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Ask St. Therese of Lisieux for ability to love, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Everyone has a special gift to offer the whole church, just make sure it is used to serve everyone and not to puff up one’s own pride or to create division, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis poses with Argentine pilgrims during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis poses with Argentine pilgrims during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 1. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“It is a gift that God has given to someone not because he or she is a better person than someone else or because she or he deserves it,” the pope said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 1.

God gives gifts freely, out of love, so that they can be “put at the service of the whole community for the good of all people,” he said.

The pope continued a series of talks on the nature of the Catholic Church, focusing on charisms or precious gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on individuals for the edification of the church.

“But what is a charism exactly? How can we recognize it and receive it?” he asked.

In the wider sense of the word, most people think of a charism as having to do with a particular talent or skill or a certain kind of charm seen in people who get labeled as “charismatic,” he said.

But in the Christian sense, it’s more than that; it is “a grace, a gift bestowed on us by God the Father through the action of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Critically, these gifts have to be discovered and acknowledged within the wider church community, the pope said. “Someone cannot figure out by himself if he has a charism and which one.”

It’s a bit like that kind of person everyone has heard about, “who says, ‘Oh I have this talent, I know how to sing so well.’ And yet no one has the courage to tell him, ‘Hmm, it’s better you keep your mouth shut. You torment us when you sing,’” the pope said to applause.

It’s only within a community and with its recognition and encouragement that people can discover what their unique charism is, he said.

“It’s good for each one of us then to ask ourselves, ‘Is there some kind of charism the Lord has made evident in me?’” and then reflect on how that gift is used. “Do I live it with generosity, putting it at the service of everyone or do I neglect it and end up forgetting about it? Or maybe it has become a source of pride” and jealously, he said.

“There’s trouble in store if these gifts become sources of envy, division or jealousy,” he said.

The church, he said, should not be afraid of the huge array and variety of charisms out there. Rather than being seen as “a problem” or a cause for “confusion or discomfort, they are all gifts that God gives the Christian community so that is can grow in harmony, in the faith and in his love as only one body, the body of Christ.”

The Holy Spirit is the one that creates this multiplicity of gifts, he said, and the one who unites them in their diversity.

The pope said people could follow the example of one of his favorite saints, St. Therese of Lisieux, whose feast day is celebrated Oct. 1.

She loved the church so much, she wanted to do everything, “she wanted to have all the charisms” out there, in particular, to be a missionary, the pope said.

So she prayed and reflected on what she should do “and she felt that her charism was love,” to be the love that’s in the church’s heart, he said.

“We all have this charism, the ability to love. Let’s ask St. Therese today for this ability to love” and to “accept all these charisms with this love as children of the church, our holy, hierarchical, mother church.”

Greed, culture of disposal fuel ‘hidden euthanasia’ of elderly, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis warned against the abandonment and neglect of the elderly, calling it a “hidden euthanasia” rooted in today’s “poisonous” culture of disposal and an economic system of greed.

In the presence of his predecessor, Pope Francis also thanked retired Pope Benedict XVI for staying to live at the Vatican and being like “a wise grandfather at home.”

“A people who don’t take care of their grandparents and don’t treat them well is a people with no future. Why no future? Because they lose the memory (of the past) and they sever their own roots,” he said.

Pope Francis greets emeritus Pope Benedict XVI during an encounter for the elderly in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 28.

Pope Francis greets emeritus Pope Benedict XVI during an encounter for the elderly in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 28.

The pope’s comments came during a special encounter and Mass for older people in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 28. Some 40,000 grandparents, retired men and women, and their families attended “The Blessing for a Long Life” event, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Pope Francis specifically invited Pope Benedict to attend the event, making it the third time since his retirement in 2013 that the German pontiff has made a rare appearance in public with his successor.

Carrying a cane and looking strong, the 87-year-old pope arrived about one hour into the event, which featured music and testimonies from families. About 10 minutes later, while the famed Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang “Con te partiro” (“I’ll Go With You”), Pope Francis made his entrance with a small group of families. He immediately went to greet and embrace Pope Benedict, who only stayed for the next hour, leaving before the start of Mass.

Addressing him as “Your Holiness,” Pope Francis thanked the retired pontiff for his presence, telling the crowd, “I really like having him living here in the Vatican, because it’s like having a wise grandfather at home.”

The wisdom and love of older people are instrumental for building the future, and they can even cheer up grumpy teenagers, the pope said.

