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Women must not be subjugated, but eliminating differences between sexes ‘isn’t right,’ pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — While societies must find a way to overcome the subjugation of women, pretending there are no differences between men and women or even using technology to change a person’s sex is not the answer, Pope Francis said.

Using science “to radically eliminate any difference between the sexes, and, as a result, the covenant between man and woman, is not right,” the pope said Oct. 5, opening the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly. Read more »

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The time of great pardon begins, pope says as holy doors open worldwide

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — With the opening the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis declared that the time for tenderness, joy and forgiveness had begun.

As holy doors around the world were opened at city cathedrals, major churches and sanctuaries Dec. 13, the pope said this simple gesture of opening God’s house to the world serves as “an invitation to joy. The time of great pardon begins. It is the Jubilee of Mercy.”

Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Dec. 13. Holy doors around the world were opened at city cathedrals, major churches and sanctuaries Dec. 13 as part of the Jubilee of Mercy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome Dec. 13. Holy doors around the world were opened at city cathedrals, major churches and sanctuaries Dec. 13 as part of the Jubilee of Mercy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Dressed in rose vestments on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, marking the joyful expectation of Christmas, the pope began the ceremony outside the basilica in front of the bronze holy door. The door depicts a bas relief of the crucified Christ looking down on Mary tenderly holding the baby Jesus, whose small foot shone like bright gold from the countless kisses and touches of visiting pilgrims.

“This is the door of the Lord. Open for me the gates of justice. I will enter your house, Lord, because of your great mercy,” the pope read solemnly before climbing two marble steps and pushing open the large door. He crossed the threshold decorated with a garland of flowers and greenery and bowed his head in silent prayer inside the darkened interior of the basilica.

The church and the people of God are called to be joyful, the pope said in his brief homily.

With Christmas approaching, “we cannot allow ourselves to become tired, no form of sadness is allowed even if we have reason for it with the many worries and multiple forms of violence that wound our humanity,” he said.

Amid the bullying, injustice and violence wrought, “above all, by men of power, God makes it known that he himself will rule his people, that he will never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders and that he will free them of all anguish,” the pope said.

People today are called to listen to the words of the prophet Zephaniah in the day’s first reading, as he told God’s people not to be afraid or discouraged “because of doubt, impatience or suffering.”

God always protects his people, he is always near, the pope said, and that is why “we must always be joyful and with our kindness offer everyone witness of the closeness and care God has for everyone.”

The Holy Year of Mercy is meant to be a time for people to rediscover God’s real presence in the world and his tenderness, he said.

“God does not love rigidity. He is father. He is gentle. He does everything with fatherly tenderness.”

As Christians are called to cross the threshold of “the door of mercy,” they are asked to welcome and experience God’s love, which “re-creates, transforms and reforms life.”

From there, people of faith must then go out and be “instruments of mercy, aware that we will be judged by this,” the pope said. Being a Christian calls for a lifelong journey and a “more radical commitment” to be merciful like God the father, he added.

Christians are asked to be joyful as they open their arms to others and give witness to “a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no limits. This is the love we are responsible for despite our contradictions,” and weaknesses, he said.

Later in the day, the pope appeared at the window of the apostolic palace to recite the noonday Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

He focused on the day’s Gospel reading according to St. Luke, in which people in the crowd, including tax collectors and soldiers, asked St. John the Baptist “What should we do?” in order to convert and become acceptable for the coming of the Lord.

St. John does not leave them waiting for an answer, the pope said, and replies with concrete instructions: to live justly, in moderation and in solidarity toward those most in need. “They are the essential values of a life that is fully human and authentically Christian,” the pope said.

The saint said to share food and clothing, do not falsely accuse others, do not practice extortion and do not collect more than the tax prescribes, which means, the pope said, “no bribes. It’s clear.”

By addressing people who held various forms of power, the prophet showed that God excludes no one from being asked to follow a path of conversion in order to be saved, not even the tax collectors, who were considered among the worst of all sinners.

God “is anxious to be merciful toward everyone and welcome everyone in the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Advent is a time of conversion and joy, he said. But today, in a world that is “assailed by so many problems, the future weighed down by the unknown and fears,” he said, people really need courage and faith to be joyful.

In fact, life lived with Christ brings the gift of solid and unshakable joy because it is rooted in knowing “the Lord is near” always.

The same morning, U.S. Cardinal James M. Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, opened that basilica’s holy door.

Pope Francis was scheduled to open the fourth and last holy door in Rome at the Basilica of St. Mary Major Jan. 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God.

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Pope Francis, opening synod on family, asks bishops for creativity and hard work, warns against pride

October 6th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Opening a two-week Synod of Bishops on the family, Pope Francis warned participants against the temptations of hypocrisy, pride and greed, urging them instead to serve the church with “freedom, creativity and hard work.”

“We can thwart God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit,” the pope said Oct. 5, during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. “The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.”

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, upon arriving for the opening session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS photoPaul Haring)

Pope Francis talks with Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, upon arriving for the opening session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 6. (CNS photoPaul Haring)

Pope Francis’ homily drew on the day’’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew (21: 33-43), in which Jesus describes the people of God as a vineyard, farmed by tenants who betray its owner and seek to take it over for themselves.

Addressing his words to the 184 bishops and 69 others who would take part in the synod, the pope said Jesus aimed his parable at the “chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the experts, the managers,” whose job it was to “nurture, tend and protect” God’s people.

“But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen,” the pope said.

“We are all sinners, and we too can be tempted to take over the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants,” the pope said.

The synod is slated to discuss a range of “pastoral challenges of the family” in preparation for a larger world synod in October 2015, which will make recommendations to the pope.

“Synod assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people,” Pope Francis said. “In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.”

One of the most discussed topics at the 2014 synod promises to be a controversial proposal by German Cardinal Walter Kasper that would make it easier for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Pope Francis has said the predicament of such Catholics exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today.

The pope alluded to that need for mercy when he said that “evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move,” a paraphrase of Jesus’ words against the hypocrisy of scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23: 4.

Prior to celebrating Mass, Pope Francis stopped briefly in the basilica to venerate the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin, which will be in the Basilica of St. Mary Major for the duration of the synod. St. Therese’s parents, who were beatified in 2008, practiced continence for the first year of their marriage but later had nine children, five of whom lived to adulthood and became nuns.

 

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