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Pope suggests three phrases to preserve romance: ‘may I?’ ‘thank you,’ ‘I’m sorry’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Greeting thousands of engaged couples on the feast of St. Valentine, Pope Francis told them not to be afraid of building a permanent and loving relationship in a culture where everything is disposable and fleeting.

A woman holds flowers and chocolates during an audience for engaged couples in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. The woman threw the flowers and chocolates to Pope Francis who caught them as he was arriving for the audience. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The secrets to a loving and lasting union, he said, include treating each other with respect, kindness and gratitude, and never letting daily struggles and squabbles sabotage making peace and saying, “I’m sorry.”

‘The perfect family doesn’t exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let’s not talk about the perfect mother-in-law!” he said to laughter and applause.

“It’s just us sinners,” he said. But “if we learn to say we’re sorry and ask forgiveness, the marriage will last.”

After a week of heavy rains, bright sunshine warmed St. Peter’s Square and the 30,000 people who gathered for an audience Feb. 14 dedicated to couples completing their marriage preparation courses and planning to be married in the church this year.

The initiative, “The Joy of ‘Yes’ Forever,” was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The council president, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, is a former bishop of Terni and successor to St. Valentine, the third-century martyred bishop of Terni.

The archbishop told the pope that the young couples in the square were evidence of how many people do want to “go against the tide” by having a love that lasts forever and is blessed by God.

Engaged couples attending the audience received a small white pillow with Pope Francis’ signature and his papal crest; the cushion has two satin ribbons for securing wedding rings during the marriage ceremony.

Three of the couples shared with the pope their thoughts and concerns about living a Christian marriage and asked for his advice.

While the pope confessed he had the questions in advance and wrote out his answers, that didn’t stop him from straying from the text to give further emphasis and examples.

“Living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and amazing journey” that “doesn’t end when you’ve won over each others’ hearts,” he said. Rather “that’s exactly when it begins.”

A healthy family life, he said, absolutely requires frequent use of three phrases: “May I? Thank you, and I’m sorry.”

People need to be more attentive to how they treat each other, he said. They must trade in their heavy “mountain boots” for greater delicacy when walking into someone else’s life.

Love isn’t tough or aggressive, he said, it’s courteous and kind, and in a world that is “often violent and aggressive, we need much more courtesy.”

Couples also need the strength to recognize when they’ve done wrong and ask forgiveness. The instinct to accuse someone else “is at the heart of so many disasters,” starting with Adam, who ate the forbidden fruit. When God asked him if he did it, the pope said, Adam immediately passes the blame saying, “‘Uh, no, it was that one over there who gave it to me!’ Accusing the other to get out of saying ‘I’m sorry and Pardon me.’”

Obviously, couples will make mistakes and fight, but “never, never, never end the day without making peace,” the pope said.

An eloquent speech isn’t necessary, he said, but things must be set right because if they aren’t, the bad feelings inside will become “cold and hard and it will be more difficult to make peace” as time goes on.

Many people can’t imagine or are afraid of a love and marriage that lasts forever because they think love is an emotional-physical feeling or state-of-being, he said. But “love is a relationship, it’s something that grows.”

The relationship needs to be taken care of every day, “entrusting yourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made step by step, tiny steps” toward greater maturity and spiritual growth, he said.

Like his miracle of multiplying the loaves, Jesus will do the same “also for you,” he said, “multiplying your love and giving it to you good and fresh every day.”

The pope also urged couples to keep their wedding ceremonies low-key, focusing more on Christ than on the dress, decorations and photographers.

A Christian marriage is a celebration, but it must highlight “what’s really important,” and “the true reason for your joy: the blessing of your love by the Lord.”

Manuela Franchini, 29, and Armando Perasole, 30, who are getting married Dec. 12, attended the event. They moved from Naples to Milan for work, and told Catholic News Service that economic and political problems in Italy make it “really hard for families. But with the church there is more hope in being able to make it.”