“It’s very good for you to go visit an older person. Look at our kids. Sometimes we see them being listless and sad; (if) they go visit an older person, they become happy,” he said.

“Older people, grandparents have an ability to understand very difficult situations, a great talent. And when they pray about these situations, their prayers are strong and powerful.”

But there are many who instead prey on their fragilities, and the pope warned against the “inhuman” violence being waged against the elderly and children in areas of conflict.

Harm can also be waged quietly, he said, through many forms of neglect and abandonment, which “are a real and true hidden euthanasia.”

People need to fight against “this poisonous throwaway culture,” which targets children, young people and the elderly, on “the pretext of keeping the economic system ‘balanced,’ where the focus is not on the human being but on the god of money.”

While residential care facilities are important for those who don’t have a family who can care for them, it’s important these institutes be “truly like homes, not prisons,” the pope said, and that their placement there is in the best interest of the older person, “not someone else.”

These retirement homes should be like “sanctuaries” that breathe life into a community whose members are drawn to visit and look after the residents like they would an older sibling, he said.

The pope also thanked an older couple from Qaraqosh, near Mosul, Iraq, for their presence and urged people to continue to pray and offer concrete aid to those forced to flee from such “violent persecution.”

Married for 51 years with 10 children and 12 grandchildren, Mubarak and Aneesa Hano said they were chased out of their Iraqi town by Islamic State militants.

“The cities are empty, homes destroyed, families scattered, the elderly abandoned, young people desperate, grandchildren cry and lives are destroyed from the terror of the shouts of war,” Hano said.

He said he hoped the world would finally learn that “war truly is insanity.”

Hano told the pope that, for 2,000 years, the bells tolled in their parish churches until the militants invaded the northern Iraqi plain and replaced the crosses on top of their places of worship with black flags. Because the bells no longer ring in these abandoned villages, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica tolled instead at the end of Hano’s testimony.

Pope Francis then concelebrated Mass with 100 elderly priests from around the world.

 

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Pope dismisses Paraguayan bishop for ‘serious pastoral reasons’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — After a Vatican investigation, Pope Francis removed a Paraguayan bishop from his post as head of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este because of “serious pastoral reasons.”

But the bishop shot back later the same day, charging in an open letter that he was the victim of an ideological campaign by Paraguayan bishops in league with Vatican officials.

Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano, 69, was told to step down as head of the diocese effective Sept. 25. Bishop Ricardo Valenzuela Rios of Villarrica del Espitiru Santo will temporarily administer the diocese.

A Vatican statement said the “onerous decision” to dismiss Bishop Livieres was made after a “careful examination” of the findings of a Vatican investigation conducted by the congregations for Bishops and for Clergy. An apostolic visitation to the diocese in July was led by Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril Castello, archpriest of Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major.

The order for Bishop Livieres, a member of Opus Dei, to step down was based on “serious pastoral reasons” and motivated by “the greater good of the unity of the church in Ciudad del Este” and among Paraguay’s bishops, the Vatican statement said.

In the exercise of his ministry protecting unity among bishops and the faithful, Pope Francis “asks the clergy and all the people of God” in the diocese to accept the decision “with a spirit of obedience, docility and a neutral attitude,” it said.

The pope also “invites the entire church in Paraguay, guided by its pastors, to a serious process of reconciliation and to overcome all divisiveness and discord so that the face of the one church” not be deprived of “the joy of the Gospel.”

While the Vatican did not list specific reasons for the bishop’s dismissal, it came just a few months after the Vatican had ordered him to stop ordaining priests amid ongoing allegations of sexual abuse committed by a high-ranking diocesan official.

Just days before Cardinal Abril went to the diocese to conduct the canonical visit, Bishop Livieres removed Msgr. Carlos Urrutigoity from his post of vicar general of the diocese “on the grounds of needing him to take on other tasks,” according to a comment July 30 by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

Prior to moving to Paraguay in 2005, Msgr. Urrutigoity, an Argentine priest, held posts in Argentina and Winona, Minnesota. He was accepted into the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1997.

A 2002 federal lawsuit claims that while in Scranton, living at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, Msgr. Urrutigoity slept in a bed with a student to whom he “directed inappropriate sexual contact.”

The suit did not say whether the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the alleged incident. The case was reportedly settled in 2005 for a sum of $400,000.

After the suit was filed, then-Scranton Bishop James C. Timlin sent Msgr. Urrutigoity to Canada for psychological evaluation.

