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


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.’”


Pope warns against church ‘elites,’ groups that ‘privatize salvation’

January 29th, 2015 Posted in Featured, Vatican News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christ showed that the way to draw close to God is not by putting down other people and creating an exclusive club, but by embracing and encouraging others to love and do good works, Pope Francis said.

Christians can end up “privatizing” the faith when they believe “salvation is for me and my little group, not for the entire people of God,” the pope said Jan. 29 during the homily at his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta where he lives.

A circus artist presents balls to Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A circus artist presents balls to Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“This is a very big mistake; it is what we call and see as ecclesial elites. When these little groups are created among the people of God,” he said, “they think they are good Christians, and perhaps they have good intentions, but they are little groups that have privatized salvation.”

The pope’s homily focused on a reading for the day’s Mass from Hebrews 10:19-25, talking about Christ’s one sacrifice for all and about persevering in faith. The reading explains how Jesus’ sacrifice opened “a new and living way” that allows Christians to enter God’s presence.

Each person’s personal encounter with Christ, the experience that “the Lord looked at me, gave his life for me, opened this door, this new way for me,” might lead some people to forget that Jesus also saved each person as “a people, as a church,” the pope said.

“The Lord saves us as a people,” he said, which is what the reading underlines when it talks about the need “to rouse one another to love and good works” and not “stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but to encourage one another.”

Encouraging each other in holiness recognizes that “salvation isn’t just for me. If I understand salvation in this way, I am wrong; I’m on the wrong path. The privatization of salvation is the wrong way,” he said.

Sometimes “when we are in a meeting at the parish, with a group, we judge others,” he said, and “there is a kind of contempt for the others. And this is not the door, the new and living way that the Lord opened.”

By “scorning others, deserting the whole community, deserting the people of God,” these Christians “have privatized salvation” thinking it is exclusive to their inner circle of “elites,” he said. But “God saves us as a people, not as elites that we, with our philosophies or our way of understanding the faith, have created.”

Instead, the three elements of Jesus’ “new and living” way are: having “faith in Jesus who purifies us,” having unwavering hope in his promise and looking outward to encourage one another to be loving and charitable, he said.

People should ask themselves, he said, “If I speak, do I communicate the faith? I speak, do I communicate hope? I do something, do I communicate charity?

“If you don’t speak in a community, if you do not give encouragement to one another in these three virtues, the members of that community have privatized the faith” and are only looking out for themselves and “not the salvation of everyone, the salvation of the people,” he said.


Pope Francis urges dads to play with their children, be role modes

January 28th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When their lives are all work and no play, men turn their children into “orphans” who lack a father to guide them, show them love and teach them values, Pope Francis said.

“They are orphans in a family because their fathers are often absent, also physically, from home, but above all because when they are home they don’t act like fathers, they don’t dialogue with their children, they don’t fulfill their role as educators, they don’t give their children, by way of their example and their words, those principles, values and rules of life that they need like bread,” he said.

At his general audience Jan. 28, the pope continued a series of talks on the family by focusing on the role of the father.

Speaking to some 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope said that in the past, fathers were sometimes too authoritarian, treating their children like “servants” and not helping them take responsibility for forging their own way in life.

“However, as often happens, we have gone from one extreme to another,” the pope said.

“The problem today does not seem to be so much the overbearing presence of fathers as much as it is rather their absence, their hiding” from their responsibility as parents, he said.

The world today, especially in the West, seems like “a world without fathers” where men are so focused on their jobs or personal fulfillment that they neglect their families, he said.

The pope recalled how when he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires he would often ask fathers if they played with their kids, “if they had the courage of love to ‘waste’ their time with their children. And their answer was awful, you know. The majority said, ‘Well, I can’t, too much work.’”

Christian communities need to be extra attentive to the crisis of fatherhood in society today and how so many young people feel “orphaned” within their own families, the pope said. So many problems kids have, some of them serious, stem from them not having a decent father figure, a father who is an authoritative, loving guide and role model, he added.

In fact, the more a father needs to work or be away from home, the more important it is he live up to his duty of providing solid, quality guidance, he said.

Another problem, the pope said, is sometimes fathers seem lost or unsure of what role they are supposed to play in the family and “so, being in doubt, they opt out, they withdraw and neglect their responsibilities, perhaps hiding behind a dubious relationship of equal footing with their children,” he said.

