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Pope sends regrets: He can’t visit Argentina this year or next

September 30th, 2016 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

In a heartfelt letter to his homeland Sept. 30, Pope Francis told his fellow Argentines that he will not be able to visit this or next year because of obligations in Asia and Africa.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from Argentina during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 14. In a heartfelt letter to his homeland Sept. 30, Pope Francis told his fellow Argentines that he will not be able to visit this or next year because of obligations in Asia and Africa.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from Argentina during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 14. In a heartfelt letter to his homeland Sept. 30, Pope Francis told his fellow Argentines that he will not be able to visit this or next year because of obligations in Asia and Africa.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“You don’t know how much I would love to see you again,” Pope Francis said in the letter addressed to the people of Argentina, which is a transcript of an accompanying video message.

“For me, the people of Argentina are my people, you are important,” he wrote. “I continue to be an Argentine, and I still travel with an Argentine passport. I am convinced that the people are the biggest treasure of our homeland.”

Pope Francis said he wanted to go to Argentina to beatify “Mama Antula” and to canonize “Cura Brochero.” He was referring to Maria Antonia de Paz Figueroa, an 18th-century Catholic laywoman who championed the Ignatian spiritual exercises in Argentina after the Jesuits were expelled, and Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, a “gaucho,” or cowboy priest, known for his affinity for the poor. She was beatified in August and he will be canonized in October.

Pope Francis did not say where or when his travel to Asia and Africa will occur.

He said he placed his return to his homeland “in the Lord’s hands.” The pope said he found consolation in the letters he receives from Argentina, which are so numerous that he cannot reply to all.

“It gives me joy and leads me to pray, and I pray for you at Mass, for your necessities, for each one of you,” he said.

He said that while Argentina is lauded for its richness in mountains, forests, coasts and mining, “the biggest treasure our homeland has is its people, a people who know solidarity, know how to walk with one another, know how to help, respect,” and don’t take a step back.

“I respect, love and carry (those people) in my heart,” he said.

As the teachers of yesteryear once did, he said he, too, dispenses homework, and the homework he gives them is to go out and practice the works of mercy, while reminding them to also pray for him.

Vatican officials hear three days of ‘moving testimonies’ from women in the church

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Leaders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spent three days in late September listening to women theologians, canon lawyers, Scripture scholars and specialists in other academic fields talk about roles women have played in the Catholic Church and roles they could play in the future.

Women gather at the opening Mass of the 96th annual  convention of the Catholic Women's League of Canada and the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations North American Conference last April. The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently hears three days of testimonies about the roles of women in the church. (CNS/Salt and Light)

Women gather at the opening Mass of the 96th annual convention of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada and the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations North American Conference last April. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently hears three days of testimonies about the roles of women in the church. (CNS/Salt and Light)

After the symposium Sept. 26-28 was over, the congregation issued a brief statement outlining the topics discussed and listing the women who made formal presentations. The congregation said the papers will be published at a later date.

Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, opened the meeting, which involved about 50 people, mostly women, and officials and consultants to the congregation, the statement said.

The theme of “the role of women in the church” was explored first by looking at “the definition of the feminine vocation in Catholic tradition,” and proceeded to a discussion about concrete roles women have played and can play within the church.

Women, several of whom are or have been members of the Vatican-related International Theological Commission or the International Biblical Commission, presented all the main papers. Other presenters serve as consultants to Vatican offices or professors at Catholic universities.

The doctrinal congregation did not provide specifics about the content of the talks. It said, for example, that Barbara Hallensleben, a theologian teaching in Switzerland, looked at the “feminine vocation” starting from the idea of the priesthood of all the baptized and in the sacrament of marriage. Margaret Harper McCarthy, a professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, gave the formal response.

French biblicist Anne-Marie Pelletier and Mary Healy, a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, spoke about the important contributions of women scholars to biblical studies, the statement said.

