Fri, 22 Jun 2018 07:54:00 -0400
GENEVA (CNS) -- At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region's Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith. The Lord's Prayer "offers us a road map for the spiritual life" by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said. "There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good," he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality. The pope was in Geneva June 21 "as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches -- a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member. Celebrating Mass at the city's enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day's Gospel reading. The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome. "Father, bread, forgiveness," Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three words in the Lord's Prayer "that take us to the very heart of our faith." When praying "Our Father, who art in heaven," people are reminded that God "does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family." This prayer says that "every human being is part of us," he said, and that "we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference toward" everyone. "This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast." God commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said. When praying, "Give us this day, our daily bread," it is asking God to "help me lead a simpler life." "Life has become so complicated," he said, with everyone acting "pumped up, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time to see other people's faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems." "We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles," the pope said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family's wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others. With so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people's lives and empties their hearts. May people rediscover "the courage of silence and of prayer" and "let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual relationships may flourish." "Daily bread" also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; "he is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a side dish." Without him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said. Finally, the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift. God forgives everything and yet, "he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others." Offer up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete forgiveness, the pope said. Imagine taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the "stones needing to be removed," the pope said. Pray to God, "You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for ...
Fri, 22 Jun 2018 07:43:00 -0400
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) -- The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops' conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva. During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples. He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference." "This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said. Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that "the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published." Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an "illustrative" type of document "so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes," he said. The bishops' conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said. When asked about countries' recent reluctance to take in refugees, the pope underlined the basics every nation should provide, "welcoming, accompaniment, (help with) settling in, integrate." He added that each government must act with "prudence" and understand how many people it can educate and integrate and help. In response to another question, the pope said human rights are in a serious state of crisis today, having become relative or unimportant in the eyes of some parts of the world. Today there is a "crisis of hope, a crisis of human rights, a crisis of mediation, a crisis of peace," he said. Pope Francis said he and leaders of the World Council of Churches discussed this crisis during a private lunch, and one Protestant pastor commented that "perhaps the first human right is the right to have hope." The lack of belief in and enthusiasm for basic human rights is a serious concern, he said, and "we have to look for the causes for how we got here -- that human rights today are relative, even the right to peace is relative. It is a crisis of human rights." Conflicts in the world should not be resolved the way Cain tried, with violence, he said, referring to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. "Resolve them with negotiations, with dialogue, with mediation." Recounting remarks he had heard, he said: "If a Third World War is waged, we know what weapons will be used. But if there were to be a fourth, it will be waged with sticks, because humanity will have been destroyed."
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 09:59:00 -0400
GENEVA (CNS) -- Not only God, but today's broken, divided world is begging for unity among Christians, Pope Francis said on an ecumenical pilgrimage to Geneva. "Our differences must not be excuses," he said, because as Christ's disciples, Christians can still pray together, evangelize and serve others. On his 23rd apostolic journey abroad June 21, the pope spent several hours with Christian leaders at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches. The pope came to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of what is the largest and broadest ecumenical fellowship in the world. Speaking to reporters aboard the papal plane from Rome, the pope said, "This is a trip toward unity," representing the "desire for unity." He was greeted on the tarmac by dignitaries and two children in traditional dress; two former members of the Swiss Guard stood by the red carpet in the corps' full colorful uniform, which only happens on papal trips to Switzerland. Active guard members traveling with the pope are always in plainclothes. Accompanied by the leadership of the WCC, the pope attended an ecumenical prayer service, marked by songs from the Protestant traditions and the Catholic Church's theme song for the Jubilee of Mercy. There was a common witness of faith in reciting the Nicene Creed and representatives from the Catholic Church and other Christian communities alternated readings, including a prayer of repentance, which asked God's forgiveness for their disunity and failure to serve God and all his children. In his speech, the pope said, "Our lack of unity" is not only contrary to God's will, it is "also a scandal to the world." "The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all-too-many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity." Pope Francis, the third pope to visit the WCC, said he wanted to come as "a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace." He thanked God for having found "brothers and sisters already making this same journey." The journey requires constant conversion, he said, and a renewed way of thinking that rejects worldliness and seeks to live "in the Spirit, with one's mind bent on serving others and a heart growing in forgiveness." "Divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root," he said, "a worldly mindset has seeped in." "First self-concern took priority over concern for Christ," he said, and from there, it was easy for the devil to move in, "separating us." Following Christ entails loss, he warned, because "it does not adequately protect the interests of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity or split along party lines, whether 'conservative' or 'progressive.'" Christians must belong to the Lord above and before they identify with anything else, "right or left; to choose in the name of the Gospel, our brother and sister over ourselves," he said.
