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World Youth Day opens registration; pope signs up


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis was the first pilgrim to sign up for World Youth Day to be held in Krakow, Poland, launching the opening of registration.

Pope Francis is flanked by two Polish youths as he uses a tablet to officially open online registration for World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis is flanked by two Polish youths as he uses a tablet to officially open online registration for World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Accompanied by two Polish teenagers who wore World Youth Day 2016 T-shirts, the pope had to make a couple of attempts pressing the screen of a tablet before his online registration went through.

“There. With this electronic device I have signed up for the day as a pilgrim,” he told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square July 26 for his Angelus address.

The pope said, “I wanted to be the one to open registration” in front of everyone gathered for the Angelus and in the company of two teens on the day sign-ups began July 26.

The celebrations July 26-31, 2016, will come during the Holy Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis proclaimed to invite people to follow the merciful example of God, the Father.

World Youth Day “will be, in a certain sense, a jubilee of youth” during the holy year, as its theme is also about being merciful toward others, the pope said.

God’s merciful power through Jesus “heals every ill of body and spirit,” the pope said before praying the Angelus.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, St. John’s account of the multiplication of loaves and fish, Pope Francis said the story shows how the disciples tried to find a market-based solution by calculating how much money they would need to feed the large, hungry crowd that had gathered by the Sea of Galilee.

“But Jesus substitutes the logic of buying with another logic, the logic of giving” when he points to the generous gift offered by the boy, Andrew, who offered to give all that he had: five small loaves and two fish.

Even though people could not see how such a small contribution could make a difference, “God is able to multiply our tiny gestures of solidarity and let us participate in his gift,” the pope said.

Jesus offers “fullness of life for those who hunger. He satisfies not only material hunger, but also that deeper hunger — the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God,” Pope Francis said.

Complaining does nothing to solve the many problems in life, “but we can offer that little we have like the boy in the Gospel,” he said.

Everyone has some kind of talent or skill as well as time, he said. “If we are willing to put them in the Lord’s hands they will be enough so that there will be a little bit more love, peace, justice and above all joy in the world.”

Pope welcomes election of new Armenian Catholic patriarch


Catholic News Service

 VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has welcomed the election of a new patriarch for the Armenian Catholic Church, extending what is known as “ecclesial communion” to Patriarch Gregoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan of Cilicia, who was elected by his fellow Armenian bishops July 24.

The day after the election, the pope wrote to the new patriarch offering his congratulations and praying that God would shower him with an “abundance of divine gifts.”

As is customary for the patriarchs of the Eastern churches in union with Rome, the newly elected patriarch had written the pope formally requesting communion, or unity, with him and the universal Catholic community.

“Your Beatitude’s election comes at a time when your church faces difficulties and new challenges, particularly the situation of those Armenian Catholic faithful who are going through great trials in the Middle East,”

Pope Francis wrote July 25 to the 80-year-old, Syrian-born patriarch.

Despite the hardships faced, particularly in Syria and Iraq, Pope Francis said, “enlightened by the light of faith in the risen Christ, our gaze is full of hope and mercy because we are certain that the cross of Christ is the tree that gives life.”

At the time of his election, Patriarch Pierre was the retired bishop of Sainte-Croix-de-Paris.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, Nov. 15, 1934, he attended the minor seminary in Lebanon and the Marist College there before completing his preparation for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1959 and named a bishop and apostolic exarch for Armenian Catholics in France in 1977. The exarchate was raised to the status of eparchy (similar to a diocese) in 1986.

The bishop retired in February 2013.

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Good pastors see with ‘the eyes of the heart’ and have compassion, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A good pastor always sees what people are going through, feels compassion and then nourishes them with God’s Word, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican July 19. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican July 19. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Seeing and being moved to pity “have always been associated with Jesus,” the Good Shepherd, he said July 19 before reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“In fact, his gaze isn’t the gaze of a sociologist or a photojournalist because he always looks with ‘the eyes of the heart,’” he said.

With the Sunday recitations of the Angelus prayer scheduled to be Pope Francis’ only public events in late July, visitors flocked to St. Peter’s Square. The pope congratulated those who stood on the black cobblestones and under the hot midday sun, saying, “I see you are courageous with this heat in the square; good job!”

He said the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 6:30-34, talks about Jesus seeing a vast crowd and feeling sorry for them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

“Jesus sees, Jesus has compassion, Jesus teaches us. This is beautiful,” he said.

