POPE FRANCIS’ FIRST ENCYCLICAL
Lumen Fidei (“The Light of Faith”) is a celebration of Christian faith as the guiding light of a “successful and fruitful life,” inspiring social action as well as devotion to God, and illuminating “every aspect of human existence,” including philosophy and the natural sciences.
The document completes a papal trilogy on the three “theological virtues,” following Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals Deus Caritas Est (2005) on charity and Spe Salvi (2007) on hope.
Pope Benedict “had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith” before his retirement in February 2013, Pope Francis writes, adding that “I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own.”
CANONIZATIONS OF JOHN PAUL II AND JOHN XXIII
Pope Francis signed a decree clearing the way for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II and has decided also to ask the world’s cardinals to vote on the canonization of Blessed John XXIII, even in the absence of a miracle.
The cardinals and archbishops who are members of the saints’ congregation met at the Vatican July 2 and voted in favor of the Pope recognizing as a miracle the healing of Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican who was suffering from a brain aneurysm and recovered after prayers through the intercession of Blessed John Paul.
The congregation members, according to news reports, also looked at the cause of Blessed John and voted to ask Pope Francis to canonize him without requiring a miracle.
The members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes “have expressed their hope, and the Holy Father has accepted it,” Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said.
POPE FRANCIS VISITS LAMPEDUSA
Before saying a word publicly, Pope Francis made the sign of the cross and tossed a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the Mediterranean Sea in memory of the estimated 20,000 African immigrants who have died in the past 25 years trying to reach a new life in Europe.
In his homily at an outdoor Mass, Pope Francis said he decided to visit Lampedusa, a small island with a population of 6,000 just 70 miles from Tunisia, after seeing newspaper headlines in June describing the drowning of immigrants at sea.
“Those boats, instead of being a means of hope, were a means of death,” the pontiff said.
Still, the Pope praised the many Lampedusa residents, as well as the volunteers and public security officers who do what they can to help the migrants who reach their shores. Pope Francis personally greeted more than 50 immigrants.
A “HOW-TO GUIDE” TO A HAPPY VOCATION
Vocations don’t come from catchy campaigns or pursuing personal goals; the consecrated life is the result of prayer and answering an “unsettling” yet loving invitation from God, Pope Francis told future priests, brothers and nuns.
Men and women from 66 nations came to Rome on a four-day pilgrimage as part of the Year of Faith celebrations, which included an informal audience with Pope Francis July 6 and a papal Mass July 7.
The Pope spent more than 45 minutes speaking off-the-cuff to a packed audience hall, giving young and old a thorough how-to guide on the secrets of a successful vocation.
VATICAN UPDATES LAWS
Pope Francis has approved a major updating of the criminal laws of Vatican City State, including in areas dealing with child abuse and terrorism financing, and has ruled that any Vatican employee can be tried by the Vatican court for violating those laws.
The laws were adopted by the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and were made applicable to all Vatican employees around the world — for example, Vatican ambassadors serving abroad.
The amendments to the Vatican’s criminal code and code for criminal procedures go into effect September 1 and bring Vatican law into detailed compliance with several international treaties the Vatican has signed over the past 30 years, as well as with developments in international law.
The changes include the abolition of life imprisonment. The maximum penalty under the new Vatican code is 35 years.
PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR REFERENCE ON THE ECONOMIC-ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE
Pope Francis has named a new commission to investigate current accounting practices among all Vatican offices and bodies and to help devise new strategies for greater fiscal responsibility and transparency.
The Vatican said the goal of the commission is to find ways that help the Vatican “to avoid the misuse of economic resources; to improve transparency in the process of purchasing goods and services; to refine the administration of goods and real estate; to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere; to ensure correct application of accounting principles; and to guarantee health care and social security benefits to all those eligible.”
The commission will also “be able to collaborate, on request, with the working Group of Eight cardinals in drafting a plan for the reform” of the curia through revision of the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus.
The new commission is made up of eight people.
Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, the commission’s secretary, is the group’s delegate charged with collecting the information and documents needed for its work; he is also secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican’s budget management office.
Maltese economist Joseph Zahra is the commission’s president and is already an auditor of the Vatican’s budget management office.
Some of the other members include: Francesca Chaouqui, an Italian who works in public relations and communications for Ernst & Young Italy; and George Yeo, a former government Cabinet minister in Singapore, who served at different times as minister of health, of information and the arts, of trade and industry, and of foreign affairs.
POPE FRANCIS VISITS POPE BENEDICT
Pope Francis paid a personal visit to retired Pope Benedict XVI, informing him about the final details for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro and asking him to pray for Pope Francis and for the pilgrims who would gather in Rio.
