May – Saturday 24

Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. Pope Francis’ to the Western Wall.

Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. Pope Francis’ to the Western Wall.

Pope arrives in Holy Land

Pope Francis began a densely packed visit to the Holy Land with a call for religious freedom in the Middle East. “Religious freedom is, in fact, a fundamental human right,” the Pope said May 24 in Jordan.

At Amman Mass, Pope Calls on Christians to Promote Peace

Celebrating Mass on his first day in the Holy Land, Pope Francis said: “The way of peace is strengthened if we never forget that we have the same heavenly father and are all his children.”

At River Jordan, Against Arms Trade
At the site where Jesus was baptized, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, welcomed the pontiff. There, near the banks of the River Jordan, the Pope prayed and blessed Syrian and Iraqi refugees sheltering in Jordan. The Pope signed a welcome book, his message reading: “I ask the all-powerful and merciful God to teach us all to walk in His presence… 24.5.2014.”

Sunday 25

In Bethlehem, for Children

Children are a “diagnostic sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world,” the Pope said May 25 in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity. “Wher­ever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is healthier and the world is more human.”

Pope invites Israeli, Palestinian leaders to Rome to pray

Pope Francis invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to pray together at the Vatican for peace between their nations. The Pope made the announcement May 25, after praying the “Regina Coeli” at the end of Mass that Abbas attended in Manger Square, in Bethlehem, West Bank.

Pope and Patriarch meet

Half a century after a historic encounter between their predecessors, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met to seek inspiration for Christian unity at the site of Christ’s death and resurrection. “We need to believe that, just as the stone before the tomb was cast aside, so, too, every obstacle to our full communion will also be removed,” the Pope said May 25 during a prayer service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Their prayer marked the 50th anniversary of an encounter in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.

Monday 26

Last morning in Holy Land

Pope Francis spent the last morning of his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land meeting with Muslims and Jews and calling for closer relations among the three major monotheistic religions as the basis for peace in the region. At his first appearance May 26, Pope Francis toured the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, and spoke to Muslim leaders.

Pope Francis then visited the Western Wall, the only standing part of the foundation of the Second Temple, destroyed in A.D. 70. The Pope stood for more than a minute and a half with his right hand against the wall, most of the time in silent prayer, before reciting the Our Father. Then he followed custom by leaving a written message inside a crack between two blocks.

Following a brief wreath-laying at the grave of Theodor Herzl, father of the Zionist movement that led to Israel’s founding, Pope Francis visited the Yad Vashem Memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Pope Francis’ also visited the two chief rabbis of Israel, leaders of the country’s Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities.

Pope Francis thanks religious

Pope Francis dedicated his final hours in Jerusalem to time with local Catholics, reminding them that despite difficulties, God is always by their side. “He never abandons us,” he said in the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

Gestures in Holy Land were spontaneous

During an inflight news conference May 26 on his return to Rome from the Holy Land, Pope Francis answered questions about his visit.

On his dramatic gestures during the visit, when he prayed at the controversial Israeli-built wall in the West Bank and kissed the hands of Holocaust survivors, the Pope said: “the most authentic gestures are those you don’t think about… mine were not planned gestures, it just occurs to me to do something spontan­eously that way.”

He said he had considered inviting Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pray with him for peace during the visit, but “there were so many logistical problems, so many, the territory where it should happen, it wasn’t easy.” So he invited the two leaders to join him at the Vatican.

On the status of Jerusalem, which Israel has controversially declared its “complete and united capital,” the Pope suggested part of the city might serve as capital for Palestinians under an eventual two-state solution, but that in any case it should be a “city of peace” for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

On the possible beatification of the wartime Pope Pius XII, Pope Francis did not comment on the controversy but said he could not even consider the beatification in the absence of at least one miracle due to the late Pope’s intercession.
On his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bar­tholomew, the Pope said they discussed the “ridiculous” problem of Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrating Easter on different dates, and the possibility of common efforts to protect the natural environment.

Wednesday 28

Peace is handcrafted by ordinary people

While peace is a gift from God, it is also built out of the day-to-day handiwork of individuals: true “artisans of peace,” Francis said during his General Audience May 28.

The Pope had special words of thanks for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, responsible for preserving the sites commemorating the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, as well as welcoming pilgrims and helping those in need.