Pope Francis said he had wanted that same spirit and approach to guide him through his “unforgettable” trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay July 5-12.

He thanked all those who made the trip possible and he thanked the people for their warm welcome.

The entire Latin American continent, he said, has enormous “human and spiritual potential and safeguards deeply rooted Christian values, but it also experiences serious social and economic problems.”

The church will continue to “mobilize the spiritual and moral forces of its communities” and collaborate with all people in solving these problems, he said.


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Vatican official: United Nations is not ‘the devil, quite the opposite’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The United Nations is not “the devil,” so a papal think tank is free to collaborate with the international body as well as people of any political persuasion, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The church will continue to collaborate with the United Nations on any joint project that “does not go against the doctrine of the church,” he said at a news conference July 15.

The Vatican academy is sponsoring a one-day symposium July 22 with the United Nations’ global initiative, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, headed by U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs.

The academy is also sponsoring a related daylong workshop July 21, bringing together 60 mayors and top-level representatives of major cities around the world to take concrete steps against modern-day forms of slavery in their communities. Many mayors also will attend the next day’s Vatican event in the hopes of adding their voice and support to sustainable development goals that will be up for approval at the United Nations in September.

The meeting is the second the pontifical academy has organized this year with key leaders and advisers from the United Nations.

While some have objected to the Vatican cooperating with organizations and individuals who promote population control in ways that clearly violate church teaching, Bishop Sanchez said the church works with everyone in order to join forces on common concerns.

“The invitation is open to everyone. If you would like to invite other people, we would be very pleased,” the bishop replied to a journalist who asked why the 12 Italian mayors participating in the conference were mostly from center-left political coalitions or parties.

“All of your friends from the right, or even if they are not your friends, but in any case, we would welcome everyone; we have nothing against it,” he said to the journalist.

In response to a question about whether the Vatican was letting itself become a platform for the United Nations to promote its own agenda, Bishop Sanchez said the idea for and organization of the meeting came from the pontifical academy with added input from the U.N. development network.

“The United Nations is not the devil. Rather, quite the opposite,” he said.

Blessed Pope Paul VI, who was the first pope to visit the United Nations, told the general assembly in 1965 that the world organization represented the mandatory path of modern civilization and world peace, Bishop Sanchez said. Successive popes showed the same kind of support with their own visits to the U.N., too, he said.

“Therefore, I don’t see how there can be any problem” with collaborating with the United Nations, especially as the academy has worked with many other world organizations and leaders, he said.

“To see the devil in the United Nations, which some on the right tend to do, is not the position of the Holy See,” he said.


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Vatican welcomes Iran’s historic nuclear deal, U.S. bishops urge Congress to ratify


VATICAN CITY — The Holy See welcomed Iran’s historic nuclear deal and expressed hopes that more future breakthroughs be on the horizon on other issues.

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector checks the uranium enrichment process inside Iran’s Natanz plant in 2014. The Vatican welcomed the July 14 announcement that Iran would restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes, so decades long international sanctions on the nation would be lifted.. (CNS photo/Kazem Ghane, EPA)

An International Atomic Energy Agency inspector checks the uranium enrichment process inside Iran’s Natanz plant in 2014. The Vatican welcomed the July 14 announcement that Iran would restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes, so decades long international sanctions on the nation would be lifted.. (CNS photo/Kazem Ghane, EPA)

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that “the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program is viewed in a positive light by the Holy See.”

“It constitutes an important outcome of the negotiations carried out so far, although continued efforts and commitment on the part of all involved will be necessary in order for it to bear fruit,” he said in a written statement in response to reporters’ questions July 14.

“It is hoped that those fruits will not be limited to the field of nuclear program, but may indeed extend further,” he said, without specifying what other areas of progress the Vatican hoped to see.

Hours after the deal was announced, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace also welcomed the agreement in a letter to members of the U.S. Congress.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, encouraged the lawmakers to “support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding” and said it signaled progress in global nuclear weapons nonproliferation.

“We hope that the full implementation of the agreement will gradually foster an environment in which all parties build mutual confidence and trust so that progress will be made toward greater stability and dialogue in the region,” the letter said. “In that spirit, our committee will continue to urge Congress to endorse the result of these intense negotiations because the alternative leads toward armed conflict, an outcome of profound concern to the church.”

