I spend in researching a statement or getting background on a story so that only the truth is being told, is eminently worth it. I want to stand tall at the end of a work day, knowing I have helped people to learn and understand, that I have cleared up doubts, not created them, that I have straightened out confusion, not contributed to it.

A great talk by the Holy Father – think of it the next time you pick up a paper or go online for a story!

The photo in this story is from ANSA at news.va – if you substitute yours truly for the fellow with the mic, you have an image of what I do twice weekly for At Home with Jim and Joy (tune in today at 2 pm ET!)

POPE TO JOURNALISTS: FOSTER TRUTH, PROFESSIONALISM, RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, telling them that truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity were essential elements in their work.

journalists

Meeting with the assembled Italian journalists in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Thursday, Pope Francis told them that there were few professions that have “so much influence on society like that of journalism.” He noted that they are usually the ones who are there to record what he called,  the “first draft of history”, “the building of the news agenda and introducing people to the interpretation of events.”

He also noted that the journalistic profession was one that was continually adapting to changes in the way people digest news through new forms of media.

In his discourse the Pope stressed three essential elements in the work of a journalist, that he said, could serve to “improve the society in which we live”: To love the truth, to embody professionalism and to respect human dignity.

Truth

He said that loving the truth meant not only stating it, but living it  and bearing witness to it in their work, adding, “even in journalism we must be able to discern between shades of grey surrounding the events that we are called to tell.”

Speaking about the second element, professionalism, Pope Francis underlined that when there was professionalism, journalists remained “a cornerstone, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralistic society.”

Respecting human dignity

On the subject of human dignity, the Pope stressed the importance of responsible journalism and he reiterated earlier comments he made about rumors being a form of “terrorism,” and how you can kill a person with language. The Holy Father went on to say that “journalism cannot become a weapon of destruction “of people and even nations.” Criticism, is legitimate, he added, “as well as the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections.”

Holy See communications

Pope Francis during his discourse also commented on the changing communication’s environment of the Holy See. He said that it was experiencing a renewal process from which journalists should benefit, adding “the Secretariat for Communication will be the natural point of reference for your valuable work.”

 

“TO DRY THE TEARS” OF THE ILL AND SUFFERING

I was going to do a column today on my 48 hours in Wisconsin for a family First Communion last weekend and then my amazing days in New York for events for my book, A Holy Year in Rome, but will defer that to tomorrow so you can focus on the Vigil of Tears!

Pope Francis’ homily at today’s prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica is an important and immensely beautiful one, and I have a feeling that every single person who reads it will understand exactly what the Pope is saying – and why. There are millions of personal stories – surely more than there should be – each of which can be found in Pope Francis words: stories of despair, tragedy, persecution, pain and loss that, to greater or lesser degrees, happen in every life.

And now we know how well the Holy Father understands that pain. We understand that he is by our side and, most important of all, we understand that Jesus, our best friend, really is by our side – as is His Blessed Mother!

If you need consolation, comforting words and loving prayers, here they are.

“TO DRY THE TEARS” OF THE ILL AND SUFFERING 

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Thursday (the Feast of the Ascension) presided over a prayer vigil “To Dry the Tears” in St Peter’s Basilica dedicated to all those who are suffering and who seek consolation. Members of one family and two individuals who have undergone different types of suffering in their lives testified to the gathering about their painful experience and how they were helped to recover from it.

During the vigil the reliquary of Our Lady of Tears of Syracuse were on display inside the basilica for the veneration of the faithful. This reliquary is linked to the extraordinary phenomenon that occurred in 1953, when a small plaster picture depicting the Immaculate Heart of Mary that was hanging above the bed of a young Italian married couple shed human tears. The reliquary contains part of the tears that flowed miraculously from the image of Our Lady.

