Home » Posts tagged 'St. John Paul II'

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

By

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 »

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

Dolan: Honesty about church’s flaws might win back fallen-away members

By

Catholic News Service

NEW ORLEANS — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan suggested to more than 400 priests of the state of Louisiana that humbly and openly sharing the “wounds” and shortcomings of the church might bring those who are alienated back to the practice of the faith.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond share a light moment Sept. 19 before Cardinal Dolan delivered the opening address at the Louisiana Priests’ Convention in New Orleans. More than 430 priests attended the three-day conference, the largest attendance in the conference’s history. (CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald)

Using the image of the church as “our supernatural family, which we, as priests, are called to image,” Cardinal Dolan told the opening session of the three-day Louisiana Priests’ Convention that human weakness has been a part of the church from the beginning.

“The church is not just our family, it’s also a dysfunctional family,” he said Sept. 19 during what is one of the largest statewide gatherings of priests in the U.S. “Everybody today talks about dysfunctional families. Have you ever met a functional one?”

Cardinal Dolan, who spoke on the theme of “Shepherding Today as Priest, Prophet and King,” said in the jubilee year of 2000, St. John Paul II “apologized publicly” 54 times for “the specific sins of the church.”

“That’s more than once a week,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And Pope Francis surely has done so.”

The cardinal said while the world is “ever ready to headline the flaws of the church,” the dynamic changes when “her loyal members are more than willing to own up to them.”

If that happens, people estranged from the church “might just take a second look,” he said.

“Their favorite caricature of the church is as a corrupt, arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental hypocrite,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I sure don’t have any problem admitting that, at times, it can be tough to love the church because of her imperfections. The mystical body of Christ has lots of warts.”

However, Cardinal Dolan noted, it is clear from the Acts of the Apostles, in particular the conversion of St. Paul, that “Jesus Christ and his church are inseparable.”

When Saul was blinded and knocked off his horse on his way to Damascus, Cardinal Dolan said, the voice he heard was, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“He didn’t say, ‘Why do you persecute my people?’ Nope. ‘My followers?’ Nope. ‘My disciples?’ Nope. To be rather blunt, Jesus and his church are the same. Christ and his church are one. Jesus Christ and his church are synonymous,” the cardinal continued.

“My brother priests, as we consider the priesthood, preserving the unity of Christ and his church is perhaps the most significant pastoral challenge we shepherds face today,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I’m not telling you anything (new) – you’re all on the front lines. The dominant opinion and sentiment that we face today is, ‘We want Christ; we want nothing to do with that stupid church.’”

A YouTube video by evangelical Jefferson Bethke, “Why I hate religion but love Jesus,” “went viral with 27 million views” because of that sentiment, he said.

“Such is the popular and the successful crusade now to annul the spousal bond between Christ and his bride, the church,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We hear this all the time, right? ‘I prefer spirituality to religion; I want the Lord as my shepherd, as long as I’m the only one there; I want Christ as my king in a kingdom of one; I’ll believe, I won’t belong; God is my father, and I’m the only child; Jesus is my general, but there’s no army.’ They want Christ without his church.”

Cardinal Dolan said Pope Francis has made it clear that a Christian cannot be “a nomad” but is someone who “belongs to a people, the church. A Christian without a church is something purely idealistic.”

“We live in a world that often considers belief in God a private hobby, at best, a dangerous ideology, at worst,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The church is considered superstitious, irrational, backwards, useless, counterproductive, out of it. So, what do we do, my fellow museum pieces?”

Cardinal Dolan suggested to the 435 priests that they evangelize by developing “a theology and a practice of the church as a family.” He said it’s not a new idea; it’s one that also resonate with the Jewish community, which is experiencing similar challenges of keeping young people within the practice of their faith.

Cardinal Dolan said the late New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin once wrote: “We Catholics might not be very good at being members of the church, but we never leave. We’re all just one chest pain away from going back.”

