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Martyrdom is not a thing of the past, pope says at Mass

February 6th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Reading the Gospel account of St. John the Baptist’s death on the feast of St. Paul Miki and other Japanese martyrs, Pope Francis said his thoughts naturally turn to those Christians being persecuted and killed today because of their faith.

“When I read this passage, I muzst confess, I get emotional,” the pope said Feb. 6 during the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence.

Pope Francis leads his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis leads his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

The pope gave two reasons why he is so moved by the passage from Mark’s Gospel about Herod ordering St. John the Baptist’s beheading: first, because of the situation of persecuted Christians today; and second, because it is a reminder that everyone, even the great prophets, will die.

“I think of our martyrs, the martyrs of today, those men, women and children who are persecuted, hated, chased from their homes, tortured and massacred,” he said. “This is not something from the past; it is happening today. Our martyrs are ending their lives under the corrupt authority of people who hate Jesus Christ.”

Pope Francis said it is important to remember the modern martyrs and those facing persecution. Feb. 6 is the feast of St. Paul Miki and his 25 companions, who were killed in Japan in 1597, the pope said. The stunning thing is that such persecution continues “in 2015!”

The pope told the small congregation in the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives that the Gospel passage also reminds him that everyone is on the same path toward “the ground, where we all will end up.”

“I, too, will meet my end,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. “No one can buy life. Whether we want to or not, we all are on the path toward the existential end of our lives. This, at least for me, makes me pray that at the end I will resemble, as closely as possible, Jesus Christ and his end.”

 

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Salvation is not a ‘theology of prosperity,’ Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Salvation has nothing to do with the “theology of prosperity” some people claim to see in the Gospel, thinking material well-being comes with faith, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives  for his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives for his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

In fact, he said, those who proclaim salvation must live simply, in accordance with Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick — no food, no sack, no money in their belts.”

At this morning Mass Feb. 5 in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives, Pope Francis focused on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 6:7-13, and how Jesus’ instructions to his disciples are still valid today.

The Gospel “must be proclaimed in poverty,” the pope said, because “salvation is not a theology of prosperity,” but the “good news” of liberation for all who are oppressed.

“This is the mission of the church, the church that heals and cures,” he said. “Sometimes I have spoken of the church as a field hospital. That’s true. How many of these injured people are there, how many wounds. How many people need their wounds to be healed. This is the mission of the church: to heal wounded hearts, open doors, liberate, tell people that God is good, God forgives all, God is father, God is tender, God always waits for us.”

One who strays from the purity of the Christian message risks presenting the church as a philanthropic organization rather than an evangelizing one, he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Bringing Christ to the poor, the wounded and the prisoners, he said, includes providing material assistance “because the Lord gives us gifts for that reason. But when we forget our mission, when we forget to live in poverty and forget our apostolic zeal and instead place our trust in our means, the church slowly slips into being a nongovernmental organization.”

“It can become a great organization, powerful,” he said, “but it is not evangelical because it is lacking that spirit, that poverty, that power to heal.”

The greatest praise any Christian can receive, the pope said, is being lauded as “a worker for the kingdom,” because that means he or she proclaimed Jesus and helped people draw closer to God and find healing and peace.

 

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Pope Francis recognizes martyrdom of Archbishop Romero

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Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — After decades of debate within the church, Pope Francis formally recognized that Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed “in hatred of the faith” and not for purely political reasons. Pope Francis signed the decree Feb. 3, recognizing as martyrdom the March 24, 1980, assassination of Archbishop Romero in a San Salvador hospital chapel as he celebrated Mass. The decree clears the way for the beatification of Archbishop Romero. The postulator or chief promoter of his sainthood cause, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was scheduled to brief the press Feb. 4 about the cause.

