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All Christians called to spiritual ecumenism, pope tells charismatics

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Prayer and mission are the very breath of the Christian life, Pope Francis said.

“When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same spirit,” Pope Francis told members of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

Pope Francis talks to members of an orchestra during a special audience with members of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships at the Vatican Oct. 31. The pope met with about 1,000 charismatic Catholics and their Protestant guests who were participating in a conference about the charismatic movement and new evangelization. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis talks to members of an orchestra during a special audience with members of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships at the Vatican Oct. 31. The pope met with about 1,000 charismatic Catholics and their Protestant guests who were participating in a conference about the charismatic movement and new evangelization. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

The pope met Oct. 31 with about 1,000 charismatic Catholics and their Protestant guests who were participating in a conference about the charismatic movement and new evangelization.

Although most of his speech focused on the charismatic practice of prayers of praise, Pope Francis also encouraged prayers of intercession, “a cry to the Father, for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted and murdered, and for the cause of peace in our turbulent world.”

The charismatic movement, which focuses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is by its nature an ecumenical movement, the pope said. Christian unity is “the test of the credibility of Christians and of Christ himself,” and Christian divisions make evangelization more difficult.

While theological dialogue is important in bringing about the formal unity of divided Christians, he said, “spiritual ecumenism” – “praying and proclaiming together that Jesus is Lord and coming together to help the poor” — is something to which all Christians are called. “This must be done.”

Despite their differences, the pope said, too many Christians already are united in one kind of ecumenism, the “ecumenism of blood.”

“For our persecutors, we are not divided — we are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics. For persecutors we are Christians; they are not interested in anything else,” the pope said. “This is the ecumenism of blood being lived today.”

Pope Francis also told the charismatics that as people who value the rich variety of the gifts of the Holy Spirit they should not fear diversity. “Uniformity is not Christian,” he said.

Being united in Christ and in the church “does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way,” he said. “Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of the gifts at the service of all members of the church.”

Accepting the Holy Spirit’s diversity while allowing the Spirit to forge unity “means knowing how to listen, to accept differences and having the freedom to think differently and express oneself with complete respect toward the other, who is my brother or sister,” he said.

Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis referred to the day’s Gospel reading from Luke 14:1-6. The Pharisees, he said, were fanatics about uniformity and following the letter of the law. They were so extreme that “the Lord had to ask them, ‘But, then, is it possible to do good on the Sabbath or is it forbidden?’ This is the danger of uniformity.”

In his homily during his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, the pope had said the Pharisees’ attachment to the law “distanced them from love and justice.”

The path Jesus taught is one where love and justice lead to knowledge and discernment about how best to fulfill God’s law, Pope Francis said, according to Vatican Radio.

The Pharisees, the pope said, were always looking for new followers, but they did not know how to offer people hope and life-giving love. Pharisees are “closed-minded men, men who are so attached to the laws, to the letter of the law that they were always closing the doorway to hope, love and salvation.”

 

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Brighter lights, cooler air protecting Sistine Chapel from visiting crowds

October 30th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is not promising visitors to the Sistine Chapel more elbow room, but it is guaranteeing a cooler experience.

The Sistine Chapel is illuminated with new LED lighting at the Vatican Oct. 29. A new lighting system was donated by Osram, a German lighting company. A new air conditioning system also was donated and installed by the U.S.-based Carrier company. The chapel now is cooler and better lit with the new systems, which will help preserve Michelangelo Buonarroti's masterpiece.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Sistine Chapel is illuminated with new LED lighting at the Vatican Oct. 29. A new lighting system was donated by Osram, a German lighting company. A new air conditioning system also was donated and installed by the U.S.-based Carrier company. The chapel now is cooler and better lit with the new systems, which will help preserve Michelangelo Buonarroti’s masterpiece. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Marking the year of the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s death, the Vatican Museums hope the brand new air conditioning system and the 7,000 new LED lights will preserve the Renaissance artist’s masterpiece for generations to come.

Television cameras, news photographers and journalists were invited to the chapel Oct. 29 for a “before and after” experience. Initially, they viewed the chapel with the lighting installed 20 years ago after the cleaning and restoration of Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and his massive wall mural, “The Last Judgment.” Then the brighter, cooler LED lights were turned on.

Even with a crowd in the chapel, the room is designed to stay cooler than ever, never going above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to a new system installed by the U.S.-based Carrier company and adjusted over the past three years with input from the Vatican Museums’ conservation team and its diagnostic and scientific research laboratory.

Antonio Paolucci, museums director, said his team believed the best way to honor Michelangelo was to highlight and preserve the culmination of his life’s work, something which was threatened by the work’s popularity.

When the old lighting and air filtering and conditioning systems were installed two decades ago, he said, the annual number of visitors to the museums and chapel was under 2 million. Today it hosts almost 6 million visitors a year, with more than 20,000 people a day entering during the peak pilgrim and tourist season.

The popularity “required a radical intervention to guarantee air circulation, keep dust and pollutants down, control the temperature and humidity and keep the carbon dioxide at an acceptable level,” Paolucci said.

