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Pope Francis saddened by ‘perfect’ Catholics who scorn others

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — God did not choose perfect people to form his church, but rather sinners who have experienced his love and forgiveness, Pope Francis said.

The Gospel of Luke’s account of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman shows how his actions went against the general mentality of his time, a way of thinking that saw a “clear separation” between the pure and impure, the pope said Aug. 9 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis blesses a woman during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 9 . (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis blesses a woman during his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 9 . (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“There were some scribes, those who believed they were perfect,” the pope said. “And I think about so many Catholics who think they are perfect and scorn others. This is sad.”

Continuing his series of audience talks about Christian hope, the pope reflected on Jesus’ “scandalous gesture” of forgiving the sinful woman.

The woman, he said, was one of many poor women who were visited secretly even by those who denounced them as sinful.

Although Jesus’ love toward the sick and the marginalized “baffles his contemporaries,” it reveals God’s heart as the place where suffering men and women can find love, compassion and healing, Pope Francis said.

“How many people continue today in a wayward life because they find no one willing to look at them in a different way, with the eyes, or better yet, with the heart of God, meaning with hope,” he said. But “Jesus sees the possibility of a resurrection even in those who have made so many wrong choices.”

Oftentimes, the pope continued, Christians become accustomed to having their sins forgiven and receiving God’s unconditional love while forgetting the heavy price Jesus paid by dying on the cross.

By forgiving sinners, Jesus doesn’t seek to free them from a guilty conscience, but rather offers “people who have made mistakes the hope of a new life, a life marked by love,” the pope said.

The church is a people formed “of sinners who have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of God,” Pope Francis said. Christians are “all poor sinners” who need God’s mercy, “which strengthens us and gives us hope.”

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Morality and ethics must guide medical research, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Moral and ethical concerns must guide medical research so it will always be at the service of protecting human life and dignity, Pope Francis said.

In that way, education and research can strive “to serve higher values, such as solidarity, generosity, magnanimity, sharing of knowledge, respect for human life, and fraternal and selfless love,” he said April 29, during an audience with people taking part in a conference on adult stem cell research.

Pope Francis greets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden after both spoke at a conference on adult stem cell research at the Vatican April 29. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis greets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden after both spoke at a conference on adult stem cell research at the Vatican April 29. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Research, whether in academia or industry,” he said, “requires unwavering attention to moral issues if it is to be an instrument which safeguards human life and the dignity of the person.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance and had addressed the conference with a 29-minute speech on the need to invest in prevention, access and affordability in the fight against cancer.

The conference looked at current and experimental techniques in using adult stem cells to fight disease, specifically rare illnesses afflicting children. The April 28-30 conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture; its foundation, STOQ, which is an acronym for Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest; and the Stem for Life Foundation, a nonprofit offshoot of the for-profit Caladrius cell-therapy company.

Speaking to participants gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, the pope highlighted the conference’s emphasis on top-notch medical know-how without overlooking the “ethical, anthropological, social and cultural questions, as well as the complex problem of access to care for those afflicted by rare conditions.”

People struck by rare diseases “are often not given sufficient attention because investing in them is not expected to produce substantial economic returns,” the pope said.

The pope repeated his call against “an economy of exclusion and inequality that victimizes people when the mechanism of profit prevails over the value of human life.”

“This is why the globalization of indifference must be countered by the globalization of empathy” so that resources will be dedicated to finding cures and people will be allowed access to treatment, he said.

“We know that we cannot always find fast cures to complex illnesses, but we can be prompt in caring for these people, who often feel abandoned and ignored,” he said. People must be sensitive to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs, social standing or cultural background, he said.

In his speech, delivered before the pope arrived, Biden spoke about the attention and comfort he felt when the pope met him and his family privately during the papal visit to the United States in September.

Biden lost his 46-year-old son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015. The vice president said that during the private meeting in an airplane hangar in Philadelphia, the pope’s words, prayers and presence “provided us with more comfort than even he, I think, will ever understand.”

