Vatican City — Pope Francis called on lawmakers worldwide Oct. 9 to overcome “the narrow confines” of partisan politics to quickly reach consensus on fighting climate change.
The pope addressed parliamentarians who were in Rome for a preparatory meeting before the annual U.N. climate conference, which begins in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 31.
Francis referred to a joint appeal he and other religious leaders signed Oct. 4 that calls for governments to commit to ambitious goals at the U.N. conference, which experts consider a critical opportunity to tackle the threat of global warming.
“To meet this challenge, everyone has a role to play,” Francis told the visiting lawmakers from many countries. “That of political and government leaders is especially important, and indeed crucial.”
“This demanding change of direction will require great wisdom, foresight and concern for the common good: in a word, the fundamental virtues of good politics,” Francis said.
Francis said earlier he intended to participate in the upcoming conference, but the Vatican announced Oct. 8 that he would not attend and the Vatican delegation would be led by the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
No explanation was given, but the 84-year-old pope underwent intestinal surgery in July.
The pope expressed hope Oct. 9 that the lawmakers’ efforts at the climate conference and beyond “will be illuminated by the two important principles of responsibility and solidarity.”
“We owe this to the young, to future generations,” he said.
Caring for humanity’s “common home,” Francis said, “is not just a matter of discouraging and penalizing improper practices, but also, and above all, of concretely encouraging new paths to pursue” that are better suited to climate-protection objectives and to contributing “to the positive outcome of COP26.”
Before his speech, Francis gave a private audience to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“His Holiness’s leadership is a source of joy and hope for Catholics and for all people, challenging each of us to be good stewards of God’s creation, to act on climate, to embrace the refugee, the immigrant and the poor, and to recognize the dignity and divinity in everyone,” Pelosi said in a statement after her audience with Francis.
She called the pontiff’s 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, exhorting people to protect the environment, “a powerful challenge to the global community to act decisively on the climate crisis with special attention to the most vulnerable communities.”
During their encounter, Pelosi expressed gratitude “for the immense moral clarity and urgency that His Holiness continues to bring to the climate crisis,” the statement said.
Pope Francis said Monday that “the very concept of democracy is jeopardized” when the poor are marginalized and treated as if they are to blame for their condition.
In his World Day of the Poor message released June 14, the pope appealed for a new global approach to poverty.
“This is a challenge that governments and world institutions need to take up with a farsighted social model capable of countering the new forms of poverty that are now sweeping the world and will decisively affect coming decades,” he wrote.
“If the poor are marginalized, as if they were to blame for their condition, then the very concept of democracy is jeopardized and every social policy will prove bankrupt.”
The theme of this year’s World Day of the Poor is “The poor you will always have with you,” the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 14:7 after a woman anointed him with precious ointment.
While Judas and others were scandalized by the gesture, Jesus accepted it, the pope said, because he saw it as pointing to the anointing of his body after his crucifixion.
“Jesus was reminding them that he is the first of the poor, the poorest of the poor, because he represents all of them. It was also for the sake of the poor, the lonely, the marginalized and the victims of discrimination, that the Son of God accepted the woman’s gesture,” the pope wrote.
“With a woman’s sensitivity, she alone understood what the Lord was thinking. That nameless woman, meant perhaps to represent all those women who down the centuries would be silenced and suffer violence, thus became the first of those women who were significantly present at the supreme moments of Christ’s life: his crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection.”
The pope continued: “Women, so often discriminated against and excluded from positions of responsibility, are seen in the Gospels to play a leading role in the history of revelation.”
“Jesus’ then goes on to associate that woman with the great mission of evangelization: ‘Amen, I say to you, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her’ (Mark 14:9).”
The pope lamented what he said was an increasing tendency to dismiss the poor against the background of the coronavirus crisis.
“There seems to be a growing notion that the poor are not only responsible for their condition, but that they represent an intolerable burden for an economic system focused on the interests of a few privileged groups,” he commented.
“A market that ignores ethical principles, or picks and chooses from among them, creates inhumane conditions for people already in precarious situations. We are now seeing the creation of new traps of poverty and exclusion, set by unscrupulous economic and financial actors lacking in a humanitarian sense and in social responsibility.”
Looking back to 2020, the year that COVID-19 swept the world, he continued: “Last year we experienced yet another scourge that multiplied the numbers of the poor: the pandemic, which continues to affect millions of people and, even when it does not bring suffering and death, is nonetheless a portent of poverty.”