Under the new deal, decades-long sanctions by the United States, European Union and the United Nations eventually would be lifted in exchange for an agreement by Iran to restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

The negotiations involved Iran and what is often referred to as the “P5+1,” or the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States —plus Germany.

The U.S. Congress and Iranian authorities would still need to review the agreement.

In January and in April, Pope Francis had expressed hopes that negotiations would end in an agreement. In his Easter message April 5, he said he hoped preliminary talks then underway would “be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”


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Pope says he’ll read critiques of his economic thought before U.S. trip


Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PARAGUAY — Before arriving in the United States in September, Pope Francis said, he will study American criticisms of his critiques of the global economy and finance.

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Asuncion, Paraguay, to Rome July 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Asuncion, Paraguay, to Rome July 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“I have heard that some criticisms were made in the United States. I’ve heard that but I have not read them and have not had time to study them well,” the pope told reporters traveling with him from Paraguay back to Rome July 12.

“If I have not dialogued with the person who made the criticism,” he said, “I don’t have the right” to comment on what the person is saying.

Pope Francis said his assertion in Bolivia July 9 that “this economy kills” is something he believes and has explained in his exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” and more recently in his encyclical on the environment.

In the Bolivia speech to grass-roots activists, many of whom work with desperately poor people, the pope described the predominant global economic system as having “the mentality of profit at any price with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

Asked if he planned to make similar comments in the United States despite the negative reaction his comments have drawn from some U.S. pundits, politicians and economists, Pope Francis said that now that his trip to South America has concluded, he must begin studying for his September trip to Cuba and the United States; the preparation, he said, will include careful reading of criticisms of his remarks about economic life.

Spending almost an hour answering questions from journalists who traveled with him July 5-12 to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, Pope Francis also declared that he had not tried coca leaves, a traditional remedy, to deal with the high altitude in Bolivia, and he admitted that being asked to pose for selfies makes him feel “like a great-grandfather, it’s such a different culture.”

The pope’s trip to Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27 was mentioned frequently in questions during the onboard news conference. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro publicly thanked Pope Francis and the Vatican last December for helping them reach an agreement to begin normalizing relations.

Pope Francis insisted his role was not mediation. In January 2014, he said, he was asked if there was some way he could help. “To tell you the truth, I spent three months praying about it, thinking what can I do with these two after 50 years like this.” He decided to send a cardinal, whom he did not name, to speak to both leaders.

“I didn’t hear any more,” he said.

“Months went by” and then one day, out of the blue, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, told him representatives of the two countries would be having their second meeting at the Vatican the next day, he said.

The new Cuba-U.S. relationship was the result of “the good will of both countries. It’s their merit. We did almost nothing,” the pope said.

Asked why he talks so much about the rich and the poor and so rarely about middle-class people who work and pay taxes, Pope Francis thanked the journalist for pointing out his omission and said, “I do need to delve further into this magisterium.”

However, he said he speaks about the poor so often “because they are at the heart of the Gospel. And, I always speak from the Gospel on poverty; it’s not that it’s sociological.”

Pope Francis was asked about his reaction to the crucifix on top of a hammer and sickle — the communist symbol — that Bolivian President Evo Morales gave him July 8. The crucifix was designed by Jesuit Father Luis Espinal, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Bolivia in 1980.

The pope said the crucifix surprised him. “I hadn’t known that Father Espinal was a sculptor and a poet, too. I just learned that these past few days,” he said.

Pope Francis said that he did know, however, that Father Espinal was among the Latin American theologians in the late 1970s who found Marxist political, social and economic analysis helpful for understanding their countries and their people’s struggles and that the Jesuit also used Marxist theories in his theology. It was four years after the Jesuit’s murder that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said plainly that Marxist theory had no place in a Catholic theology, the pope pointed out.

Father Espinal, he said, “was a special man with a great deal of geniality.”

The crucifix, the pope said, obviously fits into the category of “protest art,” which some people may find offensive, although he said he did not.

“I’m taking it home with me,” Pope Francis said.

In addition to the crucifix, Morales had given the pope two honors, one of which was making him part of the Order of Father Espinal, a designation that comes with a medal bearing a copy of the hammer-and-sickle crucifix.

Pope Francis said he’s never accepted such honors; “it’s just not for me,” he said. But Morales had given them to the pope with “such goodwill” and such obvious pleasure at doing something he thought would please the pope that the pope said he could not refuse.