While it is true fathers need to accompany their kids, he said, they must not forget they must act like a parent, not a best friend because “that is not good for the child.”

Society has a paternal role as well, he said; it must take an active, responsible role toward young people and not leave them “orphans” without prospects for a good education and employment.

Young people who are “orphaned of ideals,” values and hope, the pope said, will fill that void with “idols” and be driven by fleeting pleasures and the illusion of “the god of money,” robbing them of their real treasures within.

Jesus, who promised he would not leave anyone behind as an orphan, is the teacher that can guide families, he said. He is “the hope that the world can change, that love conquers hatred and that there can be a future of brotherhood and peace for everyone.”

Toward the end of the audience, the pope said some people might think his catechesis was “too negative” by looking only at the failures in fatherhood today.

But he promised the following week’s catechesis would look at the beauty of fatherhood, echoing the audience’s Gospel reading from John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

The pope said he wanted “to start with the darkness in order to arrive at the light so that the Lord can help us understand these things better.”


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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: , ,


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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Pope cites persecutions, ‘ecumenism of blood’ at Prayer for Christian Unity service


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are united in bloodshed as they suffer from violence and persecution in various parts of the world, Pope Francis told Christian leaders.

Today’s martyrs are men and women, who through their witness to Jesus, are “persecuted and killed because they are Christian,” the pope said Jan. 25 during an ecumenical prayer service marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Those who persecute them make no distinction about “which denomination they belong to. They are Christians and for that (they are) persecuted. This, brothers and sisters, is the ecumenism of blood.”

Rev. Tara Curlewis, an ecumenical and interfaith consultant from Galston, Australia, attends Pope Francis' ecumenical vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome Jan. 25. The service marked the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity as well as the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Rev. Tara Curlewis, an ecumenical and interfaith consultant from Galston, Australia, attends Pope Francis’ ecumenical vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome Jan. 25. The service marked the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian unity as well as the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

With Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and other Christian representatives present and reading some of the prayers, Pope Francis presided over the service at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The service began with Pope Francis, Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in Rome, bowing in prayer before the tomb of St. Paul on the feast of his conversion.

Closing the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pope said Jesus showed that encountering those who are different “from us can make us grow.”

Basing his homily on the Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, the pope said the encounter is marked by dialogue, patience and respect, showing people today that “in order to understand each other and grow in love and truth we have to stop, welcome and listen to each other.”

Unity comes about by journeying together, the pope said; nothing comes from standing still.

In fact, “Christian unity will never be the fruit of refined theoretical discussions in which each one will try to convince the other of the validity of one’s opinions,” he said before asking: “Will the Son of Man come and find us still having talks?”

Christians must recognize that “we need each other, to come together and face each other under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who harmonizes diversity and overcomes conflicts,” he said.

Because of the Holy Spirit, “we have become one with Christ” and loving children of God, he said.

“This mystery of love is the most profound reason of the unity that binds all Christians and is much greater than the divisions that occurred throughout the course of history,” he said. That is why the closer each Christian draws to Christ in humility, the closer “we will draw to each another, too.”

So many people in the world are tired and thirsting for truth and meaning, the pope said. All churches and Christian communities, being called to evangelize, can do so more effectively by not being self-enclosed, exclusive or bent on “imposing uniformity according to purely human calculations.”

“The common commitment to proclaim the Gospel permits overcoming every form of proselytism and temptation to compete. We are all at the service of the one and same Gospel,” he said.

Among those attending the prayer service were men and women belonging to Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant religious orders; they had taken part in a three-day meeting on their role in ecumenism.

The pope, who met with them at the Vatican Jan. 24, said consecrated men and women were particularly suited for promoting unity because religious life is about seeking union with God and fostering greater unity within the community.

Religious life also shows that “unity is not born of our efforts, but is a gift of the Holy Spirit who achieves unity in diversity.”

Unity is achieved by walking together, he said, along a path of “fraternity in love, service and mutual welcoming.”

The more individuals strive to live holy lives in conformity to the Gospel, the closer people will be in union with God and “the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love,” he said.


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Women hand down the faith, pope says

January 26th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Why is it that mostly women are the ones who hand down the faith generation after generation, Pope Francis asked.

“Quite simply because it was a woman who brought us Jesus. It’s the path Jesus chose. He wanted to have a mother” and chose to come to the world through Mary, the pope said Jan. 26 during Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Casa Santa Marta.