“The poor have increased disproportionately and, tragically, they will continue to do so in the coming months.”
The World Bank estimated in October that the pandemic could push as many as 115 million additional people into extreme poverty by 2021. It said that it expected global extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.90 a day — to rise in 2020 for the first time in more than 20 years.
The pope wrote: “Some countries are suffering extremely severe consequences from the pandemic, so that the most vulnerable of their people lack basic necessities. The long lines in front of soup kitchens are a tangible sign of this deterioration.”
“There is a clear need to find the most suitable means of combating the virus at the global level without promoting partisan interests.”
“It is especially urgent to offer concrete responses to those who are unemployed, whose numbers include many fathers, mothers, and young people.”
Pope Francis established the World Day of the Poor in his apostolic letterMisericordia et misera, issued in 2016 at the end of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need,” the pope wrote in his first World Day of the Poor message in 2017.
The Day is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the Feast of Christ the King. This year, it will fall on Nov. 14.
Coronavirus restrictions forced the Vatican to scale down its commemoration of the World Day of the Poor in 2020. It was unable to host a “field hospital” for the poor in St. Peter’s Square as it had in previous years. But it distributed 5,000 parcels to Rome’s poor and gave 350,000 masks to schools.
Pope Francis followed his custom of marking the day by celebrating a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Presenting the papal message at a Vatican press conference on June 14, Archbishop Rino Fisichella noted that the pope highlighted the example of St. Damien of Molokai.
The Belgian priest, canonized in 2009, ministered to leprosy sufferers in Hawaii.
“Pope Francis calls to mind the witness of this saint in confirmation of so many men and women, including hundreds of priests, who in this COVID-19 drama have been willing to share totally in the suffering of millions of infected people,” the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization said.
In the message, signed on June 13, the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, the pope argued that nowadays people in prosperous countries “are less willing than in the past to confront poverty.”
“The state of relative affluence to which we have become accustomed makes it more difficult to accept sacrifices and deprivation. People are ready to do anything rather than to be deprived of the fruits of easy gain,” he argued.
“As a result, they fall into forms of resentment, spasmodic nervousness and demands that lead to fear, anxiety and, in some cases, violence. This is no way to build our future; those attitudes are themselves forms of poverty which we cannot disregard.”
“We need to be open to reading the signs of the times that ask us to find new ways of being evangelizers in the contemporary world. Immediate assistance in responding to the needs of the poor must not prevent us from showing foresight in implementing new signs of Christian love and charity as a response to the new forms of poverty experienced by humanity today.”
The pope said he hoped that this year’s commemoration of the World Day of the Poor would inspire a new movement of evangelization at the service of disadvantaged people.
“We cannot wait for the poor to knock on our door; we need urgently to reach them in their homes, in hospitals and nursing homes, on the streets and in the dark corners where they sometimes hide, in shelters and reception centers,” he wrote.
Concluding his message, the pope cited the influential 20th-century Italian priest Fr. Primo Mazzolari, who he honored in 2017.
He wrote: “Let us make our own the heartfelt plea of Fr. Primo Mazzolari: ‘I beg you not to ask me if there are poor people, who they are and how many of them there are, because I fear that those questions represent a distraction or a pretext for avoiding a clear appeal to our consciences and our hearts… I have never counted the poor, because they cannot be counted: the poor are to be embraced, not counted.’”
“The poor are present in our midst. How evangelical it would be if we could say with all truth: we too are poor, because only in this way will we truly be able to recognize them, to make them part of our lives and an instrument of our salvation.”
Vatican City, – Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to practice charity in Lent this year by caring for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In his message for Lent 2021, the pope asks people to “experience Lent with love,” which “rejoices in seeing others grow.”
“To experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer or feel abandoned and fearful because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord’s word to his Servant, ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you’ (Isaiah 43:1). In our charity, may we speak words of reassurance and help others to realize that God loves them as sons and daughters,” Pope Francis wrote in the message published Feb. 12.
The pope emphasized that even a small amount of almsgiving when offered with “joy and simplicity” can multiply, as did “the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd.”
“Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness,” he said.
The pope’s Lenten message centers on the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. Pope Francis signed the message, entitled “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem. Lent: A Time for Renewing Faith, Hope, and Love,” on Nov. 11, the feast of St. Martin of Tours, in Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica.
The liturgical season of Lent will begin this year with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17. The Vatican has instructed priests to distribute ashes by silently sprinkling them on people’s heads this year due to the pandemic.
