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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

To the clergy in Morelia: do not give in to the temptation of resignation

Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday, Tuesday 16 February, the Pope arrived at 8.45 a.m. (local time, 3.45 p.m. in Rome) in Morelia, capital of the state of Michoacan, the geographical centre of Mexico and since 1991 a UNESCO World Heritage site on account of its Hispanic historic centre and baroque architecture, notably the Cathedral of the Transfiguration and the Palace of Justice. It is also the seat of an important university, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, founded in 1551 as the Colegio de San Nicolas, and currently attended by 45,000 students.

The Pope travelled by popemobile the nine kilometres separating the airport from the Venustiano Carranza stadium, which is able to hold 20,000 people. He was awaited by the priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and seminarians of the archdiocese. During the Mass, celebrated by the Holy Father, the purhepecha language was used for the prayer of the faithful.

The Pope began his homily in a colloquial fashion: "There is a saying among us which goes 'tell me how you pray, and I will tell you how you live; tell me how you live and I will tell you how you pray. Because showing me how you pray, I will learn to find the God for Whom you live, and showing me how you live, I will learn to believe in the God to Whom you pray'. For our life speaks of prayer and prayer speaks of our life; praying is something learned, just as we learn to walk, to speak, to listen. The school of prayer is the school of life and in the school of life we progress in the school of prayer".

He commented that Paul said to his favourite disciple Timothy, while teaching or encouraging him to live the faith: “Remember your mother and your grandmother”. "And seminarians, when entering seminary often used to tell me: 'Father, I would like to have deeper mental prayer'. 'Look, you carry on praying as they taught you to at home and then later, little by little, your prayer will mature, just as you grew up'. Praying is something learned, just like life".

"Jesus wished to introduce His companions into the mystery of Life, into the mystery of His life. He showed them by eating, sleeping, healing, preaching and praying, what it means to be Son of God. He invited them to share His life, His interiority, and in His presence among them He allowed them to touch, in His flesh, the life of the Father. He helped them to experience, in His gaze, in His going out in power, the newness of saying 'Our Father'. In Jesus this expression 'Our Father' has no trace of routine or mere repetition. On the contrary, it contains a sense of life, of experience, of authenticity. With these two words, 'Our Father', He knew how to live praying and to pray living. Jesus invites us to do the same. Our first call is to experience this merciful love of the Father in our lives, in our experiences. His first call is to introduce us into the new dynamic of love, of sonship. Our first calling is to learn to say, 'Our Father', as Paul insists: Abba. 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!', says St. Paul, 'Woe to me!'. For to evangelise, he continues, is not a cause for glory but rather a need".

"He has invited us to share in His life, His divine life, and woe to us consecrated men and women, seminarians, priests, bishops, woe to us if we do not share it, woe to us if we are not witnesses to what we have seen and heard, woe to us. We do not want to be 'administrators of the divine', we are not and do not want to be employees in God’s firm, for we are invited to share in His life, we are invited to enter into His heart, a heart that prays and lives, saying, 'Our Father'. What is our mission if not to say with our lives ... 'Our Father'?"

He Who is Our Father, it is He to Whom we pray every day with insistence. And what do we tell Him in one of the petitions of that prayer? Lead us not into temptation. Jesus Himself did the same thing. He prayed that His disciples – yesterday’s and today’s – would not fall into temptation. What could be one of the sins which besets us? What could be one of the temptations which springs up not only in contemplating reality but also in living it? What temptation can come to us from places often dominated by violence, corruption, drug trafficking, disregard for human dignity, and indifference in the face of suffering and vulnerability? What temptation might we suffer over and over again – we who are called to the consecrated life, to the presbyterate, to the episcopate – what temptation could might we endure in the face of all this, in the face of this reality which seems to have become a permanent system?"

"I think that we could sum it up in a single word: 'resignation'. And faced with this reality, the devil can overcome us with one of his favourite weapons: resignation. 'And what are you going to do about it? Life is like that'. A resignation which paralyses us and prevents us not only from walking, but also from making the journey; a resignation which not only terrifies us, but which also entrenches us in our 'sacristies' and false securities; a resignation which not only prevents us from proclaiming, but also inhibits our giving praise and takes away the joy, the joy of giving praise. A resignation which not only hinders our looking to the future, but also stifles our desire to take risks and to change. And so, 'Our Father, lead us not into temptation'".