People look at a painting of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero at the cathedral in San Salvador Feb. 3. (CNS photo/Jose Cabezasi, Reuters)

People look at a painting of slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero at the cathedral in San Salvador Feb. 3. (CNS photo/Jose Cabezasi, Reuters)

Archbishop Romero’s sainthood cause was opened at the Vatican in 1993, but was delayed for years as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith studied his writings, amid wider debate over whether he had been killed for his faith or for taking political positions against Salvadoran government and against the death squads that were operating in his country.

As head of the San Salvadoran Archdiocese from 1977 until his death, his preaching grew increasingly strident in defense of the country’s poor and oppressed.

Pope Benedict XVI told reporters in 2007 that the archbishop was “certainly a great witness of the faith” who “merits beatification, I do not doubt.” But he said some groups had complicated the sainthood cause by trying to co-opt the archbishop as a political figure.

Seven years later, Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, told reporters that “for me, Romero is a man of God.” However, he said at the time, “the process must go ahead, and God must give his sign. If he wants to do so, he will.”

During his general audience Jan. 7, Pope Francis quoted words that Archbishop Romero had spoken at the funeral Mass of a priest assassinated by Salvadoran death squads: “We must all be willing to die for our faith even if the Lord does not grant us this honor.”

Although not seen as exercising any pressure to move the cause forward, St. John Paul II made it a point of praying at Archbishop Romero’s tomb in the San Salvador cathedral during visits to the city in 1983 and again in 1996. During his first visit, he told people gathered in the cathedral, “Within the walls of this cathedral rest the mortal remains of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a zealous pastor whose love of God and service to his brothers and sisters led to the very sacrifice of his life in a violent way as he celebrated the sacrifice of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

When Pope John Paul returned 13 years later, he told the people that he wanted to pray again at the tomb of Archbishop Romero, “brutally assassinated while he offered the sacrifice of the Mass.” The pope said he was pleased that the archbishop’s memory “continues to live among you.”

An official decree of martyrdom removes the beatification requirement of a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession.

Generally, a miracle after beatification would still be needed for canonization.

The same day that Pope Francis formally recognized Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, he also signed a decree recognizing the martyrdom of two Polish Conventual Franciscans and an Italian missionary priest who were murdered by Shining Path guerrillas in Peru in 1991. Franciscan Fathers Michal Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski and Father Alessandro Dordi, a diocesan priest from Bergamo, were killed in separate incidents in August 1991. Dates for the beatification of Archbishop Romero and the Peru martyrs were not announced immediately.

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Vatican panel to discuss challenges women face in society and church

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Violence against women, cultural pressures regarding women’s physical appearance, attitudes that subjugate women or that ignore male-female differences and the growing alienation of women from the church in some parts of the world are themes the Pontifical Council for Culture is set to explore.

 

The council, whose members are all cardinals and bishops, has chosen to discuss the theme, “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference,” during its plenary assembly Feb. 4-7. A document outlining the theme was published in late January, and four women involved in writing it joined Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, council president, at a news conference Feb. 2 at the Vatican.

Women wait to read intentions Oct. 12 as Pope Francis celebrates a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican for two Canadians he canonized April 3 without requiring the verification of a miracle or a canonization ceremony. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Women wait to read intentions Oct. 12 as Pope Francis celebrates a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican for two Canadians he canonized April 3 without requiring the verification of a miracle or a canonization ceremony. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The cardinal announced to the press that he was planning to establish within his office a special group of female consultants to provide women’s opinions and points of view on a variety of issues.

He also noted that if priests had to follow the Jewish rules for a quorum for prayer — 10 men must be present — many of them would not be able to celebrate daily Mass, even though there would be dozens of women present in the church.

The council’s discussion document, drafted by a group of Italian women and women who have lived in Italy for years, looked at the continuing quest to find balance in promoting women’s equality while valuing the differences between women and men; the concrete and symbolic aspects of women’s potential for motherhood; cultural attitudes toward women’s bodies; and women and religion, including questions about their participation in church decision-making.

