Home » Articles posted by Junno Arocho Esteves

Pope: Don’t pretend to be teens; help youths see blessings of adulthood

June 21st, 2017 Posted in Featured, International News Tags: ,

By

Catholic News Service

 

ROME — Instead of “pretending to be adolescents,” parents must help young people see the blessing of growing into adulthood, Pope Francis told priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome.

The belief that youthfulness is a model of success “is one of the most dangerous ‘unwitting’ menaces in the education of our adolescents” that hinders their personal growth because “adults have taken their place,” the pope said June 19, opening the Rome Diocese’s annual convention.

This “can increase a natural tendency young people have to isolate themselves or to curb their process of growth” because they have no role models, the pope said. Read more »

Comments Off on Pope: Don’t pretend to be teens; help youths see blessings of adulthood

Pope and cardinals study ‘healthy decentralization’ proposals

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and members of his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of allowing local bishops rather than the Vatican decide on certain matters, including the marriage or priestly ordination of permanent deacons.

It is “what the pope calls a ‘’healthy decentralization,” said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Read more »

Comments Off on Pope and cardinals study ‘healthy decentralization’ proposals

Vatican supports new elections to solve Venezuelan crisis

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Negotiations between government and opposition groups in Venezuela, followed by free and fair elections, are needed to put an end to violence and bring relief to the suffering people, a Vatican official said.

In a letter June 13 to six former Latin American heads of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said the Holy See continues to follow Pope Francis’ directives and is “trying to help find a solution to the current serious difficulties.”

An opposition supporter holds a rosary as she prays with others during a June 14 rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Christian Veron, Reuters)

An opposition supporter holds a rosary as she prays with others during a June 14 rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas. (CNS photo/Christian Veron, Reuters)

“The Holy See continues to consider that a serious and sincere negotiation between the parties, based on very clear conditions, beginning with the celebration of constitutionally scheduled elections, can solve the serious situation in Venezuela and the suffering to which the population is subjected,” said Cardinal Parolin’s letter.

The Vatican did not release the cardinal’s letter, but it was posted on the blog Sismografo.

Pope Francis had met June 8 with the leadership of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, which requested the meeting as the country’s political and economic crisis became increasingly violent. Since April, anti-government protests have led to the death of some 70 people, both government and opposition supporters.

Cardinal Parolin’s letter came one day after the pope received a letter from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The letter was posted on Twitter June 12 by the Venezuelan government’s press secretary, Ernesto Villegas Poljak.

Although his government’s violent tactics against protesters have been denounced by the Catholic Church in Venezuela, Maduro has tried to claim he had the support of Pope Francis.

In his letter, Maduro defended the government’s handling of the protests, claiming that the violence was caused by an “extreme right-wing” opposition that was “increasingly smaller and, therefore, more and more insane.”

“The forces of darkness have carried out all kinds of vandalism under the sign of the most abject and brutal terrorism, trying to impose a climate of widespread violence on Venezuela,” he said.

Maduro’s accusations contradict statements by Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, who told Vatican Radio that “the repression” exercised by Maduro’s government “has been increasingly cruel.”

In addition to official security forces, there are pro-government, armed civilian groups, “which is absolutely criminal, so that the situation is extremely serious and that is why we are here,” he said at the Vatican June 7.

However, the Venezuelan president said his government’s crackdown against protesters was justified following the death of a 17-year-old boy.

Citing Pope Francis’ own words in his letter, Maduro said children should not “be robbed of joy,” and he was certain the pope’s “active and guiding counsel would open a new stage in national dialogue.”

Asking for the pope’s blessing, Maduro said he would follow the example of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in dealing with the opposition.

“There are those who have diverted toward the field of destabilization, terrorism and coup. My task is to bring them toward the field of the constitution and political debate. In this, I am rigorously following the example of Commander Chavez,” Maduro said.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Vatican supports new elections to solve Venezuelan crisis

Pope names members for renewed Pontifical Academy for Life

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — After broadening the scope of and issuing new statutes for the Pontifical Academy of Life, Pope Francis appointed new members to the advisory body and included scientists, professors and experts in medicine and ethics from both religious and secular backgrounds.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy of Life, says new members appointed by Pope Francis to the academy, will offer the church and the world a “deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless.”(CNS  file/Carol Glatz)

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy of Life, says new members appointed by Pope Francis to the academy, will offer the church and the world a “deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless.”(CNS file/Carol Glatz)

Seven of the members come from the United States and Canada, including Dr. Kathleen M. Foley, a neurologist at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Dr. William F. Sullivan, a Toronto family physician and ethicist, who serves as president of the International Association of Catholic Bioethicists in Canada.

