People display signs in Los Angeles at a demonstartion before the National Human Traffickin Awareness Day  last month.

People display signs in Los Angeles at a demonstartion before the National Human Traffickin Awareness Day last month.

Just as Mary gave the world Jesus, women hand on the faith, pope says

Why is it, Pope Francis asked today, that so many women are the ones who hand down the faith generation after generation?

“Quite simply, because it was a woman who brought us Jesus,” he said. “It’s the path Jesus chose. He wanted to have a mother.”

Jesus chose to come into the world through Mary, the Pope said during Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The day’s reading was from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy (1:1-8) which speaks of Timothy’s “sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice.”

“It’s one thing to hand down the faith and another thing to teach things about the faith,” Francis said. Handing on the faith is “the beautiful work of mothers and grandmothers,” or sometimes it comes from an aunt or a domestic helper, the Pope said. “We need to reflect on whether women today are aware of this obligation to transmit the faith.”


Pope to Fathers: Play with your kids, be role models

When their lives are all work and no play, men can turn their children into “orphans,” Pope Francis said, focusing on fathers in his continuing Wednesday general audience series of talks on the family.

“They are orphans in a family because their fathers are often absent, also physically, from home, but above all because when they are home they don’t act like fathers, they don’t dialogue with their children, they don’t fulfill their role as educators, they don’t give their children, by way of their example and their words, those principles, values and rules of life that they need like bread,” he said.

The world today, especially in the West, seems like “a world without fathers” where men are so focused on their jobs or personal fulfillment that they neglect their families, he said.

The Pope recalled how when he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires he would often ask fathers if they played with their kids, “if they had the courage of love to ‘waste’ their time with their children. And their answer was awful, you know. The majority said, ‘Well, I can’t, too much work.’”

While it is true fathers need to accompany their kids, he said, they must not forget they must act like a parent, not a best friend because “that is not good for the child.”


“Feed my sheep”: Archbishops to receive palliums at home with their flocks

When Pope Francis celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul this June 29, he will set aside an element that has been part of the Mass for the past 32 years; the Vatican says he will not confer the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy.

Msgr. Guido Marini, the papal master of liturgical ceremonies, said today that the new archbishops will come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis and will be present for the blessing of the palliums, underlining their bond of unity and communion with him. The actual imposition of the pallium, however, will take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses, he said. The change will “better highlight the relationship of the metropolitan archbishops with their local Churches, giving more faithful the possibility of being present for this significant rite,” Msgr. Marini said.

FRIDAY 30 Living memories: council fathers Recall Vatican II

A pivotal moment in the modern history of the Catholic Church is coming to life on screen with a new documentary titled “Voices of Vatican II: Participants Recall the Council.”

With archival footage and exclusive interviews with prelates who attended the Council sessions between its opening in 1962 and closing in 1965, the 50-minute film pieces together firsthand accounts of that historic era and its impact on the Church today.

“It’s a sort of oral history featuring only the voices of people who were at the Council and involved in the creation of the Council documents,” said Robert Duncan, multimedia journalist with Catholic News Service and the film’s co-director. The entire narration is supplied by 12 bishops and priests who took part in the Council, including Pope Benedict XVI. The film had its Rome premiere at the Vatican in a rarely-used 60-seat movie theater managed by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.


Pope: Farmers must care for an earth more vulnerable to climate change

Farmers must find a delicate balance between reaping the precious gifts of the earth and protecting them for future generations, especially given the threat of climate change, Pope Francis said.

The ongoing problem of poverty and hunger affecting such “a vast part” of the world demands that today’s “system of food production and distribution be rethought,” he told members of Coldiretti, an Italian trade group that promotes agricultural education and farm-friendly policies. He said the major challenge today is to promote “low-impact agriculture” so that “our cultivating the earth is also caring for it at the same time,” which is the only way future generations will be able to continue to live, he said.



Pope to visit Balkan nation still scarred by ethnic divisions

In an effort to bolster a minority Catholic population and encourage dialogue and friendship among once-warring ethnic and religious communities, Pope Francis announced today that he would be visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina in early summer.

The Pope said he hoped the one-day trip on June 6 to Sarajevo, the capital, would “be an encouragement for the Catholic faithful, give rise to the development of the good and contribute to strengthening fraternity, peace, interreligious dialogue and friendship.”