Robert Duncan, who is a multimedia journalist at the Catholic News Service Rome bureau, and his fiancee, Constance Daggett, were one of the handful of couples chosen to speak about their journeys of faith and love, and to meet the pope.

The two 25-year-olds became Catholics as adults and Duncan said, “The fact that we’re able to begin our marriage in the presence of the pope is a culmination of a process that has been the story of our love.”

Giovanna, an Italian woman at the event with her fiance, said they find inspiration and a model for a happy marriage in two friends of theirs who have been married for many years.

“They look at each other with the same kind of love they had the day they first met,” she said.


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Analysis: After Benedict’s resignation: A turbulent year that strengthened the papacy


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Benedict XVI announced, on Feb. 11, 2013, that he would become the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, speculation was as varied as it was excited about the long-term consequences of his historic act. But one common line of thought held that, for better or worse, his decision might leave the papacy a less exalted and powerful office, bringing the supreme pontiff closer to the level of other bishops, clergy and faithful.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI greets Pope Francis at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery at the Vatican Dec. 23, 2013. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Might the presence of two living popes inside the Vatican sow confusion over where governing authority actually lay, or, at least, dilute the prestige of the unique role of vicar of Christ? Might the precedent of resignation make it easier to drive a future pope from office, thus introducing a new kind of political pressure into the leadership of the church?

The background of Pope Benedict’s decision added to the sense of crisis. Although the 85-year-old pope said he was stepping down due to deteriorating “strength of mind and body,” it was easy to believe that a year of scandal and controversy, over leaked correspondence documenting corruption and incompetence in the Vatican, had helped convince him he was “no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

From that assumption, it was a small stretch to wonder whether the demands of the 21st-century papacy — in terms of communications, management and travel — had grown too heavy for any man, especially one as old as most popes.

When the newly elected Pope Francis stepped out on the loggia in front of St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of March 13, 2013, his words and gestures seemed to encourage predictions of a downscaled papacy. The new pontiff broke with usual practice by asking for the people’s blessing before he gave them his own, and referred to himself simply as the bishop of Rome.

Was Pope Francis signaling his intention to play a less commanding role than his predecessors, demoting himself to the status of first among episcopal equals, in a move toward some sort of democratization of the church?

The prospect of a weakened papacy may have seemed plausible in the wake of Pope Benedict’s announcement, but over the subsequent year, the world has watched his successor assert his leadership in ways that have made the office only stronger.

With his informal charisma, plain speaking and spontaneous style, Pope Francis quickly garnered colossal popularity, whether measured by record turnouts at papal events or by the intensive and almost entirely favorable coverage by secular media.

Within the Vatican, the pope has not hesitated to replace officials in key positions and launch a process leading to a major overhaul of the church’s central administration, the Roman Curia.

While Pope Francis has stressed the importance of collegiality, or consultation with his brother bishops, his institutional application of that principle has so far taken the form of the Council of Cardinals, an eight-member panel he named to advise him on reform of the Vatican bureaucracy and governance of the universal church.

By streamlining the process through which recommendations from bishops reach the pope, the council has only made it easier for him to make executive decisions in his own name, such as the establishment of a special commission on sex abuse, which he approved in December less than a day after hearing the proposal.

Pope Francis has spoken of the importance of the Synod of Bishops, but his most eloquent statement on its role may be his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” published in November in response to the October 2012 synod on the new evangelization. Previous popes have typically based such documents on a draft by synod officials, which synthesized recommendations by bishops at the gathering. Pope Francis scrapped the draft provided to him and wrote his own document, in his distinctive voice and focusing on his particular concerns.

Even the presence of the retired pope, living quietly in his successor’s shadow within the Vatican walls, has proven not a hindrance to Pope Francis but instead a major asset. Pope Francis has told reporters that he consults with his predecessor as he would with a “wise grandfather.”