Thu, 21 Jun 2018 07:46:00 -0400
LONDON (CNS) -- A relic of bones of an early pope was given to the Catholic Church after it was stolen from a car and recovered by a waste disposal company. Three fragments of a bone said to belong to St. Clement I, a first-century martyr who was ordained a bishop by St. Peter the Apostle, were presented to London's Westminster Cathedral June 19 by James Rubin, owner of Enviro Waste. Rubin said he discovered the relic in his warehouse during an office cleanup earlier this year. "We had a range of furniture and electrical waste, and I happened to see it (the relic) on the side of someone's desk. I thought it was a bit strange, that it didn't really belong in the hands of a waste company, but I didn't know what it was at the time," he told a news conference in the cathedral. The relic sits on red silk damask within a small oval metal reliquary above the words "Ex Oss S. Clementis PM." He discovered through Google that "Ex Oss" meant "ex ossibus," Latin for "from the bones of," Rubin said, noting that he then knew he had made an interesting discovery and made it public, in the hope that he might obtain more information. Almost 200 people, including Catholic Church representatives, contacted him asking to be given the relic, and he chose to present it to the cathedral, he said. The relic's original owner, who has decided to remain anonymous, told Rubin it was among items stolen from a car and agreed that it should be given to the church. Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff, Wales, who accepted the relic on behalf of the cathedral, told the news conference that St. Clement, the third successor of St. Peter and an "apostolic father," was a "very important figure in the life of the early church" and the author of a letter to the church in Corinth that still exists. The saint was a persuasive preacher who was exiled by the Roman Emperor Trajan to Crimea, where he was martyred by being tied to an anchor and drowned. Since then, he has been venerated as the patron of mariners, the archbishop said. The relics of St. Clement were taken to Rome in the ninth century by Sts. Cyril and Methodius and were entombed in the Basilica of St. Clemente on the Coelian, he said. The relic represents an "exciting discovery" and a "remarkable find," said Tessa Murdoch of London's Victoria and Albert Museum. The reliquary dates from the 17th century, and the seal on the reverse bears the coat of arms of an otherwise unidentified cardinal who was probably "responsible for authorizing the production of smaller relics from a principal bone of the saint" and distributing them, she told the news conference. "We don't know where this was first received, but one guess was the basilica is the home of the Irish province of the Dominicans, so there may be an Irish connection," Murdoch said. Sophie Andreae, vice chair of the patrimony committee of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said the relic would go on public display at Westminster Cathedral and may be loaned to exhibitions in other places. "It is early days, but we are very keen that it should be something that should be seen by the public, but its main home will be here," she said.
Wed, 20 Jun 2018 08:26:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he stands with the U.S. bishops who recently condemned the Trump administration's policy on immigration that has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent federal prisons. "I am on the side of the bishops' conference," Pope Francis said in an interview with the Reuters news agency, published online June 20. "Let it be clear that in these things, I respect (the position of) the bishops' conference." On the first day of their June 13-14 spring assembly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, read a statement on behalf of the bishops denouncing the government's zero-tolerance policy. "Families are the foundational element of our society, and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral," the statement said. The political rise of populist movements in both the United States and in Europe has led to a severe crackdown on men, women and children trying to escape war, violence, poverty and persecution. In Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini banned the NGO rescue ship Aquarius, with more than 600 migrants aboard, to dock and has vowed to stop any foreign boats carrying rescued migrants into the country. Pope Francis said the current wave of populist rhetoric against migrants was "creating psychosis" and that people seeking a better life should not be rejected. Europe, he added, is facing a "great demographic winter" and, without immigration, the continent "will become empty." "Some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure," he said. "Populism does not resolve things. What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence."
Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:01:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people. The synod's "instrumentum laboris" (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people "want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching." Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics "want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community." The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops' conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering. An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world's bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss "young people, faith and vocational discernment." Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online. The meeting, the working document said, "highlighted the potential that younger generations represent" as well as their "hopes and desires." "Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment," it said. Presenting the "instrumentum laboris" to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod's goal is that young Catholics may find "the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love" in a world that often robs them of their "affections, bonds and prospective of life." "The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education," he said. Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church's need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them. The responses collected by bishops' conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality. The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women "do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church." "Although no bishops' conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment," it said. Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics. The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more "technocratic approach to the body," citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy. "Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one's own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life," the "instrumentum laboris" said. Church leaders, it said, must "speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, ...
Mon, 18 Jun 2018 10:18:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis denounced the practice of administering prenatal tests to determine birth defects that often lead to abortions, comparing it to the Nazi-era eugenics program that determined what lives were worth keeping or eliminating. Children are God's greatest gift and should be welcomed "as they come, as God sends them, as God allows, even if at times they are sick," the pope said June 16 during a meeting with members of Italian family associations. "I have heard that it is fashionable -- or at least common -- to do certain examinations in the first months of pregnancy to see if baby is not well or has some kind of problem. The first proposal in that case is, 'Should we get rid of (the baby)?' The killing of children. And to have a more tranquil life, an innocent is done away with," he said departing from his prepared speech. The pope recalled, as a boy, being taught in school about the Spartans, who "when a boy or girl was born with malformations, they would take them to the top of the mountain and throw them over to protect the 'purity of the race.'" Despite the atrocious nature of that practice, he continued, the practice of eugenics continues today "because the protocol of many doctors -- many, not all -- is to ask, 'Is something wrong (with the child)?'" The term "eugenics" was coined in the 1880s by Francis Galton, a half-cousin of Charles Darwin, and the concept centered on the belief that the human race needed to be protected from those deemed "unfit" or "feeble-minded." Most notably, the idea rose to prominence in Nazi Germany with the passing of the Eugenic Sterilization Law in 1933, which ordered doctors to sterilize anyone suspected of suffering from hereditary disease. The policy is believed to have been the precursor to the Nazi's "Final Solution," resulting in the genocide of an estimated 6 million European Jews. "I say it with pain. In the last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to protect the purity of the race. Today, we do the same, only with white gloves," the pope said. Pope Francis also highlighted the importance of marriage preparation to strengthen couples and the need for a "catechumenate for marriage, just as there is a catechumenate for baptism." Marriage and having a family, he added, is "a beautiful adventure" and a gift from God that is "sometimes treated as if it were a lottery." Some people say: "'Let's do it. If it goes well, it goes well. If not, we'll erase everything and try it again.' This is superficiality on the greatest gift that God has given to all of humanity: the family," the pope said. Although today's world there exist "diversified" families, he added, the "human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one." "It is the only one. A man and a woman can be nonbelievers. But if they love each other and unite in marriage, they are in the image of God, even if they don't believe," Pope Francis said.