“Not anymore, I’m afraid,” Cardinal Dolan said. “I don’t know about you, but every time the Pew Research Center puts out a new study, every time CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) announces more statistics, I, as a priest, a shepherd, a prophet and a king, hold my breath because the percentage of people who claim to be ex-Catholic or ‘none’ rises a couple of points.”

If people with a cynical or jaded view of the church experience priests who “prize honesty and humility” and are “contrite and eager” to reform the flaws of the church, then they may begin to view the church as “a warm, tender, inviting family.”

“If we’re not afraid as priests to show our wounds — the wounds of the church, the wounds of our family — maybe the other wounded will come back,” Cardinal Dolan said.

     

Finney is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Comments Off on Dolan: Honesty about church’s flaws might win back fallen-away members

Legacy of 1986 interfaith peace gathering in Assisi lingers

By

Catholic News Service

ASSISI, Italy — Religious leaders celebrating the 30th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s Assisi interfaith peace gathering in 1986 called on people from around the world to continue its legacy to combat today’s indifference and violence.

The stage is prepared for an interfaith peace gathering outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Sept. 19. Pope Francis will attend the Sept. 20 peace gathering marking the 30th anniversary of the first such gathering in Assisi. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The stage is prepared for an interfaith peace gathering outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Sept. 19. Pope Francis will attend the Sept. 20 peace gathering marking the 30th anniversary of the first such gathering in Assisi. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The event Sept. 18-20 was sponsored by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, the Diocese of Assisi and the Franciscan friars to reflect on the theme, “Thirst for Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue.”

At the opening assembly, attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople said, peace “starts from within and radiates outward, from local to global.”

“Thus, peace requires an interior conversion, a change in policies and behaviors,” he said.

Humanity’s relationship with creation “has a direct impact on the way in which it acts toward other people,” said the patriarch, known for his decades of work on the connection between Christian spirituality and ecology.

“Any ecological activity will be judged by the consequences it has for the lives of the poor,” he said. “The pollution problem is linked to that of poverty.”

Recalling his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos with Pope Francis, the patriarch said they saw examples of how the world has treated migrants “with exclusion and violence.”

Echoing Patriarch Bartholomew’s sentiments, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, said the spirit of the 1986 Assisi meeting is still alive, despite a “complex and fragmented time with its challenges,” particularly with new fears arising due to war and migration.

The “simple and profound” gesture of religious leaders standing together for peace, he said, “gave witness to their respective faithful that it was possible to live together.”

“Dialogue is the intelligence to live together: either we live together or together we will die,” he said.

The meeting featured dozens of interreligious panel discussions on topics ranging from the environment and migration to dialogue and the media.

Discussing the 30th anniversary of the 1986 peace gathering and its relevance today, Bishop Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said, “The spirit of Assisi is not a vague feeling, a sentimentalism or nostalgic memory,” but an example that “peace is not possible without prayer.”

“Prayer is one of the means for implementing God’s design among people,” he said. “It is apparent that the world cannot give peace; it is a gift from God that we must ask from him through prayers.”

The religious leaders who were gathering to pray for peace, he added, are “here to show that religion is not the problem but is part of the solution to bring peace and harmony in our societies.”

“I hope that the spirit of Assisi may be deeply rooted in our hearts so that it can keep enlightening this world that is marked by the darkness of hatred and violence,” he said.

Mohammad Sammak, secretary general of Lebanon’s Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, stressed the need to promote “the message of the spirit of Assisi to all nations” in order for peace to prevail, particularly between Christians and Muslims.

While differences exist between the two faiths, he said, “it does not mean that we have to be the enemy of one another.”

On the contrary, the differences between religions can complement and complete each other. “And this process of common belief and common respect is manifested in the spirit of Assisi,” Sammak said.

Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of Pope Francis, also addressed the panel and lamented that violence, hate and uncertainty “has become more and more one of the characteristics of human reality.”

He also denounced the “exacerbated egoism” prevalent in politics today and racist overtones by individuals who “are holding leadership positions in well-established democratic countries.”