Pope Francis said that the theological virtue of hope is particularly important as the world continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.
“In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated,” he said.
“St. Paul urges us to place our hope in reconciliation: ‘Be reconciled to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:20). By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others.”
The pope said that one can give hope to others by being kind, sharing the “gift of a smile” or speaking a word of encouragement.
“In Lent, may we be increasingly concerned with speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement, and not words that demean, sadden, anger or show scorn,” he said.
He added: “Through recollection and silent prayer, hope is given to us as inspiration and interior light, illuminating the challenges and choices we face in our mission. Hence the need to pray (cf. Matthew 6:6) and, in secret, to encounter the Father of tender love.”
“To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is ‘making all things new’ (cf. Revelation 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being ‘prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]’ (1 Peter 3:15).”
In a Vatican press conference discussing the pope’s Lenten message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that Pope Francis weaved together the traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving with the three theological virtues, revealing their interconnectedness.
Turkson said that it was particularly important during the pandemic to be rooted in the practice of prayer to cultivate the theological virtue of hope, which can give one a sense of “vision” when confronted with the world’s problems.
Msgr. Bruno Marie Duffé, secretary of the dicastery, commented: “Fasting opens our spirit, body and whole being to the gift of God. By breaking with an egocentric, egotistical lifestyle and excessive, even compulsive consumption … we consent to live a poverty that is an openness to others and to God. And we receive a love that comes to us from the Father and from Christ.”
“Fasting, therefore, consists in freeing our existence from what encumbers it, from the overload of things, useful and useless, from true or false information, from the habits and dependencies that bind us, to open the door of our hearts and minds to the One who comes to share our human condition until death: Jesus, the Son of the living God.”
Pope Francis wrote in his Lenten message that fasting, prayer, and almsgiving “enable and express our conversion.”
“The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity,” he wrote.
These traditional Lenten practices “revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father,” Francis said.
“May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.”
Pope Francis recently signed his latest encyclical, titled Fratelli Tutti, which focuses on spiritual unity through social friendship and the importance of caring for our neighbors. In it, he discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the “throw-away culture” which denies the dignity of those who are vulnerable within our global systems. Fratelli Tutti is a call to love one another as brothers and sisters; it is a call for fraternity beyond borders; to engage with each other in positive and meaningful ways, as we are all children of God. To quote Pope Francis directly, “The signs of the times clearly show that human fraternity and care of creation form the only path to integral development and peace. . .”
Fratelli Tutti has never been more relevant as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic threatens every person and system across the world. While we may not be able to easily cure the virus and restore a sense of normalcy, what we can do is take a minute to realize that our neighbors are suffering and do what we can to help.
First Off, What is an Encyclical?
For those unfamiliar with Catholic traditions, every so often the Pope issues an encyclical letter, which is an authoritative or official teaching document. An encyclical letter can be addressed to a local church, to the entire Church, or in some cases (such as in Fratelli Tutti), to “all people of good will” (no. 57).
Fratelli Tutti vs. Tribalism
“Fratelli tutti is a call to love others as brothers and sisters, even when they are far from us; it is a call to open fraternity, to recognizing and loving every person with a love without borders.” (Introduction, An Overview of Fratelli Tutti)
Now more than ever it seems the world is experiencing the negative effects of hyper-localized tribalism. Despite unprecedented interconnectedness, modern globalized society makes us more like neighbors, but less like brothers and sisters; we know about each other, but we do not truly care for one another. In this way, we are more alone than ever.
Tribalistic sentiments run so deeply in every facet of society — politics, religion, ethnicity, and within communities — that it’s easy to forget that other people, with whom we may disagree, are nonetheless created in God’s image and should be treated with dignity and respect.
In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis stresses that respectful, open, and patient discourse is the only true way to resolve conflict. In order to find resolution we must prioritize the needs of victims of violence; work against fear; seek to eliminate inequality; and build relationships through dialogue (no. 262).
Throughout Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis refers to the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the story, a man is stripped, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. Several members of his own community pass him by; but the man who offers help is a Samaritan, a perceived adversary. Because the Samaritan, despite being labeled an enemy, is the only one to offer help, he is, therefore, the only true neighbor — willing to show compassion, tolerance, and brotherly love not to an opponent, but to a fellow man.