The Balkan nation is struggling to rebuild after a devastating war marked by ethnic cleansing, in which more than 200,000 Muslims and tens of thousands more were killed. More than 600 Catholic churches were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Catholics were forced to flee certain regions. Catholics make up about 15% of the population; 40% are Muslim and 31% Orthodox.


Obedience to God’s will brings wisdom

Total obedience to God’s will brings wisdom, joy and hope, Pope Francis told religious men and women today. “

Yes, the happiness of a religious is a consequence of this path of lowering oneself with Jesus and, when we are sad, when we complain, it will do us well to ask ourselves how we are living this dimension of ‘kenosis’” or self-emptying, he said.

The Pope’s words came during his homily at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica celebrating the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which the Church marks as the World Day for Consecrated Life. The Mass also came during the Year of Consecrated Life, which, called by Pope Francis, opened November 30 and will close February 2, 2016.


Stop Traffickers!

A volunteer holds posters of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero at a church in San Salvador February 3, the day Pope Francis officially recognized the prelate's martydom.

A volunteer holds posters of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero at a church in San Salvador February 3, the day Pope Francis officially recognized the prelate’s martydom.

Bringing the light of hope to ending human trafficking means confronting the brutal “darkness” of evil that is driving those who exploit others, said a number of women religious helping victims.

They spoke at a Vatican news conference today in the run-up to the Church’s first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking to be celebrated every February 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita. The International Labor Organization and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimate at least 21 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide, and 2.5 million more people fall into the snares of traffickers each year.The ILO estimates human trafficking generates more than $32 billion a year.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the day of prayer is meant to expand awareness on a global scale “to the very depths of this evil and its farthest reaches” and inspire people to move from awareness to action.


Ukrainian war between Christians is a scandal, pope says

The only word worthy of being heard in the throes of war is “peace,” and there is nothing more scandalous than a nation made up of Christians engaged in conflict, Pope Francis said today. “When I hear the word ‘victory’ or ‘defeat,’ I feel such great pain, great sadness in my heart. These are not the right words; the only word that is right is peace,” he said when commenting on the escalation of violence in Ukraine.

The United Nations estimates that at least 224 civilians have been killed and another 545 people wounded since mid-January, raising the death toll to more than 5,300 people since April.

Pope Francis called for prayers that “this horrible fratricidal violence” end and that all sides, including the international community, step up efforts to resume talks, saying that dialogue was “the only way possible to bring peace and harmony to that martyred land.”


Archbishop Romero’s beatification soon

Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be beatified in San Salvador “certainly within the year and not later, but possibly within a few months,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator or chief promoter of the archbishop’s sainthood cause. Speaking to reporters the day after Pope Francis formally recognized that the slain Salvadoran archbishop was killed “in hatred of the faith” — and not for purely political reasons — Paglia said the two decades it took to obtain the decree were the result of “misunderstandings and preconceptions.”

To accusations that he supported liberation theology, Archbishop Paglia said, Archbishop Romero responded, “Yes, certainly. But there are two theologies of liberation: one sees liberation only as material liberation; the other is that of Paul VI. I’m with Paul VI.”

All of the complaints, Paglia said, slowed the sainthood process and “strengthened his enemies,” who, he said, included the late Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, who believed the Salvadoran archbishop tended toward Marxism.

“He was killed at the altar,” Paglia said, instead of when he was an easier target at home or on the street. “Through him, they wanted to strike the Church that flowed from the Second Vatican Council.”


Preventing Sexual Abuse

Everything possible must be done to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse and offer appropriate care for victims and their families, Pope Francis said in a letter to the world’s bishops’ conferences and religious orders released today. “Priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors,” he said in the letter. The letter was released on the feast of St. Agatha, a martyr who was abused and assaulted as a young woman.

The Pope asked for prayers that the Church “carry out, generously and thoroughly, our duty to humbly acknowledge and repair past injustices and to remain ever faithful in the work of protecting those closest to the heart of Jesus.”

Church Preaches Healing, Not Prosperity, Pope Says

Salvation has nothing to do with the “theology of prosperity” some people claim to see in the Gospel, thinking material well-being comes with faith, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass today.

The Gospel “must be proclaimed in poverty,” the Pope said, because “salvation is not a theology of prosperity,” but the “good news” of liberation for all who are oppressed. “This is the mission of the Church, the Church that heals and cures,” he said. “Sometimes I have spoken of the Church as a field hospital. That’s true. How many of these injured people are there, how many wounds. How many people need their wounds to be healed. This is the mission of the Church: to heal wounded hearts, open doors, liberate, tell people that God is good, God forgives all, God is father, God is tender, God always waits for us.”