"How good it is for us to tap into our memories when we are tempted", exclaimed the Pope. "How much it helps us to look at the 'stuff' of which we are made. It did not all begin with us, nor will it all end with us, and so it does us good to look back at our past experiences which have brought us to the present. And in this remembering, we cannot overlook someone who loved this place so much, who made himself a son of this land", he continued, referring to the Spanish Vasco Vazquez de Quiroga, first bishop of Michoacan. "We cannot overlook that person who could say of himself: 'They took me from the tribunal and put me in charge of the priesthood for my sins. Me, useless and quite unable to carry out such a great undertaking; me, who didn’t know how to use an oar, they chose me to be the first Bishop of Michoacan'".

"With you, I would like to recall this evangeliser, first known as 'the Spaniard who became an Indian'. The situation of the Purhepechas Indians, whom he described as being 'sold, humiliated, and homeless in marketplaces, picking up scraps of bread from the ground', far from tempting him to listless resignation, succeeded in kindling his faith, strengthening his compassion and inspiring him to carry out plans that were a 'breath of fresh air' in the midst of so much paralysing injustice. The pain and suffering of his brothers and sisters became his prayer, and his prayer led to his response. And among the Indians, he was known as 'Tata Vasco', which in the Purhepechan language means, Father".

Father, dad, daddy", invoked the Holy Father at the end of his homily, "Lead us not into the temptation of resignation, lead us not into the temptation of falling into sloth, lead us not into the temptation of losing our memory, lead us not into the temptation of forgetting our elders who taught us by their lives to say, 'Our Father'".

After the celebration, the Pope transferred to the archiepiscopal residence of Morelia where he lunched, and from there proceeded to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (1644-1744), baroque in style with neo-Classical elements and tiled domes, which dominates the Plaza de las Armas. In the sacristy, where alongside sixteenth-century paintings, there is a figure of Christ made using a mix of corn and honey using pre-Hispanic techniques, Francis met and conversed with fourteen rectors of Mexican universities and six leaders of other Christian confessions.

The Holy Father was also greeted by around one hundred children, catechumens, whom he thanked for their visit. "I will ask Jesus to let you grow surrounded by love, like He did", he said. "With much love so as to be true Christians, to fulfil the commandment that Jesus gave us: to love God above all else, and our neighbour as Jesus did, as we love ourselves or better, as He loved us. And we will also ask Our Lady to look after us and to bless us. Above all, let all of us think in our hearts of our families and our friends, and even if you are at odds with any of them, ask the Virgin to care for them all the same; in this way we make friends rather than enemies, because life is not good with enemies, and He Whom makes us true friends is God, in our heart".

Likewise he congratulated the choir which had dedicated a song to him, commenting that "art and sport enlarge our hearts and make us grow well, with fresh air and without crushing life. Continue to be creative", he added, "in search of beauty, of good things, of that which lasts for ever, and never let anyone trample on this".

Young Mexicans, the greatest treasure of this land

Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. local time (11 p.m. in Rome), Francis arrived at the Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon stadium in the city of Morelia, where he was awaited by around fifty thousand young people. The festive encounter was filled with songs, dance and testimonies from Daniela, Alberto, Roberto and Rosario, all young people who told the Pope about the realities of their lives. The problems of work, the difficulties faced by families and the need for hope were the key themes. "Today the young people of Mexico see in you the face of the hope we need".

"I already knew your concerns because I was given a draft copy of what you might say", said the Pope; "I have to be honest, why tell you a lie! But as you were speaking I also took some notes of the things which seemed more important so that they would not be left hanging in the air. I have to tell you that when I arrived in this country I received a warm welcome and I saw something that I knew for a long time: the vitality, the joy, and the festive spirit of the Mexican people. And now after listening to you, but particularly after seeing you, I am also certain about something else, something I said to the President of the nation when I arrived. One of Mexico’s greatest treasures is that it has a youthful face: its young people. Yes, you are the wealth of this land. Careful though! I did not say the hope of this land, but its wealth".

"The mountain may have rich minerals to serve humanity’s advancement, in terms of its wealth, but that richness has to be converted into hope by hard work, just as miners do when they extract those minerals. You are this wealth, and it has to be converted into hope. And Daniela concluded by offering us a challenge, as well as giving us some guidance about hope. But all who spoke about their difficulties and their experiences expressed a great truth: 'all of us can live but we cannot live without hope'. You cannot look to the future if you do not first know how to value yourselves, if you do not feel that your life, your hands, your history, is worth the effort".