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 12:55:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The theory that well-being will automatically flow down to everyone from the riches of the few is "a lie," Pope Francis said. The beatitudes show the way, he said, because they show that holiness doesn't concern just the soul, "but also the feet -- for going toward our brothers and sisters, and the hands -- for sharing with them." May the beatitudes "teach us and our world to not be wary of or leave at the mercy of the ocean waves those who leave their land, hungry for bread and justice; may they lead us to not live in excess, devoting ourselves to the advancement of everyone, kneeling with compassion before the weakest," he said June 15. This approach, he said, comes "without the easy illusion that, from the lavish table of the few, well-being automatically 'rains down' for everyone," he said. The pope's remarks came in an address to people taking part in a national congress of an Italian federation of expert artisans and craftsmen known in Italian as "maestri." Pope Francis reaffirmed how important work and making a living are for each person, but he noted how so many are still excluded from today's "economic progress" and are, therefore, deprived of future prospects and hope. "The first and most fundamental human right, for young people most of all," is hope, he said, "the right to hope." A community that does not concretely promote jobs and cares little for those who are excluded from employment opportunities "condemns itself to atrophy" and will see increasing inequalities, the pope said. On the contrary, a society that is guided by a spirit of subsidiarity, that seeks to bring to fruition the potential of every man and woman "of every origin and age, will truly breathe with full lung power and be able to overcome even the biggest obstacles." To do this, work and life must be lived "like a mission" and love for one's brothers and sisters "must burn inside us with 'spiritual fuel,' which, unlike fossil fuels, never runs out, but increases with use," he said.
Fri, 15 Jun 2018 08:54:00 -0400
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) -- To be "successful" on social media, Pope Francis only has to be himself; gimmicks aren't necessary, a Vatican official told Catholic communicators. "People want the pope just to be the pope," said Natasa Govekar, director of the theological-pastoral department of the Secretariat for Communication. For instance, she said, photos of the pope "with circus performers or wearing a silly hat do not do as well as photos of the pope praying." People congregate on social media sites, so the Catholic Church must be there with the Gospel message of salvation, love and tenderness, Govekar said June 12 at the Catholic Media Conference in Green Bay. Asked about the process for determining what tweets go out to the 47 million people who follow the nine-language @Pontifex accounts, Govekar said a team makes suggestions, but Pope Francis has the final say. Still, she said, in the end "it's not about us. It's not even about the pope. It's about Jesus." Addressing the first plenary session of the conference June 12-15, Govekar spoke about the Vatican's massive reorganization of its communications efforts and about the importance of moving its media into the digital realm, a process many diocesan newspapers and communications offices are experiencing as well. The communication secretariat's main task with a communicator like Pope Francis, she said, "is to try not to be an obstacle to what this great communicator already is doing." Looking at data from March through May 2018, she said, the pope's English-language account showed some preference for tweets contrasting the power of love to violence, while the Spanish-language account showed a preference for tweets related to Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Across all nine languages, Govekar said, the pope's tweets garnering the highest "engagement" rates -- the rate of tweets soliciting comments or "likes" -- were those that could be described as inspirational or inviting reflection. On the other hand, she said, tweets related to a political situation in a specific country rarely attract much attention and have low rates of being shared. With Twitter's maximum 280 characters, the @Pontifex account offers "pills of wisdom" and "capsules of love" in the style Pope Francis himself recommended for effective evangelization in his exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Govekar said. As Pope Francis wrote, "When we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary. The message is simplified, while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing." Govekar also watches the newer @Franciscus Instagram account , which has more than 5.6 million followers. The largest group of followers is from Brazil, followed by the United States, she said. And the largest age group for followers is 25-34 years old. The communications secretariat staff monitor the comments on the social media accounts "because that is the way to know the questions people are asking," she said. It makes no sense to respond to questions or concerns people don't have. Many people comment appreciatively on how "normal" the pope seems and acts, how tender and human and kind he appears, Govekar said. And if one thinks about it, "normality must be strongly desired to be obtained by a person in the pope's position." The gestures, particularly the embraces, that have garnered Pope Francis the most positive attention, she said, are "not the result of a communication strategy; it is simply the language of love." Govekar also said she is struck by how many of the comments describe the pope as "beautiful," but then when love shines through a person or thing, "the result is beauty."
