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God created human beings to love and be loved, pope says

October 30th, 2017 Posted in Vatican News

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VATICAN CITY — God’s “dream” for human beings is that they would know they are loved by him, that they would love him in return and that they would love one another, Pope Francis said.

“In fact, we were created to love and be loved,” the pope said Oct. 29 before reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square. Read more »

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Pope says space station crew like a ‘tiny U.N.’ with peaceful diversity

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — One perk that comes with floating aboard the International Space Station is NASA arranges for occasional calls with celebrities to keep the astronauts’ spirits high during their monthslong flights.

Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican to astronauts aboard the International Space Station Oct. 26. The pope connected for about 25 minutes to astronauts 250 miles above the earth. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Before his first space mission began this year, Catholic astronaut Mark Vande Hei of Falls Church, Virginia, requested a call from Pope Francis, and Oct. 26 his wish upon a star came true.

The pope linked up live from the Vatican with the six-man crew as they orbited 250 miles above Earth.

“Good morning, good evening,” the pope told the crew at 3 p.m. Rome time “because when you are in space, you never know” what the real time is.

During their 20-minute link-up, Pope Francis asked five questions about how their unique perspective from the frontier of the universe has changed or enriched them and what lessons they could share with people back on Earth.

Saying society today is very individualistic, but what is needed is collaboration, the pope asked them how the ISS is an example of that collaboration.

Flight engineer Joseph Acaba of Inglewood, California, said it is the diversity of each individual that makes the team stronger.

“We need to embrace who we are as individuals and respect those around us, and by working together we can do things much greater than we could do as individuals,” he told the pope.

Pope Francis said they were like a tiny United Nations, in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Thanking them for their work, he said they were “representatives of the whole human family” working on such an important project in space.

When the pope asked what brought them joy during their long mission, Commander Randolph Bresnik from Fort Knox, Kentucky, told the pope that it was being able to see every day “God’s creation maybe a little bit from his perspective.”

Bresnik, a Baptist, said, “People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our earth and not be touched in their souls.” His fellow crewmembers were also Christians: two Russian Orthodox and three Catholics.

“We see the peace and serenity of our planet as it goes around 10 kilometers (six miles) a second, and there are no borders, there is no conflict, it’s just peaceful,” Bresnik said. “And you see the thinness of the atmosphere and it makes you realize how fragile our existence here is.”

The commander said he hoped the beautiful images they capture from space and their example as international crewmembers successfully working together would be an inspiration and a model for the rest of the world.

The pope said he was struck by Bresnik’s awareness of the fragility of the earth and humanity’s capacity to destroy it, but also the hope and inspiration the astronauts could feel.

When asked by the pope what has surprised them most about living in the ISS, Vande Hei said it was how differently things looked from such a unique perspective. He said it was also “unsettling” to be in constant rotation and have to orient himself by deciding himself what was “up” or “down.”

“This is truly human thing, the ability to decide,” the pope replied.

When asked what made them want to become astronauts, Russian flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy said his grandfather was his biggest inspiration because he had been the chief engineer on the Soviet team that built Sputnik, the first artificial satellite successfully launched into earth’s orbit. “So for me, it is a great honor to continue what he was doing to fulfill his dreams,” said Ryazanskiy.

After Pope Francis asked for their thoughts about Dante Alighieri’s verse in the Divine Comedy that love was the force that “moves the sun and the stars,” Russian flight engineer Alexander Misurkin said only love gives you the strength to give yourself for others.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli said he hoped that someday people like the pope, “not just engineers, physicists,” but poets, theologians, philosophers and writers “can come here to space, which will certainly be (the case) in the future, I would like for them to be able to come here to explore what it means to have a human being in space.”

It was the second time a pope has called ISS crewmembers; Pope Benedict XVI spoke with 12 astronauts in 2011, praising them for their courage and commitment and for their comments on how science can contribute to the pursuit of peace and the protection of a fragile planet.

Nespoli was present on the ISS for both calls. Among the small number of personal possessions the devout Catholic is allowed onboard, he keeps a prayer card of St. Padre Pio and an olive branch he received from Pope Francis as a reminder of the importance of taking care of earth “our common home.”

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Church must welcome people living with disabilities, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church must be welcoming and creative in finding ways to not let people’s physical, psychological or intellectual limitations keep them from encountering God, Pope Francis said.

“The church cannot be ‘mute’ or ‘tone deaf’ when it comes to the defense and promotion of people with disabilities,” he told differently abled individuals, their families and pastoral workers and professionals who work with them.

Pope Francis greets a French nun with Down Syndrome during an audience with catechists and people with disabilities at the Vatican Oct. 21. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Words and gestures of outreach and welcoming must never be missing from any church community, so that everyone, particularly those whose journey in life is not easy, can encounter the risen Lord and find in that community “a source of hope and courage,” he said Oct. 21.