“Discover your treasure”

Pope Francis looks into a camera during a worldwide broadcast online as he leads a meeting for the Fourth World Congress of Educational Scholas Occurrentes February 5.

Pope Francis looks into a camera during a worldwide broadcast online as he leads a meeting for the Fourth World Congress of Educational Scholas Occurrentes February 5.

Everyone is born with a treasure chest of gifts and talents that they need to discover and share, Pope Francis told a group of young people with disabilities who explained to him how technology has brought them joy and helps them communicate.

Seven young people from six countries shared their stories with him during a Google Hangout, a live video conversation online.

“You help us understand that life is a beautiful treasure that has meaning only if we share,” the Pope told the young people.

Alicia, a 16-year-old amateur filmmaker from Spain, asked Pope Francis if he, too, likes to take photographs and upload them to his computer. “Do you want me to tell you the truth?” he asked the young woman with Down syndrome. “I am a disaster with machines. I don’t know how to deal with a computer. It’s embarrassing, isn’t it?”

The videochat with the Pope came at the conclusion of a gathering at the Vatican of Scholas Occurrentes, a project Pope Francis supported as archbishop of Buenos Aires and expanded as Pope. Through schools it links students from different countries, economic backgrounds and faiths to promote communication, understanding and cooperation.

Francis ended the conversation with the young people by telling them and the thousands of other children watching online around the world, “All of you have a chest, a box, and inside there is a treasure. Your job is to open the chest, discover the treasure, develop it, give it to others and receive from others the treasures they offer.”


Martyrdom Is Not A Thing of the Past

Reading the Gospel account of St. John the Baptist’s death on the feast of St. Paul Miki and other Japanese martyrs, Pope Francis said his thoughts naturally turn to those Christians being persecuted and killed today because of their faith.

“When I read this passage, I must confess, I get emotional,” the Pope said during the morning Mass in the chapel of his residence.

The Pope gave two reasons why he is so moved by the Gospel passage: first, because of persecuted Christians today; and second, because it is a reminder that everyone, even the great prophets, will die. “I think of our martyrs, the martyrs of today, those men, women and children who are persecuted, hated, chased from their homes, tortured and massacred,” he said. “This is not something from the past; it is happening today. Our martyrs are ending their lives under the corrupt authority of people who hate Jesus Christ.”

“I, too, will meet my end,” he said. “No one can ‘buy’ life. Whether we want to or not, we all are on the path toward the existential end of our lives. This, at least for me, makes me pray that at the end I will resemble, as closely as possible, Jesus.”

New Showers for Homeless

Hot showers, a soapy shave and spiffy haircuts are now available for free for those whom the Vatican calls “our homeless pilgrims.”

Thanks to contributions from Pope Francis and private donors, the Vatican announced it has finished remodeling a public bathroom a few steps from Bernini’s Colonnade, surrounding St. Peter’s Square, with showers and a barber’s chair. Free haircuts will be offered every Monday by volunteer barbers and cosmetology students who don’t work on Mondays — the day most barbershops and hair salons are closed in Italy.

“Our pilgrims without a home will receive, along with a shower, a complete change of underwear and a kit with a towel, soap, toothpaste, razor, shaving cream and deodorant, according to different individual needs,” the Vatican said in a communiqué.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who distributes charity on behalf of Pope Francis, said in January that they wanted to build showers and offer haircuts as a way to “give people their dignity.”


Surprise Visit to Immigrants

Pope Francis is greeted during a surprise visit to an immigrant settlement in Rome Feburary 8.

Pope Francis is greeted during a surprise visit to an immigrant settlement in Rome Feburary 8.

When Pope Francis walked today through the gate surrounding a group of shacks on the edge of Rome, it took a while for people to notice. In fact, when a few people looked out their doors, the Pope’s chief guard motioned them to come over. “Papa Francisco!” someone shouted in Spanish, and then dozens of people came running. The Pope was making an unannounced stop at the settlement on his way to the nearby St. Michael the Archangel parish. The settlement on the northeastern edge of Rome was once a Gypsy or Roma camp, but now is mainly inhabited by Latin American immigrants, who have found no other place to live.

The residents kissed the Pope’s hand and clicked photos of him with their cell phones. As they pressed against him, he said, “Let’s pray to our Father in heaven. How many of you speak Spanish?”