So, when was the last time you helped a down-but-not-out neighbor? Do you walk through life turning a blind eye to problems that do not affect you? Do you exemplify, through action, compassion for the suffering of your fellow neighbor?
These are the types of questions we all need to ask ourselves. It’s easier to ignore problems than it is to solve them. It’s easier to turn away from conflict than it is to participate in productive discourse. But as children of God, we must strive to create a world in which all can thrive, even in the face of adversity, to be able to pick each other up when we’re down, and to expel the “I got mine” mindset. These tenets are particularly relevant than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The thing is, you do not have to dedicate your entire life to charity in order to participate in social unity. Every little bit counts; and you can make positive differences in the lives of others without even knowing it, whether it’s donating to food drives or calling for systemic reform in your community. Fratelli Tutti doesn’t just ask you to open your heart to borderless love, it also calls on us as children of God to facilitate a universal culture of encounter.
A Culture of Encounter
For 50 years, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has created a culture of encounter by confronting the root causes of economic injustice through on-the-ground work and promotion of policies that help to break the cycle of poverty. Pope Francis said it best — “A better kind of politics seeks the common and universal good; it is politics for and with the people. In other words, it is the people’s politics, practicing social charity and pursuing human dignity. It can be carried out by men and women who, with political love, integrate the economy into a popular social, cultural, and political project.”
Through our initiatives like PovertyUSA, CCHD recognizes the Pope’s call to rebuild a hurting world and to, “form a community of men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject a society of exclusion. . .lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good” (no. 67). There is a common vein running through modern society that tempts us to ignore the reality of others and flourishes on indifference to another’s pain.
CCHD rejects this social exclusion and helps those who are marginalized by supporting their work for food equality, environmental justice, adequate housing, immigrant accompaniment, and more. In our Church and in society, we are seeing a rise in polarization and extremist groups that have emboldened perspectives that allow fear of the other to overshadow love. Our work to enact just systemic change and encourage love for our fellow neighbor counteracts misplaced fear, elevates the downtrodden, and tells the marginalized that they matter, too.
By reframing the politics surrounding a societal issue, we can get people to think differently about it and work together as one community to help those who need it. We aim to do away with the notion that life is a zero-sum game. In reality, others do not need to suffer for you to prosper, for all of God’s people are entitled to happy, dignified lives. Thinking otherwise is the byproduct of the individualism that has permeated our society. CCHD pursues dignity for all through community organizing, supporting local nonprofits, and committing to on-the-ground work that makes a positive impact in peoples’ lives.
COVID-19: Exacerbation of Social Divides
The old saying goes “desperate times call for desperate measures.” Throughout history, in times of desperation, we as Americans tend to make personal sacrifices and unite as one in order to overcome universal threats. Yet, American society has never been more divided and the distance between us seems to be expanding; even in the face of COVID-19:
The current pandemic has not only killed over 1 million across the globe, more than 200,000 of those being Americans, it has exposed every flaw in both local and global systems. It has caused some to become even more entrenched in self-serving individualism at the expense of their fellow citizens. At the same time, the pandemic has only widened the disparities that have always existed. Now we need to focus on what matters most: creating supportive communities with inspiring leaders that help everybody live dignified lives.
Pope Francis consistently refers to the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate that there is no room for apathy or neutrality when it comes to acting in solidarity with struggling people.
It’s never easy to do the right thing, but doing nothing is the wrong thing.
Pope Francis speaks at his general audience in the apostolic library April 22, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media
Vatican City, – Commenting on the celebration of Earth Day during his general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis urged people to show solidarity with the weak and vulnerable and to protect humanity’s common home.
According to Pope Francis, Earth Day “is an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family.”
“As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst,” the pope said April 22.
He called for a renewed sense “of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home,” adding that “this should make us all the more aware that we stand on holy ground.”
“In this Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family,” Francis urged.
“Like the brothers and sisters that we are, let us together implore our heavenly Father: ‘Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.’”
Pope Francis delivered his weekly catechesis via livestream from the Vatican’s apostolic library, saying selfishness had led people to fail in their responsibility “to be guardians and stewards of the earth.”
“We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours, and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent Father who provides for everyone, and desires us to live in communion and flourish together,” he stated.
Being made in the image of God, he said, means “we are called to have care and respect for all creatures, and to offer love and compassion to our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable among us, in imitation of God’s love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who made Himself man to share this situation with us and to save us.”
Francis said there was a Spanish saying that “God forgives always; we men forgive sometimes; the earth never forgives.”