In a statement released following the Vatican’s announcement June 13, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the academy, said the appointments of clergy, scientists and medical experts, both religious and secular, will offer the church and the world a “deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless.”

“Among them are a number of non-Catholics, either belonging to other religions or nonbelievers, a sign that the protection and promotion of human life knows no divisions and can be assured only through common endeavor,” Archbishop Paglia said.

The appointments included Rabbi Fernando Szlajen, an Argentine rabbi with an extensive background in bioethics, and the Rev. Nigel Biggar, an Anglican priest who teaches pastoral and moral theology at Oxford University.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, a professor of bioethics and moral theology, and Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, a former medical doctor who worked at the Amsterdam university hospital before he became a priest, were also named members of the pontifical academy by Pope Francis.

Founded in 1994 by St. John Paul II, the Pontifical Academy for Life is charged with defending and promoting “the value of human life and the dignity of the person.”

In November 2016, Pope Francis issued new statutes for the pontifical academy to widen the scope of its activity and research on life issues.

The new statutes added that the pontifical academy’s defense of life must include “the care of the dignity of the human person at different stages of life,” as well as “the promotion of a quality of human life that integrates its material and spiritual value with a view to an authentic human ecology that helps recover the original balance of creation between the human person and the entire universe.”

The new members named by Pope Francis hail from 27 countries, including Italy, Spain, Japan, Tunisia, Israel and Burkina Faso.

The nominations include 13 members who served on the academy before its statutes and membership were renewed.

Five past leaders of the Pontifical Academy for Life were named honorary members, including Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, retired archbishop of Bologna, Italy, and Birthe Lejeune, vice president of the foundation honoring her late husband, Jerome Lejeune, the first president of the academy.

Archbishop Paglia said the honorary members “represent the history of the academy and a passion for human life for which we must all be grateful.”

In addition to Foley and Sullivan, the members from the U.S. and Canada are: Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus; John Haas, president, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Philadelphia; Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, bioethics professor at Georgetown University; John Keown, professor of Christian ethics at Georgetown University; and Bishop Noel Simard of Valleyfield, Quebec, spokesman for the Canadian bishops’ conference on bioethical issues related to euthanasia.

In a statement, Anderson quoted “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the church’s mission to evangelize the modern world, and said he looked forward to supporting an authentic human ecology and building a culture of life based on a proper understanding of the right to life and the dignity of each person.

Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life are nominated for five-year terms, which can be renewed. Membership ceases once an academician turns 80.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Pope names members for renewed Pontifical Academy for Life

Vatican: Failure to protect child migrants an insult to human dignity

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Too often, national and international policies leave migrant children at the mercy of traffickers and sexual predators and are signs of a widespread failure to protect the innocent, a Vatican official said.

A migrant mother holds her child outside at a transit camp in early February in Gevgelija, Macedonia. (CNS photo/Georgi Licovski, EPA)

A migrant mother holds her child outside at a transit camp in early February in Gevgelija, Macedonia. (CNS photo/Georgi Licovski, EPA)

In addition, policies that involve criminalizing and detaining child migrants “are an insult to human dignity” and are “the dramatic evidence of existing inequalities and failing systems,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

“The grave error of the detention model is that it considers the children as sole, isolated subjects responsible for the situations in which they find themselves and over which they have little, if any, control,” the archbishop said. “This model wrongly absolves the international community at large from responsibilities that it regularly fails to fulfill.”

Archbishop Jurkovic spoke about the plight of child migrants during a U.N. Human Rights Council panel discussion June 9 on “Unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents and human rights.”

Children forced to flee without the protection of their parents or family members, he said, are given no options for a better life and are often “left at the lower levels of human degradation” due to lack of education and health care.

“They must be considered children first and foremost, and their best interest must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them,” Archbishop Jurkovic said.