Carrier and Osram, a German lighting company, donated the new systems, which have an estimated value of about $3.8 million.

 

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Pope calls Benedict an example of how knowledge can increase love for God

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Retired Pope Benedict XVI is a perfect example of how intellectual knowledge and scientific curiosity do not lead a person further from God, but can strengthen their love for God and for his human creatures, Pope Francis said.

“Benedict XVI was a great pope,” he said: “Great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his considerable contribution to theology, great for his love for the church and for human beings, great for his virtues and his religiosity.”

Pope Francis praised his predecessor Oct. 27 at a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The academicians invited Pope Francis to unveil a bronze bust of Pope Benedict at the academy’s headquarters in the Vatican Gardens.

The pope said he was pleased that the statue’s face and particularly its eyes captured the spirit, intelligence and love of Pope Benedict.

“This spirit, far from crumbling with the passing of time, will appear greater and more powerful from generation to generation,” the pope predicted.

With his intellectual curiosity and his love for science, Pope Benedict especially enjoyed conversing with scientists at the Pontifical Academy, Pope Francis said.

“No one could ever say of him that study and science made him and his love for God and his neighbor wither. On the contrary, knowledge, wisdom and prayer enlarged his heart and his spirit,” the pope said. “Let us thank God for the gift that he gave the church and the world with the existence and the pontificate of Pope Benedict.”

 

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Paul VI was pope of firsts, a pope of dialogue, cardinal says

October 19th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Retired Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who comes from the same diocese as Pope Paul VI did and worked for him in the Vatican Secretariat of State, described the late pope as a man rich in spirituality, a thinker and a pastor “very sensitive to the challenges of the modern world.”

Speaking to reporters Oct. 17, two days before Pope Francis was to beatify Pope Paul, the cardinal said his concern for modern men and women and his awareness that the majority of the world’s people were not Catholic, also made him “a great man of dialogue.” Read more »

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Church called to keep hope alive, live in joyful expectation, pope says

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The church of Christ is called to keep the light of hope alive in the world, showing all humanity the path leading to “the merciful face of God” and salvation in Christ, Pope Francis said.

Focusing his general audience talk Oct. 15 on the ultimate destiny of the church and all its members, Pope Francis asked the estimated 30,000 people in St. Peter’s Square to repeat with him three times: “We will be with God forever.” Read more »

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Married life is better with natural family planning, say couples at bishops’ synod

October 10th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Catholic couples who ignore church teaching on contraception “don’t know what they are missing,” said a U.S. couple invited to address the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Alice and Jeff Heinzen, family life leaders in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., spoke at the synod Oct. 7, urging efforts to find new ways to share its teaching about the beauty of family life. Read more »

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Pope’s morning homily: Protect your heart from temptation by examining your conscience

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Just as you protect your home from thieves, you need to protect your heart from the temptations of the devil, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.

Preaching Oct. 10 during Mass in his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, the pope said Christians should not be shocked that the devil continues to assail them; even after Jesus defeated Satan in the desert, the devil continued to try to tempt him, including when he was dying on the cross. Read more »

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U.S. couple at synod calls for ‘robust, creative’ family programs

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY— Existing diocesan programs and Catholic organizations aimed at helping Catholic families fulfill their vocation clearly are not strong enough to meet modern needs, a Wisconsin couple told the Synod of Bishops.

“We must develop more robust and creative methods to share the fundamental truth that marriage is a divine gift from God, rather than merely a man-made institution,” Alice Heinzen told the synod Oct. 7, reading a speech she and her husband, Jeff, wrote.

 

Alice and Jeff Heinzen of Menomonie, Wis., pose for a photo as they arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 7. The couple are auditors at the synod. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Alice and Jeff Heinzen of Menomonie, Wis., pose for a photo as they arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 7. The couple are auditors at the synod. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Heinzens, from the Diocese of La Crosse, were named synod auditors by Pope Francis and were chosen to introduce the work of the synod’s afternoon discussion on pastoral programs designed to meet the challenges facing families. Alice is director of the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life; Jeff is president of McDonell Catholic Schools in Chippewa Falls.

The Catholic Church, its parishes and organization need to review “the methods by which we teach our children about the nature of human sexuality and the vocation of marriage,” Heinzen said. In addition, when Catholics talk about vocations and God’s call to each of the baptized to serve the church and humanity, they cannot speak only of priesthood and religious life. “Marriage should be included in all programs designed to explore vocations.”

Presenting marriage as a vocation and the immediate preparation of couples for marriage are not enough, she said. The church also needs to review “how we provide for the aftercare of marriage that can help couples deepen their relationship.”

The Heinzens said they recognize that their parents’ example and their family life growing up were major factors in their continuing to be active today; Alice said she remembers seeing her father leave early to go to Mass before work, praying the rosary together during the month of May and attending Sunday Mass as a family.

“To all this we can add our mothers who reminded us to always love our siblings, to use our best manners with others, and to save our pennies to help those less fortunate,” she said. “Our homes were schools of love and virtue and our parents were the primary educators.”