Biden, a parishioner at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church in Greeneville, Del., said his family, like many others around the world, have seen “how faith can turn loss into hope, and hope into action.”

“The Holy Father has given hope to so many people, of all faiths, in every part of the world, with his strong words and humble ways,” he said.

Biden spoke about the U.S. administration’s “Moonshot,” an initiative he leads and which is aimed at eliminating cancer through prevention, including from environmental causes, and greater access to healthcare and affordable treatment. “The best medicine and treatment can’t belong only to the privileged and the powerful. It has to belong to everyone,” he said.

“Cancer is a constant emergency,” Biden said, as it causes the deaths of 3,000 people a day in the United States.

He urged researchers and scientists to share and publish data and discoveries “immediately,” and not hide it for years behind “paywalls.”

 

 

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Families need fathers, Pope Francis says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Every family needs a father, a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children and offers them firm guidance and love, Pope Francis said. Being a father is not easy since it takes lots of patience and grace, he said.

Pope Francis is greeted by people as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Pope Francis is greeted by people as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 4. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

“But what consolation, what a reward one receives when the children honor this legacy. It is a joy that more than makes up for the hard work, that overcomes every misunderstanding and heals every wound,” the pope said at his general audience Feb. 4. In a series of talks on the family, the pope continued the second part of his reflection on the role of fathers.

While his last audience talk looked at the risks and problems caused by fathers who are absent or fail their family, the day’s talk focused on the importance and dignity of fatherhood. Speaking to some 7,000 people gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope spelled out the essential, but demanding, things it takes to be a good father.

The most important is being present, first by being by his wife’s side “to share everything, joy and pain, hard work and hope” and by being there for his children as they grow, he said. A father is there for his kids “when they play and when they work hard, when they are playful and when they are distressed, when they are communicative and when they are taciturn, when they are daring and when they are afraid, when they have strayed and when they have found their way again,” he said.

However, being present “is not the same as being controlling, you know, because fathers who are too controlling suffocate their children and don’t let them grow,” the pope said. A father knows how to firmly correct children’s mistakes without demeaning or demoralizing them, as well as protect them at all costs, the pope said. Guidance does not come from a father who is “weak, yielding and a softie,” he said.

When it comes to corporal punishment, the pope talked about how one father he knew explained his approach when the father admitted “‘sometimes I have to hit my kids a bit, but never on their face so as not to humiliate them.’” The pope praised the man’s respect for the kids’ dignity as he understood the need to punish in a way that was “just” with the ability to “move forward.”

But a good father also knows how to forgive sincerely from the heart and be patient and merciful, like the father in the Gospel account of the prodigal son, he said.

“How much dignity and how much tenderness in that father who is waiting by the door,” waiting for the child who has strayed, he said. “Yes, fathers must be patient. So many times there’s nothing left to do but wait, pray and wait with patience, tenderness, magnanimity and mercy.”

A parent finds pride not in having the child “be the same as me, who repeats what I say and what I do,” but when the child has received the wisdom and values that really matter in life. The father will have formed his children’s heart to know on their own what is right and wrong and to feel, speak and act with wisdom and integrity, the pope said.

He said a wise and mature father will be able to say to his children after they’ve grown: “I taught you things that you didn’t know, I corrected errors that you did not see. I let you feel an affection that was both deep and discreet that perhaps you did not fully recognize when you were young and unsure. I gave you witness of rigor and willpower that perhaps you did not understand when you just wanted complicity and protection.”

The good father tempers his emotions and digs deep to find the right words to make himself understood as well as accept the burden of those inevitable misunderstandings, he said. The father will say to his grown children as they have children of their own, “‘When I see that you try to be this way with your kids and with everyone, I am deeply moved. I am happy to be your father.’”

The pope said that without God and his grace, “fathers lose their courage and walk off the field. But children need to find a father who is waiting for them when they return from their failures. They will do everything not to admit it, not to show it, but they need this, and not finding him opens up in them wounds that are difficult to heal.”

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