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New lives sustained: Sustaining Hope for the Future helps Bayard House assist homeless mothers


Special to The Dialog


Magdalena Ochoa’s life came tumbling down last year.

She was driving a van that was involved in an incident in which her brother was fatally injured. Her family, which she said was already dysfunctional, struggled with the brother’s death. Her father kicked Magdalena out of his house.

She moved in with her boyfriend, but again was kicked out after he learned she was pregnant. While living with her grandmother, she realized she wanted a more stable life for her unborn child. Read more »

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


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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Airborne pope says he would consider going to war zone for peace


Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis said the use of force can be justified to stop “unjust aggressors” such as Islamic State militants in northeastern Iraq, but he declined to endorse U.S. military airstrikes against the militants and said such humanitarian interventions should not be decided on by any single country.

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard the papal flight from Seoul, South Korea, to Rome Aug. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard the papal flight from Seoul, South Korea, to Rome Aug. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope also said he was willing to travel to the war zone if necessary to stop the violence.

Pope Francis made his remarks Aug. 18 during an hourlong inflight news conference on his way back from South Korea.

In response to other questions, the pope acknowledged a need to lighten his work schedule for the sake of his health; said he might make a combined visit to the U.S. and Mexico in 2015; and explained why the Vatican is still studying whether the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero should be beatified as a martyr.

The pope’s words on Iraq came a week after his representative in Baghdad welcomed President Barack Obama’s decision to use military force against Islamic State positions.

Asked about the airstrikes Aug. 11, Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, told Vatican Radio: “This is something that had to be done, otherwise (the Islamic State) could not be stopped.”

That statement surprised many because, since the pontificate of St. John Paul II, the Vatican has stressed that military interventions for humanitarian purposes should have the support of the international community.

When a reporter on the plane asked Pope Francis whether he approved of the airstrikes, he replied:

“In these cases where there is unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop’; I don’t say bomb, make war, stop him. The means by which he may be stopped should be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit, but we nevertheless need to remember how many times, using this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor, the powerful nations have dominated other peoples, made a real war of conquest. A single nation cannot judge how to stop this, how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War, there arose the idea of the United Nations. That is where we should discuss: ‘Is there an unjust aggressor? It seems there is. How do we stop him?’ But only that, nothing more.”

The pope said his recent appeal to the U.N. to “take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway in Iraq” was one of a series of measures he had considered with Vatican officials, including his decision to send Cardinal Fernando Filoni to the region to meet with church and government officials and refugees.

“In the end we said, should it be necessary, when we get back from Korea I can go there,” he said. “At this moment it is not the best thing to do, but I am willing.”

Asked whether he was keeping an excessively busy schedule, the pope admitted that “one of my neuroses is that I am too attached to my habitat,” so he has not taken an out-of-town vacation since 1975.

The pope said he regularly takes the equivalent of a vacation, however, by taking it easier at home: “I change pace, I read things I like, I listen to music, I pray more, and that makes me rested.”

But he admitted his decision to call off a planned June 27 visit to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, one of several appointments he had canceled due to illness, came after “very demanding days. Now I should be a bit more prudent.”

The pope showed little concern for his longevity, however, predicting with a laugh that his pontificate would last “two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.”

In the meantime, to guard against the temptation of pride in his immense popularity, “I try to think of my sins, of my mistakes.”

Asked about other possible foreign travel, besides officially announced trips to Albania in September and Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January, Pope Francis said he had received invitations to Spain and Japan but that nothing had been decided yet.

The pope said he would gladly visit China “tomorrow,” even though the Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with Beijing since shortly after the China’s 1949 communist revolution. The two sides have struggled over issues of religious freedom, including the pope’s right to appoint bishops, and Chinese authorities have frequently arrested Catholics who reject government control of the church.

“We respect the Chinese people,” the pope said. “The church asks only the liberty to do its work, no other condition.”

Yet the pope made clear the church should not accept a rigid separation between religion and politics. On four of his five days in South Korea, he wore a yellow-ribbon pin commemorating the approximately 300 people killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, a gesture some interpreted as support for demands by victims’ families that the government appoint an independent investigation of the disaster.

The pope recalled: “I took (the pin) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day, somebody came up to me and said, ‘You should take it off; you need to be neutral.’ I answered this way: ‘Listen, with human pain you can’t be neutral.’ That’s how I feel.”

