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Monday, March 9, 2015

Audience with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians

Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Majesty Philippe King of the Belgians, and Queen Mathilde, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, the good bilateral relations between Belgium and the Holy See were confirmed. Attention was then paid to matters of mutual interest, such as social cohesion, the education of the young, the phenomenon of migration and the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue.

Mention was then made of various problems of an international nature, with special reference to the future prospects of the European continent.

Centenary of the Argentine Catholic University

Vatican City, 9 March 2015 (VIS) – On occasion of the one hundredth university of Faculty of Theology of the Universidad Catolica Argentina (U.C.A.), Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Grand Chancellor of the faculty. “Teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier”, writes the Pope. “We must We must guard against a theology that spends itself in academic dispute or watches humanity from a glass castle. You learn to live: theology and holiness are inseparable”. Francis adds that the theology that is developed is therefore rooted and based on Revelation, on tradition, but also accompanies the cultural and social processes” and “must also take on board conflicts: not only those that we experience within the Church, but those that concern the whole world”.

The Pope urges all the members of the Faculty not to satisfy themselves with a theoretical “desktop theology” and not to give in to the temptation to “gloss over it, to perfume it, to adjust it a little and domesticate it”. Instead, he writes, good theologians “must, like good pastors, have the odour of the people and the street, and through their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men”. Similarly, he encourages them to study how the various disciplines … may reflect the centrality of mercy”, since “without mercy our theology, our law, our pastoral ministry run the risk of collapsing in petty bureaucracy or ideology”. He concludes by remarking that the U.C.A. does not form “museum theologians who accumulate data” or “spectators of history”, but rather people capable of building up humanity around them, “of transmitting the divine Christian truth in a truly human dimension”.

The Pope meets the parishioners of Tor Bella Monaca; discrimination and injustice test the goodness of the people

Vatican City, 9 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore in the peripheral suburb of Tor Bella Monaca, where he was welcomed by more than a thousand young people. Before entering the Church, the Holy Father visited the Caritas Centre to greet sick and disabled assisted by the Missionaries of Charity. “Jesus never abandons us”, he said, “because on the Cross he experienced pain, sadness, solitude and many other things. … Never lose your trust in Him”.

Later, in the church, he met with a group of children and young people, and answered their questions. The first was: if God forgives everything, why does Hell exist? The Pope replied that Hell is the desire to distance oneself from God and to reject God's love. But”, he added, “if you were a terrible sinner, who had committed all the sins in the world, all of them, condemned to death, and even when you are there, you were to blaspheme, insults... and at the moment of death, when you were about to die, you were to look to Heaven and say, 'Lord …!', where do you go, to Heaven or to Hell? To Heaven! Only those who say, I have no need of You, I can get along by myself, as the devil did, are in Hell – and he is the only one we are certain is there”.

The second question regarded how to live Christian morality. Francis answered, “Christian morality is a grace, a response to the love that He gives you first. … It is Jesus Who helps you to go ahead, and if you fall it is He Who lifts you up again and Who lets you carry on. But if you think and we think that moral life is just about 'doing this' and 'not doing that', this is not Christian. It is a moral philosophy, but no, it is not Christian. Christian is the love of Jesus, Who is the first to love us. … Christian morality is this: you fall? Get up again and keep going. And life is this. But always with Jesus”.

Finally, before celebrating Mass, Francis spoke with the parish pastoral council and their collaborators who described to him the situation in the area, in which many marginalised families live, and where there are many problems linked to drug abuse and crime. “The people of Tor Bella Monaca are good people”, emphasised Francis. “They had the same flaw that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had: they are poor. With the difference that Joseph had a job, Jesus had a job, and many people here do not, but they still need to feed their children. And how does one get by? You know how. Goodness is sorely tested by injustice; the injustice of unemployment and discrimination. And this is a sin, it is a grave sin. Many people are compelled to do things they do not want to do, because they cannot find another way. … And very often people, when they feel they are accompanied, wanted, do not fall into that web of the wicked, who exploit the poor. Mafiosi exploit the poor too, to make them do their dirty work, and then when the police discover them, they find those poor people and not the mafiosi who are safe, and also pay for their safety. Therefore, it is necessary to help the people. … The first pastoral commandment is closeness: to be close to them. … We cannot go to a house where there are sick or hungry children and say 'you must do this, you must do that'. No. It is necessary to go to them with closeness, with that caress that Jesus has taught us. … This is my main pastoral advice to you”.

In the homily he pronounced at the church of Santa Maria del Redentore, the Bishop of Rome commented on the passage from the Gospel according to St. John that narrates the expulsion of the money changers from the temple, remarking that two aspects of the text are particularly notable: an image, and a word. “The image is that of Jesus with the whip who chases away all those who use the temple to trade. The temple was sacred, and this, which was unclean, was sent out. … Jesus took the whip and cleansed the temple”.