“Uncertainty about the future to come and no clear ethical rules respected by peoples and nations build the best scenario for the rise of demagogic and corrupted leaders,” Skorka said.

However, despite humanity’s worsening condition, he said, the “voice calling for justice, peace and love” that emerged in1986 “has not been silenced.”

“The spiritual fire lit then gathers us today,” he said. “The hope of peace, which is the core of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, continues palpitating in the hearts of many,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on Legacy of 1986 interfaith peace gathering in Assisi lingers

In Krakow for World Youth Day, Pope urges Poles to value their memories, but be open to change

By

Catholic News Service

KRAKOW, Poland — Poland’s memory and identity are the two catalysts that will lead the country forward and turn hopeless situations, such as those facing migrants, into opportunities for future generations, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis, Polish President Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda arrive for a meeting with government authorities and the diplomatic corps in the courtyard of Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland, July 27. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis, Polish President Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda arrive for a meeting with government authorities and the diplomatic corps in the courtyard of Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland, July 27. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cloudy skies and a light drizzle did little to dampen the spirits of pilgrims cheering loudly as the pope’s plane landed in Krakow July 27. The arrival ceremony at Krakow’s John Paul II International Airport was marked by the presence of hundreds of Polish men and women, dressed in traditional clothes and dancing.

Stepping down from his plane and before he departed for Wawel Castle, Pope Francis was greeted by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Polish President Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda.

Addressing civil authorities and members of the country’s diplomatic corps, the pope noted that “memory is the hallmark of the Polish people,” a notable characteristic of his predecessor, St. John Paul II.

He said being aware of identity was “indispensable for establishing a national community on the foundation of its human, social, political, economic and religious heritage,” but that people must remain open to renewal and to change. He added that while good memory can remind society of God and his saving work, bad memory keeps the mind and heart “obsessively fixed on evil, especially the wrongs committed by others,” he said.

Pope Francis called on the people of Poland to hold on to their positive memories so they can look to the future with hope in respecting human dignity, economical and environmental concerns and “the complex phenomenon of migration.”

The issue of migration, he added, “calls for great wisdom and compassion, in order to overcome fear and to achieve the greater good.”

“Also needed is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety,” he said.

Pope Francis, who has brought attention to the plight of migrants in the past, met with 15 young refugees prior to his departure to Krakow. The Vatican press office said the young refugees are currently in Italy without documents that will allow them to travel out of the country.

“The youths, accompanied by the papal almoner, wished the pope a good journey and a happy participation at WYD, to which they cannot participate but are united spiritually,” the Vatican said.

Inviting Polish people to “look with hope to the future,” the pope said the memory of their thousand-year history would create a climate of respect that fosters a better life for future generations.

“The young should not simply have to deal with problems, but rather be able to enjoy the beauty of creation, the benefits we can provide and the hope we can offer,” he said.

Social policies, he added, must also support families who are “the primary and fundamental cell of society” as well as “helping responsibly to welcome life” so that children may be seen as a gift and not a burden.

“Life must always be welcome and protected. These two things go together, welcome and protection, from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

Comments Off on In Krakow for World Youth Day, Pope urges Poles to value their memories, but be open to change

Ali known not just for prowess in ring but also for faith, generosity

June 10th, 2016 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

PHOENIX — Muhammad Ali leaves an indelible mark on the world not only as a fighter and athlete but as a man of faith, courage and generosity.

Pope John Paul II meets with Muhammad Ali in 1982 at the Vatican. Little did each know that they would later both suffer from Parkinson's, serving as public faces of the disease. Ali died June 3 at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's.  (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)

Pope John Paul II meets with Muhammad Ali in 1982 at the Vatican. Little did each know that they would later both suffer from Parkinson’s, serving as public faces of the disease. Ali died June 3 at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s. (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)

The three-time heavyweight champion and self-titled “The Greatest” boxer of all time died at a Scottsdale hospital June 3. He was 74.