“The earth never forgives: if we have despoiled the earth, the response will be very bad,” the pope commented.
Pope Francis also noted his appreciation for national and local environmental movements which “appeal to our consciences,” though he said it will still “be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us the obvious: we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us.”
“We can each contribute in our own small way,” he encouraged.
The pope also urged awareness and cooperation on the international level, calling on leaders to guide preparations for the upcoming conferences COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming, China, and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland.
Pope Francis gives the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 25, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Vatican City, (CNA).- On Christmas, Pope Francis prayed for Christ to bring light to the instability in Iraq, Lebanon, Venezuela, Yemen, Ukraine, Burkina Faso, and other parts of the world experiencing conflict.
“The Son is born, like a small light flickering in the cold and darkness of the night. That Child, born of the Virgin Mary, is the Word of God made flesh … There is darkness in human hearts, yet the light of Christ is greater still,” Pope Francis said from the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 25.
In his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, Pope Francis said that the light of Christ is greater than the darkness of broken family relationships or the suffering endured in economic, geopolitical, and ecological conflicts.
“May Christ bring his light to the many children suffering from war and conflicts in the Middle East and in various countries of the world. May he bring comfort to the beloved Syrian people who still see no end to the hostilities that have rent their country over the last decade,” he said.
“May the Lord Jesus bring light to the Holy Land, where he was born as the Savior of mankind, and where so many people – struggling but not discouraged – still await a time of peace, security and prosperity. May he bring consolation to Iraq amid its present social tensions, and to Yemen, suffering from a grave humanitarian crisis,” he said.
The pope prayed for the Lebanese people to overcome their current political crisis and to “rediscover their vocation to be a message of freedom and harmonious coexistence for all.” He remembered also Latin America, where he said many nations are experiencing a time of social and political upheaval.
Pope Francis asked for God’s protection for all people who are forced to emigrate due to injustice who endure “unspeakable forms of abuse, enslavement of every kind and torture in inhumane detention camps.”
He prayed for the people of Africa, asking Christ to console those who suffer from violence, natural disasters, and disease.
“May he bring peace to those living in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, torn by continuing conflicts,” the pope said. “And may he bring comfort to those who are persecuted for their religious faith, especially missionaries and members of the faithful who have been kidnapped, and to the victims of attacks by extremist groups, particularly in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.”
Pope Francis also issued a special Christmas message for South Sudan together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Rev. John Chalmers, the former moderator of the Scottish Presbyterian Church:
“We wish to extend to you and to all the people of South Sudan our best wishes for your peace and prosperity, and to assure you of our spiritual closeness as you strive for a swift implementation of the Peace Agreements,” states the message sent to South Sudan’s political leaders, who came to the Vatican for a peace-building retreat in April.
“May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, enlighten you and guide your steps in the way of goodness and truth, and bring to fulfillment our desire to visit your beloved country,” the message states.
After the pope’s Christmas blessing, the great bell of St. Peter’s Basilica rang out in celebration of Christ’s birth. The campanone bell is only rung on the solemnities of Christmas, Easter, and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
“May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May he soften our often stony and self-centred hearts, and make them channels of his love,” the pope prayed.
Pope Francis called on the 55,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to practice charity and care for the most vulnerable.
“Through our frail hands, may he clothe those who have nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry and heal the sick. Through our friendship, such as it is, may he draw close to the elderly and the lonely, to migrants and the marginalized,” he said.
“On this joyful Christmas Day, may he bring his tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis at the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, (CNA).- At the opening Mass for the Amazon synod Sunday, Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would give the bishops prudence, wisdom, and discernment to help the Church in the Pan-Amazonian region be renewed by the fire of faith.
“Prudence is not indecision; it is not a defensive attitude,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 6. “It is the virtue of the pastor who, in order to serve with wisdom, is able to discern, to be receptive to the newness of the Spirit.”
“Fidelity to the newness of the Spirit is a grace that we must ask for in prayer. May the Spirit, who makes all things new, give us his own daring prudence; may he inspire our Synod to renew the paths of the Church in Amazonia, so that the fire of mission will continue to burn.”
The Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region is taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. Bishops, priests, lay experts, and religious men and women, will meet to discuss issues of importance to the Church in the Amazon, including a lack of priestly vocations, ecological challenges, and obstacles to evangelization.
Present at the Mass Oct. 6 were the synod fathers and the 13 cardinals created in a consistory Oct. 5.