 

In preparing the document and the plenary discussions, the council sought input from women around the world. However, the process was not without criticism, particularly for the English version of a video featuring an Italian actress, Nanci Brilli, asking women to send in their experiences. Many women felt the use of a heavily made-up actress ran counter to the point of seeking input about the real lives of most women. The council quickly took the English version off YouTube.

 

At the news conference, Brilli said, “as a woman, a professional, a mother, I feel like this is the first time we have been asked for our opinion” by the church. “The women who responded do not want to be cardinals, but want to take part in the discussion.”

Participating for a year in the group that drafted the document, she said, was such a positive experience that it led to a renewal of her faith, but also to a willingness to do the video and open herself to comments. Some people, she said, instead of wanting to dialogue, “felt represented by making insults. That’s their problem.”

Cardinal Ravasi said the reactions from across Europe were mainly positive and garnered a variety of helpful input about women’s concerns, but in Anglo-Saxon countries, especially the United States and Canada, the reaction focused so strongly on the video — and not on women’s concerns and experience — that they decided to pull it.

Everything he’s done, he said, has garnered strong reaction ranging from enthusiasm to “those who even found satanic dimensions” in what he was doing. Some feel a need to take part in a discussion “by yelling,” he said.

 

The preparatory document looked at how much pressure women face regarding their body image and the way women’s bodies are exploited in the media, even to the point of provoking eating disorders or recourse to unnecessary surgery.

“Plastic surgery that is not medico-therapeutic can be aggressive toward the feminine identity, showing a refusal of the body in as much as it is a refusal of the ‘season’ that is being lived out,” it said.

“‘Plastic surgery is like a burqa made of flesh.’ One woman gave us this harsh and incisive description,” the document said. “Having been given freedom of choice for all, are we not under a new cultural yoke of a singular feminine model?”

The document also denounced violence inflicted on women: “Selective abortion, infanticide, genital mutilation, crimes of honor, forced marriages, trafficking of women, sexual molestation, rape, which in some parts of the world are inflicted on a massive level and along ethnic lines, are some of the deepest injuries inflicted daily on the soul of the world, on the bodies of women and of girls, who become silent and invisible victims.”

 

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Feed my sheep: New archbishops to receive palliums at home with their flock

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in June, he will set aside an element that has been part of the Mass for the past 32 years; the Vatican confirmed he will not confer the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy.

Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of liturgical ceremonies, said Jan. 29 that the new archbishops will come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis June 29 and will be present for the blessing of the palliums, underlining their bond of unity and communion with him.

Pope Francis touches a lamb after a blessing to mark feast of St. Agnes at the Vatican Jan. 21. The wool from two lambs blessed by the pope will be used to make the palliums which new archbishops will now receive each June in their home archdioceses. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis touches a lamb after a blessing to mark feast of St. Agnes at the Vatican Jan. 21. The wool from two lambs blessed by the pope will be used to make the palliums which new archbishops will now receive each June in their home archdioceses. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

The actual imposition of the pallium, however, will take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses, he said.

The change will “better highlight the relationship of the metropolitan archbishops with their local churches, giving more faithful the possibility of being present for this significant rite,” Msgr. Marini said.

Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, who was installed in the archdiocese in November, is expected to be among the concelebrants in Rome.

St. John Paul II, who began many of the Vatican practices that now seem like venerable ancient traditions, first placed the woolen bands around the shoulders of metropolitan archbishops at the feast day Mass June 29, 1983.

A truly ancient tradition, dating back probably at least to the sixth century, will not change: The pope blesses the pallium and concedes its use by certain bishops. The current Code of Canon Law stipulates that within three months of their appointment or consecration all metropolitan archbishops (residential archbishops who preside over an ecclesiastical province) must request a pallium from the pope.

“The pallium signifies the power which the metropolitan, in communion with the Roman church, has by law in his own province,” it says. The code, however, does not specify that the pallium be received from the hands of the pope.