In Phoenix, where Ali lived his last years, people recalled his kindness and bravery in his struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

“I’ve watched him face the disease with grace and humor, and he has inspired countless patients to do the same,” said Dr. Holly Shill in a statement from the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. “We have lost a great warrior in the battle of Parkinson’s, but hope continues.”

Founded in 1997 by Ali and his wife, Lonnie (Yolanda), along with philanthropist Jimmy Walker and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center offers advanced treatments for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders as well as therapy and support for patients and caretakers. It is part of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in the Sisters of Mercy-founded Dignity Health network.

Patient Ida Stanford reflected on the center and its famous namesake in a Dignity Health video.

“I can’t imagine having Parkinson”s and not having place like the center,” she said. “Muhammad Ali stood up for what he believed in. He was one-of-a-kind and still is one-of-a-kind.”

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disorder that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. Its symptoms — tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity and impaired balance and coordination — worsen over time.

According to The Arizona Republic newspaper, the former champ came to the Phoenix area in the mid-1990s seeking medical treatment for his condition. He lived quietly in the valley devoting time to philanthropy and making occasional appearances at charity and sporting events.

Ali made several visits to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s family dining room in Phoenix, according to the society. He and his wife would serve meals and mingle with the guests. The couple also made several donations to the charity.

“It mattered little that Muhammad lost his ability to speak, for he communicated to our guests through his heart and soul,” said executive director Steve Zabiliski in a letter to The Arizona Republic. “At St. Vincent de Paul, we will remember him for his grace, his kindness, his courage and his love. It’s what made him so special.”

His last public appearance was in early April at Celebrity Fight Night, an annual Phoenix fundraiser that has given millions of dollars to the Ali Parkinson Center and other charities.

A public interfaith funeral service for Ali was to take place June 10 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Born and raised in Louisville, Ali came from a Christian household. His father was Methodist, his mother a Baptist. He was named Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., a family name traced back to a white slave owner.

He started boxing at age 12.

In 1964, after grasping the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam. He took a new name, Muhammad Ali.

In his 2004 memoir “The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey,” Ali told the story of his “spiritual being.”

“It was after I retired from boxing that my true work began,” he wrote, observing that his religion and spirituality changed and evolved over years.

As a young man, he had questioned his Christian heritage and its portrayals of a white Jesus and white apostles. He said one thing that attracted him to Islam was that the faith had no images of God, angels or prophets.

“No single race should be able to identify with God through the color of its skin,” he wrote.

The Nation of Islam’s belief in black self-empowerment struck a chord with the boxer.

“When I became a Muslim, I was on my way to entering what I called ‘The Real Fight Ring,’” he said. “The one where freedom and justice for black people in America took place.”

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Ali refused induction into the Army citing religious grounds.

“I didn’t agree with the reasons why we were in Vietnam in the first place,” he wrote in his memoir. “I couldn’t see myself trying to injure or kill people whom I didn’t even know, people who had never done any harm to me or my country.”

His dissent cost the boxer his heavyweight title. He was convicted of draft evasion. His passport was revoked, and his fighting career came to a halt.

Many Americans looked down on the fighter, and he said the Nation of Islam turned its back on him. He discovered a new “spiritual home” in mainstream Sunni Islam and embraced Sufism, a mystical dimension of the faith.

Ali returned to the ring in 1970 and in 1971 his draft evasion conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. He took his second and third heavyweight titles in 1974 and 1978. He retired in 1981 with a 56-5 record.

In 1982, Ali met Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. They reportedly exchanged autographs. Little did each know that they would later both suffer from Parkinson’s, serving as public faces of the disease.

A 2003 meeting with the Dalai Lama left a marked impression on Ali. He said they both held a deep respect for people of different beliefs and agreed that spirituality should be central to daily life.

Ali and wife Lonnie established the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville to promote the fighter’s legacy and his six core values: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality.

In his 2004 book, Ali reflected on the afterlife and how he’d like to be remembered after death.

“What really matters in life is prayer, living right, and good deeds, because this life is just practice for our eternal life,” he wrote.