“These Franciscans are amazing! Their work is wonderful, the things they do!” he said.

Friday 3o

Pope decries “globalization of indifference” to war

A “globalization of indifference” has taken hold of too many of the world’s people, numbing them to the horrifying reality faced by the people of Syria and other innocent victims of war and violence around the world, Pope Francis said. With the Syrian conflict more than three years old, “there is a risk of becoming used to it” and forgetting that people are dying there each day, the Pope said in a message to participants at a meeting for Catholic aid agencies.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes Catholic charitable activity, brought together two dozen Catholic relief and development agencies that are working in Syria or with Syrian refugees. Cor Unum said that about 160,000 people have died since fighting began in Syria in March 2011, some 6 million people are displaced within Syria and more than 2 million Syrians have fled the country, to Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

 June – Sunday 1

Jesus in heaven still holds our hand

Pope Francis kneels as the crowd prays over him by singing and speaking in tongues during an encounter with more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics at the Olympic Stadium in Rome June 1.

Pope Francis kneels as the crowd prays over him by singing and speaking in tongues during an encounter with more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics at the Olympic Stadium in Rome June 1.

Although Christ ascended into heaven, he remains present in a new form through the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit in order to accompany and guide people in their daily lives, Pope Francis said in his Regina Coeli address to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on June 1, the day the feast of the Ascension is celebrated in Italy and many other countries.

Pope invites Charismatics to Rome in 2017
Meeting more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics in Rome’s Olympic Stadium, Pope Francis said he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed, but he knelt onstage as they prayed for him and over him by singing and speaking in tongues. “In the early years of the charismatic renewal in Buenos Aires, I did not have much love for charismatics,” he said. “I said of them: They seem like a samba school.” Little by little, though, he came to see how much good the movement was doing for Catholics and for the Church, he told a gathering organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. Pope Francis invited the crowd, which included charismatics from 55 countries, to come to St. Peter’s Square for Pentecost in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movement.

Monday 2

More Babies

Pope Francis blamed a “culture of well-being” and comfort for convincing married couples that a carefree life of travel and summer homes was better than having children. About 15 married couples celebrating their 25th, 50th or 60th anniversaries joined the Pope June 2 for his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. In his homily, Pope Francis said fidelity, perseverance and fruitfulness were the three characteristics of God’s love for his Church and should be the same three pillars of a Christian marriage. “In a marriage, this fruitfulness can sometimes be put to the test, when children don’t come or when they are ill,” he said.

Wednesday 4

Piety: real, not fake, love

Being pious is not squeezing one’s eyes shut to the world and putting on a sweet little angel face, Pope Francis said. Piety is opening up one’s heart to God and one’s arms to embrace everyone as brothers and sisters, he said June 4 at his weekly general audience.

Under a cloudless sky in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued a series of audience talks about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Focusing on piety, the Pope said he wanted to clarify its meaning “because some people think that being pious is closing your eyes, putting on a sweet angel face, isn’t that right? To pretend to be a saint” and holier than thou. But piety is recognizing “our belonging to God, our deep bond with him, a relationship that gives meaning to our whole life and keeps us resolute, even during the most difficult and troubled moments,” he said.

Thursday 5

All Christians need help to be like Christ

Meeting the Lebanon-based Armenian Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, the Pope said, “As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to learn humbly to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other to be better Christians, better followers of Jesus.”
Pope Francis and Catholicos Aram exchanged gifts, then participated in a prayer service in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel with a number of Armenian faithful from around the world.

Pope: Half-hearted Catholics?

Those who use the Church as a cover for business connections may call themselves Catholics, but they have one foot out the door, Pope Francis said. “Many people say they belong to the Church,” but in reality have “only one foot inside,” the Pope said June 5 at the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence. “For these people, the Church is not home,” but is a place they use as a rental property, he said. There are three groups of people who call themselves Catholic, but are not really, the Pope said.

Apologizing for making up words, he labeled the three groups: “uniformists,” “alternativists” and “businessists.”

Pope internationalizes financial agency

Pope Francis named a slate of new members to the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, replacing an all-Italian panel with members from Italy, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, also promoted Tommaso Di Ruzza, an Italian, to be the agency’s “ad interim” vice-director. A former official at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Di Ruzza had been an assistant at the financial authority, which is directed by Rene Bruelhart.