The pope spoke during an audience with 450 people taking part in a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The gathering Oct. 20-22 was dedicated to sharing best practices in engaging and catechizing persons living with disabilities, a topic Pope Francis had specifically asked the council to look into, conference organizers told Catholic News Service.

Fortunately, the pope told the group, there has been progress over the past decades in recognizing the rights and dignity of all people, especially those who are more vulnerable, leading to “courageous positions on inclusion” so that “no one feels like a stranger.”

However, attitudes that are often “narcissistic and utilitarian” still abound, marginalizing people with disabilities and overlooking their human and spiritual gifts, he said.

Also still too pervasive is an attitude of refusal of any potentially debilitating condition, believing it would be an obstacle to happiness or the full realization of oneself, he said.

It’s an attitude, the pope said, that is seen in today’s “eugenic tendencies to kill unborn children who display some form of imperfection.”

But “in reality, all of us know many people who, even with their serious frailties, have found, even with difficulty, the path of a good life, rich in meaning,” he said, and “we know people who are outwardly perfect” yet full of despair.

“It’s a dangerous deception to believe in being invulnerable,” he said, since vulnerability is part of the essence of being human.

Two participants from the United States, who were part of the conference organizing committee, and a father of a young woman with Down syndrome told CNS that the usual approach of “special programs” for people with particular needs should change because they can become a form of segregation.

For example, Sister Kathleen Schipani recalled how dark and lonely it was going to an empty school late every Wednesday night for a parish program meant for children with disabilities.

Sister Schipani, who leads the office for persons with disabilities and the deaf apostolate at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the model they are pursuing is to have one parish religious education program for everyone, but with options for smaller breakout groups, one-on-one instruction or other methods that can address individuals’ particular needs.

Janice Benton, executive director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability based in Washington, D.C., said too much focus on providing special programs also has meant some people get turned away from their neighborhood parish because the church doesn’t have a program accommodating a specific disability.

“The first thing is welcome the person,” she said, and speak with them; the church is more than a collection of programs, it’s about relationships with each other and with God. “It’s not so much having the skills or having the professionals, it’s knowing the person and then just an ordinary way of expressing how they belong to the church” in catechetical formation, participating in the liturgy in some way or parish activities, said Sister Schipani, a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Also, a policy for creating media should be that it is planned from the start with everyone in mind, so that a video, for example, has both visual captions and audio narration since digital platforms “can get less accessible” if they rely too much on one style or format, said Benton.

Not only do people with disabilities miss out on support and the sacraments, the whole church community loses by not including their differently abled brothers and sisters in Christ, said Blase Brown, whose 31-year-old daughter, Bridget Mary, runs ButterfliesForChange.org and is a public speaker about life with Down syndrome.

“The gifts she has to share, particularly at the level of her faith” he said, are “an untapped, beautiful” resource. The question he always asks, he said, is why don’t dioceses put more focus on “how day-to-day parish life, religious education, schools, liturgy” can include people with various disabilities rather than come up with activities that sideline them.

Being together, he said, is “the highest level of respect.”

There might be some disruption or distraction when people with disabilities are more widely welcomed, he said, just like when a baby cries from the pews. “This is who we are, we are people. This is living. This is life. Everybody belongs at the table and sometimes somebody is going to be disruptive and you deal with it,” said Brown, who lives in the Diocese of Joliet, Ill.

Sister Schipani said priests can make all the difference by setting the tone and the example for the rest of the parish. Priests can talk from the pulpit and parish bulletins can explain about being welcoming, patient and comfortable with families with children and adults with disabilities. Ushers, too, can help by “modeling really wonderful ways of welcoming and including and giving people choices” about seating arrangements, she added.

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Starving children are victims of human greed, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Thousands of starving children around the world today are innocent victims sacrificed upon the altar of the god of money because of humanity’s greed and attachment to wealth, Pope Francis said.

In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta Oct. 23, Pope Francis said the day’s Gospel reading of the parable

Pope Francis said Oct. 23 that starving children around the world are victims of humanity’s greed and attachment to wealth. Above, a mother feeds her child with a peanut-based paste for treatment of severe acute malnutrition  in Juba, South Sudan. South Sudan’s Catholic bishops asked for the world’s help to prevent  starvation that threatens the lives of more than 5 million people. (CNS photo/Siegfried Modola, Reuters)

of the rich man who stores up treasure for himself “isn’t a fairy tale that Jesus invented; it is today’s reality.”

