FIRST MASS IN THE BASILICA OF ST. JOHN LATERAN
“God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us,” the pontiff said in his homily today.
The Mass was the occasion for Pope Francis to take formal possession of the cathedra (chair) of the bishop of Rome. Shortly after the start of the liturgy, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome, read a profession of obedience to the Pope on behalf of the diocese.
Following the late-afternoon Mass, the Holy Father appeared at the balcony on the basilica’s facade, where he briefly addressed a crowd of several thousand people, wishing them a good evening and urging all to “go forward together… in the joy of the resurrection.”
Before the Mass, Pope Francis was joined by Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, in a brief ceremony rededicating the square on the west end of the basilica in memory of Blessed John Paul II.
POPE MEETS U.N. HEAD
Speaking privately, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed common efforts to promote peace and protect human dignity.
The two spoke specifically about “situations of conflict and serious humanitarian emergencies, especially in Syria,” but also about the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in several African countries “where peace and stability are threatened,” said a statement from the Vatican press office.
The pontiff and the U.N. leader also talked about the problem of human trafficking, especially of women — a global problem of particular concern to Pope Francis and one that he denounced in his Easter message as “the most extensive form of slavery in this 21st century,” Fr. Federico Lombardi said.
BEING CHRISTIAN MEANS ACTING, LOVING LIKE CHRIST
A Christian isn’t a person who simply follows some commandments, but is a person who tries to think like Christ, “act like him, love like him,” Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience.
In his main audience talk, the Pope continued a series of audience talks that Pope Benedict XVI had begun for the Year of Faith, reflecting on basic Christian beliefs.
At the end of the audience, the Holy Father prayed for the victims of an earthquake that struck southern Iran on April 9.
POPE THANKS U.S. FOUNDATION
In a written greeting to members of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, Pope Francis said he was “deeply grateful” for their work to alleviate grinding poverty and on behalf of peace.
The Pope made his comments in a message distributed during a private audience with about 120 members of the foundation and their families, including Cardinals Donald W. Wuerl of Washington; Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington; and Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia.
In his message, the pontiff noted that April 11 marked the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”). Pope Francis asked that the document “serve as an incentive for your commitment to promoting reconciliation and peace at every level.”
POPE NAMES INTERNATIONAL PANEL OF CARDINALS
Amid concerns about corruption and mismanagement in the central administration of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis named an international team of cardinals to advise him on the latest reform of the Vatican bureaucracy.
The group’s coordinator is Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who is also president of Caritas Internationalis.
Only one member of the new panel is a full-time Vatican official: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.
The other members are: Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Congo; Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, USA; and Cardinal George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia.
They will meet for the first time Oct. 1-3, 2013, the Vatican statement said, but are “currently in contact” with Pope Francis.
FIRST MASS IN THE BASILICA OF ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS
The credibility of Christianity is undermined by pastors and faithful who preach one thing and do another, Pope Francis said during his homily.
Before beginning the evening Mass, the Holy Father walked down to St. Paul’s tomb under the main altar.
At the end of the Mass, the Jesuit Pope Francis went into the basilica’s Chapel of the Crucifix where a 13th-century icon of the Madonna and Child hangs. St. Ignatius of Loyola and his first Jesuit companions made their vows as religious before the image in 1541.
POPE OFFERS PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS
In a message sent to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, Pope Francis responded to the bombings in Boston by invoking peace for the souls of the departed, consolation for the suffering and strength for emergency and medical personnel.
“At this time of mourning, the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good, working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come,” the message said.
POPE FRANCIS WISHES POPE BENEDICT HAPPY BIRTHDAY
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis began his Mass by reminding Vatican employees: “Today is the birthday of Benedict XVI. Let us offer Mass for him, that the Lord might be with him, comfort him, and give him much consolation.”
BEST DEFENSE AGAINST SIN, TEMPTATION IS JESUS
Surrounded by the devil’s temptations and being susceptible to sin, people can always find help, support and forgiveness in Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience.
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck the border area of Iran and Pakistan April 16.
In his main audience talk, the Pope continued a series of audience talks for the Year of Faith, reflecting on basic Christian beliefs.
He also spent a long time greeting, hugging and blessing a long line of disabled children and adults at the end of the audience.
At the end of the general audience, the pontiff met privately with Saleh Mohammed al Ghambi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Italy, who was delivering a letter to the Pope from King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.