Pope Benedict XVI established the Financial Intelligence Authority in late 2010 to monitor Vatican financial operations and ensure they met international norms against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

In November 2013, Pope Francis revised the agency’s statutes. He clarified the roles of the authority’s president, board of directors and director, and specified that it would have two separate offices: one concerned with supervision and regulation, the other with financial intelligence. New finance laws passed in October formally expanded the competence of the Financial Intelligence Authority by including the task of “preventive” vigilance, which involves ensuring the proper organization and trustworthiness of all Vatican financial operations.

Different faiths, same witness: How Vatican explains prayers for peace

Popes pray for peace. Recent Popes have invited leaders of other Christian traditions and other faiths to join them in prayer. Pope Francis has invited political leaders, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, “to come to the Vatican to pray together with me for peace” on June 8.

When leaders of different religions come together and pray for a common cause, they are not only appealing to God, they also are showing the world they believe that followers of different religions are still brothers and sisters before the one who created them.

That is not the same as ignoring religious differences or pretending those differences do not matter. “It should be evident to all who participate that these occasions are moments of being ‘together for prayer, but not prayer together,’” said guidelines for interreligious dialogue published in late May by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. “Being able to pray in common requires a shared understanding of who God is,” the document said. “Since religions differ in their understanding of God, ‘interreligious prayer’ — meaning the joining together in common prayer by followers of various religions — is to be avoided.”

Friday 6

Japanese leader gives Pope “magic mirror”

Knowing Pope Francis’ interest in the story of Christianity in Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave Pope Francis a “makyoh,” or “magic mirror.” After a 20-minute private discussion in the papal library June 6, Abe took Pope Francis to the library window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to show him how, in direct light, a cross appears on the mirror. Clandestine Christians hung the mirrors in their houses or wore small versions of them on necklaces at a time when being a Christian was punishable by death.

Christianity was banned in Japan in 1626 and all priests and missionaries were expelled from the country. The faith was illegal for the next 250 years.

Vocation of every soldier is service

Meeting thousands of current and retired members of the Carabinieri branch of the Italian military, Pope Francis said the vocation of every soldier is service. “Whether in the country or abroad, never cease to give a clear and joyful witness of humanity, especially to those who are most needy and most unfortunate,” the Pope said June 6 as he joined the Carabinieri and their families in St. Peter’s Square on the 200th anniversary of its founding. Pope Francis asked those in St. Peter’s Square to join him for a moment of silent prayer for soldiers who gave their lives in service of their country.

Saturday 7

Pope Francis balances a basketball during a special audience for members of CSI (Italian sport centers) in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 7.

Pope Francis balances a basketball during a special audience for members of CSI (Italian sport centers) in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 7.

In life and sports, aim to win, don’t hog the ball

Pope Francis urged athletes to live life the same way they play sports: Don’t hog the ball, don’t fall back on defense, and make sure to keep it fun. The Pope made his comments during a gathering in St. Peter’s Square June 7 with tens of thousands of children, young adults, coaches and athletes to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Italian Sports Center, the Catholic Action’s sports association in Italy. The Pope told participants to make sure sports always stayed fun. “Only if it stays a game does it do the body and spirit good,” he said.

Sunday 8

Pope tells presidents only God can bring peace to Holy Land

Praying for peace in the Holy Land alongside leaders of long-antagonistic nations, Pope Francis called on God to act where human efforts had failed, to end what he described as violence inspired by the devil. “More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it,” the Pope said June 8 at an evening ceremony in the Vatican Gardens. At the end of the ceremony, which lasted about an hour and 45 minutes, the Pope, patriarch and the two presidents kissed each other on both cheeks, then took up shovels and added dirt to the base of a newly planted olive tree. They then spent about 15 minutes speaking privately inside the nearby Casina Pio IV, a 16th-century villa which now houses several pontifical academies.

Monday 9

Christianity is hands-on action, not school of thought, Pope says

Being a good Christian demands concrete action and deeds, Pope Francis said. And, he said, the “how-to” manual is found in the Beatitudes and the Last Judgment, which spells out the consequences awaiting those who fail to help others in need. Jesus offers a guide to life that is “so simple, but very difficult,” the Pope said June 9 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. It’s difficult because Christianity is “a hands-on religion; it isn’t for thinking about, it’s for putting into practice, to do it,” he said in his homily, according to a report by Vatican Radio.