“And the phrase, the word”, he continued, “is where it says that many people believed in Him, a terrible phrase: 'But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man'. We cannot deceive Jesus. He knows us in depth. Before Him we cannot pretend to be saints and close our eyes, and then lead a life that is not what He wants. … And we all know that name that Jesus gave to those with two faces: hypocrites”.

“It will do us good, today, to enter into our hearts and look at Jesus. To say to him, 'Lord, look, there are good things, but there are also things that are not good. Jesus, do You trust in me? I am a sinner'. … Jesus is not afraid of this. … However, he who drifts away, who has a dual face; who lets himself be seen to be good to cover the hidden sin... When we enter into our heart, we find many things that are not good, just as Jesus found in the temple the dirty affairs of trade. … We can continue our dialogue with Jesus: 'Jesus, do you trust in me? … So, I will open the door to You, and You can cleanse my soul”.

“And then”, continued Francis, “we can ask the Lord, just as He came to cleanse the temple, to come and cleanse our soul. And we imagine Him, as He comes with a whip of ropes... No, this is not what cleanses the soul! Do you know what the whip is that Jesus uses to cleanse our soul? Mercy. Open your hearts to the mercy of Jesus. … And if we open our hearts to Jesus' mercy, so that He may cleanse our heart, our soul, then Jesus will trust in us”.

Angelus: let us build a temple to God with our lives

Vatican City, 8 March 2015 (VIS) – At midday today, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Francis' meditation focused on the meaning of the episode of the expulsion of the money changers from the temple, and he remarked that this prophetic gesture made a powerful impression on the people and on the disciples. “We have here, according to John, the first announcement of the death and Resurrection of Christ”, said the Pope; “His body, destroyed by the violence of sin on the Cross, in the Resurrection, will become the meeting place between God and men. … His humanity is the true temple, where God is revealed, speaks, meets; and the true worshippers of God are not the guardians of the material temple, the holders of power and religious knowledge, but are those who worship God 'in spirit and truth'”.

“In this Lenten period”, he continued, “we are preparing to celebrate Easter, when we renew the promises of our Baptism. Let us walk the world like Jesus and make of our existence We walk into the world as Jesus did and we make of our entire existence a sign of His love for our brothers, especially the weakest and the poorest. We build a temple to God in our lives. And in this way, we make Him 'encounterable' to the many people we find along our path. If we are witnesses to this living Christ, many people will encounter Jesus in us, in our testimony”.

The Pontiff encouraged those present to “let the Lord enter with His mercy, to bring cleanliness to our hearts”. He added, “every Eucharist we celebrate with faith makes us grow as a living temple to the Lord, thanks to the communion with His crucified and risen Body. … May Mary Most Holy, the privileged dwelling of the Son of God, accompany and sustain us on this Lenten path, so that we may rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ, Who will free us and save us”.

Francis' greetings on International Women's Day: “women give us to the ability to see the world with different eyes”

Vatican City, 8 March 2015 (VIS) – After today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father urged, “during Lent, let us try to be closer to those who are living through moments of difficulty; let us be closer to them with affection, prayer and solidarity”.

He went on to address some words to women on International Women's Day: “a greeting to all women! To all the women who work every day to build a more human and welcoming society. And a fraternal thank you to those who in a thousands ways bear witness to the Gospel and work in the Church. This is for us an opportunity to reaffirm the importance and the necessity of their presence in life. A world where women are marginalised is a barren world, because women not only bring life, but they also give us the ability to see beyond – they see beyond themselves – and they transmit to us the ability to understand the world through different eyes, to hear things with more creative, more patient, more tender hearts. A prayer and a special blessing for all women present here in the square and for all women! Greetings!”.

Behaviour contrary to justice, honesty and charity cannot be covered up with acts of devotion

Vatican City, 8 March 2015 (VIS) - “Liturgy is not something exterior or distant, so that while it is celebrated I can think of other things or pray the rosary. No, there is a link between the liturgical celebration and what I carry with me in my life”, said the Pope in his homily during his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Ognissanti (All Saints) on the 50th anniversary of the first Mass in Italian celebrated in the same parish by Blessed Paul VI, following the liturgical reforms established by Vatican Council II.

Francis commented on the Gospel reading of St. John in which Jesus drives out the money changers from the Temple, with the exclamation, “Do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” This expression refers not only to the commerce in the temple courtyards, but rather “regards a type of religiosity”. He continued, “Jesus' gesture is one of cleansing, purification, and the attitude He condemns can be identified in the prophetic texts, according to which God is displeased by external worship made up of material sacrifices and based on personal interest. His gesture is a call to authentic worship, to correspondence between liturgy and life. … Therefore, the Church calls us to have and to promote an authentic liturgical life, so that there may be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates and what we live in our existence”.