And on how he would like to be remembered: As the three-time heavyweight champion, as humorous, and as someone “who treated everyone right. … As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.”

Comments Off on Ali known not just for prowess in ring but also for faith, generosity

Pope Benedict sees the yearning for mercy as a ‘sign of the times’

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Although he lives a relatively hidden life in a villa in the Vatican Gardens, retired Pope Benedict XVI continues to study theological questions and, occasionally, to comment on them publicly.

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the Year of Mercy opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015. In a written interview, the retired pope commented on the theme of mercy. "Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight, Pope Benedict said. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI attends the Year of Mercy opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in this Dec. 8, 2015. In a written interview, the retired pope commented on the theme of mercy. “Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight, Pope Benedict said. (CNS photo/Stefano Spaziani, pool)

The attention Pope Francis and many Christians are giving to the theme of divine mercy is a “sign of the times” that shows how, deep down, people still experience a need for God, the retired pope told Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Servais in a written interview.

“Mercy is what moves us toward God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight,” Pope Benedict said in the interview published in mid-March.

Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the retired pope’s personal secretary, read Pope Benedict’s German text in October at a conference on the doctrine of justification and the experience of God. The retired pope approved the Italian translation of the text, which was published along with other papers presented at the conference.

The doctrine of justification, how people are made righteous in God’s eyes and saved by Jesus, was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, which will mark its 500th anniversary in 2017.

In the interview, Pope Benedict said, “For people today, unlike at the time of (Martin) Luther and from the classical perspective of the Christian faith, things have been turned upside down in a certain sense: Man no longer thinks he needs to be justified in God’s sight, but rather he is of the opinion that it is God who must justify himself because of all the horrendous things present in the world and in the face of human misery.”

Another sign of a strong change in general thinking that challenges at least medieval Christian thought, he said, is “the sensation that God cannot simply allow the perdition of the majority of humanity.”

Yet, Pope Benedict said, there still exists a general perception that “we need grace and pardon. For me it is one of the ‘signs of the times’ that the idea of God’s mercy is becoming increasingly central and dominant” in Christian thought.

St. Faustina Kowalska’s promotion of the divine mercy devotions in the early 1900s and the ministry and writings of St. John Paul II, “even if it did not always emerge in an explicit way,” both gave a strong push to a popular Christian focus on mercy and to theological explorations of the theme.

St. John Paul “affirmed that mercy is the only true and ultimately effective reaction against the power of evil. Only where there is mercy does cruelty end, only there do evil and violence stop,” said the retired pope, who worked closely with the Polish pope for decades.

“Pope Francis,” he said, “is in complete agreement with this line. His pastoral practice is expressed precisely in the fact that he speaks continuously of God’s mercy.””

The fact that so many people are open to that message, Pope Benedict said, shows that “under the patina of self-assurance” and a conviction of self-righteousness, “man today hides a deep awareness of his wounds and his lack of worthiness before God. He is waiting for mercy.”

Like Pope Francis, Pope Benedict urged a return to the sacrament of reconciliation. That is where, he said, “we let ourselves be molded and transformed by Christ and continually pass from the side of one who destroys to that of the one who saves.”

 

Comments Off on Pope Benedict sees the yearning for mercy as a ‘sign of the times’

Marriage portrays the beauty of keeping promises made freely, says pope

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Bring honor back to keeping one’s promises, which must be made in full freedom and kept by making sacrifices, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets newly married couples during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 30. (CNS file/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis greets newly married couples during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 30. (CNS file/L’Osservatore Romano)

The beauty of love and promises is that they are carried out in freedom, he said during his weekly general audience Oct. 21 in St. Peter’s Square. “Without freedom there can be no friendship, without freedom there is no love, without freedom there is no marriage.”

The pope also prayed for the intercession of “the pope of the family,” St. John Paul II, whose optional memorial is Oct. 22. He asked that the Synod of Bishops on the family “renew in the whole church the meaning of the indisputable value of the indissoluble marriage and healthy families, based on the mutual love between a man and woman and divine grace.”