The practice of detaining and criminalizing migrant children should “never be an option” given that such a practice, even if for a brief period, “can have lifelong consequences on a child’s development,” he said.

While the protection of all migrating people is “vital and essential, it is not enough,” Archbishop Jurkovic added. The international community must step up its efforts to address the situations that force children to flee their homelands, situations that include war, violence, corruption, poverty and environmental disasters.

“A farsighted approach is urgently needed to tackle the tragic and intolerable situations that drive such a drastic increase in the number of children who abandon their lands of birth and search alone for refuge and hope for the future,” he said.

Archbishop Jurkovic urged world leaders to promote an integral human development for the “hundreds of millions of children who are living in appalling conditions.”

“Even while we are engaged in discussion and debate today, any number of these children will have joined the already huge odyssey of children on the move, simply in search of safety, peace and of a fair chance in life,” he said.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Vatican: Failure to protect child migrants an insult to human dignity

God’s fatherly love is a revolution in religious psychology, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The mystery of God’s relationship with humankind is revolutionary in that Christians can look to him without fear as children to a loving father, Pope Francis said.

In teaching the Lord’s prayer, Jesus invites all Christians “to have the courage of calling God with the name ‘father,’” the pope said June 7 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis blesses a man during his general audience June 7 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Maurizo Brambatti, EPA)

Pope Francis blesses a man during his general audience June 7 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Maurizo Brambatti, EPA)

“This is the great revolution that Christianity ingrains into the religious psychology of man. The mystery of God who always fascinates us and makes us feel small but no longer frightens us, he doesn’t crush us, he doesn’t distress us,” the pope said.

With temperatures in Rome hovering slightly above 80 degrees, the hot and humid weather did little to keep the estimated 15,000 pilgrims from singing and waving as Pope Francis greeted them on his popemobile.

The pope occasionally stopped to kiss several babies whose heads were draped in cloth to protect them from the sun.

In his talk, the pope reflected on the theme of God’s fatherhood as a source of hope for Christians as conveyed in the prayer of the “Our Father.”

While some may be more inclined to refer to God with a title that is “more respectful of his transcendence,” he said, the word “father” implies a trustful relationship “like a child to a father, knowing that we are loved and cared for by him.”

Referring to the parable of the prodigal son, the pope said God loves his children “not in a human way because there is no father in this world who would behave like the protagonist in this parable.”

“God is a father in his own way: good, defenseless in the face of man’s free will, capable only of conjugating the verb, ‘love,’” the pope said. “What an unfathomable mystery is a God that nourishes this kind of love toward his children.”

It is for this reason, he added, that St. Paul chose not to translate the word “father” into Greek and instead uses the Aramaic word, ‘“Abba,’ a term that is even more intimate than ‘father’ and that someone may translate as ‘pop, dad.’”

The pope said that although men and women “can be far away, hostile or even profess ourselves as being ‘without God,’” God is never far from humankind.

“When we need help, Jesus doesn’t tell us to give up and close in on ourselves, but rather to turn to the father and ask him with confidence,” he said.

Before concluding, Pope Francis asked pilgrims to contemplate on the difficulties they face in their lives before leading them in praying the “Our Father.”

“Let us think about these problems and needs in silence. Let us also think about the father, our father, who cannot be without us and who is watching us at this moment,” he said.

Pope Francis also said he would participate in the “One minute for peace” initiative June 8, a moment of prayer starting at 1 p.m. on the third anniversary of the prayer service held at the Vatican with the late Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“In our time, there is a great need to pray — Christians, Jews and Muslims — for peace,” the pope said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on God’s fatherly love is a revolution in religious psychology, pope says

Ideological ‘fanatics of things that aren’t clear,’ divide the church, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians who turn doctrine into ideology commit a grave mistake that upsets souls and divides the church, Pope Francis said.

From the beginning, there have been people in the church who preach “without any mandate” and become “fanatics of things that aren’t clear,” the pope said May 19 in his homily during Mass at the chapel of Casa Santa Marta.