The pope’s homily focused on the day’s reading from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (1:1-8) in which the apostle highlights Timothy’s “sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.”

“It’s one thing to hand down the faith and another thing to teach things about the faith. Faith is a gift. Faith cannot be studied,” he said. “Yes, you study the contents of the faith to understand it better, but you never come to faith by studying.”

“Faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, it is a present that goes beyond any kind of training,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

Handing on the faith is “the beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers,” or sometimes it comes from an aunt or a domestic helper, the pope said. “We need to reflect on whether women today are aware of this obligation to transmit the faith.”

Once a person receives the faith, he said, they also must recognize the need to safeguard it, protect it from becoming weak and “empty pagan chitchat” or “meaningless worldly small talk.”

If people are not vigilant in living out their faith concretely every day, “the faith weakens, it gets watered down, it ends up being a culture: ‘Yes, well, yes, yes, I am a Christian, yes.’ It’s just a culture,” he said.

Or else it becomes just another collection of facts or information, he said. “‘Yes, I know everything about the faith very well, I know the catechism very well,’” he said, imitating what someone who sees faith only as knowledge might say.

What matters is “how do you live your faith? That is why it is important to revive this gift every day, to make it come alive,” the pope said.

People should not be ashamed of their faith, hiding it, letting it become “wishy-washy” or not “living it with total commitment,” he said. Cowardice hurts the faith because it doesn’t let the faith “grow, go forward, become great.”

Echoing St. Paul, the pope said God did not give believers cowardice or embarrassment, but “a spirit of power, love and prudence” or self-control.

Prudence is “knowing that we cannot do everything we want,” he said; it means seeking ways to share the faith with care.

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to have a sincere faith, a faith that does not compromise according to whatever opportunities crop up. A faith that I seek to rekindle every day or at least that I ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle it and that way offer great fruit.”


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Pope says marriage annulment process should be free


Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Addressing the Vatican tribunal primarily responsible for hearing requests for marriage annulments, Pope Francis said all annulment processes should be free of charge. “The sacraments are free. The sacraments give us grace. And a matrimonial process pertains to the sacrament of matrimony. How I wish that all processes were free,” the pope said Jan. 24, at a meeting to inaugurate the Roman Rota’s judicial year.

Pope Francis gestures to newlywed couples during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis gestures to newlywed couples during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis also said that, because contemporary culture portrays marriage as a “mere form of emotional gratification,” people often marry without a true understanding of the sacrament, meaning many such marriages might actually be invalid. “The judge, in pondering the validity of the consent expressed, must take into account the context of values and of faith, or their presence or absence, in which the intent to marry was formed. In fact, ignorance of the contents of the faith could lead to what the code (of canon law) calls an error conditioning the will. This eventuality is not to be considered rare as in the past, precisely because worldly thinking often prevails over the magisterium of the church,” the pope said. The pope said judges in matrimonial cases should “determine if there was an original lack of consent, either directly because of a lack of a valid intention, or because of a grave lack of understanding of matrimony itself, such as to condition the will. The crisis of marriage is, in fact, not seldom at the root a crisis of conscience illuminated by faith.” In August, Pope Francis established a commission to simplify and streamline the marriage-annulment process. At the October Synod of Bishops on the family, participants discussed the possibility of waiving fees. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, told reporters that the purpose of such a measure would be to eliminate even the “smallest suspicion” of a profit motive in church activities relating to a sacrament. The impact of the cultural context on the validity of marriages is not a new concern. Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote in the Vatican newspaper in October 2013: “Today’s mentality is largely opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage, with regard to its indissolubility and its openness to children. Because many Christians are influenced by this, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than they were previously.” In July 2013, Pope Francis suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages might be invalid, “because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married.”

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

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


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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Poverty stems from unjust economic system, not big families, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Families who have lots of children do not cause poverty, Pope Francis said.

The main culprit is “an economic system that has removed the human person from its focus and has placed the god of money” as its priority instead, he said Jan. 21.

A woman holding her daughter takes a selfie with Pope Francis during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan.21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

A woman holding her daughter takes a selfie with Pope Francis during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan.21. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

The pope dedicated his general audience talk to a review of some of the highlights from his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines Jan. 13-19.

Speaking to some 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope recalled his second apostolic journey to Asia after visiting South Korea last August.