The pope dedicated his catechesis to the promise of love and fidelity made between a husband and wife.

“The identity of the family is founded on promise,” he said, which can be seen in the loving care families provide one another in sickness and in health, and by accepting each other’s limitations and helping each other realize their full potential.

It is a promise of love that must not stay holed up in the home, but must expand to embrace one’s extended family, the community and the whole human family, the pope said.

Unfortunately, he said, honoring one’s promises has lost its standing. That is because, on the one hand, “a misunderstood right to pursue one’s own pleasure at all costs and in any relationship is exalted as a non-negotiable principle of freedom,” he said.

On the other hand, people “exclusively entrust the bonds of life’s relationships and the commitment to the common good to the requirements of law,” he said.

But in reality, he said, nobody wants to be loved because of selfish reasons or out of compulsion.

“Love, just like friendship, owe their strength and beauty to this fact: that they generate a bond without removing freedom.”

“Freedom and fidelity are not opposed to each other, rather, they support each other” as people grow in the “free obedience to one’s word,” he said.

There is no better place than marriage and the family to teach the beauty and strength of keeping promises. “If we look at its audacious beauty, we are intimidated, but if we scorn its courageous tenacity, we are lost,” the pope said.

But this “masterpiece” and “miracle” of being true to one’s word must be an honest desire rooted in one’s very heart and soul — because promises “cannot be bought and sold, they cannot be coerced with force but nor can they be safeguarded without sacrifice,” he said.

“It’s necessary to bring social honor back to the fidelity of love,” he said, as well as bring to light the hidden miracles of millions of men and women who are building and rebuilding their families and promises every day.

St. Paul says the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the church, the pope said. That means, he said, that the church itself can find in the family “a blessing to safeguard” and always something to learn, even before it tries to teach or apply church discipline to it.

“Love for the human family, for better or for worse, is a point of honor for the church,” he said.

The pope asked that God bless the work of the Synod of Bishops that has gathered to discuss, “with creative fidelity,” the vocation and mission of the family.

He asked for prayers that the church would “uphold and strengthen the promise of the family” with an “unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfills his every promise.”

Comments Off on Marriage portrays the beauty of keeping promises made freely, says pope

All wars begin in a jealous heart; let go of pride, envy, pope says

By

 

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — All wars begin in the human heart, a heart that is jealous and bitter and tears apart communities through misunderstandings and marginalization, Pope Francis said.

“How wonderful if we would remember more often who we are, what Jesus Christ did with us: We are his body,” members of the church filled with the Holy Spirit’s gift of new life in Christ and united in fellowship and love, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 22.

Pope Francis greets inmates from a detention and treatment center in Eboli, Italy, during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets inmates from a detention and treatment center in Eboli, Italy, during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The day also marked the feast day of St. John Paul II, who “invited everyone to open the doors to Christ,” said Pope Francis, who had canonized the Polish pope in April.

As the church celebrated for the first time the memorial of St. John Paul, Pope Francis recalled how he “reminded the whole world of the mystery of divine mercy.

“May his spiritual legacy not be forgotten, but drive us to reflect and act concretely for the good of the church, the family and society,” he said in a greeting to pilgrims from Poland.

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his catechesis on the nature of the Catholic Church, focusing on the church as body of Christ.

The pope told everyone that their homework for the day was to read Chapter 37 of the Book of Ezekiel and the “Vision of the Dry Bones,” which, he said, offers a “striking” yet hope-filled image of God’s power to join together and breathe new life into a dead and divided people.

Through baptism, Christians are made to be one with Christ creating “a masterpiece of the Spirit who instills in everyone a new life in the risen Christ and puts us next to each other, each one to serve and support the other, making all of us be one body edified in communion and love,” he said.

This is “the great gift we receive on the day of our baptism,” he said, to be joined together, conforming ourselves to Christ and sharing his love with each other “as living members of the same body.”