Pope Francis waves as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter's Square May 17 at the Vatican. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Francis waves as he arrives for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square May 17 at the Vatican. (CNS/Reuters)

“This is the problem: When the doctrine of the church, the one from the Gospel, the one inspired by the Holy Spirit — because Jesus said, ‘He will teach you and remind you of what I have taught’ — when that doctrine becomes ideology. And this is the greatest mistake of these people,” he said.

The pope reflected on the day’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (15:22-31), in which, after much debate, the apostles and presbyters send representatives to allay the concerns of the gentile converts after they were ordered by overzealous believers to follow Jewish practices if they wished to be saved.

However, the apostles ruled that “it is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond” abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols and from strangled animals, blood and unlawful marriages.

The initial debate about how to deal with the gentiles, the pope said, was between “the group of the apostles who wanted to discuss the problem and the others who go and create problems.”

“They divide, they divide the church, they say that what the apostles preach is not what Jesus said, that it isn’t the truth,” he said.

Those who sow discord and “divide the Christian community,” the pope said, do so because their “hearts are closed to the work of the Holy Spirit.”

These individuals, he added, “weren’t believers, they were ideologues.”

Pope Francis said the exhortation sent to the gentiles by Peter and the other apostles encourages all Christians to be unafraid before “the opinions of the ideologues of doctrine.”

“The church has its own magisterium, the magisterium of the pope (and) the bishops,” and it must follow along the path “that comes from Jesus’ preaching and the teaching and assistance of the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

Doctrine, he said, unites the Christian community because it is “always open, always free” while “ideology divides.”

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Ideological ‘fanatics of things that aren’t clear,’ divide the church, pope says

Pope’s opinion: Alleged apparitions at Medjugorje ‘don’t have much value’

By

Catholic News Service

ABOARD PAPAL FLIGHT FROM PORTUGAL — While the investigations into the very first alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in must continue, Pope Francis said he has doubts about claims that Mary continues to appear in the village of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Asked May 13 about the authenticity of the Marian apparitions, which reportedly began in 1981, the pope referred to the findings of a commission chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the retired papal vicar of Rome.

Pope Francis listens to a question from Joana Haderer of LUSA as he speaks with journalists aboard his flight from Portugal to Rome May 13. The pope made a two-day visit to Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions and to canonize Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the young seers. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis listens to a question from Joana Haderer of LUSA as he speaks with journalists aboard his flight from Portugal to Rome May 13. The pope made a two-day visit to Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions and to canonize Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the young seers. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“The report has its doubts, but personally, I am a little worse,” the pope told reporters traveling with him from Fatima, Portugal. “I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time.”

“This isn’t Jesus’ mother,” he said. “And these alleged apparitions don’t have much value. I say this as a personal opinion, but it is clear. Who thinks that Our Lady says, ‘Come, because tomorrow at this time I will give a message to that seer?’ No!”

Three of the six young people who originally claimed to have seen Mary in Medjugorje in June 1981 say she continues to appear to them each day; the other three say Mary appears to them once a year now.

A diocesan commission studied the alleged apparitions in 1982-1984 and again in 1984-1986 with more members; and the then-Yugoslavian bishops’ conference studied them from 1987 to 1990. All three commissions concluded that they could not affirm that a supernatural event was occurring in the town.

Despite his personal doubts, the pope said that the “spiritual and pastoral facts cannot be denied: People go there and convert, people who find God, who change their lives. There isn’t magic there,” he said.

In February, Pope Francis appointed Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser of Warsaw-Praga to study the pastoral needs of the townspeople and the thousands of pilgrims who flock to Medjugorje each year. He told reporters those people deserve spiritual care and support.

Also during the in-flight news conference, the pope was asked about his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who will visit the Vatican May 24 as part of his first foreign trip as president.

Specifically asked how he would speak to a head of state with clearly opposing views on issues such as immigration, the pope said he would never “make a judgment about a person without listening to him first.”

“There are always doors that aren’t closed. Look for the doors that at least are a little bit open, enter and speak about things held in common and go forward, step by step,” the pope said. “Peace is artisanal; it is made every day. Even friendship among people, mutual knowledge and esteem are made every day,” he said.

Pope Francis also was asked about the resignation of Marie Collins, one of the founding members and the last remaining abuse survivor on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

She left the commission March 1, citing the reluctance of members of the Roman Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the commission’s work.