Other topics included the role of women in the education of priests; women as spiritual directors and retreat directors; canon law provisions regarding women’s roles in church decision-making bodies; and “sexual difference,” a theme treated by Spanish anthropologist Blanca Castilla Cortazar and Australian theologian Tracey Rowland, dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.

The doctrinal congregation statement said that in addition to the formal presentations, participants “listened to interesting and moving testimonies” of the experiences of women in the church, in theology, working in the Roman Curia or for bishops’ conferences, in interreligious dialogue and ecumenism and in the field of Catholic charity.

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Christians must make history, never be prophets of doom, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians must put their mark on history, transforming the world every day driven by the joy of proclaiming God’s love, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis waves after celebrating a Mass for the Jubilee for Catechists Sept. 25 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Pope Francis waves after celebrating a Mass for the Jubilee for Catechists Sept. 25 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

“We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations,” handing down “bitter judgments on our society, on the church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity,” he told catechists Sept. 25.

Instead, “whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy” and can see both far-off new horizons and pressing needs under their nose, driving them to help and “go out from themselves to write history.”

The pope’s homily came during a special Mass for a Year of Mercy jubilee for catechists in St. Peter’s Square.

Nothing is more important for catechists, and all Christians who are likewise called to give witness and share God’s word, than to keep the core, essential message of the faith “front and center: the Lord is risen,” he said.

“The Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.”

“Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centerpiece,” he said; from that proclamation all other teachings of the faith gain meaning and force, especially when Jesus’ commandment of loving one another is followed.

“It is by loving that the God-who-is-love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation,” he said.

Because God “is not an idea, but a living person,” Pope Francis said, he is proclaimed by an actual encounter with another person, accompanied by listening, welcoming and caring for the other’s past and journey forward.

Also, since God is love, goodness, joy and hope, then God must be proclaimed by living that way “in the present moment,” he said. “We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad; nor do we transmit God’s beauty merely with beautiful homilies.”

The pope highlighted the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus tells the story of the poor man named Lazarus who went to heaven, while the rich man who ignored his plight, ended up in hell.

This parable in the Gospel according to Luke tells people “what it means to love,” the pope said.

The rich man did nothing overtly bad or evil, the pope said, he was just indifferent, an illness worse than whatever caused Lazarus’ sores.

The rich man suffered from being self-centered, materialistic and superficial, he said.

“This worldliness is like a ‘black hole’ that swallows up what is good and extinguishes love,” and anaesthetizes the soul, the pope said.

The rich man’s obsession with appearances also means he suffered from a kind of blindness that kept him from seeing anything that did not interest him.

This blindness makes people act “cross-eyed,” the pope said, with one eye looking “with adulation at famous people of high rank, admired by the world,” and the other shifted “away from the many Lazaruses of today, from the poor, from the suffering who are the Lord’s beloved.”

The rich man remains nameless and, therefore, forgotten in history, he said, while “Lazarus is the only one named in all of Jesus’ parables,” and is welcomed to the banquet in the divine kingdom.

“Whoever lives for himself does not write history,” Pope Francis said. “And a Christian must write history.”

With so much worldliness, indifference and selfishness in the world, he said, Christians “must go out from themselves to write history,” which means being disturbed by the pain they see and seeking ways to help without procrastinating or delegating the task to others.

Responding to a situation of need with ‘“I have no time today. I’ll help you tomorrow.’ This is a sin,” he said. The time given to help people now “is time given to Jesus; it is love that remains. It is our treasure in heaven, which we earn here on earth.”

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Fight hatred with love, respect for others, pope tells Nice survivors of terror attack

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — With some stoic and others sobbing, survivors and family members of the victims of the July terrorist attacks in Nice met Pope Francis during a special audience at the Vatican.

Pope Francis greets a child during a special audience with more than 80 victims of the attack in Nice, France, during a special audience Sept. 24 in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Massimiliano Migliorato, Reuters)

Pope Francis greets a child during a special audience with more than 80 victims of the attack in Nice, France, during a special audience Sept. 24 in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Massimiliano Migliorato, Reuters)

After expressing his condolences to the families of the 86 people who died and his prayers for the recovery of the more than 400 people who were injured in the attack July 14, Pope Francis greeted each and every one of the more than 800 people who traveled from France for the audience.