However, it is not always easy for individual Christians and their communities to live in loving, respectful unity, he said.

Parishes, groups, even neighborhoods can be marked by “divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization. All these things are not good because instead of edifying and making the church grow as the body of Christ, they shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it,” he said.

Jealousy of other people’s gifts and good fortune – “that one bought a new car … that one won the lottery” — tears the community apart and damages the one who is filled with envy, he said.

“The jealousy builds up, builds and fills the heart, a jealous heart is acid,” as if it were filled not with blood, but vinegar, making the person always be unhappy, he said.

“It is the beginning of war. War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,” he said.

“So what must I do?” the pope asked.

He said St. Paul had a lot of good advice in his letter to the Corinthians, who “were champions” at the time at infighting and division.

The “concrete advice, which is still valid for us, too: Do not be jealous, but appreciate the gifts and qualities of our brothers and sisters in our communities,” he said.

“When I start to feel jealous, because it happens to everyone, you know, we’re all sinners, when I start to feel jealous I say, ‘Thank you Lord that you gave this to that person.’”

People must work against divisions, “be close to each other, share in the suffering of the least and neediest and express our gratitude to everyone,” he said.

Not everyone remembers to say, “Thank you,” all the time, he said, because “envy holds us back.” But “a heart that knows how to say, ‘Thank you,’ is a good and noble heart, a heart that is happy.”

The other thing people must not do is think they are better than others, like the Pharisee who thanks God he is “not like the rest of humanity.”

“This is awful. Never do this,” the pope said.

When people are tempted to feel they are superior, “remember your sins, the ones no one knows about, feel ashamed before God and say, ‘Well, you Lord, you know who is greater; I’ll keep my mouth shut.’ And this is healthy.”

At the end of the audience, the pope offered encouragement to employees of an Italian airline company that announced the layoffs of more than 1,300 workers.

Waving red balloons and wearing red t-shirts that said, “I am redundant,” the Meridiana employees were given a special section below the sacristy during the audience.

The pope told them he hoped “a fair solution” would be found that sought to safeguard people’s dignity and the needs of so many families.

“Please, I’m making an appeal, let there be no family without a job,” he said.

– – –

The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English is available online at www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/audiences/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20141022_udienza-generale_en.html.

 

 

Comments Off on All wars begin in a jealous heart; let go of pride, envy, pope says

Debate emerges on St. John Paul II’s early writings on social ethics

By

Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — Less than six months after St John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned as a young priest in his Polish homeland.

The two-volume “Katolicka Etyka Spoleczna” (“The Catholic Social Ethic”) has never been officially published. But it could, some observers said, affect interpretations of the future pope’s philosophical development, highlighting a youthful commitment to radical change which sounded, at times, close to Marxism.

Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, is pictured reading in a kayak in this photo dated 1955. Less than six months after St. John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned on social ethics as a young priest in his Polish homeland.(CNS photo)

Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, is pictured reading in a kayak in this photo dated 1955. Less than six months after St. John Paul II was canonized, questions are being raised about a book of lectures he penned on social ethics as a young priest in his Polish homeland. (CNS photo)

“The text certainly reveals how he viewed the political realities of the early 1950s, as well as his deep sensitivity to social issues,” said Msgr. Alfred Wierzbicki, director of the John Paul II Institute at Poland’s Catholic University of Lublin. He said it contained “a polemical dialogue with Marxism that was courageous at the time, and which throws important light on his later evaluation of such things as liberation theology.”

“The Catholic Social Ethic” was bound in a cheap underground edition of 300 copies at the request of students at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1953 and 1954, when other books on Catholic social teaching had been suppressed by Poland’s communist rulers.

It provides no evidence that then-Father Karol Wojtyla had any direct political affiliation. However, it shows he had acquired, by his early 30s, a detailed knowledge of Marxism and some empathy at least with its strident critique of capitalism.

Concepts important in his later papal teachings, such as “solidarity” and “moral victory,” make first appearances in the writings and have a sharp, passionate edge.