The pope praised Collins’ work on the commission and her continuing role in training bishops to deal with abuse allegations.

As for her reasons for leaving the commission, Pope Francis said, “she is a little bit right because there are so many cases that are delayed.”

However, the pope said the delays in handling cases are due to the need to draft new legislation and to the fact that there are few people capable of handling cases of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, he added, are looking “for new people.”

“We are going forward, but Marie Collins was right about some things,” he said. “We also are moving forward, but there are least 2,000 cases piled up.”

Asked about continuing discussions to fully reconcile the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X with the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said he is patient. “I don’t like to rush things.”

He has made overtures to the faithful attached to the society by recognizing the validity of absolution granted by SSPX priests and the validity of marriages they celebrate, but the Vatican still is waiting for the society’s leadership to sign a document affirming certain teachings of the church.

“This isn’t a problem of winners and losers,” the pope said; it is about “brothers who should walk together, looking for ways to take steps forward.”

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Pope’s opinion: Alleged apparitions at Medjugorje ‘don’t have much value’

Fatima seers become church’s youngest non-martyred saints

By

Catholic News Service

FATIMA, Portugal — Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonized two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord.

“We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints,” the pope said May 13 as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause before he finished speaking.

Pope Francis walks in a procession as he blesses the sick with the Eucharist at the conclusion of the canonization Mass of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917. (CNS /Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks in a procession as he blesses the sick with the Eucharist at the conclusion of the canonization Mass of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917. (CNS /Paul Haring)

The relics of the young shepherd children, encased in two thin golden crosses, were placed in front of the famed statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the “lady dressed in white” as the siblings and their cousin described her.

The Marian apparitions began May 13, 1917, when 9-year-old Francisco and 7-year-old Jacinta, along with their 10-year-old cousin Lucia dos Santos, reported seeing the Virgin Mary. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

After contracting influenza, Francisco died April 4, 1919, at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness Feb. 20, 1920, at the age of 9.

The children, beatified by St. John Paul II in 2000, are now the youngest non-martyrs to be declared saints by the Catholic Church.

Before his arrival at the shrine, the pope met privately with Portuguese Prime Minster Antonio Costa and then made his way into the sanctuary that houses the tombs of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta and their cousin Lucia, who died in 2005 at the age of 97. The diocesan phase of her sainthood cause concluded in February and now is under study at the Vatican.

Pope Francis stood for several minutes in front of the tombs with his eyes closed and head bowed.

In his homily at the canonization Mass, the pope reflected on the brief lives of the young sibling saints, who are often remembered more for the apparitions rather than for their holy lives.

But it is Mary’s message and example, rather than an apparition, is important, he told the crowd, which Portuguese authorities estimated at about 500,000 people.

“The Virgin Mother did not come here so that we could see her. We will have all eternity for that, provided, of course, that we go to heaven,” the pope said.

Instead, he continued, Mary’s messages to the young children were a warning to all people about leading “a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures.”

“Such a life, frequently proposed and imposed, risks leading to hell. Mary came to remind us that God’s light dwells within us and protects us,” the pope said.

The hopeful message of Fatima, he said, is that men and women have a mother and like children clinging to her, “we live in the hope that rests on Jesus.”

Pope Francis called on the pilgrims to follow the example of heroic virtue lived by St. Francisco and St. Jacinta, particularly their insistent prayer for sinners and their adoration of “the hidden Jesus” in the tabernacle.

This continual presence of God taught to them by Mary, he said, “was the source of their strength in overcoming opposition and suffering.”

By following their example, the pope said, Christians can become “a source of hope for others” and counter “the indifference that chills the heart” and “worsens our myopia.”

“We do not want to be a stillborn hope! Life can survive only because of the generosity of other lives,” he said.

It is with the light of hope, the pope added, that the church can radiate “the true face of Jesus” and reach out to those in need.

“Thus, may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love,” he said.

Addressing the sick before concluding the Mass, Pope Francis said that Christ understands the “meaning of sorrow and pain” and, through the church, offers comfort to the afflicted just as it did for Sts. Francisco and Jacinta in their final moments.

“That is the church’s ministry: the church asks the Lord to comfort the afflicted like yourselves, and he comforts you, even in ways you cannot see. He comforts you in the depths of your hearts and he comforts you with the gift of strength,” the pope said.