Jesus' disciple “does not go to Church solely to observe a precept, to make sure he is not at odds with a God he must not 'disturb' too much. … Jesus' disciple goes to Church to encounter the Lord and to find in His grace, working in the Sacraments, the strength to think and act according to the Gospel. Therefore, we cannot delude ourselves that we can enter into the Lord's house to cover up, with prayers and acts of devotion, behaviour contrary to the demands of justice, honesty or charity towards our neighbour. We cannot substitute with religious homage what is due to others, deferring true conversion. Worship and liturgical celebrations are the privileged space for hearing the voice of the Lord, Who guides us on the road to rectitude and Christian perfection”.

This involves “fulfilling an itinerary of conversion and penance, to remove the dregs of sin from our life, as Jesus did, cleansing the temple of petty interests. And Lent is an auspicious time for this, as it is the time of inner renewal, of forgiveness of sins, the time in which we are called upon to rediscover the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, that enables us to pass from the shadows of sin into the light of grace and friendship with Jesus”.

“Right here, fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI inaugurated, in a certain sense, liturgical reform with the celebration of the vernacular Mass in the language of the people. I hope that this circumstance may revive love for God's house in all of you”.

Following Mass, as he left the church, the Pope greeted the many faithful who awaited him. “Thank you, thank you for your welcome”, he said. “That you for this prayer with me during Mass; and let us thank the Lord for what He has done in His Church in these fifty years of liturgical reform. It was a courageous gesture of the Church, to draw closer to the people of God so they could better understand what she does, and this is important for us, to follow Mass in this way. And it is not possible to step backwards, we must always move ahead, always ahead; those who go back, err. Let us go ahead on this road”.

The Pope on the sixtieth anniversary of Communion and Liberation: “Keep alive the call of the first encounter with Christ, and be free”

Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) – More than seventy thousand people, belonging to the movement Communion and Liberation (CL) participated in a mass meeting with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square this morning, to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of CL and the tenth of the death of its founder, the priest Luigi Giussani. The movement was established in Italy in 1954, when Giussani (1922-2005), on the basis of his experience in the “Berchet” classical lyceum in Milan, developed the initiative of Christian presence that used the already existing name of “Gioventu Studentesca” (GS). The current name Communion and Liberation (CL), which appeared for the first time in 1969, summarises the conviction that the Christian event lived in communion, is the foundation of authentic human liberation.

After listening to greetings from the priest Julian Carron, president of the fraternity, the Holy Father thanked all those present for their warm displays of affection and gave the various reasons for his gratitude to Don Giussani. “The first, and most personal, is the good that this man has done for me and for my priestly life, through reading his books and his articles. The other reason is that his thought is profoundly human and reaches the deepest yearning of the person. You are aware of how important the experience of encounter was for Don Giussani – not with an idea, but with a person, with Jesus Christ. So, he educated in freedom, leading to the encounter with Christ, as Christ gives us true freedom”.

“Everything in our life begins with an encounter”, he continued. “Let us think of the Gospel of John, in which he narrates the disciples' first encounter with Jesus. Andrew, John and Simon felt as if they were seen in depth, known intimately, and this generated surprise in them, a stupor that immediately made them feel linked to Him. … This was the decisive discovery for St. Paul, for St. Augustine, and many others: Jesus Christ always precedes us; when we arrive, He is already waiting for us. He is like the flower of the almond tree, the first to bloom and to herald the spring”.

However, this dynamic of encounter that arouses stupor and adhesion without mercy, as “only he who has known the tender caress of mercy truly knows the Lord. The privileged locus of encounter is the caress of Jesus Christ's mercy towards my sin. It is for this reason that, at times, you have heard me say that the privileged locus of encounter with Jesus Christ is sin. It is thanks to that merciful embrace that the wish to respond and to change emerges, and from this there springs a different life. Christian morality is not a titanic and voluntary effort on the part of those who decide to be coherent and achieve it, a sort of solitary challenge before the world. No. Christian morality is the answer, it is the touched response when faced with the surprising mercy, unpredictable, even 'unjust' according to human criteria, of One who knows me, Who knows my betrayals and loves me all the same, … who calls me again, has hope in me. ... Christian morality is not about never falling, but about always getting up again, thanks to His hand that reaches out to us”.

“And the way of the Church is also this: letting God's great mercy be shown”, he exclaimed. “The road of the Church is that of never condemning anyone eternally; of effusing God's mercy to all those people who ask for it with a sincere heart; the road of the Church is precisely that of leaving behind one's own yard in order to go and seek those in the distant peripheries of existence; that of fully adopting God's logic. The Church too must feel the joyful impulse of becoming almond flowers, like Jesus, for all humanity”.