A statement posted on the Scranton diocesan website in March said Msgr. Urrutigoity “was identified as posing a serious threat to young people.” Diocesan leaders “expressed grave doubts about this cleric’s suitability for priestly ministry and cautioned the bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, to not allow Father Urrutigoity to incardinate into his diocese.”

In a Sept. 25 letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Bishop Livieres did not mention Msgr. Urrutigoity. He claimed instead that the Vatican’s action was punishment for violating “ideological uniformity” among Paraguayan bishops. The bishop’s 1,400-word letter, which was posted on the diocese’s official website the same day, said he had raised the ire of other church leaders in the country specifically by opening a diocesan seminary to make up for the failings of the national seminary.

“The true problem of the church in Paraguay is the crisis of faith and moral life perpetuated by bad formation of clergy and the negligence of pastors,” he wrote.

Bishop Livieres also complained that he had never been shown Cardinal Abril’s report nor permitted to speak with Pope Francis during his meetings at the Vatican earlier in the week.

“As an obedient son of the church I accept, nevertheless, this decision, even though I consider it unfounded and arbitrary, and one for which the pope will have to account before God, though not to me,” the bishop wrote.

In July, a spokesman for the Ciudad del Este Diocese referred Catholic News Service to a statement that called the accusations against Msgr. Urrutigoity a “harsh campaign of libel and slander” coming from the United States.

That statement suggests the accusations against Msgr. Urrutigoity were a political tool to discredit Bishop Livieres because the diocesan seminary, which opened in 2012, sought a “more radical application of the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council.”

The statement said the formation of the seminary surprised and angered Paraguayan church leaders, who then tried to dismantle it.

“A separate chapter in this history of opposition to our bishop and the new seminary is undoubtedly the attack on Father Carlos Urrutigoity,” the statement said. “His case was used as a workhorse to question the pastoral achievements in the diocese.”

The statement said all allegations of inappropriate conduct were false.

 

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Send prayers and help for those hit by Ebola, Pope Francis says

September 24th, 2014 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete help for the thousands of people affected by the deadly Ebola virus.

Liberians wait outside the John F. Kennedy Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18. Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete help for the thousands of people affected by the deadly Ebola virus. (CNS photo/Ahmed Jallanzo, EPA)

Liberians wait outside the John F. Kennedy Ebola treatment center in Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 18. Pope Francis called for prayers and concrete help for the thousands of people affected by the deadly Ebola virus. (CNS photo/Ahmed Jallanzo, EPA)

“I hope the international community may provide much-needed help to alleviate the sufferings of our brothers and sisters,” he said in an appeal at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 24.

Before leading the 30,000 people in the square in a prayer to Mary, the pope said he had been praying for those hit by this “terrible disease” and epidemic in West Africa.

It was the second time in the past 24 hours that the pope spoke about the outbreak.

The pope highlighted the church’s valuable work in helping deal with the disease, during an address Sept. 23 to bishops from Ghana. The bishops were at the Vatican for their periodic “ad limina” visits.

“I pray for the repose of the souls of all who have died in this epidemic, among whom are priests, men and women religious and health care workers who contracted this terrible disease while caring for those suffering,” the pope said in the written address.

“May God strengthen all health care workers there and bring an end to this tragedy,” he said.

An estimated 5,000 West Africans already have been infected with the Ebola disease, which has killed approximately 2,500 people.

The World Health Organization estimates there will be more than 20,000 Ebola cases by Nov. 2.

 

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Vatican puts former nuncio accused of sex abuse under house arrest

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has placed a laicized papal ambassador under house arrest as he awaits a criminal trial for sexually abusing young boys.

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, is pictured during a 2011 ceremony in Santo Domingo. The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the archbishop guilty of sexual abuse of minors and has ordered that he be laicized. (CNS photo/Orlando Barria, EPA)

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, is pictured during a 2011 ceremony in Santo Domingo. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found the archbishop guilty of sexual abuse of minors and has ordered that he be laicized. (CNS photo/Orlando Barria, EPA)

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, released a statement Sept. 23 regarding the case of former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, a Pole who served as nuncio to the Dominican Republic until August 2013.

The Vatican announced in June that a canonical court had investigated Wesolowski on charges of sex abuse in the Dominican Republic and concluded by dismissing him from the clerical state, depriving him of all rights and duties associated with being a priest except the obligation of celibacy. Wesolowski would face a criminal trial under the laws of Vatican City State, the Vatican said at the time.