TO DRY THE TEARS

Following is the English translation of Pope Francis’ homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the moving testimonies we have heard, and in the light of the word of the Lord that gives meaning to our suffering, let us first ask Holy Spirit to come among us. May he enlighten our minds to find the right words capable of bringing comfort. May he open our hearts to the certainty that God is always present and never abandons us in times of trouble. The Lord Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them alone, but at all times in life he would remain close to them by sending his Spirit, the Comforter (cf. Jn 14:26) to help, sustain and console them.

At times of sadness, suffering and sickness, amid the anguish of persecution and grief, everyone looks for a word of consolation. We sense a powerful need for someone to be close and feel compassion for us. We experience what it means to be disoriented, confused, more heartsick than we ever thought possible. We look around us with uncertainty, trying to see if we can find someone who really understands our pain. Our mind is full of questions but answers do not come. Reason by itself is not capable of making sense of our deepest feelings, appreciating the grief we experience and providing the answers we are looking for. At times like these, more than ever do we need the reasons of the heart, which alone can help us understand the mystery which embraces our loneliness.

How much sadness we see in so many faces all around us! How many tears are shed every second in our world; each is different but together they form, as it were, an ocean of desolation that cries out for mercy, compassion and consolation. The bitterest tears are those caused by human evil: the tears of those who have seen a loved one violently torn from them; the tears of grandparents, mothers and fathers, children; eyes that keep staring at the sunset and find it hard to see the dawn of a new day. We need the mercy, the consolation that comes from the Lord. All of us need it. This is our poverty but also our grandeur: to plead for the consolation of God, who in his tenderness comes to wipe the tears from our eyes (cf. Is 25:8; Rev 7:17; 21:4).

In our pain, we are not alone. Jesus, too, knows what it means to weep for the loss of a loved one. In one of the most moving pages of the Gospel, Jesus sees Mary weeping for the death of her brother Lazarus. Nor can he hold back tears. He was deeply moved and began to weep (cf. Jn 11:33-35). The evangelist John, in describing this, wanted to show how much Jesus shared in the sadness and grief of his friends. Jesus’ tears have unsettled many theologians over the centuries, but even more they have bathed so many souls and been a balm to so much hurt. Jesus also experienced in his own person the fear of suffering and death, disappointment and discouragement at the betrayal of Judas and Peter, and grief at the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus “does not abandon those whom he loves” (Augustine, In Joh., 49, 5).

If God could weep, then I too can weep, in the knowledge that he understands me. The tears of Jesus serve as an antidote to my indifference before the suffering of my brothers and sisters. His tears teach me to make my own the pain of others, to share in the discouragement and sufferings of those experiencing painful situations. They make me realize the sadness and desperation of those who have even seen the body of a dear one taken from them, and who no longer have a place in which to find consolation. Jesus’ tears cannot go without a response on the part of those who believe in him. As he consoles, so we too are called to console.

In the moment of confusion, dismay and tears, Christ’s heart turned in prayer to the Father. Prayer is the true medicine for our suffering. In prayer, we too can feel God’s presence. The tenderness of his gaze comforts us; the power of his word supports us and gives us hope. Jesus, standing before the tomb of Lazarus, prayed, saying: “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me” (Jn 11:41-42). We too need the certainty that the Father hears us and comes to our aid. The love of God, poured into our hearts, allows us to say that when we love, nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from those we have loved. The apostle Paul tells us this with words of great comfort: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or the sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 37-39). The power of love turns suffering into the certainty of Christ’s victory, and our own in union with him, and into the hope that one day we will once more be together and will forever contemplate the face of the Blessed Trinity, the eternal wellspring of life and love.

At the foot of every cross, the Mother of Jesus is always there. With her mantle, she wipes away our tears. With her outstretched hand, she helps us to rise up and she accompanies us along the path of hope.

 

POPE WRITES LETTER TO ITALIAN PRISONERS – HONG KONG, CHRISTIANS PROTEST AGAINST DEMOLITION OF CROSSES

POPE FRANCIS TWEETED TODAY: All are called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.

Today, April 25, is Toot Your Own Horn Day! (If it isn’t, it should be!) – so that’s what I’ll do!