“I prayed about this,” the pope told reporters. He said he did not want to offend Morales and he did not want the medals to end up in a Vatican museums storeroom. So he placed them at the feet of a statue of Mary and asked that they be transferred to the national shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana.

Pope Francis also was asked about his request in Guayaquil, Ecuador, that people pray for the October Synod of Bishops on the family “so that Christ can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or threatening, and turn it, by making it part of his hour, into a miracle.”

The pope told reporters, “I wasn’t thinking of any point in particular,” but rather the whole range of problems afflicting families around the world and the need for God’s help for families.


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Pope arrives in Equador as ‘a witness to God’s mercy’

July 6th, 2015 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

QUITO, Ecuador — Although still thousands of miles from his birthplace in Argentina, Pope Francis made a homecoming of sorts July 5 when he landed in Ecuador, greeted by cheering crowds and the sights and sounds of South America.

Pope Francis walks with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa during an arrival ceremony at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador, July 5. The pope is making an eight-day trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa during an arrival ceremony at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, Ecuador, July 5. The pope is making an eight-day trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

After a 12-hour flight from Rome, the pope participated in a brief welcoming ceremony at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport, telling government dignitaries, bishops and special guests that his pastoral work before becoming pope had taken him to Ecuador many times.

“Today, too, I have come as a witness of God’s mercy and of faith in Jesus Christ,” he said.

Mercy and faith, he said, have shaped Latin American culture for centuries, contributing to democracy and improving the lives of countless millions of people.

“In our own time, too, we can find in the Gospel a key to meeting contemporary challenges,” the pope said, including respecting national, ethnic, religious and cultural differences and fostering dialogue.

The pope’s visit followed a period of public protests over Ecuadorean government policies. Initially triggered by proposed inheritance and capital gains taxes, the protests also have targeted what even some of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s supporters describe as his heavy-handed approach.

Christian values, the pope said, should motivate citizens to promote the full participation of all people in their nation’s social, political and economic life “so that the growth in progress and development already registered will ensure a better future for everyone, with particular concern for the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters to whom Latin America still owes a debt.”

The program for the pope’s July 5-12 tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay was punctuated with formal meetings with government officials and with large public Masses, but it also was filled with visits to the poor, the sick and the elderly, and prisoners.

Pope Francis demonstrated his knowledge of Ecuador and the country’s geography when expressing his hope for the nation. “From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you,” the pope said.

“May you never lose the ability to protect what is small and simple,” he continued, “to care for your children and your elderly, to have confidence in the young and to be constantly struck by the nobility of your people and the singular beauty of your country.”

“Ecuador loves life,” Correa told the pope at the airport ceremony, noting that the constitution protects life from the moment of conception. “It establishes recognizing and protecting the family as the basic core of society and commits us deeply to caring for ‘our common home,’” referring to the environment with the same words Pope Francis used in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”

Correa said Ecuador’s was the “first constitution in the history of humanity to grant rights to nature.” Twenty percent of the country is protected in parks and reserves, Correa told the pope.

Some environmental and human rights organizations in Ecuador have questioned Correa’s commitment to environmental safeguards, as conflicts have erupted over plans for open-pit mining and expanded oil and gas exploration and production.

Walking the red carpet at the airport, Pope Francis was greeted by dozens of children and young people dressed in a wide variety of traditional clothes. Correa told the pope that his country is culturally diverse, with a mixed-race majority, as well as 14 indigenous peoples, including two nomadic groups that continue to shun contact with the outside world.

Correa said that “the great social sin of our America is injustice. How can we call ourselves the most Christian continent in the world if we are also the most unequal, when one of the most repeated signs of the Gospel is sharing bread?”

During the flight from Rome, Pope Francis only briefly addressed the 70 members of the media traveling with him. He thanked them for their work, which “can do so much good.” Instead of answering their questions — his practice usually only on flights back to Rome — he walked down one aisle of the Alitalia plane and up the other, greeting each person.

— Also reported by Barbara Fraser 

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All Christians must pray together, pope tells charismatics


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox must pray together and work hand-in-hand helping the poor, Pope Francis told thousands of Catholic charismatics and members of other Christian communities.

People pray as Pope Francis attends a meeting with Catholic charismatics in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican July 3. The meeting was with Catholics involved in the charismatic movement. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

People pray as Pope Francis attends a meeting with Catholic charismatics in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican July 3. The meeting was with Catholics involved in the charismatic movement. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

If the devil “unites us in death, who are we to divide ourselves in life?” he said, adding that all Christians can and must pray together, as they have all received the same baptism and are striving to follow Christ.