The pope said he “would like” to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015. He also noted that Obama and the U.S. Congress have invited him to Washington, D.C., and that the secretary-general of the United Nations has invited him to New York.

“Maybe the three cities together, no?” he said, adding that he could also visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico on the same trip, “but it is not certain.”

Asked about the beatification cause of the late Archbishop Romero of San Salvador, an outspoken advocate for the poor who was killed in 1980 during his country’s civil war, the pope said theologians still need to clarify if he was killed because of his faith.“For me, Romero is a man of God,” the pope said. “But the process must go ahead, and God must give his sign. If he wants to do so, he will.”

Pope Francis also reported progress on a future encyclical on ecology, saying that Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, had delivered a first draft just a few days before the pope’s departure for South Korea.

The pope said the draft encyclical was about one third longer than his 50,000-word apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” but that it would be shortened by removing the more debatable scientific hypotheses or relegating them to footnotes.

“An encyclical like this, which must be magisterial, must rely only on certainties,” he said. “Because if the pope says the center of the universe is the earth, not the sun, he errs.”


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Pope tells Asians to witness to Christ in all aspects of life


Catholic News Service

SEOSAN, South Korea — Pope Francis told young Asian Catholic leaders to witness to Christ in everything they do.

Young women wait for Pope Francis to arrive to celebrate the closing Mass of the sixth Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea, Aug. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Young women wait for Pope Francis to arrive to celebrate the closing Mass of the sixth Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea, Aug. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

During his homily Aug. 17 on the muddy grounds of Haemi Fortress, Pope Francis urged more than 40,000 people, including young Catholic leaders from 22 Asian countries, to “reflect God’s love.” He reminded them it was their “right and duty to take part in the life of (their) societies.”

“Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life,” the pontiff said. He also urged them to discern “what is incompatible with your Catholic faith … and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt and lead to death.”

Young people are always choosing their social lives over other things, and this makes it complicated to “grow up in their faith also,” said Montira Hokjareon, a youth coordinator in Thailand’s Udon Thani diocese. She said it was especially hard for young Thai Catholics to practice their faith in a predominantly Buddhist country where less than half of 1 percent of the population is Catholic.

Hokjaroen, 34, was one of 20 participants who had lunch with Pope Francis Aug. 15. She told Catholic News Service it was good he nudged the youth leaders to evangelize, “because I think the people will learn (about) Jesus through us.”

Rain threatened the closing Mass for Asian Youth Day, which, unlike the massive international World Youth Day events, focuses more on youth leaders. At one point, the wind whipped off the pope’s cap.

Pope Francis emphasized the theme of this year’s gathering, “Asian Youth Wake Up, the Glory of the Martyrs Shines on You.”

“It’s no good when I see young people who sleep,” said the pontiff. “No. Wake up! Go! Go!”

Haemi Fortress was where thousands of Catholics were killed during a 100-year period in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1700s laypeople formed the church based on Catholic writings that they got ahold of from China. The original founders pledged loyalty to God rather than the Korean king, which was socially unacceptable. The government pursued them for carrying out Catholic rites and baptisms, killing 10,000 faithful in the century beginning in 1791.

A day before the closing Mass, Pope Francis beatified 124 of the founders of the Korean Catholic Church, moving them a step closer to sainthood.

Michael Hwang of Seoul said being on these grounds was “exhausting emotionally,” because his ancestors were among those executed. But he said he was glad to be a part of Asian Youth Day because it brought him closer to other Catholics from Asia.

The pope said “to wake up and a lot of people can come together, and we could be like one nation,” said Hwang, a 17-year old high school student.

Hwang said his friends are not Catholic, “but I think Catholicism is a great thing and I can tell to my friends about how (being) Catholic is great, and this event will be a great background to teach or tell other people.”

Stephen Borja of Manila, Philippines, told CNS the founding of the church in Korea “is such a unique story, and it really touched me. How passionate they were about receiving the faith, standing up for it, even giving up their lives for it.”

Borja, 34, works with the youth commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He said the pope’s words inspired him to show his faith to others, which is still a challenge in his predominantly Catholic country.

The three characteristics the pope identified for the church in Asia are “holier, more missionary and humbler,” he said. “Those are words I would carry with me and also with my work in the church.”