On Sept. 23, Father Lombardi said, a Vatican prosecutor summoned Wesolowski and informed him of the charges against him.

Because of the “gravity of the accusations,” investigators decided to arrest the former ambassador, the spokesman said, but “in light of the medical condition of the accused, supported by medical documentation,” he was placed under house arrest in Vatican City.

Father Lombardi said Vatican authorities had acted in accordance with the “will expressed by the pope, that such a grave and delicate case might be addressed without delay, with the just and necessary rigor, with the full assumption of responsibility by the institutions of the Holy See.”

In August, the Vatican denied covering up for Wesolowski by bringing him back to Rome last year and suggested he might also have to stand trial on the charges in the Dominican Republic.

 

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Pope names five women to International Theological Commission

September 23rd, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis, who has said the Catholic Church has “not yet come up with a profound theology of womanhood,” named five women, a record number, to the International Theological Commission.

One of the women is U.S. Mercy Sister Prudence Allen, former chair of the philosophy department at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, and now a member of the chaplaincy team at Lancaster University, England.

On Sept. 23, the Vatican released the names of 30 theologians who will serve a five-year term on the commission. Women have served on the panel since 2004, but, until now, there have never been more than two.

The five women appointees also include Australian Tracey Rowland, dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, who is a prominent authority on the theology of Pope Benedict XVI; and Moira Mary McQueen, a Canadian-British citizen who serves as director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

In addition to Sister Allen, the commission will include one other American: Capuchin Franciscan Father Thomas G. Weinandy, former executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Doctrine.

The International Theological Commission was established in 1969 to study important doctrinal issues as an aid to the pope and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It has produced documents in recent years on such topics as “Christian monotheism and its opposition to violence” and “sensus fidei in the life of the church.”

The complete list of the new members can be found at: www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-names-new-members-to-the-internationa.

 

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Pope Francis names panel to streamline marriage annulment process

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Two weeks before the start of an extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, the Vatican announced the formation of a special commission to reform the process of granting marriage annulments.

Pope Francis speaks during the wedding of 20 couples in St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 14. The Vatican announced the formation of a special commission to reform the process of granting marriage annulments. (CNS photo/ Alberto Pizzoli, Reuters)

Pope Francis speaks during the wedding of 20 couples in St.Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Sept. 14. The Vatican announced the formation of a special commission to reform the process of granting marriage annulments. (CNS photo/ Alberto Pizzoli, Reuters)

“The work of the commission will start as soon as possible and will have as its goal to prepare a proposal of reform of the matrimonial process, with the objective of simplifying its procedure, making it more streamlined, and safeguarding the principle of the indissolubility of matrimony,” said a Vatican statement Sept. 20.

The new body’s work will address what Pope Francis has identified as a key challenge in the “pastoral care of marriage.”

“There is the legal problem of marriage nullity, this has to be reviewed, because ecclesiastical tribunals are not sufficient for this,” the pope told reporters in July 2013.

Pope Francis related the problem of annulments to the situation of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, whose predicament he said exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today.

According to church teaching, such Catholics may not receive Communion unless they obtain an annulment of their first, sacramental, marriage or abstain from sexual relations, living with their new partners as “brother and sister.”

A proposal to allow some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion without meeting either of those conditions, introduced by German Cardinal Walter Kasper at a meeting of the world’s cardinals in February, is expected to be one of the most discussed issues at the two-week synod on the family, which opens Oct. 5.

The new commission on the annulment process, which Pope Francis established Aug. 27, has 10 members, including Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 

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Vatican Letter: Cardinals openly debate Communion for divorced, remarried before Vatican meeting on family

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family will not open until Oct. 5, but some of its most prominent members are already publicly debating what is bound to be one of its most controversial topics: the eligibility of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

German Cardinal Walter Kasper. (CNS)

German Cardinal Walter Kasper. (CNS)

In an interview published Sept. 18, a proponent of changing church practice to allow such Catholics to receive Communion answered criticism from some of his fellow cardinals, suggesting they are seeking a “doctrinal war” whose ultimate target is Pope Francis.

“They claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops,” German Cardinal Walter Kasper told the Italian daily Il Mattino. “They want to crystallize the truth in certain formulas … the formulas of tradition.”

“None of my brother cardinals has ever spoken with me,” the cardinal said. “I, on the other hand, have spoken twice with the Holy Father. I arranged everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do but stand with the pope? I am not the target, the target is another.”

Asked if the target was Pope Francis, the cardinal replied: “Probably yes.”