“Let us think about just one case: 200,000 Rohingya children in refugee camps. There are 800,000 people there; 200,000 are children. They barely have food to eat, are malnourished, without medicine. Even today this happens. This isn’t something the Lord said long ago. No, it is today!” the pope said.

The Rohingya, a mostly Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar, have been fleeing the country for Bangladesh. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit both countries in late November.

Like the rich man in the day’s Gospel parable, he said, people today often focus solely on accumulating their wealth “in that movement of exasperated consumerism,” believing it will “prolong their lives.”

“So many people live only for this and life has no meaning,” he said. “They do not know what it means to be rich in what matters to God.”

The thirst for money and earthly goods, Pope Francis said, continues in today’s world where “starving children who do not have medicine, education and are abandoned” become unwitting victims to “an idolatry that kills, that makes human sacrifices.”

Christians have the duty to pray not only so that God may “touch the hearts of those people who worship money,” but also that they would not fall into that idolatry of money, rather that they would seek the true wealth that comes from God, the pope said.

“That is the only path. Wealth, but in God. And it isn’t a contempt for money. No, it is about greed,” Pope Francis said. “To live attached to the god of money.”

     

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Being Christian means being missionary, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Catholics must make a real effort to share the Gospel with all people, fighting “the recurring temptation” that leads some to focus only on internal church matters or to be pessimistic about evangelization efforts, Pope Francis wrote.

Nuns listen intently as Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square Oct. 22 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“May the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervor and instill trust and hope in everyone,” he wrote in a letter encouraging preparations for an “extraordinary missionary month” to be celebrated in October 2019.

The Vatican released the letter Oct. 22, World Mission Sunday, as Pope Francis was reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“I exhort everyone to live the joy of mission by witnessing to the Gospel in the areas where they live and work,” Pope Francis said. “At the same time, we are called to support with affection, concrete aid and prayer the missionaries who have set off to proclaim Christ to those who still do not know him.”

The pope told visitors in the square, “It is my intention to promote an extraordinary missionary month in October 2019 with the goal of increasing the passion for the church’s evangelizing activity ‘ad gentes,’” a phrase meaning “to the nations” and used to describe missionary activity focused on people who still have not heard the Gospel.

The special missionary month will coincide with the centennial of a major document on missionary activity issued by Pope Benedict XV. “In 1919, in the wake of a tragic global conflict (World War I) that he himself called a ‘useless slaughter,’ the pope (Benedict XV) recognized the need for a more evangelical approach to missionary work in the world, so that it would be purified of any colonial overtones and kept far away from the “nationalistic and expansionistic aims that had proved so disastrous,” Pope Francis wrote.

The document, and the Second Vatican Council 50 years later, emphasized how missionary activity is essential to the life of the church, Pope Francis said. And St. John Paul II noted how Christians’ mission to spread the Gospel could be seen as having just begun.

To be Christian is to be missionary, he insisted. It “can no longer be enough” simply to try to keep one’s parish or diocese going.

“Let us not fear to undertake, with trust in God and great courage, a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation,” the pope wrote.

Pope Francis prayed that the centennial of Pope Benedict’s document and the extraordinary mission month would “serve as an incentive to combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past.”

“In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict,” he prayed that Gospel hope would be shared and spread all over the world.

     

 

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In letter to Cardinal Sarah, pope clarifies new translation norms

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is not to “impose” a specific liturgical translation on bishops’ conferences, but rather is called to recognize the bishops’ authority and expertise in determining the best way to faithfully translate Latin texts into their local languages, Pope Francis said in a letter to Cardinal Robert Sarah.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The pope wrote to Cardinal Sarah Oct. 22 that the Vatican is not to “impose” a specific liturgical translation norm on bishops’ conferences. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

In the letter, released by the Vatican Oct. 22, Pope Francis said he wanted to correct several points made in a “commentary,” which Cardinal Sarah sent him and which was published on several websites in a variety of languages.

Cardinal Sarah is prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The pope’s letter noted that most of the websites “erroneously” cited Cardinal Sarah as the author of the commentary.

The commentary looked at changes Pope Francis made to the Code of Canon Law in the process for approving liturgical translations. The changes were ordered in the pope’s document, “Magnum Principium” (“The Great Principle”), which was published Sept. 9 and went into effect Oct. 1.

Pope Francis, saying he wanted to “avoid any misunderstanding,” insisted the commentary could give an erroneous impression that the level of involvement of the congregation remained unchanged.

However, while in the past “the judgment regarding the fidelity to the Latin and the eventual corrections necessary was the task of the congregation,” the pope said, “now the norm concedes to episcopal conferences the faculty of judging the worth and coherence of one or another term in translations from the original, even if in dialogue with the Holy See.”

The commentary attributed to Cardinal Sarah insisted on the ongoing validity of the norms for translation contained in “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the congregation’s 2001 instruction on translations.