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 10:50:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- How is it that God in heaven can hear the cries of the poor, but so many people watching or standing nearby either cannot or just do not care, Pope Francis asked. People must make "a serious examination of conscience to understand whether we are really capable of listening to the poor," the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor. The recently established commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to give Christians a chance to follow Christ's example and concretely share a moment of love, hope and respect together with those in need in one's community, the pope said in the message dated June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor. The Vatican released the message to the public June 14. The World Day of the Poor -- to be marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- will be celebrated Nov. 18 this year and will focus on a verse from Psalm 34, "This poor one cried out and the Lord heard." "We can ask ourselves, how is it this cry, which reaches all the way to God, is unable to penetrate our ears and leaves us indifferent and impassive?" the pope asked in his message. To become aware of people's suffering and know how best to respond with love, people must learn to be silent and listen, the pope said. "If we speak too much ourselves, we will be unable to hear them," he said. That is often what happens when otherwise important and needed initiatives are carried out more as a way to please oneself "than to really acknowledge the cry of the poor," he said. "We are so entrapped in a culture which forces us to look in the mirror" and unduly "pamper ourselves," he said. Such people come to believe their act of altruism is enough without having to feel any empathy or the need to sacrifice or "endanger" themselves directly. Nobody seeks poverty or its many forms, which include marginalization, persecution and injustice, the pope said. Poverty "is caused by selfishness, pride, greed and injustice. These are evils as old as humanity, but also sins in which the innocents are caught up, leading to consequences on the social level, which are dramatic," he said. "God's answer to the poor is always an intervention of salvation in order to heal the wounds of body and soul, restore justice and assist in beginning anew to live life with dignity. God's answer is also an appeal in order that those who believe in him can do the same," he added. The World Day of the Poor is meant to be a small contribution that the whole church can make so the poor may know their cries have not gone unheard, the pope said in his message. "It is like a drop of water in the desert of poverty; and yet it can be a sign of sharing for those who are in need, that they might experience the active presence of a brother or a sister," he said. This encounter is a call for personal involvement, not delegation to others, he said. And it is not cold, distant giving, but an act that requires "loving attentiveness" just like God offers everyone. So many people in need are seeking the meaning of their existence and a response to their questions about "why they have fallen so far and how they can escape! They are waiting from someone to come up and say, 'Take heart; rise, he is calling you,'" the pope said. Unfortunately, people are often repelled by, not drawn to the poor, he said. The cries of the poor are often met with rebuke and they are told, "to shut up and put up." There is a real "phobia of the poor," who are seen not only as destitute, but also as carriers of "insecurity and instability," to be rejected and kept afar. But this tendency to create a distance means people distance themselves from Jesus himself, "who does not reject the poor, but calls them to him and consoles them," he said. Even though members of the Catholic Church who offer their care and assistance are motivated by their faith and the desire to share the Good News with others, he said bishops, priests, ...
Thu, 14 Jun 2018 08:19:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will review a finalized draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia, the Vatican spokesman said. The document, provisionally titled "Praedicate Evangelium" ("Preach the Gospel"), was reviewed by the international Council of Cardinals, and the draft will be "given to the Holy Father for the considerations he deems opportune, useful and necessary," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, June 13. The title is still subject to change, and the pope may choose to share it with others to receive feedback, Burke said. An early draft of the document was reviewed by Pope Francis and the council during their last meeting, April 23-25. The draft document emphasizes four points: the Roman Curia is at the service of the pope and the local churches throughout the world; the work of the Curia must have a pastoral character; the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State would oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world; and the proclamation of the Gospel and a missionary spirit must characterize the activity of the Curia. The Council of Cardinals, which met at the Vatican June 11-13, also released a seven-page report detailing work it has accomplished since its creation April 13, 2013. After studying various proposals, analyses from Vatican offices, bishops' conferences, "the council will deliver to the Holy Father a first organic text of proposals in view of the preparation of a new apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia," the report stated. The meeting in June was the 25th gathering of the council with the pope. Australian Cardinal George Pell has not been participating since returning to Australia for a series of court hearings to determine if he should stand trial on decades-old charges of child sexual abuse. The other members of the council are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is Sept. 10-12, Burke said.
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 08:24:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The worst enemies in a young person's life aren't the problems they may face, Pope Francis said. The biggest dangers are being unwilling to find a way to adapt, mediocrity by settling for the status quo, and fear, he said at his general audience in St. Peter's Square June 13. "It is necessary to ask the heavenly father for the gift of healthy restlessness for today's young people, the ability to not settle for a life without beauty, without color. If young people are not hungry for an authentic life, where will humanity end up?" he said. As the pope spoke to the crowd of 15,000 people, he was flanked on either side by 10 children wearing bright yellow baseball caps. He had invited them to temporarily leave behind their parish group pilgrimage in the square and follow him to the platform in front of the basilica to be part of his VIP entourage for the morning. The pope said he was beginning a new series of audience talks on the Ten Commandments and how Jesus leads people from the law to its fulfillment. He asked people to reflect on the reading from the Gospel of Mark and Jesus' response to a young, wealthy man who asked what was needed to inherit eternal life. This question reflects the burning human desire for a full and dignified life, the pope said, but the challenge is "how to get there? What path to take?" Unfortunately, the pope said, some people believe this restlessness, this desire to live a better life is too dangerous and should be tamped down. "I would like to say, especially to young people, our worst enemy is not concrete problems" no matter how serious or tragic they may be. "The biggest danger in life is a bad spirit of adapting that is not meekness or humility, but is mediocrity, pusillanimity," that is, cowardice or fear, and making the excuse for doing nothing by saying, "that's just the way I am." "Where will humanity end up with young people who are tame (and) not restless?" he asked. Referring to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's insistence that it is better to live fully than to just get by, the pope asked the crowd whether a kid who is "mediocre has a future or not." The pope agreed with their answer, "No. He just sits there. He doesn't grow" and mature. Reaching maturity, he said, is coming to realize and accept one's limits, and it is also seeing what is lacking in one's life, just as Jesus said the rich young man: "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." This invitation to leave behind everything and follow the Lord, is "not a proposal of poverty, but of riches," the real treasure of everlasting life, he said. If told to choose between having "the original" or just a copy, who would choose just a copy, the pope asked. "Here's the challenge: to find the original, not the copy. Jesus doesn't offer substitutes, but offers real life, real love, real wealth," he said. It is difficult to see why young people would choose then to follow those Christians who are not choosing "the original, if they see us putting up with half measures. It is terrible to encounter Christians (who only go) halfway, dwarf Christians who only grow a certain height and have a tiny, closed heart," he said. Young people need the example of Christians who invite them to grow, "to go beyond" and look for more. "We have to start from reality," with the way things are, "in order to take that leap into what is lacking. We have to scrutinize the ordinary in order to open ourselves up to the extraordinary."