The group also included city and regional officials, first responders and members of the Alpes Maritimes Fraternite, a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders who have been working in Nice to promote mutual respect among different religious communities.

“To establish a sincere dialogue and fraternal relations among all people, particularly among those who confess belief in one merciful God, is an urgent priority that all leaders, both political and religious, must seek to promote and which each person is called to establish” with his or her neighbors, the pope said.

“When the temptation to turn in on oneself or to respond to hatred with hatred and violence with violence is great,” he said, “an authentic conversion of heart is necessary.”

“One can respond to the devil’s attacks only with the works of God, which are forgiveness, love and respect for one’s neighbor, even if he or she is different,” the pope said.

After apologizing that his French was not good enough, Pope Francis said it was very moving to encounter so many people “who suffer in body and soul because, on an evening of celebration, violence blindly struck you or your loved ones without regard for origin or religion.”

“May the certainty of eternal life, a belief also shared by members of other religions, be of consolation to you,” the pope said.

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Christians aren’t greater than God, must forgive as he does, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — God wants people to be merciful, which means forgiving others and giving freely with love, Pope Francis said.

“We don’t have the power to condemn our brother who makes a mistake, we are not above him. Rather we have a duty to return him to the dignity of a son of the father and to accompany him on his path of conversion,” the pope said Sept. 21 at his weekly general audience.

Pilgrims from Indonesia wave before Pope Francis arrives to lead his weekly audience Sept. 21 in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

Pilgrims from Indonesia wave before Pope Francis arrives to lead his weekly audience Sept. 21 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (CNS/Remo Casilli, Reuters)

In his talk, the pope focused on a reading from the Gospel of Luke (6:36-38) in which Jesus tells the disciples to stop judging others and be merciful just as God is.

The motto for the Year of Mercy, “Merciful Like the Father,” comes from this biblical verse, the pope said.

But more than a pithy catchphrase, the motto is a lifelong commitment to give to others the love one has received, without merit, from God, he said. It is a call to reflect upon all that God does for humanity so as to be inspired “to be like him, full of love, compassion and mercy,” he said.

But what does it mean to be merciful, the pope asked his audience. Jesus said it means to forgive and to give, he said.

Mercy is shown by forgiving and not judging and condemning, the pope said.

“A Christian must forgive,” he said. “Why? Because he was forgiven! All of us here in the square have been forgiven, not one of us never needed God’s forgiveness in life.”

“If God has forgiven me, why shouldn’t I forgive others? Am I greater than God?” the pope said, underlining that “judging and condemning one’s brother who sins is wrong.”

“Not because one doesn’t want to recognize the sin, but because to condemn the sinner breaks the bond of fraternity with him and ignores the mercy of God, who does not want to give up on any of his children.”

By asking his disciples not to condemn, “Jesus does not mean to undermine the course of human justice,” Pope Francis said, rather he shows that suspending judgment is needed to hold together a Christian community and maintain fraternal ties.

The other essential element of mercy, he said, is that it is freely giving to others because it flows from having received such abundant gifts from God.

Also, by giving to others, God will return that measure once again, showing “it is we ourselves who decide how we will be judged” after death, the pope said.

For a Christian, he said, merciful love is the only path to follow.

“We all need to be a little more merciful, to not badmouth others, not judge, not rip people apart with criticism, envy, jealousy,” he said.

By giving and forgiving, he said, one’s heart will expand with love, while selfishness and hatred will turn the heart into a hard, tiny stone.

“Which do you want?” he asked.

When people in the audience shouted “no” to having “a heart of stone” and “yes” to a heart filled with love, the pope said, “then be merciful.”

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Best way to fight terrorism is to welcome refugees, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Offering migrants and refugees truly helpful and loving hospitality is the greatest guarantee against terrorism, Pope Francis said.

The current refugee and migration crisis, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, has become “the greatest humanitarian crisis after the Second World War,” he said.