The Beatitudes are the “program” and “the identity card” for every Christian, outlining a step-by-step guide to being “a good Christian,” he said. Jesus’ teaching goes “very much against the tide” of a worldly culture, he said, in which monetary wealth, superficial joy and personal satisfaction are the measures of happiness and success. But “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” he said, and “blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Wednesday 11

Pope: God’s judgment will come

Pope Francis today denounced those responsible for human trafficking, slave labor and arms manufacturing, saying people producing weapons of war are “merchants of death.”

“One day everything comes to an end and they will be held accountable to God,” the Pope said at his weekly general audience June 11.

Thursday 12

Words can kill

Overcoming conflict requires stopping insults, letting go of hatred and reaching out to enemies, Pope Francis said. During his early morning Mass June 12 in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Pope focused his homily on the reading from St. Matthew (5:20-26), in which Jesus explains the dehumanizing effects and consequences of hatred. Overcoming conflict requires a “healthy realism,” he said. When people are unable “to work things out and find a solution, at least come to an agreement,” Francis said. Even if it’s not the ideal solution, an agreement “is a good thing. It’s real­ism,” he said. “At least there is peace — a peace that’s very temporary, but the peace of an accord.”

World economic system “leads to war”

Pope Francis said the world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as a way to enrich the most powerful nations. He also condemned religious fundamentalism, defended the controversial record of Pope Pius XII and said he does not worry about his personal security because, “at my age I don’t have much to lose.” Pope Francis’ words appeared in a wide-ranging interview published June 12 in the Spanish daily La Vanguardia.

“We are in a world economic system that is not good,” Pope Francis said. “A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black.”

Sunday 15

Pope visits Sant’Egidio Community

In a historic square in the center of Rome, Pope Francis urged Catholics to gather strength in prayer and then set out for the margins of society, bringing the Gospel and material aid to the poor, the elderly, the young and the excluded. On June 15 he made an evening visit to members of the Community of Sant’Egidio, now active in 73 countries.

Monday 16

Political Corruption Is Easy

For everyone who has any kind of authority over others, the one sin “at your fingertips” is the sin of corruption, Pope Francis said. And “the martyrs of corruption” — those who end up paying the price for the politicians, financiers and church officials who abuse their power — are the poor and the marginalized, he said during his early morning Mass June 16 in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. The pope’s homily was based on the day’s reading from the First Book of Kings (21:1-16) in which King Ahab of Samaria felt entitled to a neighboring vineyard owned by Naboth, who refused to sell his property to the king. The king nonchalantly took possession of the land after his wife had Naboth killed in order to give the king what he wanted. “This story repeats itself continuously” throughout history, the Pope said, by people who possess “material power, political power or spiritual power.”

It is “intolerable” to give markets the power to decide people’s fate

Pope Francis said it was “increasingly intolerable” that the world’s financial markets have the power to determine people’s fate instead of being at the service of people’s needs. He also criticized the way “the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences.” Pope Francis met June 16 with experts taking part in a two-day conference in Rome on “impact investing,” which promotes investing in companies, organizations and funds that will have a positive and measureable impact on communities and the environment sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Anglican archbishop urges joint action

Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was in Rome today to hold his second meeting with Pope Francis and to visit Anglican communities in the city.

Church rediscovers its role as mother by welcoming, loving

“I like to dream of a church that lives the compassion of Jesus,” Pope Francis told more than 7,000 priests, religious, catechists and parish council members from the Diocese of Rome. If every parish embodies the virtues of compassion, tenderness, patience and welcoming, the Catholic Church will be the mother she claims to be and will continue to generate numerous children, the pope said June 16, opening the Rome diocese’s annual convention. In a 35-minute talk, most of which was off the cuff, Pope Francis responded to the concerns expressed by a pastor and two catechists about the difficulties of keeping families active in parish life and, consequently, in transmitting the faith to children and young people.

Wednesday 18

God’s endless mercy

Beginning a series of audience talks about the Church, her identity and mission, Pope Francis said it would be “a bit like a son talking about his mother, his own family,” because the Church is the mother of Christ’s disciples and is called to be united as a family. The story of salvation and of the Church “is the story of God’s fidelity and the infidelity of his people,” he said June 18 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. But while members of the Church have strayed over and over again, he said: “God never tires. God has patience, so much patience, and continues to form and to educate his people just like a father does with his own sons and daughters.”