ARCHBISHOP ROMERO’S SAINTHOOD CAUSE “UNBLOCKED”
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the official promoter of the sainthood cause of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, said the process to beatify and eventually canonize the slain Salvadoran archbishop has been unblocked.
POPE ORDAINS NEW PRIESTS
Before ordaining ten men to the priesthood, Pope Francis prayed privately with them in the sacristy and entrusted them to Mary’s care.
The private moment was a repeat of a practice he began as bishop before celebrating an ordination Mass, according to Vatican Radio.
Pope Francis’ homily, the Vatican said, was basically the text suggested for ordinations by the Italian bishops’ conference, although Pope Francis added personal remarks and observations as he delivered it.
The ordinations are traditionally part of the Pope’s celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which takes place on the fourth Sunday of Easter each year when the Gospel reading presents Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
ONE CANNOT FOLLOW JESUS, LOVE JESUS, WITHOUT THE CHURCH
“It is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church,” Pope Francis said in his Mass homily in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace for the Mass on the feast of St. George, the martyr. The feast is the Pope’s name day; he was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, told the Pope the cardinals had wanted to join him for the Mass “to thank our Father in heaven for the gifts he has given you thus far and to request abundant graces upon your Petrine ministry.”
Adding to the festivities, after the Mass, in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, the Swiss Guard band played for the Pope and the cardinals.
PREPARE FOR LAST JUDGMENT BY SERVING THE POOR
“Today belief in Jesus’ return and in the last judgment isn’t always so clear and firm in Christians’ hearts,” the Pope said at his weekly general audience. But “Jesus, during his public life, spoke frequently” about his coming again to judge the living and the dead.
After a long tour in the popemobile among the more than 80,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his audience talks about the affirmations of faith in the Creed.
At the end of the audience, the Pope personally greeted members of the Argentine group Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo), which was formed in 1976 by relatives searching for the children of those detained during Argentina’s so-called “dirty war.”
PRAYERS FOR ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOPS KIDNAPPED IN SYRIA
Speaking at the end of his general audience, the Pope offered special prayers for Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo, who were kidnapped April 22 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission.
“While I keep the two bishops in my prayers so that they would return quickly to their communities, I ask God to enlighten hearts,” Pope Francis said.
SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION MASS
During a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, administering the Sacrament of Confirmation to 44 people from 22 countries, Pope Francis encouraged them to “swim against the tide; it’s good for the heart.”
After making the sign of the cross with chrism oil on the foreheads of those being confirmed, Pope Francis rubbed the oil all over their foreheads, sealing them with the Holy Spirit. After wishing them peace, he gave each a quick kiss on the cheek.
The Vatican said more than 100,000 people gathered in and outside the square, and in neighboring streets for the Mass and the recitation of the “Regina Coeli” prayer afterward.
Before reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer, Pope Francis also prayed for the more than 350 people in Bangladesh who were killed April 24 when an eight-story building of garment factories collapsed.
POPE FRANCIS MEETS ISRAELI PRESIDENT
Israeli President Shimon Peres officially invited Pope Francis to Israel, telling the Pope “the sooner you visit the better, as in these days a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”
A statement said Peres told Pope Francis about efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, mentioning specifically the meeting April 29 in Washington between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of the Arab League.
The Vatican said that during their half-hour private conversation, the pontiff and the president discussed “the political and social situation in the Middle East, where more than a few conflicts persist.”
UNEMPLOYMENT, SLAVE LABOR GO AGAINST GOD’S PLAN, HUMAN DIGNITY
Pope Francis called for an end to slave labor and human trafficking as well as for greater efforts to create dignified work for more people.
The problem of unemployment is “very often caused by a purely economic view of society, which seeks self-centered profit, outside the bounds of social justice,” he said, marking the May 1 feast of St. Joseph the Worker during his weekly general audience.
The Pope made a special appeal against slave labor and human trafficking.
POPE MEETS LEBANESE PRESIDENT
Meeting at the Vatican, Pope Francis and the president of Lebanon, Michel Sleiman, called on the international community to offer concrete aid to Lebanon and other countries hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria.
According to a statement released by the Vatican, Sleiman’s discussions with the Pope, and afterward with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, focused particularly on the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than two years.
During the meeting, the two also spoke about how the entire Middle East would benefit from peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and about the “delicate situation” of Christians in the region. Sleiman is a Maronite Catholic.