Demonstrators march Parliament in London Sept. 17 during an Amnesty International protest in support of refugees. Offering migrants and refugees truly helpful and loving hospitality is the greatest guarantee against terrorism, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

Demonstrators march Parliament in London Sept. 17 during an Amnesty International protest in support of refugees. Offering migrants and refugees truly helpful and loving hospitality is the greatest guarantee against terrorism, Pope Francis said. (CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters)

“At this place and time in history, there is great need for men and women who hear the cry of the poor and respond with mercy and generosity,” he told graduates of Jesuit schools and universities during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 17.

The alumni are members of the World Union and the European Confederation of Jesuit Alumni; they were in Rome taking part in a conference on the migration and refugee crisis.

The pope told them that with their Jesuit education and understanding of Gospel values, they can help the church “respond more fully to the human tragedy of refugees through acts of mercy that promote their integration into the European context and beyond.”

“I encourage you to welcome refugees into your homes and communities, so that their first experience of Europe is not the traumatic experience of sleeping cold on the streets, but one of warm human welcome,” he said.

“Remember that authentic hospitality is a profound Gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism,” he added.

Too many refugee children and young people lack access to education, he said, urging the alumni to work with the Jesuit Refugee Service and “put your mercy in motion” to help “build a stronger Europe and a brighter future for refugees.”

He told his audience to remember they were not alone as many church organizations and individuals were also dedicated to helping the marginalized and excluded.

“Remember that the love of God accompanies you in this work. You are God’s eyes, mouth, hands and heart in this world.”

“I urge you to help transform your communities into places of welcome where all God’s children have the opportunity not simply to survive, but to grow, flourish and bear fruit,” he said.

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Pope visits neonatal unit, hospice to highlight sanctity of life

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis donned a green hospital gown over his white cassock and entered the neonatal unit of a Rome hospital, peering in the incubators, making the sign of the cross and encouraging worried parents.

Pope Francis holds a baby as he visits the neonatal unit at San Giovanni Hospital in Rome Sept. 16. The visit was part of the pope's series of Friday works of mercy during the Holy Year. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

Pope Francis holds a baby as he visits the neonatal unit at San Giovanni Hospital in Rome Sept. 16. The visit was part of the pope’s series of Friday works of mercy during the Holy Year. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

The trip to the babies’ ward of Rome’s San Giovanni Hospital and then to a hospice Sept. 16 were part of a series of Mercy Friday activities Pope Francis has been doing once a month during the Year of Mercy.

By visiting the ailing newborns and the dying on the same day, the Vatican said, Pope Francis “wanted to give a strong sign of the importance of life from its first moment to its natural end.”

“Welcoming life and guaranteeing its dignity at every moment of its development is a teaching Pope Francis has underlined many times,” the statement said. With the September visits he wanted to put “a concrete and tangible seal” on his teaching that living a life of mercy means giving special attention to those in the most precarious situations.

During the Mercy Friday visits, Pope Francis has spent time with migrants, the aged, at a recovery community for former drug addicts and at a shelter for women rescued from human trafficking and prostitution.

Pope Francis stopped by the emergency room of San Giovanni Hospital before going to the neonatal unit, where 12 little patients were being treated. Five of the newborns, including a pair of twins, were in intensive care and were intubated, the Vatican said. The pope also went to the maternity ward and nursery upstairs, greeting new parents and holding their bundles of joy.

At the neonatal unit, the Vatican said, the pope was “welcomed by the surprised personne’” and, like everyone else, put on a gown and followed all the hygiene procedures.

Leaving the hospital, he drove across town to the Villa Speranza hospice, which hosts 30 terminally ill patients. The hospice is connected to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

Pope Francis went into each of the rooms and greeted each patient, the Vatican said. “There was great surprise on the part of all — patients and relatives — who experienced moments of intense emotion with tears and smiles of joy.”

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Pope urges Christians to believe in the ‘logic’ of the resurrection

September 16th, 2016 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to believe in the logic of the resurrection of the body and not succumb to heresies that reduce it to a mere spiritual experience, Pope Francis said.