In 1982 on the eve of the feast day, Pope John Paul went down to the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica to pray before the tomb of St. Peter and bless the palliums that were to be given “to the metropolitan archbishops to be created by the Holy Father,” according to a description in Attivita della Santa Sede (Activity of the Holy See), an annual publication that includes a day-by-day description of the activities of the pope.

The next year, Pope John Paul made the change. After the homily, five archbishops who had been named in the previous year to archdioceses in Italy, Wales and Chile, approached the pope, knelt and received the wool bands marked with crosses. Other archbishops named during the year received their palliums from the nuncio or papal representative in their countries.

In his homily, Pope John Paul had explained, “during this celebration the blessing and the imposition of the pallium on certain, recently named archbishops will take place.”

The blessing of the pallium near the tomb of St. Peter and by his successor, the pope, “has always been seen … as a participation in the ‘feed my sheep’ said by Jesus to Peter,” Pope John Paul said.

In fact, the woolen bands, which are about 3 inches wide and have 14-inch strips hanging down the front and the back, are tipped with black silk to recall the dark hoof of the sheep the archbishop is symbolically carrying over his shoulders.

Personally placing the palliums on the archbishops, Pope John Paul said, “signifies that the pallium imposed on you, dear brothers in the episcopate, is a symbol of privileged communion with the successor of Peter, principle and visible foundation of unity in the field of doctrine, discipline and pastoral work.”

At the same time, he said, the pallium should signify “a greater commitment to love for Christ and for souls. Such love for the flock of Christ, shepherd and guardian of our souls, will help you carry out your ministry of service,” he said. “The doctrine you offer will be fruitful if nourished with love.”

Already this year, Pope Francis has kept part of the tradition connected to the palliums. On the Jan. 21 feast of St. Agnes, he blessed two lambs raised by Trappist monks outside Rome. Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St. Cecilia in Rome will use wool from the blessed lambs to make the bands, which will be kept by St. Peter’s tomb until the pope blesses and distributes them.

The change Pope Francis decided for 2015 was not a complete surprise given his suggestion that Argentine bishops and faithful not spend huge sums to come to Rome for his own installation as pope in 2013, and that they use the money they would have spent for the poor. He’s also encouraged new cardinals to keep celebrations of their new roles to a dignified minimum.

In June 2013, Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, was in the first group of archbishops to receive their palliums from Pope Francis. At the time, he told Catholic News Service, “To be quite honest, I was kind of hoping that maybe he would send the pallium by way of FedEx and say, ‘Save the money and give it to the poor.’”

 

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Pope’s morning homily: Knowing God’s will isn’t easy, but doing it is essential

January 27th, 2015 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — People today have so many options about how they will spend their time, their lives and their money that discovering and doing God’s will really is as difficult as most people claim, Pope Francis said.

“Every day we are presented with a tray full of options,” the pope said Jan. 27 during the homily at his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.

CNS/Reuters file

CNS/Reuters file

Focusing his homily on doing God’s will, the pope repeatedly admitted, “It’s not easy,” according to Vatican Radio.

The readings for the day’s Mass, from Hebrews 10, Psalm 40 and Mark 3, repeatedly spoke of the importance of seeking God’s will and responding.

“The opposite began in paradise with Adam’s failure to obey,” the pope said. “That disobedience brought evil to all humanity. Sins are acts of disobedience, of not doing God’s will.”

But Jesus, he said, taught humanity that obedience is the only path to happiness and salvation. “It’s not easy,” the pope said, but it was not easy for Mary to accept God’s will that she bear God’s son or for Jesus to accept dying on the cross or for some of the initial disciples to follow Jesus, so they ran away.

The only way to do God’s will is to pray for grace and strength, the pope said. “Do I pray that the Lord will give me the desire to do his will or do I look for compromises because I am afraid of God’s will?”