Cardinal Kasper, who will participate in the upcoming synod by personal appointment of the pope, was responding to a new book featuring contributions by five cardinals, including three of his fellow synod fathers, who criticize his proposal to make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion.

According to church teaching, Catholics who remarry civilly without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriage may not receive Communion unless they abstain from sexual relations, living with their new partners “as brother and sister.”

Pope Francis has said the predicament of such Catholics exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today, and has indicated that their predicament will be a major topic of discussion at the synod. In February, at the pope’s invitation, Cardinal Kasper addressed the world’s cardinals at the Vatican and argued for allowing some Catholics in that situation to receive Communion.

The Oct. 5-19 synod is not supposed to reach any definitive conclusions but instead set the agenda for a larger synod on the family in October 2015, which will make recommendations to the pope, who will make any final decisions on change.

“Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” which Ignatius Press will publish Oct. 1, includes essays in response to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal by three synod fathers: Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature; and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy.

German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, doctrinal congregation prefect. (CNS/Reuters)

German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, doctrinal congregation prefect. (CNS/Reuters)

On the same day, Ignatius Press will also publish two other books in which synod fathers respond to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal: “The Hope of the Family,” an extended interview with Cardinal Muller; and “The Gospel of the Family,” which features a foreword by Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. (Cardinal Kasper’s address, published by Paulist Press, is also titled “The Gospel of the Family.”)

Cardinal Pell calls for a clear restatement of the traditional ban on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, to avoid the sort of widespread protests that greeted Pope Paul VI’s affirmation of Catholic teaching against contraception in 1968.

“The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realize that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated,” writes Cardinal Pell, who sits on the nine-member Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on Vatican reform and governance of the universal church.

Cardinal Muller’s essay, previously published in the Vatican newspaper, reaffirms the traditional ban. However, the cardinal notes that many Catholics’ first marriages might be invalid, and thus eligible for annulment, if the parties have been influenced by prevailing contemporary conceptions of marriage as a temporary arrangement.

In the book-length interview, Cardinal Muller, whom Pope Francis made a cardinal in February, makes an apparent reference to Cardinal Kasper’s argument, which underscores the importance of mercy.

“I observe with a certain amazement the use by some theologians, once again, of the same reasoning about mercy as an excuse for promoting the admission of divorced and civilly remarried persons to the sacraments,” Cardinal Muller is quoted as saying. “The scriptural evidence shows us that, besides mercy, holiness and justice are also part of the mystery of God.”

Cardinal Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court, warns that any reform of the process for annulling marriages, something both Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper have said is necessary, should not oversimplify the judicial process at the cost of justice, since Catholics seeking an annulment deserve a decision that “respects fully the truth and, therefore, charity.”

Cardinal Caffara, whom Pope Francis personally named to participate in the synod, argues that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may not receive Communion because their situation “is in objective contradiction with that bond of love that unites Christ and the church, which is signified and actualized by the Eucharist.”

To lift the ban, Cardinal Caffarra argues, would be to legitimize extramarital sexual relations and effectively deny the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage.

 

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Carry the Gospel and God’s joy into the world, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Tuck the Gospel in your pocket and put on your walking shoes to share Christ’s love, peace and joy with the world, Pope Francis said.

It is the Holy Spirit who inspires Christians to “overcome every obstacle, to conquer the temptation of being closed up in oneself — among a chosen few” and to prevent people from believing they are “the only one destined for God’s blessing,” he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept 17.

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a child as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 17. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope continued a series of talks on the nature of the Catholic Church, focusing on what it means to say the church is catholic and apostolic.

The word catholic means the church is universal, he said.

The church is found everywhere “and teaches the whole truth that mankind must learn regarding the heavens and the earth,” he said.

One sign of the church’s universality is that it speaks every language of the world.

The Gospel was translated into the world’s different languages, the pope said, so people could read it and encounter the living Word.

“It’s always a good idea to carry with us a small book of the Gospels to have in your pocket or bag, and, during the day, to read a verse. It’s good for you,” he said.

The reason the church is universal, in fact, is because it is missionary, he said.

The Holy Spirit enabled the apostles and the whole church to go out and proclaim to the ends of the earth the good news of salvation and God’s love, he said.

Without the presence of the Holy Spirit, a group of Christians could end up believing, “We are the chosen ones, just us,” he said.

But such a group “eventually dies; first their spirit dies, and then they will die as a body because they have no life, they are not able to generate life in others, in other peoples, they are not apostolic,” the pope said.