In his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the Old Testament episode of the burning bush to show that “God’s fire burns, yet does not consume.”
“It is the fire of love that illumines, warms and gives life, not a fire that blazes up and devours. When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect, it is not God’s fire but that of the world,” he said, condemning the times people have colonized others instead of evangelizing them.
“May God preserve us from the greed of new forms of colonialism,” he continued. “The fire set by interests that destroy, like the fire that recently devastated Amazonia, is not the fire of the Gospel. The fire of God is warmth that attracts and gathers into unity.”
Francis reflected on St. Paul’s letter to Timothy, in which the apostle says: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.”
Addressing bishops, the pope said they are not bureaucrats and their episcopal ordination is not an employment contract, but “a gift of God.”
This gift, he explained, is for service of others, not for personal gain. “We received a gift so that we might become a gift.”
“To be faithful to our calling, our mission, Saint Paul reminds us that our gift has to be rekindled,” the pope stated, adding that the status quo smothers the missionary fire.
There is also, he said, a kind of destructive “fire” that wants everything and everyone to be the same. It “blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas, for their own group, wipe out differences…””
Instead, “the fire that rekindles the gift is the Holy Spirit, the giver of gifts.”
He quoted St. Paul again, who says, “do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God.”
“Paul asks Timothy to bear witness to the Gospel, to suffer for the Gospel, in a word, to live for the Gospel,” he said. “To preach the Gospel is to live as an offering, to bear witness to the end, to become all things to all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22), to love even to the point of martyrdom.”
Praising especially those martyrs who died in the Amazon, he said, “for them, and with them, let us journey together.”
After Mass, Pope Francis led a traditional Marian prayer, the Angelus, from a window in the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
He reflected on the day’s Gospel passage, which contains the apostles’ request to Jesus to “increase our faith.”
Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, (CNA).- Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.
“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said Sept. 23.
“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”
Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”
He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.
“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”
The pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”
In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.
He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.
Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”
Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish war.
Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.
Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.
Youth perform a dance in the Maxaquene Pavilion in Maputo before the arrival of Pope Francis Sept. 5, 2019. Credit: Vatican Press Pool Photo.
Maputo, Mozambique, (CNA).- Pope Francis encouraged young people of different faiths in Mozambique Thursday to not give up in the face of their country’s challenges, but to confront them with joy and hope.
“How do you make your dreams come true? How do you help to solve your country’s problems?” the pope asked Sept. 5, repeating questions asked him by Mozambican young people.
“My words to you are these. Do not let yourselves be robbed of joy. Keep singing and expressing yourselves in fidelity to all the goodness that you have learned from your traditions. Let no one rob you of your joy!”
Pope Francis arrived in Maputo, Mozambique in the evening Sept. 4, kicking off a Sept. 4-10 trip to three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.
The interreligious meeting with youth was held at the Maxaquene Pavilion. Maxaquene is a sports club based in Maputo.
Pope Francis entered the pavilion to joyful cheers, singing, and chants of “reconciliation.” The meeting opened up with a song, followed by musical and dance performances by groups of Christian, Mulim, Hindu, and Catholic youth. The pope’s speech was followed by a prayer.
During the encounter, Pope Francis told the estimated 4,500 young people present that “together, you are the beating heart of this people and all of you have a fundamental role to play in one great creative project: to write a new page of history, a page full of hope, peace and reconciliation.”
“I would like to ask you a question,” he added. “Do you want to write this page? When you were singing you sang the word reconciliation.”
He also told them “God loves you, and this is something on which all our religious traditions are agreed.”
“For him, you have worth; you are not insignificant. You are important to him, for you are the work of his hands and he loves you,” he said.
Quoting Christus vivit, his post-synodal exhortation to young people, Francis said “the love of the Lord has to do more with raising up than knocking down, with reconciling than forbidding, with offering new changes than condemning, the love of God has more to do with the future than the past.”
“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible and I thank you.”
The pope warned against resignation and anxiety, which he said are two attitudes fatal to dreams and hope.
“These are great enemies of life, because they usually propel us along an easy but self-defeating path, and the toll they take is high indeed… We pay with our happiness and even with our lives,” he said.
It can be easy to give up when things are painful and difficult and everything seems to be falling apart, but that is not the solution, he continued.
He referenced popular Mozambican soccer player “the Black Panther” Eusébio da Silva.
“He began his athletic career in this city. The severe economic hardships of his family and the premature death of his father did not prevent him from dreaming,” the pope stated. “His passion for football [soccer] made him persevere, keep dreaming and moving forward.”