The only way to know God’s will “for me and my life, about a decision I must make now, about many things, how to handle things,” he said, is to pray.

But it is not enough to want to do God’s will and to discern his will in prayer, the pope said. One must also pray for the grace to do God’s will.

 

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Maturing in faith means not just asking God for favors, pope says

January 22nd, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The journey of faith always begins a little selfishly, seeking from God healing or help with a problem, but Christian maturity is allowing oneself to be purified and to arrive at the point of recognizing Jesus as savior, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass Jan. 22 in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives, Pope Francis commented on Gospel stories that recount how the crowds flocked to Jesus hoping for healing.

“We can never follow God with a purity of intentions from the beginning,” the pope said. “It’s always a little for ourselves and a little because of God. To journey is to purify these intentions.”

Pope Francis, according to Vatican Radio, told the small congregation that the crowds originally followed Jesus because they were “a bit bored” by the way the Jewish elders of their day were teaching the faith and they felt oppressed by “the many commandments and precepts that were laid on their shoulders, but never reached their hearts.”

But when they saw and heard Jesus, “they felt something move inside them,” he said. “It was the Holy Spirit who awakened this and they went out to find Jesus.”

The way Jesus spoke and the physical healings he performed, the pope said, were simply signs of “another healing,” the definitive healing that led the people to a deeper relationship with God and to recognition that Jesus is the savior.

“He is the savior and we are saved by him. This is the most important thing,” the pope said. “This is the strength of our faith.”

“When we, for one reason or another, are feeling down, we should remember that Jesus prays for us and intercedes for us continually,” Pope Francis said. “So often we forget this.”

 

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Pope meets with father, uncle of CRS worker killed in Philippines

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Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — After praying publicly at a youth gathering for the repose of the soul of a Catholic Relief Services worker killed the previous day, Pope Francis met Jan. 18 with her father and her maternal uncle.

Kristel Padasas, 27, of Manila, who worked with a recovery project for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, died after the papal Mass in Tacloban when high winds blew over scaffolding. She had traveled from Samar Island, where her project is based, to volunteer at the Mass.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila told reporters that he translated at the meeting.

Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, console the father of Kristel Padasas, 27,  Jan. 18 in Manila. Padasas, a Catholic Relief Services employee, died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when strong winds caused scaffolding in an area near the altar to fall. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, console the father of Kristel Padasas, 27, Jan. 18 in Manila. Padasas, a Catholic Relief Services employee, died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when strong winds caused scaffolding in an area near the altar to fall. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

“The Holy Father was searching for words,” the cardinal said. “How do you console with words a father who just lost his only child? The Holy Father did not apologize for his lack of words, but he was there” and let his presence speak.

“I think what struck the Holy Father was the statement of the father of Kristel. At first he said he felt devastated and he even asked God, you know, ‘I have only one child, why is she taken away from me?’” the cardinal said.

“But then it surprised the Holy Father when this grieving father said, ‘I have accepted this. I have resigned myself to the fact that my daughter’s no longer with me. I rejoice that she died serving other people, especially serving this visit of the Holy Father. So it’s a meaningful death,’” the cardinal quoted the father as saying

The young woman’s father explained that he had decided to stay home and watch the papal visit on television because he was certain the expected crowds meant he would not be able to get anywhere near Pope Francis.

“‘Then,’ he said, ‘my daughter died. She arranged this meeting with the Holy Father.’ And when I translated that for the Holy Father, the Holy Father just shook his head and said, ‘What faith. What faith,’” the cardinal said.

“I think the Holy Father was surprised, in a pleasant way, that here he was trying to show compassion and mercy, but this grieving man witnessed to his faith before the Holy Father.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that for the meeting, the young woman’s father brought two photographs that were kept on the table as they spoke: One was a recent photo and another was of her as a little girl with her mother and father.

During the meeting, Father Lombardi said, there was an attempt to reach the young woman’s mother by telephone in Hong Kong.