"It is about feeling what Alberto described: 'with my hands, with my heart and my mind I can build up hope; if I do not perceive that hope, then it cannot enter my heart'. Hope is born when you are able to experience that all is not lost; and for this to happen it is necessary to start 'at home', to begin with yourself. Not everything is lost. I am not lost; I am worth something, I am worth a lot. I ask you for some silence now, and I ask each one of you to ask himself or herself: 'Is it true that not everything is lost?' 'Am I lost?' 'Do I have worth?' 'Am I worth a little, a lot?'. The biggest threats to hope are those words which devalue you, words which suck out your value and you end up feeling down, is this not so? Words which make you feel second rate, even fourth rate. The biggest threat to hope is when you feel that you do not matter to anybody or that that you have been left aside. This is the great obstacle to hope: when, in a family, society, school or a group of friends, you are made to feel unimportant to them. This is hard and painful, but it does happen, am I right? Yes or no? [They reply 'Yes']. Yes, it happens. This kills, this crushes us and opens the door to much suffering".

"But there is also another principal threat to the hope that your richness will grow and bear fruit, and it is this: to allow yourself to believe that you begin to be valuable when you start wearing the right clothes, the latest brands and fashions, or when you start enjoying prestige and importance because you have money; but in the depths of your heart you do not believe that you are worthy of kindness or love and this is something which your heart intuits. Hope is silenced by what they make you believe, and they don’t let you flourish. The biggest threat is when a person feels that they must have money to buy everything, including the love of others. The biggest threat is to believe that by having a big car you will be happy. Is this true, that by having a big car you will be happy?" [They reply: 'No'].

"You are the wealth of Mexico, you are the wealth of the Church. Allow me to tell you a phrase from my country: 'I am not massaging your back'; 'I am not flattering you'. I understand that often it is difficult to feel your value when you are continually exposed to the loss of friends or relatives at the hands of the drug trade, of drugs themselves, of criminal organizations that sow terror. It is hard to feel the wealth of a nation when there are no opportunities for dignified work – Alberto you expressed this clearly – no possibilities for study or advancement, when you feel your rights are not recognised, which then leads you to extreme situations. It is difficult to appreciate the value of a place when, because of your youth, you are used for selfish purposes, seduced by promises that end up being untrue. They are like soap bubbles. And it is difficult to feel valuable in these cases. You bear your value inside and your hope too; but it is not easy, due to the things I am telling you and to the things you have told us: there is a lack of work and study opportunities, as Roberto and Alberto said".

"Nonetheless, despite all this, I will never tire of saying, You are the wealth of Mexico. Roberto, you used a phrase which I may have overlooked when I read the draft, but it’s something I want to come back to. You spoke about losing something and yet you did not say: 'I lost my cell phone, I lost my wallet with money in it'. We have lost the wonder of walking together, we have lost the delight of dreaming together, so that this wealth, moved by hope, can take us forward; we need to walk together, we need to meet, and we need to dream. Do not lose the fascinating power of dreaming! Have the courage to dream! To dream, which is not the same as being sleepyheads, right?"

"And don’t think I am saying this – that you are the wealth of Mexico and that this richness goes forward when it is full of hope – because I am good, or I because I have clear ideas about it; no dear friends, it is not like that. I say this to you and I am convinced of it. And do you know why? Because, like you, I believe in Jesus Christ. And I think Daniela was very brave when she spoke to us about this. I believe in Jesus Christ and that is why I tell you this. It is He Who continually renews in me this hope, it is He Who continually renews my outlook. It is He Who awakens in me, in each one of us, the wonder of enjoying, the charm of dreaming, the delight of working together. It is He Who continually invites me to a conversion of heart. Yes, my friends, I say this because in Jesus I have found the one who is able to bring out the best in me. Hand in hand with Him, we can move forward, hand in hand with Him we can begin again and again, hand in hand with Him we can say: it is a lie to believe that the only way to live, or to be young, is to entrust oneself to drug dealers or others who do nothing but sow destruction and death. This is a lie and we say it holding on to Jesus’ hand. It is also hand in hand with Jesus Christ, with the Lord, that we can say: it is a lie that the only way to live as young people here is in poverty and exclusion; in the exclusion of opportunities, in the exclusion of spaces, in the exclusion of training and education, in the exclusion of hope. It is Jesus Christ Who refutes all attempts to render you useless or to be mere mercenaries of other people’s ambitions. They are ambitions which exclude you, to use you in the areas I mentioned, which you know well, and which end up destroying. And the only one that can grab me firmly by the hand is Jesus Christ; He can convert this wealth into hope".