I leave Thursday for the U.S. for what promises to be an amazing two weeks! I’ll be very briefly in Fox Point, Wisconsin for the First Communion of my great-nephew Emory, after which I fly to New York on May 2 where I will spend a week doing book promotions and signings, a bit of television and some radio (for starters). I’ll fly to Washington, D.C. on May 9, doing pretty much of the same, but including some very special events!

I have a feeling this is not the first time you’ve heard of my book – but just in case…!  Here are some reviews of my book, “A Holy Year in Rome, The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide to the Jubilee of Mercy” (I may have posted the Vatican Radio story previously). The second review was written by Monica Knudsen, one of my former French students with whom I had a reunion in Rome (and about which I wrote in early March)!

As I travel, I’ll keep you posted daily on events, offer some photos, etc – will do what I can to keep you informed about any breaking news in Rome. In particular, for those of you who live in or near NCY and DC, I’ll let you know where we can meet – and I’ll sign your book!

http://catholicnewslive.com/story/573760

http://www.archokc.org/news/6602-review-a-holy-year-in-rome

https://www.catholiccompany.com/a-holy-year-in-rome-and-the-holy-year-of-mercy-a-faith-sharing-guide-2-book-set-i119501/

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/03/21/joan%E2%80%99s_vatican_and_rome_for_jubilee_year_of_mercy/1216928

And now some news from Pope Francis in Rome and from the Church in China.

POPE WRITES LETTER TO ITALIAN PRISONERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to prisoners detained in a prison in the Italian city of Velletri, a short distance from Rome.

Prisoners at the facility had written to the Holy Father earlier this year, entrusting their letter to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a pastoral visit to the facility. In his response, Pope Francis thanked the detainees for thinking of him, and assured them that they, and others in similar situations, were often in his thoughts as well. He noted that during his Apostolic Voyages, he always tries to make a visit to local prisons. (photo from a previous prison visit)

POPE FRANCIS PRISONERS

The Pope noted that during the Holy Year of Mercy, there will also be a jubilee for prisoners, and he assured them that on that day he would be “in communion” with all prisoners “spiritually and in reciprocal prayer.”

Pope Francis also expressed his sympathy, noting that prisoners “are living an experience in which time seems both to be stopped, and to never end.” But, he said, “the true measure of time is not that of the clock”; rather, “the true measure of time is called hope.” He expressed his desire that all those incarcerated might “always keep lit the light of the hope of faith to illuminate” their lives.

“Always be certain that God loves you personally,” the Pope wrote to the prisoners. He encouraged them to never allow themselves to be closed in by their past, but rather to transform the past “into a journey of growth, of faith and charity.” He called on them to “give God the possibility” of making them “to shine” through their experience, recalling that many saints throughout history “have achieved sanctity” in harsh and difficult situations. “With Christ,” he said, “all this is possible.”

HONG KONG, CHRISTIANS PROTEST AGAINST DEMOLITION OF CROSSES

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – A group of dozens of Christians led by Cardinal Joseph Zen has asked the Chinese government to stop demolishing crosses on mainland China and to release religious leaders from jail. The retired bishop of Hong Kong pointed out that freedom is declining even in the former British colony: “We need to speak out, to take action to prevent this from spreading”.

CARDINAL ZEN

The protests were held yesterday in front of the Hong Kong Liaison Office with China. The Hong Kong Christian Institute, Christians for Hong Kong Society, Christian Social Concern Fellowship and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Hong Kong were the four groups that protested yesterday. Participants chanted, “respect for religious freedom” as they left flowers in memory of those who have died to affirm this right in China.

The group reminded those gathered that more than 2,000 crosses were removed or demolished in the province of Zhejiang alone since the end of 2013, when the campaign against Christian religious symbols was started by the local Party. In addition, the protesters asked the central government in Beijing to release pastors and priests imprisoned for opposing these demolitions.

Cardinal Zen he was worried the anti- Christian campaign could spread to Hong Kong. “The freedom is less and less. So we have to speak out because we, in Hong Kong, can see the possibility of the anti- Christian campaign spreading from the mainland,” he said.