No less importantly from the point of view of the faithful, the two men’s affectionate relationship has reinforced a sense of fundamental continuity between their pontificates, despite their striking stylistic differences when it comes to evangelization and celebration of the liturgy. Such reassurance is invaluable, given the pope’s essential role in preserving church unity.

For all of Pope Francis’ virtues as a leader, the strength of the office he holds today ultimately owes even more to his predecessor, who affirmed its importance in the very act of resigning. No words or gestures could have demonstrated more powerfully that the pope is not a mere figurehead, but truly the leader of 1.2 billion people around the world, than Pope Benedict’s admission that a stronger man was needed to fill the role.


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Going to Mass should be a life-changing event, pope says at audience


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist should make a difference in the way Catholics live, Pope Francis said; they should be more accepting of others and more aware of their sinfulness.

Pope Francis celebrates the Eucharist at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome last month. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“If we don’t feel in need of God’s mercy and don’t think we are sinners, it’s better not to go to Mass,” Pope Francis said Feb. 12 at his weekly general audience. The Eucharist is a celebration of Christ’s gift of himself for the salvation of sinners, which is why the Mass begins with people confessing they are sinners and begging for the Lord’s mercy.

Continuing a series of audience talks about the sacraments, the pope asked people to think about how they approach the Mass and what difference it makes in their lives and the lives of their parishes.

Do you go to Mass because it’s a habit or a time to see your friends? the pope asked. “Or is it something more?”

“When we go to Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of people,” the pope said. “Does the Eucharist we celebrate lead me to consider all of them as brothers and sisters? Does it increase my ability to rejoice when they do and to weep with those who weep?”

Pope Francis said it is not enough to say one loves Jesus; it must be shown in love for those he loved.

Ask yourself, he said, if going to Mass helps you reach out to the suffering or “am I indifferent, or am I gossiping, ‘Did you see how that one’s dressed?’ Sometimes people do that after Mass. But this shouldn’t happen.”

Attendance at Mass also should lead to “the grace of feeling forgiven and able to forgive others,” he said.

Pope Francis said he knows that some people wonder why they should bother going to church when the church is filled with people who sin like everyone else.

“In reality, those who participate in the Mass don’t do so because they think or want to believe they are superior to others, but precisely because they know they are in need” of God’s mercy, he said.

“We go to Mass because we know we are sinners and want Jesus’ forgiveness,” the pope said. “When, at the beginning of Mass, we say, ‘I confess,’ it’s not something pro forma. It’s a real act of penance.”

In the Eucharist, Jesus truly gives us his body and blood for the remission of sins, he said.

Celebrating the Eucharist also should make a difference in the way a parish community lives, he said. At Mass, Christ gathers people around him “to nourish us with his word and his life. This means that the mission and identity of the church begin and take form there.”

“A celebration could be perfect from an aesthetic point of view; it can be beautiful but if it does not lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ, it risks not giving any nourishment to our hearts and lives,” the pope said. There must be “coherence between our Eucharist and our lives.”


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One year ago, Pope Benedict XVI resigned


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In retirement, Pope Benedict XVI follows a daily schedule similar to that of any retired bishop or religious: He prays, reads, strolls, talks with people and offers them spiritual advice, the Vatican spokesman said.

Pope Benedict XVI turns away after making his final public appearance as pope in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Feb. 28. The pope blessed the people gathered in the town square after he arrived via helicopter from the Vatican. “I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth,” he told the crowd. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Although he “lives in a low-key way, without public attention, that does not mean he’s isolated or enclosed in a strict cloister,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio.

Marking the one-year anniversary of Pope Benedict’s resignation Feb. 11, Father Lombardi and Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s longtime personal secretary, spoke about the very normal daily life of a man who is in the unusual position of being a retired pope.

Archbishop Ganswein, who continues as Pope Benedict’s personal secretary while also serving Pope Francis as prefect of the papal household, summarized the retired pope’s day as filled “with prayer most of all, with study, with personal correspondence and visits.”