“All,” they said, so together they prayed the Our Father in Spanish. He gave them a formal blessing, and then told them he had to be going since he had promised to spend the afternoon at the parish.

At the parish, the Pope delivered 100 sleeping bags for the homeless assisted by the parish and the Sant’Egidio Community. He met with a group of children and with the parents of babies baptized in the past year. He also heard the confessions of a few parishioners.


Vatican Gives Tips on Preparing Homilies

A homily at Mass is not a “mini-catechism” class, the Vatican said in a new document on homilies released today, but it is an opportunity to explain Church teaching using the Scripture readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Dated June 29, 2014, and approved by Pope Francis, the directory was released today along with an appendix of passages from the catechism matched to each of the three readings for the three-year cycle of Sunday Masses and major holy days. It also includes notes on preaching at weddings and funerals, two occasions when, it says, many of the people present may not be regular churchgoers.


Economic Reform on Track

As fresh economic reforms begin to take hold throughout the Vatican, the Council for the Economy has faced some resistance from larger offices that had been used to having greater autonomy, said a cardinal member of the Council.

A fairly smooth rollout of more effective and transparent budgeting procedures throughout the Vatican met with “a hiccup” when some of the larger entities “did not want to come on board” and were more “resistant” to mandated changes, said Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa. One such office was the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which oversees the Church’s missionary activities, he said. The 400-year-old congregation had its own budget, managed its own investments independent of the Vatican’s main investment program and has its own office complex, located in downtown Rome a mile from Vatican City. “But it’s the very big ones we need (to comply) so the little ones have a good example” to follow, he said, between meetings in Rome.

The Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, implements the policies determined by the Council and answers directly to the Holy Father.


Assassination Rumor “Unreliable”

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists today that rumors circulating about a possible assassination attempt on Pope Francis during his January visit to the Philippines are unfounded. “In the last few days there’s been talk of this hypothesis of an assassination attempt during the trip to the Philippines. Cardinal (Luis Antonio) Tagle, who has his good sources, said the information is unreliable,” Lombardi said. Philippine media have reported that a man affiliated with Al-Qaeda had planned to place a bomb to be detonated along the route of the papal convoy, but police had gotten wind of the plan and altered the route.

Life Is Enriched by the Birth of Children

Children are a blessing, not a burden, and are a sign of the confident hope of a couple and of society, Pope Francis said. “If a family that has been generous in having children is looked upon as a burden, something’s wrong,” he said at his weekly general audience.

“The generation of children must be responsible,” as Blessed Paul VI wrote in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Pope said. “But having more children cannot be looked upon automatically as an irresponsible choice. What is more, not having children is a selfish choice.”

Departing from his prepared text, Pope Francis told the estimated 11,000 people in St. Peter’s Square that he was one of five children. “I remember my mom would say, ‘I have five children. Who’s my favorite? I have five children like I have five fingers. If you slam this one, it hurts. If you slam that one, it hurts. All five would hurt. All are mine, but they are all different like the fingers on my hand.’” A child is loved not because he or she is beautiful or has this quality or that one. “No,” he said, “parents love their children because they are their children.”


Iran Agrees to Collaborate on Family

Iran will send a delegation to the VIII World Meeting of Families this September in Philadelphia, announced Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Paglia met with an Iranian delegation headed by Mrs. Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the first of a planned series of meetings on women’s and family issues. Paglia said the Iranian delegation asked to attend the September gathering and he “immediately agreed,” adding that the Holy See and Iran believe “that it is important to address [problems of the family] together.”

Mrs. Molaverdi also thanked the Pope for his efforts to resolve the crisis in the Middle East at the regional and global levels, and condemned the use of religion to implement violence.

Economics Without Ethics Are Deadly

The economy is a human creation, not a god, so humans have the responsibility to manage the economy in a way that benefits the most people, said Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis.

“The economy is not a god. We have to have the courage to put it in its place,” the cardinal said at the release of the book, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, by Italian journalists Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Gale­azzi. [Note: A review of the book appears elsewhere in this issue of Inside the Vatican.]

The title is a provocative take on a line from the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which says: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

The book includes an interview with Pope Francis responding to accusations that he is a Marxist or a communist because of his insistence that the economy, finance and free market must be controlled to ensure a greater distribution of the world’s wealth.

“I did not say anything that is not in the social teaching of the Church,” he said in the full interview. “When money, instead of man, is at the center of the system, when money becomes an idol, men and women are reduced to simple instruments of a social and economic system, which is characterized — or better yet, dominated — by profound inequalities.”


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