"You have asked me for a word of hope, and the one word I have to give you, which is the foundation of everything, is Jesus Christ. When everything seems too much, when it seems that the world is crashing down on you, embrace His Cross, draw close to Him and please, never let go of His hand, even if they are dragging you; and, if you should fall, allow Him to lift you up. Mountain climbers have a lovely song which I like to repeat to young people. As they go up the mountain they sing: 'In the art of climbing upwards, the triumph is not in not falling but rather in not staying down on the ground'. This is the art, and, who is the only one who can take you by the hand so that you are not left lying on the ground? Jesus Christ is the only one. Jesus Christ, Who sometimes sends a brother or sister to speak to you or help you. Don’t hide your hand when you have fallen, do not say to him: 'Don’t look at me, I am covered in mud. Don’t look at me, I am without hope'. You have only to let him grab your hand and you his, and then that richness which is inside you, which is covered in mud, and which you have given up on, will begin, through hope, to bear fruit. But always holding onto Jesus’ hand".

"This is the way, do not forget: 'In the art of climbing upwards, the triumph is not in not falling but rather in not staying down on the ground'. Never allow yourselves to stay down, fallen on the ground! Never! Agreed? And if you see a friend who slipped up in life and has fallen, go and offer him or her your hand, but do so with dignity. Put yourself on their level, listen to them and don’t say: 'I have the solution for you'. No, as a friend, slowly give them strength by your words, give them strength by your listening, that medicine which sadly is being forgotten: 'the therapy of listening'. Let them speak, let them share their experience, and then little by little, they will offer you their hand, and, in the name of Jesus Christ, you can help them. 'But if you go in suddenly and begin to give them a sermon, going on about the same thing, well then, he or she will be worse off than before. Am I clear? [They reply: 'Yes']. Never let go of Jesus’ hand, never leave him; and if you do move away from him, get up and keep moving forwards, He understands what you are going through. Hand in hand with Jesus it is possible to live fully, by holding his hand it is possible to believe that life is worth the effort, it is worth giving of your best, to be leaven, salt and light among friends, in neighbourhoods, communities, and families".

"For this reason, dear friends, holding the hand of Jesus I ask you to not let yourselves be excluded, do not allow yourselves to be devalued, do not let them treat you like a commodity. For this Jesus have us good advice, so that we would not be left excluded, left without value, treated as a commodity: 'Be astute as serpents but humble as doves'. These two virtues go together. Young people do not lack a lively mind but they do sometimes lack that astuteness which would prevent them from being naive. The two things: astuteness but with simplicity and goodness. Of course, on this journey you may perhaps not be able to have the latest car model at the door, you will not have pockets filled with money, but you will have something that no one can take away from you, which is the experience of being loved, embraced and accompanied. It is the delight of enjoying an encounter, the delight of dreaming and desiring encounter among everyone. It is the experience of being family, of feeling oneself as part of a community. It is the experience of being able to look at the world in the face, with your head held up high, without the car, without the money, but with your head held high: this is dignity. Three words we want to repeat: value, because you have been made valuable; hope, because we want to be open to hope; and dignity. Let us repeat these three words: value, hope and dignity. It is the value, the worth that God has given you. You are the wealth of Mexico. The hope and dignity which Jesus Christ gives you means not allowing 'your backs to be massaged' and not allowing yourselves to be used as commodities to fill the pockets of other people".

"Today the Lord continues to call you, he continues to draw you to him, just as he did with the Indian, Juan Diego. He invites you to build a shrine. A shrine that is not a physical place but rather a community, a shrine called 'Parish', a shrine called, 'Nation'. Being a community, a family, and knowing that we are citizens is one of the best antidotes to all that threatens us, because it makes us feel that we are a part of the great family of God. This is not an invitation to flee and enclose ourselves, to escape from the threats that exist in life or to escape from challenges, but, on the contrary, it is an invitation to go out and to invite others, to go out and proclaim to others that being young in Mexico is the greatest wealth, and consequently, it cannot be sacrificed. For this great value of ours is capable of hope and it gives us dignity. Again these three words: value, hope and dignity. But it is a value, a richness, which God has given us and which we have to make grow".