“The day begins with Mass, then with the breviary, followed by breakfast,” he told Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic magazine. “The morning usually is dedicated to prayer and study, to the mail and to receiving guests.”

Archbishop Ganswein and the consecrated laywomen who assist the retired pope join him for lunch at 1:30, and a nap always follows, he said. Pope Benedict spends the afternoon dealing with his correspondence and listening to music until 4 p.m., when he and the archbishop recite the rosary while walking in the garden behind the former Vatican convent where he lives. They eat dinner at 7:30 and watch the evening news at 8.

Archbishop Ganswein said Pope Benedict had told him he was retiring long before the Feb. 11 announcement, but under the strictest secrecy. “Instinctively, I said, ‘’No, Holy Father, it’s not possible,’ but I realized immediately that he wasn’t communicating something he wanted to discuss, but a decision already made.”

The archbishop said the “VatiLeaks” scandal, which saw the publication of confidential papal correspondence and internal Vatican documents, “did not cause or even influence the resignation.”

“The pope did not flee a responsibility, but was courageous” enough to realize he no longer had the strength to carry out the papal ministry, he said.

Archbishop Ganswein also confirmed that Pope Francis and Pope Benedict speak frequently on the telephone and have done so since the evening Pope Francis was elected.

“I was in the Sistine Chapel to greet the new pope and promise him obedience,” the archbishop said. “Immediately, Pope Francis asked me about Pope Benedict and said he wanted to call him. I dialed the number and handed him the telephone.”

Father Lombardi said the pope and the retired pontiff have shown the world that there was nothing to fear with having Pope Benedict live in the Vatican while a new pope reigned. “The fact is that the papacy is a service and not a power,” he said. Pope Benedict “fulfilled his service before God and in good conscience passed the witness of this service to another.”

As for Pope Benedict’s daily routine, Father Lombardi said it is that of “an elderly religious.” He said the retired pope’s guests come for conversation, for dialogue and “ask his advice and spiritual support.”


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124 Korean martyrs will be beatified


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of 124 Catholics who were killed during widespread persecution in Korea in the 18th through 19th centuries.

He also approved a decree recognizing the martyrdom of Conventual Franciscan Father Francesco Zirano, an Italian priest killed in Algeria in 1603.

The pope’s approval of the martyrdom decrees Feb. 7 opened the way for the martyrs’ beatifications on a date yet to be announced. A miracle is required before any blessed may be canonized.

The Korean cause, referred to as the cause of Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions, recognizes the sacrifices of those killed for their faith between 1791 and 1888. More than 10,000 Catholics in Korea were killed during that period, starting in 1785.

Blessed Pope John Paul II declared Paul Yun and his companions “servants of God” in 2003. He already had canonized Father Andrew Kim and 102 other Korean martyrs during a trip to South Korea in 1984.

While no date has been set for beatification of Yun and his companions, the Vatican has said it is studying the possibility of Pope Francis visiting South Korea, perhaps in mid-August to coincide with the celebration of Asian Youth Day in Daejeon.

On Feb. 7, the pope also approved three other decrees, recognizing the Mexican founder of a religious order, an Italian Franciscan priest and a Spanish nun for having lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way and declaring them “venerable.” Recognition of a miracle attributed to each candidate’s intercession is needed before beatification.


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Pope’s morning homily: A papal Mass is God’s time, not a tourist event


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — An invitation to attend Pope Francis’ early morning Mass is a hot ticket in Rome, but the pope said the Mass, in his residence or anywhere else, isn’t an event, but a time for entering into the mystery of God.

Pope Francis celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican last spring. (CNS/Catholic Press Photo flee)

“Maybe someone would say, ‘Oh, I must get to Mass at Sanctae Marthae because the pope’s morning Mass is on the Rome tourist itinerary,’” he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

Addressing those gathered for the Mass Feb. 10, he said, “All of you come here, all of us gather here to enter into a mystery, which is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is God’s cloud that envelops us all.”