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at an altar made up of 16 wooden crosses that locked together like wooden blocks and were decorated by the youth. Readings and intercessions were in Filipino, Indonesian, Korean and other languages.

“As young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the church, you are also a necessary and beloved part of the church’s present,” said the pope.

He told young Asian to build “a church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.”
— By Simone Orendain


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Pope Francis calls on Catholics to dialogue with China, other Asian societies


Catholic News Service SEOUL, South Korea — Speaking at the execution site of anonymous Korean martyrs, Pope Francis told Catholic bishops and young laypeople from across Asia to evangelize their continent through dialogue and openness, even with others suspicious or intolerant of the church. But he also urged them to challenge aspects of their cultures incompatible with Christian values.

Pope Francis delivers the homily during the closing Mass of the sixth Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea, Aug. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis delivers the homily during the closing Mass of the sixth Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle in Haemi, South Korea, Aug. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope spoke Aug. 17 at Haemi Castle, about 60 miles south of Seoul, where thousands of Catholics were imprisoned and tortured during the 19th century, and at a nearby shrine commemorating those killed. It was the last full day of his visit to Korea, the first of his pontificate to Asia. “On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all,” Pope Francis told several hundred Asian bishops, leaders of the church in a region that is only 3 percent Catholic. The pope then offered an example of his desired approach. “In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all,” the pope said. His statement was most obviously an overture to China, which has not had formal relations with the Vatican since shortly after the country’s 1949 communist revolution. It was the latest of Pope Francis’ several diplomatic gestures to Beijing since the start of his trip to Korea. During the papal flight from Rome Aug. 14, he sent a telegram of prayers and greetings to China’s President Xi Jinping. Two days later, in a question-and-answer session with young people, the pope notably declined to answer a man from Hong Kong who asked how to help Catholics in China, where he said “control and oppression” were increasing as the church on the mainland grew. China requires Catholic communities to register with the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which has ordained bishops without the approval of the pope, and Chinese authorities have frequently arrested Catholics who reject government control. Speaking with reporters after the pope’s speech, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, noted that the Vatican does not have diplomatic relations with several Asian countries, including North Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei and Bhutan. “This offer of the pope of dialogue is related to all these lands, and not just China, even if China is the biggest, as we know,” Father Lombardi said. In an off-the-cuff addition to his original text, Pope Francis evoked the attitude he hoped such countries would adopt to the church: “These Christians don’t come as conquerors, they don’t come to take away our identity. They bring us theirs, but want to travel with us.” “Some will ask for baptism, others will not, but we will always travel together,” the pope said. Fittingly, Pope Francis started the day by baptizing a Korean man, Lee Hojin, in a brief ceremony at the nunciature in Seoul where the pope has been staying. Lee, whose son was among more than 300 people killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, met the pope Aug. 15 along with other family members and survivors of the disaster. He told the pope he had been preparing for two years to become a Catholic and now wanted the pope to baptize him. Lee took the baptismal name of Francis. The pope has shown special concern for the Sewol case; for three days in a row, in a remarkable departure from papal custom, he has worn a yellow-ribbon pin commemorating the victims. Pope Francis told the Asian bishops that dialogue required “empathy and sincere receptivity,” but also, as a “fundamental point of reference,” a clear sense of “our identity as Christians.” “If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us,” he said. The pope said Christian identity is constantly tempted by the “spirit of the world” in a number of ways, including relativism, which leads people to “forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The pope returned to the theme of Christian identity, though without using the term, when he addressed more than 40,000 Asian Youth Day participants at the event’s closing Mass later in the day. “The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, the way, the truth and the life,” he said. “You have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life. “You see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions. Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage,” he told the young people. “You can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt and lead to death.”

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800,000 watch as Pope Francis beatifies 124 Korean martyrs

August 18th, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News Tags: ,


Catholic News Service

SEOUL, South Korea — Pope Francis placed 124 Korean martyrs on the last step toward sainthood in a beatification Mass Aug. 16 that brought elation to the 800,000 people in attendance.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate the beatification Mass of Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 martyred companions in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate the beatification Mass of Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 martyred companions in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The sun was searing as Bishop Francis Ahn Myong-ok of Masan, president of the commission for the beatification, asked the pope to pronounce the martyrs blessed. After hearing a brief collective biography of 124 of the original founders of the Korean Catholic Church, Pope Francis pronounced the formula of beatification.