CARDINAL ZEN  2

The Hong Kong protests come one day after the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and representatives of the United Front (which gathers together all “non-communist” social groups in modern-day China).

During his address, Xi stressed that religious groups must obey the Party: ” Religious groups must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China”. But party members must be “unyielding Marxist atheists,” Xi said, calling on them to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means.”

HIGHLIGHTS OF POPE FRANCIS’ TEACHING ON THE FAMILY

HIGHLIGHTS OF POPE FRANCIS’ TEACHING ON THE FAMILY

As a prelude to the release this Friday of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, (the Joy of Love,) the highly anticipated post-synodal document on the family, Vatican Radio today published a number of papal interventions on the family, Following is that lengthy summary of papal speeches.

The press conference will be available via live streaming at news.va and will remain available on demand. The document has been published into Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

(Vatican Radio) At many Wednesday general audiences during 2015, Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis to the topic of the family. He reflected on the family in the light of scripture and tradition, social realities and challenges, current roles and future possibilities. Out of more than 30 talks, here is a selection highlighting some main features of the Holy Father’s teaching on the family.

“The Incarnation of the Son of God opens a new beginning in the universal history of man and woman. And this new beginning happens within a family, in Nazareth. Jesus was born in a family. (…) God chose to come into the world in a human family, which He himself formed.” (17.12.2014)

“There is a close link between the hope of a people and the harmony among generations. The joy of children causes the parents’ hearts to beat and reopens the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a question of reproductive biology, nor one of the many ways to fulfill oneself, much less a possession of their parents…. No. Children are a gift, they are a gift: understood? Children are a gift. Each one is unique and irreplaceable; and at the same time unmistakably linked to his/her roots.” (11.2.2015)

“In the family, among siblings, human coexistence is learned, how one must live in society. Perhaps we are not always aware of it, but the family itself introduces fraternity into the world!” (18.2.2015) “First of all children remind us that we all, in the first years of life, were completely dependent upon the care and benevolence of others. The Son of God was not spared this stage. It is the mystery that we contemplate every year at Christmas. The Nativity Scene is the icon which communicates this reality in the simplest and most direct way.” (18.3.2015)

“Man and woman are the image and likeness of God. This tells us that it is not man alone who is the image of God or woman alone who is the image of God, but man and woman as a couple who are the image of God.” (15.4.2015) “Sin generates distrust and division between man and woman. Their relationship will be undermined by a thousand forms of abuse and subjugation, misleading seduction and humiliating ignorance, even the most dramatic and violent kind. And history bears the scar. Let us think, for example, of those negative excesses of patriarchal cultures. Think of the many forms of male dominance whereby the woman was considered second class. Think of the exploitation and the commercialization of the female body in the current media culture. And let us also think of the recent epidemic of distrust, skepticism, and even hostility that is spreading in our culture — in particular an understandable distrust from women — regarding a covenant between man and woman that is capable, at the same time, of refining the intimacy of communion and of guarding the dignity of difference.

If we do not find a surge of respect for this covenant, capable of protecting new generations from distrust and indifference, children will come into the world ever more uprooted from the mother’s womb. The social devaluation for the stable and generative alliance between man and woman is certainly a loss for everyone. We must return marriage and the family to the place of honour!” (22.4.2015)

“The family tops all the indices of wellbeing among young people; but, fearing mistakes, many do not want to even consider it; even being Christians, they do not consider the sacrament of matrimony, the single and unrepeatable sign of the covenant, which becomes a testimony of faith. Perhaps this very fear of failure is the greatest obstacle to receiving the Word of Christ, which promises his grace to the conjugal union and to the family. (…) The Christian seed at the root of equality between spouses must bear new fruit today. The witness of the social dignity of marriage shall become persuasive precisely in this way, the way of a testimony which attracts, the way of reciprocity between them, of complementarity between them. For this reason, as Christians, we must become more demanding in this regard. For example: firmly support the right to equal pay for equal work; why is it taken for granted that women should earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. This disparity is an absolute disgrace! At the same time, recognize women’s motherhood and men’s fatherhood as an always precious treasure, for the good of their children above all.” (29.4.2015)