Mon, 11 Jun 2018 14:09:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' brief visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families Aug. 25-26 will include a quick trip to the Marian shrine at Knock and a special meeting with homeless families. He also will meet representatives of survivors of clerical abuse and residential abuse -- such as Magdalen laundries and mother and baby homes -- during the course of his two days in Ireland. In Maynooth, Ireland, June 11, the day the pope's itinerary was published, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, custodian of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, told reporters, "One of the most beautiful sights at Knock is to see families, sometimes the three generations, praying and enjoying the peace and tranquility of the shrine." The apparition at Knock in 1879, he said, "was family apparition." Fifteen people in the village said they saw the apparition of Mary, Joseph, a lamb representing Jesus, and St. John the Evangelist, to whom Jesus entrusted Mary as his mother. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, told media he expected many Northern Ireland Catholics to travel to Knock for the occasion now that a papal visit north of the border had been ruled out. He added that they were still "delighted that he is coming to this island, and we'll celebrate that and make the most of it." Keeping his custom of setting aside time for the poor and others in particular need, Pope Francis also will visit a day center for homeless families in Dublin. The World Meeting of Families will conclude Aug. 26 with an open-air Mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park. This was the venue for St. John Paul's outdoor Mass in the Irish capital in 1979, where 1.25 million people attended. However, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, president of the Ninth World Meeting of Families, stressed that the crowd would be capped at 600,000 to comply with health and safety regulations. The following is the pope's schedule as released by the Vatican. The times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight time in parentheses: Saturday, Aug. 25 (Rome, Dublin) -- 8:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.) Departure by plane from Rome's Fiumicino airport. -- 10:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.) Arrival at Dublin International Airport and official welcome. -- 10:45 a.m. (5:45 a.m.) Transfer to Aras an Uachtarain, the presidential residence. -- 11:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.) Arrival at the presidential residence. Welcome ceremony in front of the main entrance. -- 11:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit with the president. -- Noon (7 a.m.) Transfer to Dublin Castle. -- 12:10 p.m. (7:10 a.m.) Meeting with authorities, civil society leaders and members of the diplomatic corps in Dublin Castle. Speech by pope. -- 3:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m.) Visit to St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral. Greeting by pope. -- 4:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.) Transfer to the Capuchin Fathers' day center for homeless families. -- 4:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.) Private visit to the day center for homeless families. -- 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.) Arrival at Croke Park stadium. -- 7:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m.) Festival of Families in Croke Park stadium. Speech by pope. Sunday, Aug. 26 (Dublin, Knock, Dublin, Rome) -- 8:40 a.m. (3:40 a.m.) Departure by plane for Knock. -- 9:20 a.m. (4:20 a.m.) Arrival at Knock airport. -- 9:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.) Arrival at Knock shrine. Visit to the chapel. Recitation of the Angelus on the square in front of the shrine. Greetings by pope. -- 10:45 a.m. (5:45 a.m.) Transfer to Knock airport. -- 11:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.) Departure by plane to Dublin. -- 11:50 a.m. (6:50 a.m.) Arrival at Dublin International Airport. Lunch with the papal entourage. -- 2:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.) Arrival at Phoenix Park. -- 3 p.m. (10 a.m.) Mass in Phoenix Park. Homily by pope. -- (No time specified) Meeting with bishops in the convent of the Dominican Sisters. Speech by pope. -- 6:30 p.m. (1:30 p.m.) Arrival at Dublin International Airport. Farewell ceremony. -- 6:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.) Departure by plane for Rome. -- 11 p.m. (5 p.m.) Arrival at Rome's Ciampino airport. - - -
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 15:44:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God shows his love, not with great speeches, but with simple, tender acts of charity, Pope Francis said. "When Jesus wants to teach us how a Christian should be, he tells us very little," the pope said, but he shows people by feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger. Celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae June 8, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the pope spoke about the boundless love of Christ, "which surpasses knowledge." It is not easy to understand, he said, but God expresses his infinite love in small, tender ways. In the day's first reading, the prophet Hosea says the Lord loved his people like a child, taking them into his arms, drawing them in, "close, like a dad" would, the pope said. "How does God show his love? With great things? No, he becomes small with gestures of tenderness, goodness," he said. God stoops low and gets close. In Christ, God then became flesh, lowering himself even unto death, the pope said, which helps teach Christians the right path they should take. "What does (Jesus) say? He doesn't say, 'I think God is like this. I have understood God's love.' No, no. I made God's love small," the pope said, that is, he expressed God's love concretely on a small scale by feeding someone who was hungry, giving the thirsty something to drink, visiting a prisoner or someone who is ill. "The works of mercy are precisely the path of love that Jesus teaches us in continuity with this great love of God," he said. Therefore, there is no need for grand speeches about love, he said, but there is a need for men and women "who know how to do these little things for Jesus, for the Father." Works of mercy continues that love, which is made small so it can "reach us and we carry it forward," Pope Francis said.