With his words, trumpets blared and a huge swath depicting a watercolor of the newly blessed martyrs in heaven was unfurled on the side of a large building facing the square where the faithful gathered. People laughed and cheered as the image also popped up on the giant video monitors along the more than one-mile stretch.

“It was very great to see Papa Francis,” Sophia Moon, 26, told Catholic News Service. “He was very touching to us because in Korea there have been very hard times and there were (people who became martyrs).”

The 124 were killed for their beliefs, setting off a 100-year period in the 18th and 19th centuries when the Korean government went after about 10,000 faithful who pledged filial piety to God, not the king of Joseon. Among this group was Paul Yun Ji-Chung, the very first Korean to be executed for his faith after he buried his mother using Catholic rites that completely went against the norms of the heavily Confucian society.

In his homily, the pope said, “So often we today can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age.”

“Yet the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal kingdom. They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for,” he said.

Seyeon Jeong, 26, said she had an 18th-century ancestor who “actually sacrificed himself as a Catholic” but was not among the newly blessed.

“I was born a Catholic and I have been living as a Catholic, but through this Mass I can actually realize the meaning, I mean the full meaning of what the sacrifice meant here,” she said. “I could actually feel my ancestor’s spirit.”

Pope Francis credited the martyrs with showing the “importance of charity in the life of faith,” since their belief in the “equal dignity of all the baptized” led them to challenge the “rigid social structures of their day.”

Moments before the Mass, the pope greeted the faithful as he traveled via popemobile along the stretch from Seoul’s City Hall to Geongbok Palace, the backdrop of a temporary altar. Geongbok is described by South Korea’s tourism bureau as the grandest of the Joseon-era palaces.

Among those who attended the Mass were about 300 U.S. military personnel and 400 family members of the victims of the Sewol ferry accident, which left more than 300 dead in April.

The Sewol group had been protesting at the square for weeks, demanding that a special law be passed for an independent investigation into the accident. They were determined to remain during the beatification Mass in hopes of an encounter with the pope. After days of negotiations, the committee handling the pope’s visit granted access, and they got their wish.

When Pope Francis swung by on the popemobile, many called out to him, pointing at the family members and one grieving father who had been on a hunger strike for more than a month.

Kim Young-oh, father of a teenage girl who died in the capsized ferry, told CNS the pope grabbed his hands and, because a fence separated them and he could not hug the pope, he laid his forehead twice on the pope’s hands.

Kim said he asked to give him a letter and the pope nodded and tucked it into his cassock.

“I was really prepared to meet the pope and (spell) out that there is a strong need for this bill, and we’re really fighting for this bill,” said Kim through an interpreter. “After this long time on this (hunger) strike I kind of succeeded (by) meeting the point person. I saw real hope.”

— By Simone Orendain


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Asian youths inspired after pope challenges them

August 16th, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News


DANGJIN, South Korea — About 6,000 young people from 30 Asian countries had Pope Francis all to themselves for several hours Aug. 15.

The youths said they felt inspired after Pope Francis went off script to answer questions from pre-selected participants, watched a re-enactment of a modern-day prodigal son and also sat down to lunch with a small group at the Asian Youth Day conference in the Daejeon Diocese.

Pope Francis gestures as a young man takes a selfie during a meeting with Asian youth at the Sanctuary of Solmoe in South Korea Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis gestures as a young man takes a selfie during a meeting with Asian youth at the Sanctuary of Solmoe in South Korea Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The tent at the Solmoe Holy Ground crackled with music, cheering and the excitement of teens and young adults. Pope Francis said he would stay beyond the allotted time so he could answer young people’s questions.

To wild cheers, the pope asked the young people whether they were ready to be God’s witnesses.

“Are you ready to say yes? Are you ready?” he asked.

The crowd screamed, “Yes!”

Alexander John of Pakistan told reporters his heart started beating “double time” when he learned he was selected for the sit-down lunch with the pope. The youth minister from the Karachi archdiocese called the meeting a “dream come true.”

“He really made my day, he really made my life,” said John, 27.