When looking toward the future, the uncertainty about what happens after death often can lead to not understanding Christianity’s “logic of the future,” which proclaims that believers will rise will rise again in body and soul like Jesus did, the pope said Sept. 16 during a morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Read more »

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Changing canon law, pope brings Latin-rite and Eastern Catholic practices closer

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In a change to church law, Latin-rite Catholic deacons may not preside at a wedding when one or both of the new spouses are members of an Eastern Catholic church.

After more than 15 years of study and consultation, the conflicting rules have been resolved by adopting the Eastern code's formulations for the Latin church as well, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See VATICAN LETTER June 4, 2015.

After more than 15 years of study and consultation, the conflicting rules have been resolved by adopting the Eastern code’s formulations for the Latin church as well, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See VATICAN LETTER June 4, 2015.

The new rule is one of the changes to 11 canons in the Latin-rite Code of Canon law that Pope Francis approved in order to harmonize the laws of the Latin and Eastern Catholic churches on several issues involving the sacraments of baptism and marriage.

After more than 15 years of study and worldwide consultation, the conflicting rules were resolved by adopting the Eastern code’s formulations for the Latin church as well, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

The bishop spoke to journalists Sept. 15 after the publication of an apostolic letter published “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) in which Pope Francis ordered the changes to the Latin Code of Canon Law, the 1983 text governing the majority of the world’s Catholics.

In the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions, the blessing of a priest is necessary for the validity of a marriage. In the Latin-rite church, a deacon can preside over the sacrament. The new law specifies, “Only a priest can validly assist at the matrimony of two Eastern parties or between a Latin and Eastern Catholic or non-Catholic,” meaning a member of an Orthodox Church.

Bishop Arrieta said that in most cases the changes made by Pope Francis involve rules for situations that the Latin code never envisioned, but that the Code of Canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches, published in 1990, did. With the large number of Eastern Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, who have migrated to predominantly Latin territories since 1989, Latin-rite pastors need guidance, he said.

The changes regard practices for ministering not only to Eastern-rite Catholics, but also to members of the Orthodox churches when a priest of their church is not available, Bishop Arrieta said. Such ministry was foreseen in the canons of the Eastern Catholic churches, which often minister in places with a strong Orthodox presence.

“The Eastern code had a greater sensitivity in its ecumenical aspects,” the bishop said. For example, one of the Eastern canons adopted for the Latin church says that when an Orthodox priest is not available, a Catholic priest can baptize a baby whose parents are members of an Orthodox Church and plan to raise the child Orthodox.

In such a situation, Bishop Arrieta said, the baptism would not be recorded in the Catholic parish’s baptismal registry; the parents would receive a formal certificate and would register their child’s baptism later at an Orthodox parish.

The additions to the Latin Code of Canon Law also specify that Latin-rite bishops may give priests “the faculties to bless the marriage of Christian faithful from an Eastern church not in full communion with the Catholic Church if they spontaneously request it.”

The changes to the Latin code also decree that a Latin-Eastern couple are free to decide in which church to enroll their child; if they cannot agree, the child becomes a member of the father’s church. If both parents are Eastern Catholics, even if the baby is baptized in a Latin-rite parish, the baptismal registry must note that the child is an Eastern Catholic and specify the church to which it belongs.

The Eastern Catholic churches include, among others, the Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, Romanian, Maronite, Armenian, Chaldean, Syriac, Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar churches.

The Latin and Eastern codes “respect, as they must, different juridical traditions, although obviously they give the same response to essential questions regarding the faith of the church,” Bishop Arrieta wrote in an article for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Conflicting rules in the two codes were evident from the time of the publication of the Eastern canons, he said. And as more Eastern Catholics migrated to predominantly Latin Catholic lands, a need to clarify the practical matters involving baptism and marriage became clear.

The changes approved by Pope Francis, Bishop Arrieta wrote, “respond to a desire to facilitate the pastoral care of the faithful especially in the so-called diaspora where thousands of Eastern Christians who have left their homelands live amidst a Latin majority.
 