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 07:46:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must discover new ways to provide the Eucharist and pastoral support to the people of the Amazon, especially indigenous people threatened by forced displacement and exploitation, a new document said. The Vatican released the preparatory document for the special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon June 8. The synod gathering in October 2019 will reflect on the theme "Amazonia: New paths for the church and for an integral ecology." The connection between care for the environment and the pastoral care of the people who live in the region is highlighted throughout the document, because, it said, "protecting indigenous peoples and their lands represents a fundamental ethical imperative and a basic commitment to human rights." "Moreover," it continued, "it is a moral imperative for the church, consistent with the approach to integral ecology called for by 'Laudato si'." The document ended with 30 questions about how the church should respond to specific challenges in the region such as injustice, violence and discrimination, particularly against the area's indigenous people. Responses to the questions will provide material for the synod's working document. The questions also sought to identify solutions for a variety of pastoral challenges, particularly the region's shortage of priests, which means the "impossibility of celebrating the Eucharist frequently in all places." Rich in biodiversity, natural resources and cultures, the Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world, covering more than 2.1 million square miles in South America. The rainforest includes territory in Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Suriname, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana and French Guiana. The region has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity. The document's preamble states that "new paths for evangelization must be designed for and with the people of God" who live in the Amazon, an area that is in "deep crisis" due to "prolonged human intervention in which a 'culture of waste' and an extractivist mentality prevail." Using the method of "see, judge and act," the document began with a description of how the region's rich biodiversity, which provides food and resources for the indigenous population, "is being threatened by expansive economic interests." Those threats include logging, contamination of rivers and lakes due to toxins, oil spills and mining, as well as drug trafficking. The destruction of the land and pollution of the rivers have forced many people to move. The indigenous people who are forcibly dislocated, the document said, often are met with "an attitude of xenophobia and criminalization" that leads to their exploitation. Women are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked for "sexual and commercial exploitation," it said. The preparatory document's section on promoting "pastoral and ecological conversion" highlighted the need to proclaim the Gospel and to "accompany and share the pain of the Amazonian people and to collaborate in healing their wounds." "Today the cry of the Amazonia to the Creator is similar to the cry of God's people in Egypt," the document said. "It is a cry of slavery and abandonment, which clamors for freedom and God's care." By focusing on the indigenous people and the care for their land, the church is "strengthened in its opposition to the globalization of indifference and to the unifying logic promoted by the media and by an economic model that often refuses to respect the Amazonian peoples or their territories," the document's third section said. It also emphasized "relaunching the work of the church" in the Amazon region "in order to transform the church's precariously thin presence" through new ministries that respond "to the objectives of a church with an Amazonian face and a church with a native face." This includes, it said, fostering "indigenous and local-born clergy" as well as ...
Wed, 06 Jun 2018 15:58:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Peace is a gift that can easily be destroyed through petty gossip and speaking ill of others, Pope Francis said. People who receive and give the sign of peace "should be men and women of peace" and not ruin "the peace made by the Holy Spirit with your tongue," the pope said June 6 during his weekly general audience. "Gossip is not a work of the Holy Spirit, it is not a work of the unity of the church. Gossip destroys the work of God. Please stop gossiping," the pope said. Continuing his series of audience talks on confirmation, Pope Francis spoke about the gift of the Holy Spirit that Christians receive in the sacrament. When a person is anointed with oil, that gift "enters us and bears fruit so that we can then give it to others," the pope explained. The gift is not meant to be tucked away and stored "as if the soul was a warehouse." While it usually is the bishop, who is a successor of the apostles and guarantor of the unity of the church, that confers the sacrament of confirmation upon person, his role does not exclude the bishop from the Christian duty of charity and love. "Some may think that in the church there are masters -- the pope, the bishops, the priests -- and then the workers who are something else," he said. "No, the church is everyone. And we all have the responsibility of sanctifying one another, of caring for others. The church is 'us.' Everyone has their job in the church, but we are all the church." During the sacrament of confirmation, he continued, the bishop tells the candidate, "Peace be with you," which is "a gesture that expresses the ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful." However, that gift can be lost if Christians start saying mean things about each other once they leave Mass. "Gossip is war," the pope said. "Poor Holy Spirit! (Imagine) the work he has with us with our habit of gossiping!" Pope Francis urged the faithful to preach the Gospel with deeds and words "that edify and not with words of gossip that destroy." Like the parable of the talents, he added, the Holy Spirit's gift is a seed that bears fruit when it is shared with others and not "when it is buried because of selfish fears." "When we have the seed in hand, it isn't meant to be stored in a closet, it is meant to be sown. All life must be sown so that it bears fruit and multiply. We must give the gift of the Spirit back to the community," the pope said.