Returning to the celebration of sixty years of Communion and Liberation, the Pope emphasised that after this time the “original charism” has lost neither its freshness nor its vitality. “But, always remember that there is only one centre: Jesus Christ. When I put at the centre my spiritual method, my spiritual path, my way of putting it into practice, I stray from the road. All the spirituality, all the charisms in the Church must be decentred: at the centre there is only the Lord!”.

He continued, “Charism cannot be conserved in a bottle of distilled water! Loyalty to the charism does not mean 'petrifying' it – it is the devil who petrifies – does not mean writing it on parchment and framing it. Reference to the legacy that Don Giussani has left you cannot be reduced to a museum of memories, of decisions made, of norms of conduct. It certainly involves faithfulness to tradition, but as Mahler said, this means 'keeping the flame alive and not worshipping the ashes'. Don Giussani would never forgive you if you lost your freedom and transformed into museum guides or worshippers of ashes. Keep alive the memory of that first encounter and be free! In this way, centre in Christ and in the Gospel, you can be the arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of an outbound Church. The path of the Church takes us out in search of those who are far away, in the peripheries, to serve Jesus in every marginalised and abandoned person, without faith, disappointed in the Church, prisoner of his or her own self-centredness”.

“Reaching out also means rejecting self-referentiality, in all its forms; it means knowing how to listen to those who are not the same as us, learning from all, with sincere humility. When we are slaves to self-referentiality we end up cultivating a sort of branded spirituality: 'I am CL'. This becomes your label. And in this way we fall into the myriad traps set by self-referential complacency, that gazing at oneself in the mirror that leads to disorientation and our transformation into mere impresarios of NGOs”.

The Pope concluded his discourse with the words of Don Giussani, from one of his first writings, in which he affirmed that Christianity cannot be realised in history as fixed position to defend, that relate to the new in terms of pure antithesis, and from his letter to John Paul II in 2004 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of Communion and Liberation: 'I never intended to “found” anything. I believe that the genius of the movement that I have seen come into being is that of having grasped the urgency of proclaiming the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, meaning passion for Christianity as such, in its original elements, and nothing more'.”

The Holy Father to preside at Confession in St. Peter's Basilica on 13 March

Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that the Holy Father will preside at the rite of the reconciliation of penitents, with individual confession and absolution, on Friday 13 March at 5 p.m in St. Peter's Basilica.

Oath-taking Ceremony of the Cardinal Camerlengo

Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) – At 9.30 this morning, in the Chapel of Urban VIII, in the presence of the Holy Father, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, took his oath as Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, Pope's special envoy to Nagasaki

Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 15 February, the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., archbishop of Cotabato, Philippines, as his special envoy to the celebration of the centenary of the discovery of the “hidden Christians of Japan”, to be held in Nagasaki, Japan from 14 to 17 March.

The mission accompanying the cardinal will be composed of Rev. Peter Sakae Kojima, vicar general, member of the college of consultors and parish priest of the Cathedral of Nagasaki, and Fr. Joseph Pasala, S.V.D., missionary from India and parish vicar of Nishimachi.


Vatican City, 9 March 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church;

- Fourteen prelates of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Gwangju, with his auxiliary, Bishop Simon Ok Hyun-jin;

- Bishop Peter Kang U-il of Cheju;

- Bishop Vincent Ri Pyung-ho of Jeonju;

- Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of P’youg-yang with his auxiliaires, Bishop Basil Cho Kyu-man, BishopTimothy Yu Gyoung-chon, and Bishop Peter Chung Soon-taek;

- Bishop Luke Kim Woon-hoe of Ch’unch,ŏn, apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of Hamhǔng;

- Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon, with his auxiliary, Bishop Augustinus Kim Jong-soo;

- Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san, with his auxiliary, Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul; and

- Dom Blasio Park Hyun-dong, O.S.B., apostolic administrator “ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the dell’Abbazia di Tŏkwon

On Saturday, 7 March, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Other Pontifical Acts

On Saturday, 7 March, the Holy Father:

- appointed Rev. Fr. David Macaire, O.P., as archbishop of Fort-de-France (area 1,080, population 390,371, Catholics 312,296, priests 54, permanent deacons 12, religious 151), Martinique, France. The bishop-elect was born in Nanterre, France in 1969, gave his perpetual vows in 1998 and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a licentiate in theology and canon law from Tolosa, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including chaplain of various schools, lecturer in theology at the major seminary of Bordeaux, spiritual adviser of the Equipe Notre Dame, master of Dominican students, prior of the Dominican convent in the archdiocese of Bordeaux, and member of the presbyteral council of the same local Church. He is currently prior of the Dominican convent of La Sainte-Baume, Tolone, and member of the provincial council.

- accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Rome presented by Bishop Paolo Schiavon, upon reaching the age limit.
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