“The pope had the idea, as he very often does, to call,” but it was unsuccessful.

CRS staffers were stunned and mourned Padasas’ death, offering prayers for her family.

“Her colleagues remember her as someone who loved to laugh and who was always ready to assist outside her normal duties,” said a Jan. 17 statement from CRS, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency. “She found great joy in being able to contribute to the recovery effort by working directly with communities and families.”

“Her dedication to the people affected by the typhoon extended beyond her official work with CRS,” the statement added. “She traveled a great distance to volunteer at today’s papal Mass and to remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

 

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Tears often are only correct response to suffering, pope tells youths

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Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — The realities of life described by young people, especially the tearful question of a 12-year-old girl about why God allows suffering, led Pope Francis to set aside the first text he had prepared for a meeting Jan. 18 with the young people of the Philippines.

“Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears,” the pope said Jan. 19 after listening to Glyzelle Palomar, who used to live on the streets but now has a home thanks to the foundation for street children Pope Francis visited in Manila Jan. 16.

Pope Francis embraces Glyzelle Palomar, 12, after the former street child spoke during a meeting with young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. Also pictured is Jun Chura, 14, who also spoke. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis embraces Glyzelle Palomar, 12, after the former street child spoke during a meeting with young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18. Also pictured is Jun Chura, 14, who also spoke. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Palomar spoke after Jun Chura, a 14-year-old rescued from the streets by the same foundation, described life on the streets as a struggle to find enough to eat, to fight the temptation of drug use and glue sniffing, and to avoid adults looking for the young to exploit and abuse.

Covering her face with her hand as she wept in front of the microphone, Palomar asked the pope, “Why did God let this happen to us?”

As some 30,000 young people looked on at the University of Santo Tomas, the pope kissed the top of Palomar’s head and pulled her close for a big hug, then embraced her and Chura together.

He also listened to the testimony of two other young men and their questions: How do young people discover God’s will for them? What is love? How can young people become agents of mercy and compassion?

The pope’s gathering with the youths was emotional from the beginning. Opening the encounter, the pope spoke about 27-year-old Kristel Padasas, an employee of the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, who died after being struck by a speaker stand knocked down by the wind Jan. 17 after the pope’s Mass in Tacloban.

She was “young, like yourselves,” the pope told the youths, asking them to join him in praying for her and for her parents. “She was the only daughter. Her mother is coming from Hong Kong (and) her father has come to Manila to wait,” he told them.

Pope Francis had received the texts of the young people’s testimonies and questions in advance and had begun rewriting his speech the night before to ensure he responded directly to what they planned to say, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. There was not time to have the new text translated, so Pope Francis, who did not read from the text, asked Msgr. Mark Miles from the Vatican Secretariat of State to translate from his Spanish. After more than half an hour, he made a passing attempt to return to the original text, but only to emphasize the challenges the youth face: the challenge of personal integrity, of helping the poor and of protecting the environment.

One of the first things he commented on talking to the youths was the fact that Palomar was the only female on the program.

“Sometimes we’re too ‘machista’ and don’t allow room for the woman,” he said. “But the woman is able to see things with a different eye than men. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.”

“Pay attention,” the pope told the young people. Palomar was “the only one who posed a question for which there is no answer. And she wasn’t able to express it in words but tears.”

“When the next pope comes to Manila,” he told them, include “more women” on the program.

Speaking directly to Palomar, he told her, “You have expressed yourself so bravely.”

While it is impossible to explain why God would allow children to suffer, he told the young people, “only when we, too, can cry” can one approach a response.

“I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, ‘Have I learned to weep and cry when I see a child cast aside, when I see someone with a drug problem, when I see someone who has suffered abuse?’” the pope told them.

Being moved to tears out of compassion and in the face of the mystery of suffering is holy, he said. It is not the same thing as crying to manipulate or get something from someone.