POPE FRANCIS RECITES THE ROSARY
Mary is a mother who helps Christians grow, face the difficulties of life and use their freedom to make lasting commitments, Pope Francis said this evening.
Marking Catholics’ traditional celebration of May as the month of Mary, Pope Francis led the recitation of the First Saturday rosary at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.
After the service, he went to the steps of the basilica to greet thousands of people who were unable to get inside, and he asked them to say three Hail Marys “for me, because I need it.”
POPE CELEBRATES MASS WITH TRADITIONAL CONFRATERNITIES
“Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors,” Pope Francis said to an overflow crowd in St. Peter’s Square, including some 50,000 members of traditional confraternities from various European countries.
The groups had gathered for a three-day pilgrimage to Rome in observance of the Year of Faith, and their members — in colorful robes and capes — stood out among the crowd.
A number of the confraternities had brought the ornate crucifixes they ordinarily carry in local religious processions. One of the crucifixes stood under a horseshoe-shaped frame, decorated with multi-colored flower petals in a design that included a portrait of the Pope.
FOCUSING ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
Listen to the Holy Spirit because he is giving people the good news that God loves them and can renew, purify and transform their lives, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience.
The Holy Spirit is the living water that “quenches the thirst in our lives because he tells us that we are loved by God as his children, that we can love God as his children, and with his grace we can live as children of God, like Jesus,” the Pope explained.
THE ROLE OF SISTERS IN THE CHURCH
“What would the Church be without you?” the Pope told 800 superiors of women’s orders from around the world. “It would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness and a mother’s intuition.”
The sisters, who came from 76 countries, were in Rome for the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General.
In his talk to the women, Pope Francis said their vow of chastity expands their ability to give themselves to God and to others “with the tenderness, mercy and closeness of Christ.”
However, “please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the Church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not an ‘old maid,’” he said.
Marking 40 years of ecumenical dialogue, Pope Francis told the leader of 10 million Coptic Orthodox that their churches are united by an “ecumenism of suffering.”
“Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the Church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity,” Pope Francis told Pope Tawadros II on May 10.
The principle of unity through suffering “also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians,” Pope Francis said. “From shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, with God’s help.”
Orthodox make up about 9 percent of Egypt’s population of 85 million, which is 90 percent Muslim. Catholics in Egypt, who are in full communion with Rome, number about 165,000.
In his remarks, Pope Tawadros said that his Church “has been irrigated until now with the blood of numerous martyrs, thus becoming stronger and stronger,” but made no reference to specific events.
The meeting between the two popes came on the 40th anniversary of one between Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III, who signed a declaration of their Churches’ common understanding of Christ and established a formal ecumenical dialogue.
Recalling that event, Pope Tawadros told Pope Francis that May 10 “should be considered as a celebration of brotherly love between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church.”
The Orthodox leader also invited Pope Francis to visit Egypt and later told Vatican Radio that the Pope had accepted his invitation.
Following their meeting in the papal library, the two popes moved to the Apostolic Palace’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, where they led a prayer service that included Coptic chant and the Our Father recited in Italian.
COMFORTABLE LIVING CAUSES “GENTRIFICATION OF THE HEART”
The Pope’s words came in a homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square on May 12, when he canonized the first Colombian saint as well as a Mexican nun and some 800 Italians martyred by Ottoman Turks in the 15th century.
Mexico’s St. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala (1878-1963), the Pope said, gave up a “comfortable life to follow the call of Jesus, taught people to love poverty in order the more to love the poor and the sick.”
Pope Francis said the Mexican founder of the Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary and of the Poor sets an example for everyone “not to retreat into oneself, into one’s own problems, into one’s own ideas, into one’s own interests in this little world that has done us so much damage,” but to share God’s love with the needy “through gestures of delicacy and sincere affection and love.”
The Pope also praised St. Laura Montoya (1874-1949), the “first saint born in the beautiful land of Colombia,” as a “spiritual mother of the indigenous peoples, in whom she infused hope” and taught about God in a way that “respected their culture and was not opposed to it.”
“Mother Laura” founded the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena, who today “live and bring the Gospel to the most remote and needy places, as a kind of vanguard of the Church,” he said.
Pope Francis also paid tribute to the approximately 800 people in Otranto, southern Italy, who in 1480 were decapitated by invading Ottoman forces for refusing to convert to Islam.
The Pope then prayed for “those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence,” and asked God to “give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good.”