This led him to score 77 goals for his team, Maxaquene, “despite having plenty of reasons to give up…” Francis noted.
He said being part of a team was an important part of da Silva’s success. On a team, everyone has differences, different gifts, he stated, just like at the meeting today. “We come from different traditions and we may even speak different languages, but this has not stopped us from being here together as a group,” he said.
The pope argued that a lot of suffering is caused by people dividing and separating others, choosing those who can “play” and those who have to sit “on the bench.”
You can do something for your country by staying united, building friendships, and avoiding enmity, he said. He had the young people repeat that “social enmity, social division is destructive.”
“‘An old proverb says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk with others.’ We need always to dream together, as you are doing today. Dream with others, never against others.”
“Keep dreaming the way you dreamed and prepared for this meeting: all together and without barriers. This is part of Mozambique’s ‘new page of history,’” he stated.
The pope also encouraged young people not to fear mistakes, but to persevere, and to not let worry make them abandon their dreams.
He used another Mozambican athlete as an example: Olympic champion runner Maria Mutola.
She did not win a gold medal in her first three Olympic Games, the pope noted, but on her fourth attempt, the 800-meter athlete won the gold medal in Sydney. And this did not make her self-absorbed. Despite her Olympic gold medal and her nine world titles, she did not forget her people or her roots, he said.
Pope Francis advised young people to listen to their elders and to stay rooted in their history and tradition, saying the older generations have much to offer.
“Sometimes we older people put you in difficulty, we frighten you. We can try to make you act, speak and live the same way we do. You will have to find your own way, but by listening to and appreciating those who have gone before you,” he said.
Noting the two cyclones which struck Mozambique earlier this year, Pope Francis said there is “a pressing challenge of protecting our common home.”
“Many of you were born at a time of peace, a hard-won peace that was not always easy to achieve and took time to build,” he said. “Peace is a process that you too are called to advance, by being ever ready to reach out to those experiencing hardship.”
“How important it is to learn to offer others a helping and outstretched hand! Try to grow in friendship with those who think differently than you, so that solidarity will increase among you and become the best weapon to change the course of history.”
Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square April 17, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
By Hannah Brockhaus
Vatican City, (CNA). In a meeting with members of the Federation of European Food Banks Saturday, Pope Francis warned against food waste, which he said shows a lack of concern for others.
“Fighting against the terrible scourge of hunger means also fighting waste. Waste reveals an indifference towards things and towards those who go without. Wastefulness is the crudest form of discarding,” he said.
“To throw food away means to throw people away,” the pope added. “It is scandalous today not to notice how precious food is as a good, and how so much good ends up so badly.”
Francis noted that in today’s complex world, it is also important that the good done by charitable organizations is “done well,” and is not “the fruit of improvisation.”
Doing good “requires intelligence, the capacity for planning and continuity. It needs an integrated vision, of persons who stand together: it is difficult to do good while not caring for each other,” he said.
Even good initiatives guided by good intentions can get trapped by “extended bureaucracy, excessive administrative costs, or become forms of welfare that do not lead to authentic development,” he noted. “Wasting what is good is a nasty habit that can insinuate itself anywhere, even in charitable works.”
The pope also emphasized the importance of actions over words: “It is always easy to speak about others; it is much harder to give to others, and yet this is what matters.”
Food banks, he said, are good at taking what is “thrown into the vicious cycle of waste” and inserting it into a “virtuous circle” of good use instead.
The pope went on to speak about the economy, which he said has a “profound need” of working to the advantage of all, and especially those who are disadvantaged.
“It is good to see languages, beliefs, traditions and different approaches converging, not for self-interest, but rather to give dignity to others,” he said.
Noting the modern world’s connectivity and rapid pace, he decried the “frenetic scramble for money” which leaves people with an increasing interior frailty, disorientation, and loss of meaning. He added: “What I care about is an economy that is more humane, that has a soul, and not a reckless machine that crushes human beings.”
“We must find a cure,” he urged, by “supporting what is good and taking up paths of solidarity, being constructive.”
“We must come together to relaunch what is good, knowing full well that, even if evil is at large in the world, with God’s help and the good will of so many like yourselves, the world can be a better place,” he said.
“We need to support those who wish to change things for the better; we need to encourage models of growth based on social equality, on the dignity of human persons, on families, on the future of young people, on respect for the environment.”