Duc Dinh Nguyen, 28, told Catholic News Service that after he arrived in Seoul from Vietnam three years ago to get a degree in biology, he got swept up with how convenient life could be. “It made me (forget) God. I missed him.”

“After this event, my faith will be stronger,” he said.

After the Q-and-A session, a group of South Korean delegates danced to a pop song composed for the Asian Youth Day conference.

Lauren Kim said she “felt very blessed” when Pope Francis asked for a moment of prayer for the unification of North and South Korea.

“What impressed me the most was he said we have the same language,” Kim, a 19-year-old international relations major, told Catholic News Service. “And language has the power (to change the problems) we have in our divided nation. Especially I’m interested in solving those problems. I’m hoping I can use his knowledge and try to expand knowledge from what he told us.”

The Aug. 13-17 Asian Youth Day brought together youth leaders from about 30 countries to focus on formation and spiritual life. Solmoe Holy Ground is the birthplace of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean priest, who was executed for his faith during a time of persecution of 10,000 Catholics.

St. John Paul II canonized St. Andrew Kim and 102 other martyrs in 1984. The day after meeting the young people, Pope Francis was to beatify 124 martyrs at a Mass in Seoul.

— By Simone Orendain


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Pope says forgiveness key to reconciling divided Korea

August 15th, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News


Catholic News Service

SEOUL, South Korea — Addressing young people from Korea and other Asian countries on their concerns about the future, Pope Francis said the best hope for reunification of the divided Korean peninsula lay in brotherly love and a spirit of forgiveness.

“You are brothers who speak the same language,” the pope said Aug. 15. “When you speak the same language in a family, there is also a human hope.”

Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the garden of the Blue House in Seoul Aug. 14. The pope will beatify Korean martyrs and participate in the sixth Asian Youth Day during his five-day visit to South Korea. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the garden of the Blue House in Seoul Aug. 14. The pope will beatify Korean martyrs and participate in the sixth Asian Youth Day during his five-day visit to South Korea. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope’s remarks came in response to a question from a young Korean woman, Marina Park, attending an Asian Youth Day gathering in Solmoe, about 60 miles south of Seoul. Park asked the pope how young South Korean Catholics should view communist North Korea after six decades of “reciprocal hatred” between the two countries.

“Are there two Koreas?” Pope Francis asked in response. “No, there is one, but it is divided, the family is divided.”

To promote reunification, the pope said he had one piece of advice to offer and one reason for hope.

“My advice is to pray, pray for our brothers in the North,” he said, “that there might not be victors and defeated, only one family.”

He then led the audience of some 6,000 people in silent prayer for Korean reunification.

To illustrate his reason for hope, Pope Francis cited the Old Testament story of Joseph, who forgave and fed his brothers even though they had sold him into slavery.

“When Joseph’s brothers went into Egypt to buy food because they were hungry, they found a brother,” he said. “Joseph noticed that they spoke the same language.”

The pope also cited the Gospel parable of the prodigal son, a familiar reference in his preaching. A group of young performers had enacted the parable onstage a few minutes earlier.

The prodigal son’s father embraced his repentant son immediately, “he didn’t let him speak, he didn’t even let him ask for pardon,” the pope said. “He celebrated.”

“We can do very ugly things, but please don’t despair,” he said. “There is always the Father who waits for us.”

Pope Francis’ answer was not part of the original program for the afternoon event, which called for him to read a prepared text in English, only the third time as pope that he has used the language before a live audience.

But with his usual tendency to improvise, the pope departed from his text and shifted into Italian to reply to the young people.

He also answered the question of a young Cambodian woman, Leap Lakaraksmey, who said she was trying to choose between entering religious life and continuing her university studies in order to help the poor in her native village.

“When the Lord calls, he always calls us to do good for others,” the pope said. “But you shouldn’t choose. The Lord chooses. You have to ask: ‘Lord, what should I do?’”

The pope also assured the young woman, who lamented the lack of canonized saints from her country, that he would ask the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to look into the possibility of recognizing the martyrdom of Catholics killed in Cambodia in the 1970s by the communist regime under Pol Pot.

Pope Francis notably did not answer the other person who had been allowed to question him publicly at the event: a young man from Hong Kong, Giovanni Pang, who asked how to help Catholics in China, where he said “control and oppression” were increasing as the church on the mainland grew.