But Pope Francis, in his letter, said the changes to canon law take precedence, and “one can no longer hold that translations must conform in every point to the norms of ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’ as was done in the past.”

The texts for Mass and other liturgies must receive a confirmation from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the pope said, but this “no longer supposes a detailed, word by word examination, except in obviously cases that can be presented to the bishops for further reflection.”

Pope Francis also wrote to the cardinal that the “fidelity” called for in translations has three layers: “first, to the original text; to the particular language into which it is being translated; and, finally, to the intelligibility of the text” by the people.

The new process, the pope said, should not lead “to a spirit of ‘imposition’ on the episcopal conferences of a translation done by the congregation,” but should promote cooperation and dialogue.

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Vatican Letter: Pope Francis’ pro-life challenge: Respect all life, oppose death penalty

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ recent statement that the death penalty is incompatible with the Gospel focused less on a government’s role in protecting its people and more on the need to defend the sacredness and dignity of every human life. Read more »

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Pope: Catholics, Methodists can strengthen each other through shared witness of faith

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Catholics and Methodists can strengthen each other through a shared witness of faith, especially through acts of love toward the poor and the marginalized, Pope Francis said.

The mutual call to holiness shared by both communities “is necessarily a call to communion with others, too,” the pope said Oct. 19. Read more »

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R E S P E C T — Don’t just tolerate other religions, Vatican officials say

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Peace and harmony will not result from members of different religions simply tolerating each other; respect and appreciation of customs and cultural diversity is required, top Vatican officials said in a message to the world’s Hindus.

Hindu women pray for peace Oct. 1 at the Sri Bunar Maha Shiva Hindu temple in Yangon, Myanmar. Peace and harmony will not result from members of different religions simply tolerating each other; respect and appreciation of customs and cultural diversity is required, top Vatican officials said in a message to the world’s Hindus. (CNS photo/Nyein Chan Naing, EPA)

“Respect creates space for every person and nurtures within us a sense of feeling at home with others. Rather than dividing and isolating, respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family,” said the message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, respectively the president and secretary of the pontifical, extended their best wishes to the world’s 1.1 billion Hindus for the feast of Diwali, a three-day religious festival, which was to begin Oct. 19 in most parts of the world. The festival focuses on the victory of truth over lies, light over darkness, life over death and good over evil.

The path to mutual respect between communities has no room for intolerance, which spawns “violence in many parts of the world,” the message said. Thus, a true culture of respect is required for peacemaking and harmonious living between communities.

“We are challenged then to go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity,” said the Vatican officials.

The message to Hindus was released Oct. 16 at the Vatican.

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Risky papal behavior? Pope Francis calls interviews ‘a risk I want to take’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Replying to questions and giving interviews are a “pastoral risk” Pope Francis said he is prepared to take, because it is the best way to know and respond to people’s real concerns.

“I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I want to take,” the pope wrote in the introduction to a new book collecting transcripts of question-and-answer sessions he has held all over the world.

Pope Francis gestures during a general audience talk last month in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The collection in Italian, “Adesso Fate le Vostre Domande” (“Now, Ask Your Questions”), was edited by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and scheduled for release Oct. 19. The pope’s introduction was published Oct. 17 in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“I want a church that knows how to enter into people’s conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote.

The model is the Gospel account of the risen Lord’s meeting with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “The Lord interviews the disciples who are walking discouraged,” he said. “For me, the interview is part of this conversation the church is having with men and women today.”

The interviews and Q & A sessions “always have a pastoral value,” Pope Francis said, and are an important part of his ministry, just like inviting a small group of people to his early morning Mass each day.

The chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives, “is, let’s say, my parish. I need that communication with people.”

And, in interviews, the journalists often ask the questions that are on the minds of the faithful, he said.

The most regular appointment he has for responding to questions is on the flights back to Rome from his foreign trips when he holds a news conference with the journalists who travel with him.

“There, too, on those trips, I like to look people in the eye and respond to their questions sincerely,” he wrote. “I know that I have to be prudent, and I hope I am. I always pray to the Holy Spirit before I start listening to the questions and responding.”

His favorite interviews, he said, are with small, neighborhood newspapers and magazines. “There I feel even more at ease,” the pope said. “In fact, in those cases I really am listening to the questions and concerns of common people. I try to respond spontaneously, in a conversation I hope is understandable, and not with rigid formulas.”

“For me,” he said, “interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson.”

Even when the questions are submitted in advance, the pope said he does not prepare his answers. Watching the person ask the question and responding directly is important.

“Yes, I am afraid of being misinterpreted,” he said. “But, I repeat, I want to run this pastoral risk.”

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