Tue, 05 Jun 2018 07:54:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has asked the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not to publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass, but to continue having diocesan bishops judge specific situations. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the authenticity of a letter published June 4 on the Italian blog "Settimo Cielo." "The Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published," said the letter signed by Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The prefect had hosted a meeting May 3 with a group of German bishops, including supporters and opponents of the document, and with officials from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. A Vatican statement issued at the end of the meeting said, "Pope Francis appreciates the ecumenical commitment of the German bishops and asks them to find, in a spirit of ecclesial communion, a result as unanimously as possible." Cardinal-designate Ladaria's letter said he spoke to Pope Francis specifically about the proposed guidelines and the early May meeting on two occasions and mentioned how the Germans' proposal raises "a series of problems of notable importance." The doctrinal prefect listed three main issues: -- "The question of the admission to Communion of Lutheran Christians in interconfessional marriages is a theme that touches on the faith of the church and has relevance for the universal church." -- "Such a question has effects on ecumenical relations with other churches and other ecclesial communities that cannot be undervalued." -- The matter also involves church law, particularly the interpretation of canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law, which says: "If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed." The text of the German guidelines was never made public, but it was widely assumed to foresee situations in which a Lutheran married to a Roman Catholic and regularly attending Mass with the Catholic spouse could receive the Eucharist on a regular basis. Already in many dioceses around the world, bishops permit such eucharistic hospitality on special occasions like the baptism or first Communion of their child. Cardinal-designate Ladaria's letter said because of varying interpretations of the canon, "the competent dicasteries of the Holy See already have been charged with producing a timely clarification of such questions on the level of the universal church." "In particular," he said, "it appears opportune to leave to the diocesan bishop the judgment about the existence of a 'grave necessity'" that would permit Christians of other denominations to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, conference president, received Cardinal-designate Ladaria's letter June 4, said Matthias Kopp, spokesman of the bishops' conference. Given the pope's early May encouragement to try to find a unanimous position, Kopp said in a statement, the cardinal "is therefore surprised" by the doctrinal congregation's letter. Cardinal Marx, he said, will need to discuss the letter with the other German bishops and, eventually, he hopes also to discuss it with Vatican officials and Pope Francis himself. The same day the letter was leaked, Pope Francis met at the Vatican with a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany. "Let us support one another in the journey, including by continuing the ...
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 08:51:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After meeting with Pope Francis for more than four hours, a Chilean priest who suffered abuse and a priest who ministers to survivors said they felt comforted and hopeful for the church's future in their country. The pope met June 2 with five priests who the Vatican described as being "victims of abuses of power, of conscience and of sexual abuse." Two priests who have accompanied the survivors "in their juridical and spiritual journey" and "two laypeople involved in this suffering" also were invited by Pope Francis. They were all guests at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican residence where Pope Francis lives. Speaking to journalists after the groups' final meeting with the pope June 2, Father Francisco Astaburuaga Ossa, who has accompanied survivors of abuse, said the pope asked forgiveness for the abuse and subsequent cover-ups committed by members of the church. "What he told us in the last meeting was, 'I ask forgiveness. I ask you for forgiveness in the name of the church for what you have lived, for what you have told me. I ask forgiveness.' And that is very comforting and shows great humility on the part of the Holy Father, to once again ask for forgiveness. I am very grateful to the pope," Father Astaburuaga said. In addition to Father Astaburuaga, the priests meeting the pope were Fathers Eugenio de la Fuente Lora, Alejandro Vial Amunategui, Javier Barros Bascunan and Sergio Cobo Montalva. The four other members of the group wished to remain anonymous. Father de la Fuente, a survivor of abuse, told journalists that he came to Rome with three expectations: "gratitude for the pope's invitation; the comfort of knowing that we will meet with Peter, with the Holy Father; and also hope." The pope, he said, "greatly exceeded my expectations." "I have an immense gratitude for his welcoming. I was greatly comforted to be completely understood by an admirably empathetic person, who suffered with my pain, and I have great hope because he has a very ample and profound understanding of the problem," he said. The pope also has identified "concrete paths for moving forward." Although Father de la Fuente did not provide details of the decisions the pope has made with regard to the culture of abuse and cover-up in the Chilean church, he said that they would take time and involve steps for "the short, medium and long term." Father Astaburuaga said that he was greatly consoled by the pope and confirmed that his over 20 years of counseling survivors of abuse "was not in vain." The pope celebrated a private Mass with the group June 2 and met with members of the group together and individually, a Vatican statement said. The aim of the meetings was to achieve a greater understanding of "the reality lived by some of the faithful and Chilean clergy," the Vatican statement said. "With the help of these five priests, the pope seeks to remedy the internal rupture of the community. Thus, rebuilding a healthy relationship between the faithful and their shepherds can begin, once all are conscious of their own wounds," the Vatican said. Like the three laymen Pope Francis hosted in late April, the priests were abused by Father Fernando Karadima and his followers in the parish of Sagrado Corazon de Providencia, also known as the community of "El Bosque" ("The Forest"). Known as an influential and charismatic priest, Father Karadima founded a Catholic Action group in the wealthy Santiago parish and drew hundreds of young men to the priesthood. Four of Father Karadima's proteges went on to become bishops, including Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno. However, several former seminarians of "El Bosque" revealed in 2010 that the Chilean priest sexually abused them and other members of the parish community for years. One year later, Father Karadima was sentenced by the Vatican to a life of prayer and penance after he was found guilty of sexual abuse. Before the meetings began, Father Astaburuaga told Catholic News Service he was going ...