“The church is aware that the bourgeois mentality and capitalism as a whole, with its materialist spirit, acutely contradict the Gospel,” the young priest wrote in one section.

“In a well-organized society, oriented to the common good, class conflicts are solved peacefully through reforms. But states that base their order on individualistic liberalism are not such societies. So when an exploited class fails to receive in a peaceful way the share of the common good it has a right to, it has to follow a different path,” one passage said.

“Class struggle should gain strength in proportion to the resistance it faces from economically privileged classes,” he wrote.

“Jesus Christ showed many times that the realization of God’s kingdom on earth will not happen without a struggle,” he continued. “According to the Gospel assumptions followed by the church in all its social teaching, the realization of social justice is one of its elements.”

When the text’s existence was reported in Polish newspapers in 2006, one national daily, Zycie Warszawy, accused the country’s Catholic Church of trying to suppress it.

The work was authenticated by Msgr. Andrzej Szostek, a prominent ethicist, who told a May 2006 Lublin conference that Father Wojtyla had used it to “formulate fundamental intuitions concerning capitalism and Marxism.”

The John Paul II Institute, which oversees St. John Paul’s pre-papal writings, ran extracts on revolution and class struggle in its quarterly journal, Etos, and also agreed to issue a full edition of the 511-page text with commentaries.

Msgr. Wierzbicki, institute director, said problems have since emerged.

For one thing, the pope was personally against publishing the text. For another, a textual analysis suggested much of his material was borrowed from an earlier textbook by Father Jan Piwowarczyk, a former Krakow seminary rector.

Yet much of the work is “original and important,” Msgr. Wierzbicki’s conceded.

“Given the huge interest in his thoughts and teachings, we felt it should be published,” he said. “But the fact that he used Piwowarczyk’s textbook as his model has also made it hard to define precisely how much is Wojtyla’s own work.”

Not everyone agrees this should impede the book’s publication, at least in his native Poland, where most of St. John Paul’s other writings have long since been made available.

In February, St. John Paul’s private notebooks were published commercially, despite a request in his final will that they should be burned, suggesting the late pontiff’s personal wishes have not always been treated as binding.

If nothing else, the work’s appearance would be a service to researchers. Whether it will be published remains to be seen.

Msgr. Szostek said the issue is “rather complicated.”

Meanwhile, Msgr. Wierzbicki said he regrets that a promised publishing grant has not been received.

“This work is clearly important in showing how John Paul II’s social teaching as pope drew on his earlier preoccupations as a lecturer and bishop, and we’ve long debated how to settle the question of its authorship,” he said.

“While some people have claimed to find empathy for Marxism in these lectures, I think it’s more correct to talk of an empathy with human hardship and under privilege. This emerges very strongly from this original and curious text.”

 

Comments Off on Debate emerges on St. John Paul II’s early writings on social ethics

Canonization begins celebration of sainted popes’ feast days — Oct. 11 and 22

April 28th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — From the moment Pope Francis said, “We declare and define Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II be saints” and “they are to be venerated as such by the whole church,” their October feast days automatically could be celebrated at Masses around the world.

St. John’s feast day is Oct. 11, the anniversary of the day in 1962 that he opened the Second Vatican Council. St. John Paul’s feast day is Oct. 22, the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978.

After the two were beatified, Pope John in 2000 and Pope John Paul in 2011, special Vatican permission was required to publicly celebrate their feast days outside the Diocese of Rome, where they served as bishop and pope, and their home dioceses. Vatican permission also was required to name parishes after them, but with their canonization, that is no longer necessary.

A key difference between beatification and canonization is:

• At a canonization, the pope issues a formal decree recognizing the candidate’s holiness and permitting public remembrance of the candidate at liturgies throughout the church.

• With a beatification, the pope concedes permission for limited public remembrances, usually among members of the candidate’s religious order or in the diocese where the candidate lived and worked.

 

Comments Off on Canonization begins celebration of sainted popes’ feast days — Oct. 11 and 22
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.