“Jesus in the Gospel cried, he cried for his dead friend,” Lazarus, “he cried in his heart for the family that had lost its child, he cried in his heart when he saw the old widow having to bury her son, he was moved to tears of compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor,” Pope Francis said.

“If you don’t learn how to cry you cannot be good Christians,” he told them.

In the face of suffering like Palomar’s and Chura’s, he said, “our response must either be silence or the word that is born of our tears.”

“Be courageous, do not be afraid to cry,” the pope said.

Responding to the questions of Leandro Santos II, a law student, and Rikki Macolor, a recent graduate who, with his friends, designed a solar-powered night light for typhoon victims, Pope Francis focused on love, compassion and the challenge of not just helping the poor, but allowing oneself to learn from and be evangelized by them.

“What is the most important subject that you have to learn in university, what is the most important subject you learn in life?” the pope asked. “To learn to love. This is the challenge that life offers you.”

“True love is to love and allow yourself to be loved,” he said. “It is harder to let yourself be loved than to love.”

Even when it comes to the life of faith, he said, it seems easier to love God than to really allow oneself to be loved by him. But when one succeeds, he continued, God responds with surprises.

“Don’t be like a computer, thinking that we know everything,” the pope said.

Pope Francis thanked Macolor and his friends for helping the poor victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, but he asked them, “Do you allow yourselves to receive?” Putting his finger to his lips, the pope said he didn’t want them to respond immediately, but to ponder the other, essential Christian part of being with the poor, which is being willing to learn from them and to accept their gifts.

“The Sadducees and doctors of the law in the time of Jesus gave much to the people, they gave them the law and taught them, but they never allowed the people to give them something,” he said.

“Become a beggar,” the pope said. “Learn how to beg,” to receive with humility, “to be evangelized by the poor. The persons we help, the poor, the sick have so much to give us.”

Contributing to this story was Francis X. Rocca in Manila.

 

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Papal meeting with former Manila street kids features songs, hugs

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Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis did not disappoint hundreds of former street children who were part of a massive campaign to show him one of the centers where they have found safety and love.

Although it was not in his official program, Pope Francis walked out of Manila’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral after Mass Jan. 16 and across the street to the Blessed Charles de Foucauld Home for Girls, which is run by the Tulay Ng Kabataan foundation.

Pope Francis is greeted by young people at a home for former street children in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 16. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis is greeted by young people at a home for former street children in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 16. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Accompanied by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, a frequent guest, the pope spent about half an hour with some 320 boys and girls and young adults from a number of TNK homes in metropolitan Manila.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful encounter,” Cardinal Tagle told reporters later. “You could see the Holy Father was in his element.”

The cardinal translated for the pope as several of the children approached and shared their stories, stories that often included horrible experiences of exploitation and abuse when they lived on the streets.

“You could see the attentiveness of the pope,” he said. Getting emotional himself, the cardinal said that, as he listened, the pope’s “eyes were getting cloudy and beginning to fill with tears. You could see he was trying to show his affection to the children, but at the same time trying to fathom these deep wounds and pain.”

When the children came up to touch and to hug the pope, he said, Pope Francis whispered to him that it was clear they yearned for a loving human touch, “the touch of a parent.”

The pope “assured the children that they are loved by God, that God is with them, and that they should not forget that.”

In a text message reply to questions, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the visit featured “songs, kisses and hugs. And a blessing.”

“These children, the poorest among the poor, are for sure the most vulnerable victims of our society, but they remain masters of joy, as one can see on their smiling faces,” the foundation’s director, 39-year-old Father Matthieu Dauchez, told Pope Francis.

In a statement issued after the visit, the center said that by taking the time to meet “many children who faced horrors of the street like begging, violence, drugs (and) prostitution,” Pope Francis demonstrated “that he is the pope of the forgotten.”

“This is awesome,” the statement quoted 10-year-old Alvin as saying. “He gave me a huge warm hug!”

 

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