"Jesus, who gives us hope, would never ask us to be assassins; rather, he calls us disciples, he calls us friends. Jesus would never send us out to death, but rather everything in him speaks of life. A life in a family, life in a community; families and communities for the good of society. And here, Rosario, I refer to what you said, something really beautiful: 'In the family we learn closeness'. In the family we learn solidarity, how to share, to discern, to walk ahead with each other’s problems, to fight and to make up, to argue and to embrace and to kiss. The family is the first school of the nation, and in the family you will find that richness and value that you have. The family is like the custodian of that great value, in the family you will find hope, for Jesus is there, and in the family you will have dignity. Never, never put the family to one side; the family is the founding stone upon which a great nation is built. You are so valuable, you have hope and you dream – Rosario also spoke of dreaming – 'Do you dream of having a family?' They reply: 'Yes']".

"Dear brothers and sisters, you are the wealth of this country, and when you doubt this, look to Jesus Christ, who is the hope, he who destroys all efforts to make you useless or mere instruments of other people’s ambitions. I thank you for this meeting and I ask you to pray for me. Thank you".

The Pope then proceeded to Morelia heliport to transfer to the airport for his return flight to Mexico City. He travelled directly from the airport to the apostolic nunciature, where he arrived at 7.40 p.m. local time (2.40 a.m. in Rome).

Today at 7.30 local time (2.30 p.m. in Rome) the Holy Father travelled by air to Ciudad Juarez, the final leg of his apostolic trip in Mexico. There he will first visit the "Centro de Readaptacion Social Estatal No.3" penitentiary where he will meet with detainees and their families. He will then meet with representatives of the world of work at the Colegio de Bachilleres of the State of Chihuahua. Three hours after lunch in the Ciudad Juarez archdiocesan seminary at 1.15 p.m. local time (9.15 p.m. in Rome), he will celebrate Mass close to the border between Mexico and the United States. Finally, he will transfer directly to the airport where at 7.15 p.m. local time (3.15 a.m. in Rome) he will depart for Italy. The aircraft carrying the Pope is expected to land in Rome at 3.15 p.m. tomorrow.

Pope's telegram for the death of the UN ex-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram of condolences on behalf of the Holy Father to Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, following the death of former secretary general Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

In the text, the Holy Father extends heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and his colleagues at the United Nations Organisation. Recalling Mr Boutros-Ghali’s generous service to his country and to the international community, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers for the late Secretary-General’s eternal rest, and invokes divine blessings of peace and strength upon the members of his family and all who mourn his loss.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop John D. Deshotel, auxiliary of Dallas, U.S.A., as bishop of Lafayette (area 14,962, population 634,000, Catholics 332,000, priests 213, permanent deacons 94, religious 217), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Charles M. Jarrell, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Ricardo Hoepers as bishop of Rio Grande (area 12,270, population 300,000, Catholics 211,000, priests 29, permanent deacons 29, religious 72), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Curitiba, Brazil in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1999. He holds a doctorate in theology and has served as lecturer in the faculty of philosophy and rector of the Bom Pastor seminary, professor, parish priest, diocesan coordinator for the clergy, member of the presbyterium and member of the ethical committee of the Federal University of Paran and the Brazilian Society of Moral Theology. He succeeds Msgr. Jose Mario Stroeher, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese was accepted upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Fr. Richard Kuuia Baawobr, M.Afr., as bishop of Wa (area 18,476, population 700,000, Catholics 341,000, priests 104, religious 186), Ghana. The bishop-elect was born in Tom-Zendagangn, Ghana in 1959, gave his religious vows in 1981 and was ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in a number of roles within his order, as well as deputy Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and member of the Synod on the family, and is currently superior general of his order. He succeeds Bishop Paul Bemile, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Carlos Alberto Breis Pereira, O.F.M., as coadjutor bishop of Juazeiro (area 58,397, population 515,900, Catholics 413,100, priests 26, religious 14), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in San Francisco do Sul, Brazil in 1965, gave his religious vows in 1987 and was ordained a priest in 1994. He holds a licentiate in theology, has served as parish priest and has held numerous roles within his order. He is currently provincial minister of his order in Recife, Brazil.

- accepted the resignation of Bishop Dieter Bernd Scholz, S.J., from the pastoral care of the diocese of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, upon reaching the age limit.

- appointed Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu of Harare, Zimbabwe, as apostolic administrator sede vacante of the diocese of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.
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