“The sacrament of marriage is a great act of faith and love: a witness to the courage to believe in the beauty of the creative act of God and to live that love that is always urging us to go on, beyond ourselves and even beyond our own family. (…) The decision to “wed in the Lord” also entails a missionary dimension, which means having at heart the willingness to be a medium for God’s blessing and for the Lord’s grace to all.” (6.5.2015)

“Around us we find various families in so-called irregular situations — I don’t really like this word”. (24.6.2015) “The Church is fully aware that such a situation is contrary to the Christian Sacrament. However, her gaze as a teacher always draws from a mother’s heart; a heart which, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, always seeks the good and the salvation of the people. This is why she feels obliged, “for the sake of truth”, to “exercise careful discernment of situations”. This is how St John Paul II expressed it in the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n. 84). (…) In fact, these persons are by no means excommunicated — they are not excommunicated! — and they should absolutely not be treated as such: they are still a part of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI spoke about this question, calling for careful discernment and wise pastoral accompaniment, knowing that there are no “simple solutions” (Speech at the Seventh World Meeting of Families, Milan, 2 June 2012). Here the repeated call to Pastors to openly and consistently demonstrate the community’s willingness to welcome them and encourage them, so they may increasingly live and develop their membership in Christ and in the Church through prayer, by listening to the Word of God, by attending the liturgy, through the Christian education of their children, through charity and service to the poor, through the commitment to justice and peace.” (5.8.2015)

“Jesus never stops accepting and speaking to everyone, even those who no longer expect to encounter God in this life. That is an important lesson for the Church! The disciples were chosen to care for this assembly, for this family of God’s guests. In order to maintain this reality of the assembly of Jesus in today’s situation, it is indispensable to renew the covenant between the family and the Christian community. We could say that the family and the parish are the two places where the communion of love, which finds its ultimate source in God, takes place. A Church truly according to the Gospel cannot but take the form of a hospitable home, with its doors open, always. Churches, parishes, institutions with closed doors must never be called churches, they should be called museums!” (9.9.2015)

“The faith draws it from the wisdom of the creation of God, who has entrusted to the family, not the care of intimacy as an end in itself, but rather the exciting project of domesticating the world. The family is at the beginning, at the root of this world culture that saves us… saves us from many, many attacks, from so much destruction, from so many “colonizations”, like that of money or of the ideologies that threaten so much of the world. The family is the basis of our defense!” (16.9.2015) “The family, the fruitful covenant between man and woman, is the answer to the great challenge of our world. That challenge is two-fold: fragmentation and standardization, two extremes that coexist and foster each other, and together they support the economic model of consumerism. The family is the answer because it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and the communal dimensions, and that at the same time can be the model for the sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the principal agent of an integral ecology, because it is the primary social agent, which contains within it the two foundational principles of human civilization on the earth: the principle of communion and the principle of fruitfulness.” (30.9.2015)

“With this reflection we arrive at the threshold of the Jubilee, its close. The door is before us, not just the Holy Door, but another: the great door of the Mercy of God — and that is a beautiful door! (…) An inhospitable Church, like a family closed off within itself, mortifies the Gospel and withers the world. No armoured doors in the Church, none! Completely open! The symbolic management of “doors” — of thresholds, of passages, of borders — has become crucial. The door must protect, of course, but not reject. The door must not be forced but on the contrary, one asks permission, because hospitality shines in the freedom of welcoming, and dims in the arrogance of invasion. The door is frequently opened, in order to see if there is someone waiting outside, perhaps without the courage nor, perhaps, the strength to knock. How many people have lost faith, do not have the courage to knock at the door of our Christian heart, at the doors of our churches…. And they are there, they don’t have the courage, we have taken away trust: please, may this never happen. A door says many things about the house, and also about the Church. Tending the door requires careful discernment and, at the same time, must inspire great faith.” (18.11.2015)