Mon, 04 Jun 2018 08:31:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- As he did with his disciples at Passover, Jesus asks all Christians to prepare a place for him, not in "exclusive, selective places" but rather in uncomfortable places that are "untouched by love, untouched by hope," Pope Francis said. "How many persons lack dignified housing or food to eat! All of us know people who are lonely, troubled and in need: they are abandoned tabernacles. We, who receive from Jesus our own room and board, are here to prepare a place and a meal for these, our brothers and sisters in need," the pope said in his homily during Mass June 3, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Pope Francis celebrated the feast day Mass not in Rome, as had been the tradition since 1979, but in the seaside town of Ostia, about 16 miles west. Ostia was where St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, died in 387 on a journey back to Africa after St. Augustine's conversion to Christianity. During his pontificate, Blessed Paul VI celebrated the feast day in different neighborhoods in and around Rome, including in Ostia in 1968. Pope Francis' evening Mass outside St. Monica Church was followed by a Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Ostia. A local priest carried the monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, surrounded by four men carrying tall poles holding a canopy. Thousands of men, women and children lined the streets, taking photos and reverently making the sign of the cross as the Blessed Sacrament passed them. Due to his difficulty walking long distances, Pope Francis met the procession at the Church of Our Lady of Bonaria instead of participating in it. Before the benediction, the pope stood before the Blessed Sacrament, head bowed in silent prayer, while the choir sang "Tantum Ergo," the medieval Eucharistic hymn composed by St. Thomas Aquinas. In his homily, the pope reflected on the Gospel reading in which Jesus instructs his disciples to find a place to celebrate the Passover. Although the disciples were supposed to prepare the place, the pope noted, they discover a large room that is "furnished and ready." "Jesus prepares for us and asks us to be prepared," the pope said. "What does he prepare for us? A place and a meal. A place much more worthy than the 'large furnished room' of the Gospel." That place here on earth, the pope said, is the church "where there is, and must be, room for everyone." The Eucharist, he added, "is the beating heart of the church" and strengthens all men and women who partake in it. When receiving Jesus' body and blood, Christians are not only given their "reservation" to the heavenly banquet, but also nourished with the "bread of heaven," which is "the only matter on earth that tastes of eternity," he said. All men and women, he continued, have a hunger to be loved and are never fully satisfied, even when receiving "the most pleasing compliments, the finest gifts and the most advanced technologies." Instead, by receiving Communion and worshipping Christ in the tabernacle, Christians "encounter Jesus" and feel his love. "Dear brothers and sisters, let us choose this food of life! Let us make Mass our priority!" he exclaimed. "Let us rediscover Eucharistic adoration in our communities! Let us implore the grace to hunger for God, with an insatiable desire to receive what he has prepared for us." Pope Francis said that by giving themselves in service to others, Christians live "eucharistically" and imitate Jesus who "became bread broken for our sake." Like the disciples, who were instructed by Jesus to go out to the city to make preparations, Christians also are called to prepare for Jesus' coming "not by keeping our distance but by entering our cities" and tearing down "the walls of indifference and silent collusion." "The Eucharist invites to let ourselves be carried along by the wave of Jesus, to not remain grounded on the beach in the hope that something may come along, but to cast into the deep, free, courageous and united," the pope said.
Sat, 02 Jun 2018 15:59:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new Vatican document cautions against the dangers of highly competitive children's sports, political and economic pressures on athletes to win '"at all costs" and the unsportsmanlike or violent behavior of fans. The document on sports also calls on every group or institution sponsoring sports programs to have expert-guided child protection policies in place and it urged bishops, parishes and lay Catholics to be proactive in helping "humanize" sports. The document, "Giving the Best of Yourself," also condoned sports on Sundays as a means of bringing families and communities together in joy and celebration, but only as long as such events are not used as an excuse to miss Mass. The document was released June 1 by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and is the first Vatican document on sports, said Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the dicastery's prefect. In a message to the cardinal, Pope Francis applauded the document and said, "Sport is a very rich source of values and virtues that help us to become better people." "We need to deepen the close connection that exists between sport and life, which can enlighten one another," said the pope, who often fondly recalls how he and his family cheered on his favorite soccer team when he was a boy. The 52-page document highlighted the church's positive view of the important values inherent to sport and blew the whistle on the growing threats in the sports world, including corruption, over-commercialization, manipulation and abuse. The document -- meant for all Catholics and "people of goodwill" -- also was an invitation to the church to offer itself as a valuable resource, partner and leader in safeguarding the dignity of the human person and all of creation. In fact, it made specific reference to the need to protect the environment when it comes to hosting sporting events and to respect animals involved in sports, ensuring "that they are treated in a morally appropriate way and not as mere objects." It also mentioned briefly the growing and lucrative business of e-sports, that is, video game competitions and tournaments that award large cash prizes and draw huge numbers of spectators. While not trying to touch on every problem or concern or pinpoint one sport in particular, the document listed what it saw as four serious challenges that are the result of an obsession with success and the huge economic and political pressures put on sports and athletes: the debasement of the body, doping, corruption and the negative behavior of spectators. "Sports that inevitably cause serious harm to the human body cannot be ethically justified," it said. Given the greater understanding people now have about the harmful effects of some sports on the body, particularly brain damage, all of society must put the well-being and health of the person first. People are not machines, it said, and parents, coaches and communities must avoid objectifying players, particularly with expectations they receive medals, scholarships, wealth or break records. "Aberrations of this kind can be seen in highly competitive children's sports," it said, noting an increase in pushing kids to specialize -- often starting very early in life -- in one sport intensively year-round, which can result in overuse injuries or eating disorders, particularly in girls' and women's gymnastics. "Parents have a responsibility of showing children that they are loved for who they are, not for their successes, appearance or physical abilities," it said. Among the rights of life, dignity and freedom that must be protected in sports is protection against abuse, it said. "Incidences of abuse of children whether physical, sexual or emotional by coaches, trainers or other adults are a direct affront" to minors, it said, so "institutions that sponsor sports programs for youth, including at the elite level, must develop policies with the help of experts that ensure the safety of all children." The document called on the ...
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