Throughout history, God has spoken to his people in different ways: through prophets, priests and the Scriptures, the pope said. But the Bible also tells of special moments, “theophanies,” when God is present in a more direct way.

The Mass is one of those occasions when the Lord is present, Pope Francis said. The Mass isn’t a social occasion or even “a prayer meeting. It’s something else. In the liturgy, God is present.”

Pope Francis said that when Catholics construct a Nativity scene, pray the rosary or participate in the Stations of the Cross, they are remembering historical events, which helps them to pray.

But the Mass is something different, it’s not a re-enactment of the Last Supper, he said. “It is the Last Supper. It is living again the passion and redeeming death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”

The pope said it’s not right for people to look at their watches during Mass, “we must put ourselves there, in God’s time and space, without looking at our watches.”


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Thinking of marriage as defined by personal needs leads to divorce mentality, pope says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said contemporary ideas of marriage as an arrangement defined by personal needs promote a mentality of divorce, and he called for better preparation of engaged couples as well as ministry to Catholics whose marriages have failed.

A groom and bride hold hands on their wedding day. CNS file

The pope’s remarks appeared in a message distributed Feb. 7 to Polish bishops making “ad limina” visits to Rome to report on the state of their dioceses. Pope Francis met with the group but, as he frequently does, dispensed with reading out his prepared text.

In his message, the pope warned the bishops of some of the “new challenges” the church faces in their society, including the “idea of liberty without limits, tolerance hostile to or wary of the truth, or resentment of the church’s justified opposition to the prevailing relativism.”

“Marriage today is often considered a form of emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will,” he said. “Unfortunately this vision also influences the mentality of Christians, causing them to resort easily to divorce or de facto separation.”

Pope Francis said pastors should search for ways to minister to divorced and separated Catholics, “so that they do not feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians and the church’s solicitude for their salvation,” and help such persons keep the “faith and raise their children in the fullness of the Christian experience.”

The pope has said church law regarding marriage, divorce and separation is a topic that exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today, and that it will be a subject of discussion at this October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

In his message to the Polish bishops, the pope called for better pastoral preparation of couples engaged to be married, to highlight the “beauty of this union that, when well founded on love and responsibility, can overcome trials, difficulties (and) selfishness with mutual forgiveness, repairing what might be ruined and not falling into the trap of a throwaway mentality.”

The pope said pastors should serve as “authentic fathers and spiritual guides” to married couples, protecting them from the “threat of negative ideologies” and helping them to “become strong in God and his love.”


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Too soon for Easter: Pope Francis presented a chocolate statue of himself

February 7th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,


Pope Francis looks at a life-sized replica of himself made entirely out of chocolate in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican Feb. 5. Made of 1.5 tons of cocoa, the chocolate image was given to the pontiff during his general audience, according to Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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Happy are the ‘losers,’ the poor in spirit, pope tells young people


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The “poor in spirit,” the pure and the merciful, whom Jesus described as “blessed,” are the same people the world considers to be “losers,” Pope Francis told Catholic young people.

Pope Francis meets with young people during his visit to Sardinia last fall. CNS/Paul Haring

But Jesus offers his followers the true path to happiness, and faith in him “will allow you to expose and reject the low-cost offers and approaches all around you,” the pope said in his message for World Youth Day 2014.

The message, released Feb. 6 at the Vatican, focused on the beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pope Francis has chosen the beatitudes from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew as the themes for World Youth Day 2014-2016. This year and next, World Youth Day will be celebrated on a local level, on Palm Sunday at the Vatican, and in 2016 it will be an international gathering in Krakow, Poland.

The pope told young people that in April, he will canonize Blessed John Paul II, who began the international celebrations and will be “the great patron of the World Youth Days.”