Pope asks prayers, welcome for refugees

Addressing Mary as “mother of refugees,” Pope Francis offered prayers for the millions of people in the world forced to flee their homelands, and he asked Catholics to reach out to them with assistance and a real welcome. “Remember, Jesus was a refugee; he and Mary and Joseph had to go to Egypt to save his life,” the Pope said June 18 at the end of his weekly general audience. “Pray to Mary who knows the pain of being a refugee.”

Thursday 19

Pope Francis leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major as he celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome on June 19.

Pope Francis leads Benediction outside the Basilica of St. Mary Major as he celebrates the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome on June 19.

Because of distance, Pope will not walk in Corpus Christi procession

Because he is experiencing some trouble walking long distances, Pope Francis decided not to join the Corpus Christi procession after the Mass he was scheduled to celebrate the evening of June 19, the Vatican spokesman said today.Pope Francis walked the path last year on the feast day, following a truck where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for the crowds. During his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI rode, kneeling on the truck, as did Pope John Paul II when he began having difficulty walking.

Jesus in the Eucharist gives life

Jesus is the living bread that can satisfy a person’s deepest yearnings, Pope Francis said on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. “Besides physical hunger, people have another hunger, one that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food,” the Pope said June 19. “It is the hunger for life, hunger for love (and) hunger for eternity.”

With thousands of people gathered on the lawn in front of St. John Lateran, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass without apparent difficulty walking, sitting or moving.

In his homily, Pope Francis said Jesus provides the food people need, or “rather, he is the living bread that gives life to the world.” The body and blood of Christ, he said, can give people eternal life because “the substance of this bread is love.”

Friday 20

Say “no” to drugs, but “yes” to life, love

Pope Francis said legalizing marijuana and other “recreational drugs” has never curbed drug addiction rates and has little impact on the criminal organizations trafficking drugs around the world. “No to every type of drug use. It is as simple as that,” Pope Francis said June 20 during an audience with about 450 representatives of national and international drug enforcement agencies.

Store up lasting treasures

Attachments to money, beauty and power are forms of slavery that make one’s heart old and cold, cutting the person off from God and from others, Pope Francis said. “Love, patience, serving others, adoring God — these are true riches that can never be stolen,” the Pope said June 20 at his early morning Mass. Francis focused his homily on the day’s Gospel reading, Matthew 6:19-23, which includes Jesus telling his disciples, “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” The first of the treasures Jesus warns against, he said, “is gold, money, riches: You aren’t safe with these because they can be stolen, right? Investments do not give security because the stock market can crash and you will be left with nothing. And, besides, would just one more euro make you happy?”

Saturday 21

Pope Francis uses incense during a Mass attended by 250,000 people in Sibari, in Italy’s Calabria region, on June 21. In his homily, the Pope said “mafiosi” are not in communion with God and are excommunicated. The Calabria region is home of t he ‘Ndrangheta crime organization, known for drug trafficking.

Pope Francis uses incense during a Mass attended by 250,000 people in Sibari, in Italy’s Calabria region, on June 21. In his homily, the Pope said “mafiosi” are not in communion with God and are excommunicated. The Calabria region is home of t he ‘Ndrangheta crime organization, known for drug trafficking.

Pope condemns mafia
In the stronghold of an Italian crime syndicate believed to be richer and more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia, Pope Francis said, “Those who follow the path of evil, like the mafiosi do, are not in communion with God; they are excommunicated!” During a Mass June 21 in the southern region of Calabria, Pope Francis made clear that even if the mob families continue to go to Mass and decorate their homes and hideouts with religious pictures, they have cut themselves off from communion with the Church and with God. “When instead of adoring the Lord, one substitutes the adoration of money, one opens the path to sin, personal interests and exploitation,” Pope Francis said to applause from an estimated 250,000 people gathered in a field near the town of Sibari. “When one does not adore the Lord God, one becomes an adorer of evil, like those who live lives of crime and violence.”