But many young people today have no similar experiences and, instead, suffer the pain of seeing their parents divorce or are raised by a single parent who was never married.

Sociological research and the international input used for the synod’s working document indicate that “children raised without the blessing of married parents, who have created a home animated by love and faith, will likely struggle to trust in God and their neighbors,” she said. “How can they create lifelong marriages?”

Through their ministry, she said, “we know countless divorced adults who have joined other faith communities because they do not feel welcomed in the Catholic Church. And, our hearts ache for single parents who struggle to care for their children. Like you, we strive to find simpler, more effective ways to better share the blessings of God’s plan for marriage and family.”

The church is not confused or in a state of crisis about its teaching on marriage and family life, she said. But there is “a crisis of methodology. How do we as a church effectively share what we know to be true in practical, simple and convincing ways, so that all men and women are challenged and supported to live lifelong marriages and build homes that reflect the domestic church?”

 

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Synod of Bishops on the family, Oct. 5-19 — Cardinal says meeting will have open discussion, even on sensitive topics

October 3rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The “freedom of expression” that characterized preparations for the Synod of Bishops on the family, especially in responses to a Vatican questionnaire, “will also characterize the synod assembly, which certainly will take place in a climate of respect for every position, mutual charity and an authentic sense of constructiveness,” said the head of the synod.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, synod general secretary, told reporters Oct. 3 that he hoped widespread media attention to the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried would not completely overshadow the entire discussion, but differing opinions on that topic would be welcome in the synod hall. Read more »

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Pope thanks people at audience for prayers for his family after deadly crash

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, in mourning for the deaths of his nephew’s wife and two small children, thanked people at his weekly general audience Aug. 20 for their prayers.

After each of the priests who translate the pope’s words offered him condolences for the tragedy that struck his family, Pope Francis explained to the people: “The pope has a family, too. We were five siblings, and I have 16 nieces and nephews. One of these nephews was in an accident. His wife died along with his two small children — one who was 2 years old and the other several months.”

Pope Francis gives a blessing to the crowd during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 20. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis gives a blessing to the crowd during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 20. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The pope said that after the crash in the early morning hours Aug. 19, his 35-year-old nephew, Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, “is in critical condition right now. I thank you, I thank you very much, for your condolences and prayers.”

Memories, from the important to the light-hearted, took center stage at the pope’s audience with about 7,000 people gathered in the Vatican audience hall.

Seated on the stage, among the visiting bishops, was a delegation representing the players and coaches of the soccer team that has been the pope’s favorite since he was a small child. They brought along the massive Copa Libertadores trophy testifying to their Aug. 13 win in the championship of Latin American clubs. They also brought a copy of the trophy for the pope to keep.

Greeting Spanish-speakers at the audience, Pope Francis gave a special shoutout to the team, “the champions of America,” and a team “that is part of my cultural identity.”

On the flight back from Seoul Aug. 18, an Argentine journalist asked the pope what he thought about his team winning.

“San Lorenzo is the team my whole family cheered for,” the pope responded. “As children we went, even mom went” to their games. “I remember as if it were today the 1946 season when San Lorenzo had a brilliant team and were champions.”

As is customary at the first general audience after a foreign trip, Pope Francis shared reflections on his Aug. 14-18 visit to South Korea.

“The meaning of this apostolic visit can be summarized in three words: memory, hope and witness,” he said.

The church, he said, “is the custodian of memory and hope. It is a spiritual family in which the adults transmit to the young the flame of faith received from their ancestors; the memory of the witnesses of the past become a new witness in the present and hope for the future.”

Pope Francis said that his beatifying 124 Korean martyrs and meeting young people from many countries gathered for Asian Youth Day, brought memory, hope and witness together.

“Youths are people seeking something worth living for, and martyrs give a witness of something, or rather someone, for whom it is worth giving one’s life,” he said. “This reality is love, it’s God who became flesh in Jesus.”

The pope also spoke about how Christianity came to Korea in the 1700s through young laypeople reading about Christ, traveling abroad to be baptized, then baptizing others, initially without priests. The young people tried to live like the earliest Christians did, “practicing fraternal love that overcame every social distinction” and promoting sharing and care for the poor.

“The history of the faith in Korea demonstrates how Christ does not annul cultures; he does not suppress the journey of peoples who through centuries and millennia have sought the truth and practiced love for God and their neighbors,” he said. “Christ does not abolish that which is good, but brings it to completion.”

On the other hand, he said, Christ does “combat and defeat” evil, which sows division between peoples and “generates exclusion because of the idolatry of money.”

During the audience, the pope prayed again for reconciliation and reunification between North and South Korea, and he asked people to continue to pray “for all persecuted Christians in the world, particularly in Iraq, and for those non-Christian religious minorities who equally are being persecuted.”

Greeting his visitors, Pope Francis singled out a French couple and their six children who traveled on foot to Rome on a pilgrimage with two donkeys. “They didn’t let the donkeys inside?” he asked them. The animals were outside, tied to scaffolding on a Vatican building.

 

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