More than 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square July 3 to take part in an ecumenical gathering of reflection, prayer and song dedicated to praying for unity and for those killed for their Christian faith around the world. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Israeli singer Noa were part of the lineup of performers.

The pope invited members of the Renewal in the Spirit to St. Peter’s Square as the Italian branch met for its national meeting July 3-4. Leaders from the Lutheran, Anglican and Orthodox faiths as well as Louie Giglio, founder and leader of the Passion Movement in the United States, also attended the audience.

The pope said Christian unity was the work of the Holy Spirit, which meant Christians need to pray together in a “spiritual ecumenism, an ecumenism of prayer.”

He said some people may not realize they can pray with Christians of other denominations, adding that people must do so because “all of us have received the same baptism, all of us are following the path of Jesus, we want Jesus.”

“All of us have caused these divisions in history, for many, but not good, reasons. But now is the time that the Spirit is making us think how these divisions will no longer do, that these divisions are a counter-witness and we must do everything to go together” in prayer, charity, work and reading the Bible because “then the Spirit will do the rest.”

The “blood of martyrs” is already uniting divided Christian communities, he said, as the indiscriminate persecution and murder of Christians worldwide has shown.

Those who hate and target Christians are not interested in finding out whether they are Lutheran or Methodist, he said; it is enough that they are committed to Jesus Christ. The killers “aren’t confused, they know there is a common root there” and they have no problem recognizing it as the devil guides them, he said.

The pope asked that Christians work together to help people have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, encouraging the formation of small groups based on one-on-one relationships since “huge gatherings often just end there” with little follow-up.

He also reminded leaders not to forget they are really servants.

The devil tempts founders and leaders to believe they are indispensible and that they, not Jesus, are the ones in charge, he said.

“Forgive me for saying so, how many leaders become peacocks? Power leads us to vanity” and pride, which can also lead to corruption, he said.

Soon a religious movement or association can become tainted by authoritarian or selfish rule and the community can no longer be “renewed by the Spirit,” he said.

Positions of leadership in the church should come with term limits, the pope said. “There are no leaders for life in the church.”

There is no other Lord than Jesus and there is no one in the church who is indispensable except the Holy Spirit, he said.


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Havana to Philly: Pope’s schedule in Cuba and United States highlights families, charity, tolerance


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic’s approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a Sept. 19-27 visit.

Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not only acknowledges his role in encouraging detente between them, but will give Pope Francis an opportunity to demonstrate that while different political and cultural challenges face Catholics in both countries, the Gospel and its values are the same.

Pope Francis leaves after celebrating Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis leaves after celebrating Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29. (CNS/Paul Haring)

On June 30, the Vatican published the detailed schedule of Pope Francis’ Sept. 19-22 visit to Cuba and his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.

For Pope Francis, one of the key values Catholics in the U.S. and Cuba share is the obligation to “go out,” proclaiming the Gospel and bringing God’s mercy to the poorest and most disadvantaged people.

The standard of living in the United States may be exponentially higher than in Cuba, but in Pope Francis’ vision that only increases the responsibility of U.S. Catholics to reach out and to share. He will demonstrate what he means when he meets homeless people in Washington Sept. 24, children and immigrant families at a Catholic school in Harlem when he visits New York Sept. 25, and prisoners Sept. 27 in Philadelphia.

The closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families will follow the papal meeting with prisoners. The World Meeting of Families international congress Sept. 22-25 and the celebration of families with the pope Sept. 26-27 were the initial reason for the papal visit.

With the Catholic Church’s constant concern for promoting strong families and with the world Synod of Bishops on the family set to start one week after the papal visit, marriage and family life are expected to be topics throughout the pope’s visit to both Cuba and the United States.

Long before the Vatican released the full trip itinerary, it had confirmed certain parts of it: U.S. President Barack Obama will welcome the pope to the White House Sept. 23; that afternoon, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and canonize Blessed Junipero Serra; the pope will address a joint meeting of Congress Sept. 24, becoming the first pope to do so; and Pope Francis will address the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25. It is thought the pope may bring up some of the points he made in his recent environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” given that world nations will come together just a few months later for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in the hopes of reaching global agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.