China requires Catholics to register with a government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which has ordained bishops without approval of the pope, and Chinese authorities have frequently arrested members of the so-called underground or clandestine Catholic communities there. According to unconfirmed reports in Korean media, some Chinese Catholics planning to attend events with Pope Francis had been prevented from traveling to South Korea.

After the event, Pang told reporters that the pope had assured him he would be praying for China.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Pope Francis had chosen to avoid “political” topics such as China at an event whose character was supposed to be “pastoral.”

The pope appeared at the Solmoe event following a lunch with Asian Youth Day participants from various countries and a visit to the reconstructed birthplace of St. Andrew Kim, the first native-born Korean priest, who was martyred in 1846 at the age of 25.

On his way into the tent set up for his meeting with young people, the pope was greeted with cheers and outstretched hands, many holding tablets and cell phone cameras. Before stepping up to the stage, he stopped and allowed one member of the audience to attach a yellow-ribbon pin to his cassock.

The pin has been adopted by family members of those killed in the April sinking of the Sewol ferry, some of whom the pope met earlier in the day, who are pressing the South Korean government to appoint an independent investigation of the disaster.


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Francis tells Koreans to resist materialism



Catholic News Service

SEOUL, South Korea — Celebrating Mass before some 50,000 people, Pope Francis prayed that Christian values overcome demoralization in economically successful societies.

“The hope held out by the Gospel is the antidote to the spirit of despair that seems to grow like cancer in societies which are outwardly affluent yet often experience inner sadness and emptiness,” the pope said Aug. 15 in his homily at the World Cup Stadium in Daejeon.

Pope Francis arrives in procession to celebrate Mass on the feast of the Assumption in World Cup Stadium in Daejeon, South Korea, Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives in procession to celebrate Mass on the feast of the Assumption in World Cup Stadium in Daejeon, South Korea, Aug. 15. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope voiced his hope that Christians in South Korea, the world’s 13th-largest economy, might “combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition, which generates selfishness and strife.”

“May they also reject inhumane economic models which create new forms of poverty and marginalize workers, and the culture of death which devalues the image of God, the God of life, and violates the dignity of every man, woman and child,” he said.

Just before he dressed for the Mass, Pope Francis met outside the sacristy with 10 people involved in the April Sewol ferry disaster. Some were survivors of the incident that left 300 people, mostly teens, dead; some were relatives, and a few priests were among the group.

The pope embraced and blessed them, placing his hand on their heads. Some wiped away tears.

One man, who had been preparing for two years to become a Catholic, said he had suffered deeply because his son had died in the ferry disaster. He said he had walked hundreds of kilometers, round trip, from his town to the site of the accident, on a type of pilgrimage.

He asked the pope to baptize him, and Pope Francis agreed to baptize him privately at the nunciature Aug. 16, before the Mass to beatify 124 Korean martyrs.

At the end of Mass, before praying the Angelus, the pope mourned those killed when the Sewol sank.

“May this tragic event, which has brought all Koreans together in grief, confirm their commitment to work together in solidarity for the common good,” he said.

Pope Francis’ sobering words stood in contrast to the ebullience of the crowd, and of the pope himself, as he entered the stadium in an open-sided popemobile. The pope had traveled the 85 miles from Seoul by train instead of helicopter as originally planned. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said authorities thought the train would be safer because of rainy weather. The spokesman said Pope Francis had never ridden a high-speed rail and welcomed the experience.

As he entered the stadium, he was greeted by thousands of people performing the wave and holding signs of welcome, including a banner reading “we love you” in Italian.

The day was overcast but warm and humid, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s. Before the Mass, members of the congregation were asked not to fan themselves with the hats or booklets during the liturgy. Many women wore white lace veils, a tradition still widely practiced in Korea.

The pope celebrated the Mass, for the feast of the Assumption, in Latin, with the readings and responses in Korean. He delivered his homily in Italian.




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LCWR Assembly: Religious women urged to evolve to serve changing church, world


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Religious congregations must evolve to meet the needs of a changing society and church, Sister Carol Zinn, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, told members of the organization during its annual assembly Aug. 12-15 in Nashville.

“Religious life is always a radical response to the Gospel in a particular historical and cultural context. It is always a response to where you are, making the Gospel present where we are,” Sister Carol said after delivering her presidential address Aug. 13, the first full day of the assembly.

Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, who is president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, receives a blessing before her Aug. 12 address at the annual LCWR assembly held in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 12. LCWR members represent about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the country. (CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register)

Sister Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph, who is president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, receives a blessing before her Aug. 12 address at the annual LCWR assembly held in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 12. LCWR members represent about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the country. (CNS photo/Andy Telli, Tennessee Register)

“I want us to be clear about where we are,” the Sister of St. Joseph added.

LCWR has about 1,400 members who are leaders of their orders in the United States. The members represent about 80 percent of the 51,600 women religious in the country.

Many of the congregations of women religious among the LCWR’s membership are becoming smaller and their members are aging, Sister Carol noted. At the same time, the Catholic Church in the United States is changing along with the needs of the laity and people in society at large.

“When many of us started in religious life, our congregations were serving in an institutional way,” running schools, hospitals and other large institutions, Sister Carol said. “That’s shifting. We’re not doing the shifting, God is.”

Religious congregations might have to change how they live their charisms, she said. “It might not be consecrated life the way we’ve lived it.”

LCWR’s role is to help the leaders of congregations of women religious lead their communities during this time of change, Sister Carol said.

The organization held its annual assembly under the continuing doctrinal assessment by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which cited “serious doctrinal problems which affect many in consecrated life.” The assessment called for the organization’s reform to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle was appointed to implement the doctrinal assessment by providing “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of LCWR.

Members were expected to discuss the doctrinal assessment during four sessions closed to the press. After the assembly concluded, LCWR’s board planned to stay in Nashville for a few days to consider comments from members and to decide how to proceed regarding the doctrinal assessment, Sister Carol said.

LCWR is expected to release a statement after the board meeting.

In his remarks during the opening session, Archbishop Sartain told the 800 women in the audience he was there “to be with you as a brother and a friend.”

“We come because the Lord has called us and the Lord has sent us,” Archbishop Sartain said. “That is what unites us in our faith. … I know this is fertile ground for us to discuss our love of God.”

Oblate Father Hank Lemoncelli, representing the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, read a letter of welcome from the congregation’s prefect, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz.

In the letter, the cardinal posed questions he is asking all men’s and women’s religious orders to contemplate as they prepare for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will begin Nov. 30.

Among the questions are:

• “At what point are we to return to the source of every form of Christian life and to the founding charisms of our institutes?”

• “Are our institutes adapting in an evangelical way to changing conditions?”

• “Is following Christ, as taught by the Gospels, the fundamental norm?”

• “Are we faithfully observing the spirit and names of our founders and foundresses so as to preserve their charism?”

• “Are obedience and authority dimensions of a life of true fraternity among us, or do they remain instruments of power and enslavement, perhaps disguised by unhealthy spirituality?”

In her presidential address, Sister Carol drew on the assembly’s location in Nashville, known throughout the world as Music City, for inspiration.

“This assembly comes at a time when our consciousness is increasingly heightened to the lamentations of our world, country, church and vocation,” she said. “And we are called to stand in those lamentations singing the music in God’s heart. As we begin this significant and important assembly, may we know where we really are, who we really are, and who we’re really called to become.”

Religious life continues to evolve, as it has throughout history, Sister Carol said.

“We look to the Gospel to see how this life is lived and we learn that the main melody is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing more and nothing less,” she said.

“What would religious life look like if we were to harmonize our charisms anew that freed us to live this life more fully, more creatively, more boldly, more at the periphery?” Sister Carol asked. “Could it be that the divestment of buildings, ministries, land, provinces and even congregations is the prelude to a new harmony?”

Sister Carol quoted Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”): “With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”

“In both formal and informal interviews, with impassioned clarity, Pope Francis identifies what that joy born anew looks like as it stands in the lamentations,” she added. “Discernment is a way of life. Community matters. Relationships come before anything and everything else. The church serves as a field hospital welcoming all. Consecrated life is to wake up the world with its mystical and prophetic presence. The co-essential dimensions of ecclesial communion are the hierarchic and the charismatic.”

Sister Carol encouraged the leaders of religious communities to be receptive to the changes in the world, the Church and their congregations. “All that we know about this life must be held lightly so conversion of worldview, ideology, ecclesiology and theology of this life in view of the God of the future can emerge.”


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