He said he wanted to encourage Catholics in their faith and missionary zeal as well as promote interreligious dialogue, peace, unity and social development by highlighting the important role families and young people should play.

Meetings with families and young people in Manila were a major high point on his trip, he said, because they showed how “healthy families are essential to the life of society.”

“It gives consolation and hope to see so many large families that welcome children as a true gift of God. They know that every child is a blessing,” he said.

He criticized as “simplistic” claims that high birth rates caused poverty.

Rather, an economic system that creates “a culture of disposal,” where men, women and children are excluded “is the main reason for poverty, not large families,” he said to applause.

He reiterated the importance of showing “the beauty of the family in God’s plan” and defending it from the many threats and new forms of “ideological colonization that attack its identity and mission.”

On the flight back from Manila to Rome, the pope told journalists Jan. 19 that “for the people who are the poorest, a child is a treasure” and “God knows how to help them.”

But he also underlined that being a good Catholic did not mean married couples “had to be like rabbits,” that is, have children “one after the other” without any sense of responsibility.

Through dialogue with each other, their pastors and church groups, each couple can seek to discern its own “parental responsibility” and recognize there are “licit” means, through natural family planning, to be “prudent” and generous in welcoming life, he said on the papal plane.

In his audience talk Jan. 21, Pope Francis said another important message he highlighted on his trip to Asia was that “taking care of the poor is an essential element of our Christian life and witness.”

This entails “refusing every form of corruption because corruption steals from the poor and demands a culture of honesty,” he said to applause.

The main motivation for his trip to the Philippines was to meet with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban and “pay homage to the local people’s faith and ability to recover,” he said.

He again prayed for an “innocent victim” of local storms, the 27-year-old Catholic Relief Services worker, Kristel Padasas of Manila. She had worked with a recovery project for victims of Typhoon Haiyan and died Jan. 17 after the papal Mass in Tacloban when high winds blew over scaffolding.

Meanwhile, he said the importance of reconciliation was the focus of his trip to Sri Lanka, which is seeking to rebuild unity after its 26-year-long civil war ended in 2009.

The nation’s different religions have “a significant role” to play in fostering a spirit of cooperation and helping bring healing with “the balm of forgiveness,” the pope said.

Dialogue, respecting human dignity and involving everyone in seeking solutions and promoting the common good are critical, he said he told government officials.

But the high point of that trip, he said, was canonizing “the great missionary,” St. Joseph Vaz.

The pope said he hoped the new saint’s “holiness and love for the other would continue to inspire the church in Sri Lanka, in its apostolate of charity and education.”

He said St. Vaz is a model for all Christians who are “called today to propose the saving truth of the Gospel in a multireligious context, with respect for others, with perseverance and humility.”

Before the general audience, in the lobby of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence, Pope Francis received two lambs who had been blessed earlier in the day in Rome’s Basilica of St. Agnes Outside the Walls, where they were placed on the altar over the martyr’s tomb.

Every year on the feast of St. Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs raised by Trappist monks on the outskirts of Rome.

The wool of the lambs blessed on the feast day is woven by a community of nuns and becomes the fabric for the “pallium,” a circular stole, which the pope gives each June to new archbishops from around the world.


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Pope Francis discusses U.S. visit, urges Catholics to practice responsible parenthood


Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, but probably no other stops.

Pope Francis made his remarks Jan. 19, in an hourlong news conference with reporters accompanying him back to Rome from a weeklong trip to Asia.

Four days after announcing he would canonize Blessed Junipero in the U.S. in September, the pope said he wished he could do so in California, the 18th-century Franciscan’s mission field, but would not have time to travel t

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


The pope said he planned instead to perform the canonization ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, saying Washington would be a fitting location because a statue of Blessed Junipero stands in the U.S. Capitol.

The pope also confirmed he would visit the United Nations in New York. He had already announced his participation in the late-September World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Asked about widespread speculation that he would visit the U.S.-Mexico border on the same trip, Pope Francis said “entering the United States by crossing the border from Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and of help to the immigrants.” But he said making such a visit would raise expectations that he would visit Mexico’s shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and he joked that “war could break out” if he failed to do so.

“There will be time to go to Mexico later on,” he said.