“If the apostles had stayed put, there in the Cenacle,” where they shared the Last Supper with Jesus and where Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, “without going forth to preach the Gospel, then the church would only be a church for that people, in that city, in that room. But they all headed out for the world,” he said.

The church was born “heading out, meaning it is missionary,” he said. The church is apostolic because it is founded on the apostles and remains in continuity with them, he said.

The pope asked people to give thanks to the Lord for inspiring so many heroic missionaries, who “left everything behind in order to proclaim Jesus Christ” to the world.

The church has had many missionaries and “still needs many more,” he said, urging young people to follow God’s call and be courageous in bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Being part of a church that is catholic and apostolic means the faithful must “take to heart the salvation of all of humanity, to not be indifferent to or removed from the fate of our brothers and sisters, but rather to be open and in solidarity with them.”

It also means people should always feel “sent off” on a mission that is “in communion with the successors of the Apostles and to proclaim, with their heart full of joy, Christ and his love for all of humanity.”

 

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Pope Francis sees ‘bits and pieces’ of a World War III happening amid indifference

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When will people ever learn that war is madness and conflicts are only resolved by forgiveness, Pope Francis asked.

The pope said it is believed that more than 8 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died during World War I, a four-year-long conflict that began 100 years ago.

Pope Francis walks through the  Austro-Hungarian cemetery for soldiers of World War I in Fogliano di Redipuglia, Italy, Sept. 13. The pope prayed for the fallen of all wars and also celebrated an outdoor Mass in front of the nearby Redipuglia war memorial, which honors the 100,000 Italian soldiers who died during World War I. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks through the Austro-Hungarian cemetery for soldiers of World War I in Fogliano di Redipuglia, Italy, Sept. 13. The pope prayed for the fallen of all wars and also celebrated an outdoor Mass in front of the nearby Redipuglia war memorial, which honors the 100,000 Italian soldiers who died during World War I. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The number of so many lost lives “lets us see how much war is insanity,” Pope Francis said after praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

“When will we learn this lesson?” he asked, telling people to look at the crucified Christ “to understand that hatred and evil are defeated with forgiveness and good, and to understand that responding with war only augments evil and death.”

The pope’s remarks came the day after a morning visit to Italy’s largest war memorial, Redipuglia, a town in northeast Italy near the border with Slovenia. Giovanni Bergoglio, the pope’s Italian grandfather who later immigrated to Argentina, fought nearby during the Italian campaign against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The memorial made of enormous stone steps leading to three bronze crosses pays homage to more than 100,000 Italian soldiers. while a nearby military cemetery is the final resting place for some 15,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers, all of whom lost their lives in nearby battlefields. The pope laid a floral wreath at the cemetery, celebrated Mass at the memorial, and prayed for all victims of all wars.

The gorgeous landscape used to be a place where men and women worked hard to raise their families, children played and the elderly daydreamed, he said in his homily.

Instead of safeguarding God’s creation, especially his “most beautiful of all, the human being,” people have set about destroying it through war, he said.

“Greed, intolerance, a lust for power, these are the reasons that incite decisions to go to war,” he said.

Also, “behind the scenes, there are special interests, geopolitical plots, lust for money,” he said, as well as the powerful arms industry.

But the most shocking aspect of so much bloodshed is the continued legacy of indifference, the pope said. Being indifferent began with Cain murdering his brother Abel and then rebuking God for asking where his now dead brother was, replying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Above the tombs of so many dead, Pope Francis said, “hovers the sneering motto of war” – Cain’s complaint of “What do I care?”

“All these people, here in eternal rest, they had plans, had dreams, but their lives were broken. Why? Because humanity said, ‘What do I care?’”

Today the world is still up in arms with a kind of “World War III (waged) in bits and pieces with criminal acts, massacres and destruction,” he said.

“To be honest, the newspaper front page should have the headline: ‘What do I care?’”

“Those who plot terror, organizations fueling conflict, as well as arms manufacturers, all have ‘What do I care’ engraved in their hearts,” he said.

And like Cain, their hearts have become so corrupt, “they’ve lost the ability to cry,” much less do what Jesus asks — to help the sick, the wounded and the hungry, the pope said.

The pope asked people to pray that their heart be transformed from one that has stopped caring to one that can weep “for all those who have fallen in useless massacres, for all the victims of the insanity of war of every era. Tears, brothers and sisters, humanity needs to cry, this is the moment to cry.”

 

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