Sunday 22

torture a ‘very grave sin’

Pope Francis called for the abolition of torture, which he condemned as a “very grave sin.” The Pope made his remarks June 22, after praying the Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter’s Square. “I repeat the firm condemnation of every form of torture and invite Christians to commit themselves to work together for its abolition and to support victims and their families,” he said. “To torture persons is a mortal sin. A very grave sin.”

Tuesday 24

John the Baptist: model for evangelizing

Celebrating the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist June 24, Pope Francis called him “the greatest among the prophets,” because he knew how to prepare people, discern the Lord’s identity and “diminish” so Jesus could increase. John the Baptist knew his role was “to prepare the people, prepare people’s hearts for an encounter with the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

Under Attack, Family Still Important

The continuing strength of many traditional families around the world demonstrates that “despite past or even current challenges, the family, in fact, is the fundamental unit of human society,” said the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva. Addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council June 24, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the family “continually exhibits a vigor much greater than that of the many forces that have tried to eliminate it as a relic of the past or an obstacle to the emancipation of the individual or to the creation of a freer, egalitarian and happy society.”

Wednesday 25

In Church there are no “free agents”

At his weekly general audience, Pope Francis continued his ser­ies of audience talks about the Church, telling an estimated 33,000 people that there is no such thing as “do-it-yourself” Christians or “free agents” when it comes to faith. Every Christian, he said, can trace his or her faith back to parents, grandparents, teachers or friends. “I always remember the nun who taught me catechism. I know she’s in heaven because she was a holy woman,” he said.

Pope Francis described as “dangerous” the temptation to believe one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ without communion with and the mediation of the Church.”

Pope met Franciscan seminarians after order’s seminary closed

Pope Francis met privately in early June with seminarians belonging to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception, a religious order placed under the direction of an apostolic commissioner a year earlier. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, confirmed June 25 that Pope Francis met with the youngest members of the order June 10. “All the seminarians” of the order were invited, he said. The meeting “demonstrates the interest with which Pope Francis follows the situation of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and his closeness to the work being undertaken by the commissioner,” Father Lombardi said.

One of the decisions made by the commissioner, Capuchin Father Fidenzio Volpi, was to close the order’s theological seminary. Father Lombardi said a search is underway for a house in Rome where those preparing for ordination can live while studying at the city’s pontifical universities. Announcing Father Volpi’s appointment in July 2013, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life also issued a decree saying Pope Francis required all the friars “to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite,” the post-Vatican II Mass, and that use of the extraordinary form, the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, “must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities for every religious or community that makes a request.”

Thursday 26

Synod document cites cultural and economic threats to family

The working document for the October 2014 extraordinary Synod of Bishops offers a picture of the Catholic Church today struggling to preach the Gospel and transmit moral teachings amid a “widespread cultural, social and spiritual crisis” of the family.

The 75-page “instrumentum laboris,” published by the Vatican June 26, is supposed to “provide an initial reference point” for discussion at the synod, whose theme will be the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.” The document is based principally on comments solicited in a questionnaire last November from national bishops’ conferences around the world. But it also reflects comments sent directly to the Vatican by individuals and groups responding to the questionnaire, which was widely published on the Internet.

Pope: People drawn to caring shepherd

People were drawn to Jesus because he was a good shepherd — not a moralist, not power-hungry, not a revolutionary and not a hermit, Pope Francis said. Jesus “wasn’t embarrassed about talking to sinners, he went to find them” and he felt joy going out, getting close to the people, listening to their problems and offering them healing, the Pope said during an early morning Mass June 26 in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Pharisees, the Pope said, overburdened the people with laws and requirements that could often be contradictory and, therefore, “cruel” because it was impossible to adhere to every single moral rule.

Fall synod to review state of family; 2015 synod to draw up proposals

Representatives of the world’s Catholic bishops, meeting together in a Synod, are not expected to make any formal proposals about the church’s pastoral care of families until after a second, larger gathering in 2015. The extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family will meet at the Vatican October 5-19, bringing together the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of Eastern Catholic churches and Vatican officials. The world Synod of Bishops, which will include more bishops — many elected by their peers — will meet at the Vatican October 4-25, 2015. Introducing the working document for the first synod assembly — formally an “extraordinary” synod — Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, said participants “will thoroughly examine and analyze the information, testimonies and recommendations received” from around the world in response to a questionnaire sent out in November. The responses to the questionnaire, submitted by about 90 percent of the world’s bishops’ conferences and about 800 Catholic organizations or individuals, formed the basis for the working document for the extraordinary assembly.