“To be blessed means to be happy,” the pope said. “In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and thinking small when it comes to the meaning of life.

“Think big instead,” he told young people. “Open your hearts.”

“Young people who choose Christ are strong: They are fed by his word and they do not need to stuff themselves” with money, possessions and fleeting pleasure, the pope said.

“Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy,” he said.

Explaining how true happiness includes being “poor in spirit,” the pope said he knew it seemed strange to link happiness and poverty.

But, he said, in the Bible being poor isn’t just about having few material possessions. “It suggests lowliness, a sense of one’s limitations and existential poverty. The ‘anawim’ (God’s poor) trust in the Lord, and they know they can count on him.”

The pope said his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, “understood perfectly the secret of the beatitude” and demonstrated that by living “in imitation of Christ in his poverty and in love for the poor.”

To be poor in spirit, the pope told young people, they must learn to be free or detached from material things, living simply, being concerned about the essentials, but “learning to do without all those unneeded extras.”

Poverty in spirit also requires “a conversion in the way we see the poor,” which means meeting them, listening to them, caring for them and offering them both material and spiritual assistance, he said.

Living according to the beatitude also means recognizing that the poor “have much to offer us and to teach us,” particularly that “people’s value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank.”

Looking to Mary, particularly in the Magnificat, the pope told young people, “the joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God.”

The text of Pope Francis’ message in English is available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/youth/documents/papa-francesco_20140121_messaggio-giovani_2014_en.html.


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Don’t skip Sunday Mass, Pope Francis says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — It’s so important to go to Mass every Sunday because that’s where people receive Christ who saves, forgives and unites everyone to his father, church and each other, Pope Francis said.

It’s also “important that children are well prepared for first Communion because … after baptism and confirmation it is the first step toward belonging strongly, really strongly, to Jesus Christ,” he said Feb. 5 at his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Feb. 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope continued a series of talks on the sacraments of Christian initiation, focusing on the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life of the church.

“In fact, every authentic journey of faith, communion and witness springs from this sacrament of love,” he said.

The pope began his audience talk by greeting the estimated 13,000 people huddled under umbrellas and raincoats as heavy rain beat down on St. Peter’s Square.

“Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning, but not good day, huh? It’s a bit nasty,” he said.

The pope also prayed, at the end of the audience, for all those in Tuscany and Rome affected by severe flooding caused by days of heavy rain.

To help visiting pilgrims who were ill or with disabilities and their caregivers keep warm and dry in the bad weather, the pope said he had them go indoors to the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall to watch the audience on the big screens set up inside.

The pope arrived about 25 minutes later than his usual start time in the square because, as he later explained, he first had gone to greet those pilgrims seated inside the hall.

In his catechesis, Pope Francis said that by celebrating the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, “we participate in the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.”

“By making himself broken bread for us, the Lord Jesus pours out to us all of his mercy and his love, renewing our heart, our existence and our way of relating to him and our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Taking part in the Eucharist “conforms us in a unique and profound way to Christ,” he said, granting Christians a foretaste of full communion with God in heaven, “where with all the saints we will have the unimaginable joy of contemplating God face to face.”

“We will never thank the Lord enough for the gift he gave us with the Eucharist,” the pope said.

“It’s such a great gift and that’s why it’s so important to go to Mass on Sundays,” he said.

Mass is a time “not just to pray, but to receive Communion, this bread that is the body of Christ that saves us, forgives us, reunites us to the father. It’s beautiful to do this.”

Mass on Sundays is particularly important, he said, because “it is the day of the resurrection of the Lord, and with the Eucharist we feel our own belonging to the church, to the people of God, to the body of God, to Jesus Christ.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis met and spoke briefly with Lidia Guerrero, the mother of Victor Saldano, an Argentine national who has been on death row in Texas since 1996. Guerrero was accompanied by a representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which is active in the fight against the death penalty.

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