The “hidden Jesus” the young shepherds adored in the Eucharist is also present “in the wounds of our brothers and sisters” where Christians can adore, seek and recognize Christ.

Pope Francis encouraged the sick present at Mass to “live their lives as a gift” and to not think of themselves simply “as the recipients of charitable solidarity” but rather “a spiritual resource, an asset to every Christian community.”

“”Do not be ashamed of being a precious treasure of the church,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Fatima seers become church’s youngest non-martyred saints

At Fatima, Pope asks Christians to honor Mary of the Gospels, not a ‘plaster statue’

By

Catholic News Service

FATIMA, Portugal — Mary’s example of believing and following Jesus is what matters most; she cannot be some image “of our own making” who Christians barter with for mercy, Pope Francis said.

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, the pope asked tens of thousands of pilgrims May 12 to reflect on “which Mary” they choose to venerate, “the virgin Mary from the Gospel” or “one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God?”

Pope Francis arrives to bless candles at the Chapel of the Apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal May 12. The pope was making a two-day visit to Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions and to canonize two of the young seers. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis arrives to bless candles at the Chapel of the Apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal May 12. The pope was making a two-day visit to Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparitions and to canonize two of the young seers. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Is the Mary they honor “a woman blessed because she believed always and everywhere in God’s words or a ‘plaster statue’ from whom we beg favors at little cost?” he asked.

As the sun set at the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, pilgrims held thousands of lit candles, filling the square with a fiery light before Pope Francis led them in praying the rosary.

The pope already had visited the shrine earlier in the evening, arriving by helicopter from Monte Real air base. Excited crowds, waving flags and white handkerchiefs, cheered as he arrived in his popemobile.

He then made his way to the Little Chapel of the Apparitions where Mary appeared to three shepherd children May 13, 1917. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

The festive cheering of the crowd turned to near absolute silence as the pope spent several minutes with his head bowed and hands clasped in prayer, occasionally looking up at the statue of Mary venerated by his predecessors and millions of devotees across the globe.

Pope Francis then recited a prayer he wrote, an expanded version of the traditional “Salve Regina” (“Hail Holy Queen”).

Alternating his verses with a choral refrain venerating the “Queen of the Rosary of Fatima,” the pope consecrated himself to Mary and entrusted to her intercession a suffering humanity where blood “is shed in the wars tearing our world apart.”

Begging Mary’s assistance, the pope prayed that believers would “tear down all walls and overcome all boundaries, going to all peripheries, there revealing God’s justice and peace.”

“In the depths of your being, in your immaculate heart, you keep the sorrows of the human family, as they mourn and weep in this valley of tears,” the pope prayed.

He also presented himself before the image of Mary as “a bishop robed in white,” a reference to the third secret revealed to the children at Fatima. Published 83 years after the Fatima apparitions, the vision described the image of a “bishop dressed in white” shot down amid the rubble of a ruined city.

The official Vatican interpretation, discussed with the visionary Sister Lucia dos Santos before its publication, was that it referred to the persecution of Christians in the 20th century and, specifically, to the 1981 assassination attempt on the life of St. John Paul II.

As Blessed Paul VI and retired Pope Benedict XVI did before him, Pope Francis placed a small silver vase containing 24-karat gold roses at the foot of the statue. Embedded in the statue’s crown is one of the bullets used in the assassination attempt against St. John Paul II on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 1981.

Returning to the little chapel for a nighttime vigil, Pope Francis reminded pilgrims to pray, as Mary taught the children at Fatima, for “those most in need” of God’s mercy.

“On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ,” he said.

Pope Francis held up Mary as a “model of evangelization,” particularly because Christian men and women can look at her and see that “humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong.”

Those who emphasize God’s punishment of sinners, he said, commit “a great injustice” to him by not recognizing that sinners “are forgiven by his mercy.”

“Mercy has to be put before judgment,” he said, “and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy.”

“With Mary, may each of us become a sign and sacrament of the mercy of God, who pardons always and pardons everything,” he said.

     

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on At Fatima, Pope asks Christians to honor Mary of the Gospels, not a ‘plaster statue’
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.