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

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Assassinated French priest joins procession of martyrs, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — To kill in the name of God is satanic, Pope Francis said at a special requiem Mass for a French priest assassinated by youths claiming allegiance to the Islamic State.

Pope Francis celebrates a memorial Mass for Father Jacques Hamel in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican Sept. 14. Father Hamel, seen in the photo on the altar, was murdered while celebrating Mass in Rouen, France, July 26; the two killers claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis celebrates a memorial Mass for Father Jacques Hamel in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican Sept. 14. Father Hamel, seen in the photo on the altar, was murdered while celebrating Mass in Rouen, France, July 26; the two killers claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Father Jacques Hamel had his throat slit on the cross, at the exact moment he was celebrating the sacrifice of Christ’s cross. A good man, meek, brotherly and who always sought to make peace, was murdered as if he were a criminal. This is the satanic line of persecution,” the pope said Sept. 14 during a morning Mass in the chapel of Casa Santa Marta.

Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen and Father Hamel’s sister, Roselyne Hamel, along with 80 pilgrims from the diocese joined Pope Francis for the Mass in memory of Father Hamel, who was killed July 26.

Two men stormed a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen while Father Hamel celebrated Mass. After taking several hostages, the attackers slit Father Hamel’s throat and seriously injured another parishioner. Following a standoff, police killed the attackers, ending the hostage situation.

Celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the pope entered the chapel dressed in a red chasuble, the color symbolizing martyrdom. He reverently bowed before the altar, where a picture of Father Hamel was placed in front of two lit candles.

Archbishop Lebrun said he had brought the photo and asked Pope Francis to sign it with a note for three religious women who had been with Father Hamel at Mass that day. The sisters care for the sick in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and were not able to join the pilgrimage to Rome.

Instead of signing the photo before Mass, the pope “immediately told me to put it on the altar,” the archbishop told reporters later. “At the end of Mass, when he was greeting everyone, he signed it and said to me, ‘You can put this photo in the church because he is “blessed” now, and if anyone says you aren’t allowed, tell them the pope gave you permission.’”

In his homily, the pope reflected on the mystery of Christ “who made himself a martyr for the salvation of men and women.”

“The history of Christian martyrdom,” he said, has continued from the first centuries until today, when “Christians are murdered, tortured, imprisoned and beheaded because they do not deny Jesus Christ.”

“In this history, we arrive to our Father Jacques. He is a part of this chain of martyrs. The Christians, who suffer today — be it in prison, in death or by torture, — for not denying Jesus Christ, show the very cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty that asks for apostasy, we can say, is Satanic,” the pope said.

Nonetheless, the pope noted, Father Hamel accepted his martyrdom and in his final moments, “did not lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly say the name of his murderer. He clearly said, ‘Be gone, Satan.’”

“This example of courage, as well as the martyrdom of his own life when he gave himself to help others, to help create brotherhood, helps us to go forward without fear,” the pope said.

Father Hamel’s sister, Roselyne, told reporters after the Mass she is convinced that neither her brother nor Pope Francis were blaming Islam for the murders. “God is love,” Roselyn said, the assassins who “killed my brother did so in the name of a god who is not the God of Islam nor the God of Christianity.”

“The assassins, I think, acted under the influence of the devil, of Satan,” Archbishop Lebrun said. When Father Hamel said, “’Be gone, Satan,’ he had already been stabbed and was on the floor. His sister immediately gave me a correct interpretation: ‘Father Jacques did not believe these young men were the origin of this evil.’”

The archbishop said that since the murder there has been an obvious increase in fear among the people of the region and priests have reported receiving dozens of phone calls asking if it is safe to go to church. “But there are more people at Mass now,” he said.

“Jesus never said it was stupid to be afraid,” Archbishop Lebrun told reporters. When he tells his disciples, “Do not be afraid,” he is telling them to acknowledge their fear and overcome it with the strength of faith.

 

Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden.

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