Catholic News Agency reported on a proposed schedule that U.S. and U.N. church leaders have submitted to the Vatican. That schedule, which has not yet been approved, would have the pope arriving in Washington the evening of Sept. 22; visiting the White House and celebrating Mass at the shrine Sept. 23; addressing a joint sessions of Congress Sept. 24 before traveling to New York City to address U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25.

As previously announced, he would spend Sept. 26 and 27 in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families.

However, sources familiar with the trip planning have noted that plans submitted to the Vatican are not always approved, and Pope Francis’ comments about the canonization of Blessed Junipero indicated not all plans are finalized.

His Jan. 15 announcement on the plane from Sri Lanka to the Philippines surprised even the people who have been promoting the sainthood cause of Blessed Junipero. The CNA interview with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, said the Mass at the shrine “would be primarily for bishops, consecrated and religious men and women, seminarians and representatives from humanitarian and Catholic charitable organizations,” while Pope Francis said that is when he would canonize Blessed Junipero.

Pope Francis would be the first pope to address a joint session of Congress.

Helen Osman, secretary for communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it was “exciting that the Holy Father has confirmed that he is visiting Washington, New York and Philadelphia. Plans are already under way to enable as many people as possible to participate, including through mass media. We are anticipating that the Vatican will be providing more details toward the end of February and are hoping that a final schedule can be announced soon afterward.”

During his inflight press conference, Pope Francis also stressed that, despite church doctrine against contraception, Catholics fail to practice “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children.

He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to indoctrination of children by the Nazis and fascists.

Pope Francis reaffirmed his rejection of population-control programs as an example of ideological colonization and his praise of Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception.

But “this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another,” the pope said, citing the case of a woman who became pregnant an eighth time after giving birth to seven children via cesarean section.

“Does she want to leave seven orphans?” he said. “This is tempting God.”

“Some people think, excuse me for saying this, that to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits,” Pope Francis said, yet church teaching provides for “many licit ways” to limit reproduction.

Elaborating on comments he made in Manila Jan. 16 about “ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family,” the pope offered a 20-year-old example of an unnamed government official, apparently in his native Argentina, who was offered a loan to build schools for poor children on the condition she assign students a textbook on “gender theory.”

Catholic leaders often use the term “gender theory” to refer to ideas that question or deny the God-given nature of sex differences and the complementarity of man and woman as the basis of the family.

Pope Francis said African bishops attending the October 2014 Synod on the Family had complained of similar restrictions on funding for projects in their countries,

“Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they use a people’s need as an opportunity to come in and impose their will on children. But this is nothing new. The dictatorships of the last century did the same thing; they came in with their doctrine. Think of the Balilla. Think of the Hitler Youth,” the pope said.

The Balilla was a youth organization instituted by Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.

One reporter asked the pope to explain his controversial Jan. 15 statement, prompted by the recent killings by Islamist terrorists at a Paris newspaper, that freedom of expression should be limited by respect for religion and that mockery of faith can be expected to provoke violence.

“In theory, we can say what the Gospel says, that we should turn the other cheek. In theory, we can say that we have freedom of expression,” he said. “But in practice, let’s stop a bit, because we are human and we risk provoking others. For this reason, freedom must be accompanied by prudence. That’s what I wanted to say.”

Asked about the limited response to his calls on Muslim religious, political and intellectual leaders to condemn violence in the name of religion, Pope Francis said “some of them have done something, but we need to allow a little time, because the situation is not easy for them. I have hope, because there are so many good people among them, so many good people, so many good leaders, and I am sure they will do it.”

Pope Francis explained his refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama in December, when the exiled Tibetan leader was in Rome for a conference of Nobel Peace Prize winners. He said Vatican protocol prevents the pope from “receiving heads of state and people at that level when they are taking part in an international meeting.”

Pope Francis denied his decision was motivated by fear of the Chinese government, which considers the Dalai Lama an outlaw, and which has often arrested Chinese Catholics who oppose government control of the church. The Vatican has not had diplomatic relations with China since shortly after the country’s 1949 communist revolution, but the pope said both sides treated each other respectfully, and he reiterated his openness to meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing or Rome.

While addressing the weightiest topics, the pope once again displayed his disarmingly frank and informal way of speaking. During extended remarks on the evil of government corruption, he recalled being solicited for a bribe by Argentine officials.

“At that moment, I thought about what I would do: either I insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn’t shine or I play the fool,” Pope Francis said. “I played the fool.”


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