The pope also is expected to emphasize the contributions of U.S. Catholics to society, defend religious liberty and support the church’s right to uphold its teaching, including in its employment practices. He will use his visit to ground zero in New York as an occasion for an interreligious gathering.

The pope will spend three days in Cuba visiting three different cities, including the popular Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

He will hold the usual meetings with President Raul Castro, young people, families and religious as well as celebrate Mass and vespers all three days. But he also will bless the cities of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba — blessing Holguin from a panoramic hilltop and pilgrimage site called Cross Hill.

It will be his third visit to the Americas after Brazil in 2013 and Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in July, and his 10th trip abroad since his election in 2013.

Here is the schedule for the trip. All times are local unless otherwise indicated.

Saturday, Sept. 19 (Rome, Havana)

  • 10:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m. EDT), Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport for Havana.
  • 4:05 p.m. Arrival ceremony at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. Speech by pope.

Sunday, Sept. 20 (Havana)

  • 9 a.m. Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square. Homily by pope. Recitation of the Angelus.
  • 4 p.m. Courtesy visit with Cuba’s President Raul Castro in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution.
  • 5:15 p.m. Celebration of vespers with priests, religious and seminarians in Havana’s cathedral. Homily by pope.
  • 6:30 p.m. Greeting to young people at the Father Felix Varela cultural center in Havana. Remarks by pope.

Monday, Sept. 21 (Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, El Cobre)

  • 8 a.m. Departure by air for Holguin, Cuba.

— 9:20 a.m. Arrival at Holguin’s Frank Pais International Airport.

  • 10:30 a.m. Mass in Holguin’s Revolution Square. Homily by pope.

— 3:45 p.m. Blessing of the city of Holguin from Cross Hill (Loma de la Cruz).

  • 4:40 p.m. Departure by air for Santiago de Cuba.
  • 5:30 p.m. Arrival at Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo International Airport.
  • 7 p.m. Meeting with bishops at the seminary of St. Basil the Great in El Cobre.
  • 7:45 p.m. Prayer to Our Lady of Charity with bishops and the papal entourage in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

Tuesday, Sept. 22 (El Cobre, Santiago de Cuba, Washington)

  • 8 a.m. Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Homily by pope.
  • 11 a.m. Meeting with families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption in Santiago de Cuba. Speech by pope. Blessing of the city from the outside of the cathedral.
  • 12:15 p.m. Farewell ceremony at Santiago de Cuba’s International Airport.
  • 12:30 p.m. Departure for Washington.
  • 4 p.m. Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Official welcome.

Wednesday, Sept. 23 (Washington)

  • 9:15 a.m. Welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Speech by pope, followed by a courtesy visit with Obama.
  • 11:30 a.m. Meeting with U.S. bishops in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Speech by pope.
  • 4:15 p.m. Mass and canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Homily by pope.

Thursday, Sept. 24 (Washington, New York)

— 9:20 a.m. Visit to the U.S. Congress. Speech by pope.

— 11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and meeting with homeless people. Greeting by pope.

  • 4 p.m. Departure by air to New York.
  • 5 p.m. Arrival at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
  • 6:45 p.m. Celebration of vespers with priests, men and women religious in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Homily by pope.

Friday, Sept. 25 (New York)

  • 8:30 a.m. Visit the headquarters of the United Nations. Greeting and speech by pope.
  • 11:30 a.m. Interreligious meeting at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial. Speech by pope.
  • 4 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Elementary School in East Harlem and meeting with children and immigrant families. Speech by pope.
  • 6 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden. Homily by pope.

Saturday, Sept. 26 (New York, Philadelphia)

  • 8:40 a.m. Departure by air to Philadelphia.
  • 9:30 a.m. Arrival at Philadelphia’s International Airport.
  • 10:30 a.m. Mass with Pennsylvania’s bishops, priests, men and women religious at Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. Homily by pope.
  • 4:45 p.m. Meeting for religious liberty with the Hispanic community and immigrants at Philadelphia’s Independence Mall. Speech by pope.
  • 7:30 p.m. Festival of Families and prayer vigil at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Speech by pope.

Sunday, Sept. 27 (Philadelphia)

  • 9:15 a.m. Meeting with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. Speech by pope.
  • 11 a.m. Visit with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Speech by pope.
  • 4 p.m. Closing Mass of the VIII World Meeting of Families at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Homily by pope.
  • 7 p.m. Greeting to the organizing committee, volunteers and donors at Philadelphia’s International Airport. Speech by pope.
  • 7:45 p.m. Farewell ceremony.
  • 8 p.m. Departure for Rome.