Pope: Everyone must have more access to scientific knowledge, training

Pope Francis reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to dialogue with the world of science and asked that all men and women have greater access to scientific research and training. “The hope that one day all people will be able to enjoy the benefits of science is one that spurs all of us on, scientists in particular,” he said June 26.

The Pope was speaking to a group of 25 young astronomy students taking part in a monthlong summer school sponsored by the Vatican Observatory. The program, held every two years, accepts a small group of promising university and post-graduate students, mostly from developing nations, who specialize in astronomy. During the private audience in the apostolic palace, the Pope thanked the professors and benefactors who made the program possible, saying it offered “an impressive example of dialogue and fruitful cooperation” among young people from so many different nations.”

Through Actions, Not Words
Love is more about giving than receiving and is best expressed through action, not words, Pope Francis said. God’s love, in fact, can only be experienced by people willing to let go of their egos and humbly let God take the lead, allowing him take their hand like a loving father with his children, the pope said in his homily June 27. Celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis focused his homily on the heart of Jesus and his immense love. “One can say that today is the feast of God’s love in Jesus Christ, of God’s love for us, of God’s love in us,” he said during an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The pope said, “There are two aspects of love. First, love is more about giving than receiving. Second, love is more about deeds than words,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. Love is always given or transmitted to another, he said, and “love always gives life, fosters growth.”

Pope: Love’s giving, not receiving; it’s best through action, not words
Love is more about giving than receiving and is best expressed through action, not words, Pope Francis said. God’s love, in fact, can only be experienced by people willing to let go of their egos and humbly let God take the lead, allowing him take their hand like a loving father with his children, the pope said in his homily June 27. Celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis focused his homily on the heart of Jesus and his immense love. “One can say that today is the feast of God’s love in Jesus Christ, of God’s love for us, of God’s love in us,” he said during an early morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The pope said, “There are two aspects of love. First, love is more about giving than receiving. Second, love is more about deeds than words,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. Love is always given or transmitted to another, he said, and “love always gives life, fosters growth.”

Monday 30

Pope, giving archbishops palliums, says stay focused on following Jesus

After placing woolen bands, called palliums, over the shoulders of 24 archbishops from around the world, Pope Francis urged them to trust in God and not seek refuge in power or prestige. “Trust in God banishes all fear and sets us free from every form of slavery and all worldly temptations,” he told the archbishops, including Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut. The archbishops from 22 countries were named over the course of the last year. The lamb’s wool pallium they received from the pope June 29 symbolizes their unity with pope and their authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to them. As is customary, an Orthodox delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the Vatican and the city of Rome. During his homily, Pope Francis asked the archbishops to consider what, if anything, makes them afraid. “And if we are afraid, what forms of refuge do we seek in our pastoral life to find security? Do we look for support from those who wield worldly power? Or do we let ourselves be deceived by the pride which seeks gratification and recognition, thinking that these will offer us security?” After the Mass, Archbishop Blair told Catholic News Service that he prayed at the tombs of Sts. Peter, Paul, John Paul II and John XXIII. “These were great spiritual experiences, because we know as Catholics that these are not just dead people; we are in communion with them,” he said. “I prayed to them to help me be a good archbishop.”

Christians without Mary in their life are orphans, pope says

Pope Francis told a group of young people discerning a religious vocation to never go it alone, but always stay by their mother, Mary. “A Christian without Our Lady is an orphan. Also a Christian without the church is an orphan. A Christian needs these two women, two mothers, two virgins: the church and Our Lady,” he said June 28.The pope spoke off-the-cuff to a group of young men from the Diocese of Rome during a brief moment of prayer at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens. The pope told the young people that God had a vocation in mind for everyone, but that it was up to each person to “look for it, find it and then go on, keep going.” The best thing to do is always pray to Mary and keep her close when one needs to make a major life decision like the choice of one’s vocation, he said. A “test” to see if one is following the right Christian vocation is to “ask yourself: ‘How is my relationship with these two mothers I have? With the mother church and the mother Mary?” Pope Francis said. “This will do you good; do not ever leave her and don’t go it alone,” he said.

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