Monday, Sept. 28 (Rome)

  • 10 a.m. (4:45 a.m. EDT). Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.


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Pope to archbishops: Be brave, convincing witnesses for church


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The church wants pastors who are unafraid of persecution, are angels of hope and charity, and are convincing witnesses with a life rooted in prayer and the Gospel, Pope Francis told new archbishops.

“It’s quite simple, because the most effective and authentic witness is one that does not contradict, by behavior and lifestyle,” what one preaches and teaches, he said during a Mass celebrating the feasts of Ss. Peter and Paul June 29.

Archbishops bless themselves as Pope Francis celebrates Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29. Among those pictured are Archbishops Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Blase J. Cupich of Chicago.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishops bless themselves as Pope Francis celebrates Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29. Among those pictured are Archbishops Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Blase J. Cupich of Chicago.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Forty-six archbishops representing 34 countries, who were named over the course of the last year, were invited to come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis.

Among those invited to concelebrate were Archbishops John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Blase J. Cupich of Chicago; Denis Grondin of Rimouski, Quebec; Anthony Fisher of Sydney; Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland; and Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly, Ireland.

This year, however, the pope set aside an element that had been part of the Mass for the past 32 years, by no longer conferring the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy.

The archbishops were to be present for the pope’s blessing of the palliums in order to underline their bond of unity and communion with him. But the actual imposition of the woolen band was to take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses.

The change was meant to 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. Guido Marini, papal master of liturgical ceremonies, said in January.

During his blessing of the palliums, Pope Francis said the woolen bands that will be worn over their shoulders symbolize the “yoke” of the Gospel as well as their call to be shepherds dedicated to the pastoral care of their people.

During his homily, the pope said the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recalled the harsh persecution faced by the early Christians.

“However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today,” often happening right in front of everyone’s eyes and meeting with complete silence, he said.

Instead, the pope said he wanted to “pay homage to” these courageous Christians who evangelized fearlessly in a pagan culture; they are, he said, models for Christians today, and a “powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.”

A church rooted in prayer is strong, solid and moves forward, while Christians who pray are protected and never alone, he said.

It is through prayer that believers express their faith and trust in God, and directly experience his closeness, especially when he sends angels of hope, the pope said.

“How many angels he places on our path” to offer comfort, aid and enlightenment, he said; yet fear, skepticism and distractions, or “euphoria” keep people from recognizing them or letting them into their life.

The early Christians call people today to be people of faith, who understand that God does not remove people from the world or evil, “but he does grant them the strength to prevail.”

“How many forces in the course of history have tried, and they still do, to destroy the church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the church remains alive and fruitful,” the pope said.

“Only God remains,” while everything else — like, empires, cultures, ideologies and nations — passes.

“The church does not belong to popes, bishops, priests or the lay faithful; the church in every moment belongs solely to Christ,” he said, and this is how, despite the many “storms” in time and sins of its members, the church is able to remain “ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service.”

It is by acting only in the name of Christ, not on one’s own behalf, that Christians have shown that no power can defeat those who have the power of faith, he said.

“Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the church by holiness in life, after the example of Peter and Paul,” he said.

In fact, the call to be firm witnesses is key, the pope said, because without witness, the church and its members are sterile and dead – “like a dried up tree that produces no fruit, an empty well that offers no water.”

Evil is overcome by “the courageous, concrete and humble witness,” he said.

Pope Francis then told the archbishops that he hoped the pallium, which is meant to symbolize both their unity with pope and their authority and responsibility to care for the flock entrusted to them, would also remind them of this call to prayer, faith and witness.

“The church wants you to be men of prayer,” faith and witness, who can show people that “liberation from all forms of imprisonment is uniquely God’s work and the fruit of prayer” as well as teach people “to not be frightened of the many Herods” who persecute them.

“For those most in need, may you also be angels and messengers of charity,” the pope told the new archbishops.

The pope asked that they be courageous, “convinced and convincing” witnesses, whose lifestyles matched the Gospel message and their preaching, and who “are not ashamed of the name of Christ and of his cross, not before the roaring lions, or before the powers of this world.”

As is customary, an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Vatican and the city of Rome.

After the liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis walked side-by-side with Metropolitan John of Pergamon, head of the delegation, down the stairs under the main altar to pray together over St. Peter’s tom


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