During the visit, which lasted about 30 minutes, Pope Francis gave his predecessor a booklet with a detailed account of the trip itinerary, along with the times the events would be broadcast in Italy, “so that he can spiritually participate in the events and, if he’d like to, follow the broadcasts,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
Tuesday 23 – Sunday 28
POPE FRANCIS TO BRAZIL
The Pope’s first international trip took him back to the continent he left more than four months ago to attend the conclave that elected him Pope.
After greetings at Rio’s international airport, the pontiff reached Guanabara Palace, the office of the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, where he met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and other leaders. (July 22)
In his remarks, delivered in a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, the Pope borrowed a phrase from the Acts of the Apostles: “I have neither silver nor gold, but I bring with me the most precious thing given to me: Jesus Christ!”
Thousands of pilgrims attended the inaugural Mass of World Youth Day (July 23) celebrated in the evening at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
The Pope visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (July 24) and before Mass, prayed before the image of Our Lady of Aparecida, a dark wooden sculpture that was caught in the nets of three local fishermen in 1717.
In his homily at Mass inside the basilica, Pope Francis said that before beginning his heavy schedule of WYD activities, he wanted to “knock on the door of the house of Mary.”
Pope Francis said he would entrust to Mary the success of WYD, and he prayed that “she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal.”
During the WYD welcoming ceremony on Copacabana Beach (July 25), the celebration also included a “shout out” to retired Pope Benedict XVI, who chose Rio as the site of WYD 2013 and selected its theme: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
The diversity represented at the event was not simply a matter of the national flags the pilgrims were carrying. Pope Francis said he knew the youths also had a variety of reasons for being part of WYD and a variety of levels of previous involvement with the Church.
“But today you are all here — or better yet, we are all here together as one in order to share the faith and the joy of an encounter with Christ, of being his disciples,” the Pope said in his introductory remarks.
In his homily, the Pope echoed those words, telling the young people that it is always good to be gathered around Jesus and to keep Jesus at the center of their lives.
Reciting the Angelus (July 26) with tens of thousands of people gathered in the square outside the archbishop of Rio’s residence, the Pope highlighted the importance of grandparents “for family life (and) for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society.”
Pope Francis celebrated Mass with the bishops and priests (July 27) in Rio’s St. Sebastian Cathedral, repeating one of the key ideas of his papacy: “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel.”
“It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome,” he said, “but we must go out through the door to seek and meet the people.”
The WYD vigil on Rio’s Copacabana Beach (July 27), began with short speeches from young people: a former drug user from Rio, a priest, a man in a wheelchair who had been shot in a robbery, and a female youth minister. They recounted how they came to the faith, then each added a wooden plank to a “church” that was being constructed on the stage.
Pope Francis recalled the story of St. Francis of Assisi, who heard the Lord tell him to rebuild his house.
“Please,” he told them, “let Christ and his word enter your life, blossom and grow.”
During the closing Mass for WYD, on Copacabana Beach, Pope Francis gave the younger generation a final instruction, “As you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel.”
It can change the world, he said. “Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred.”
Aboard the papal flight from Brazil (July 28), the Pope answered questions about Curia reforms and a so-called “gay lobby” in the Church. He was also asked about his plans for the Vatican bank.
THE EFFECTS OF CONSUMERISM
Pope Francis denounced consumerism as a poison that threatens true happiness — happiness which comes from membership in the Church.
The Pope made his remarks before praying the Angelus with a noontime crowd in St. Peter’s Square.
The pontiff also reflected on the Mass he celebrated July 28 in Rio de Janeiro, the culminating event of WYD.
“World Youth days are not ‘fireworks,’ moments of enthusiasm that end with themselves,” he said. “The youth are not following the Pope, they are following Jesus Christ, bearing his cross.”
ABOUT FRANCISCAN FRIARS OF THE IMMACULATE
Pope Francis’ order restricting the use of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass in communities of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate addresses problems within the religious order and does not contradict retired Pope Benedict XVI’s permission for wider use of the old Mass throughout the Church, the Vatican spokesman said.
After an apostolic visitation of the order, begun under Pope Benedict, Pope Francis appointed Capuchin Father Fidenzio Volpi to serve as apostolic commissioner of the order.
Some bloggers and Catholic websites had presented the Vatican move as an attempt to restrict use of the old Mass, but Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the provisions concern “the life and governance of the congregation as a whole and not just liturgical questions.”
MISSIONARY ACTIVITY IS SERVICE TO HURTING WORLD
“It is necessary to proclaim courageously and in every situation the Gospel of Christ, a message of hope, reconciliation (and) communion, a proclamation of God’s closeness, his mercy, salvation and a proclamation that the power of God’s love is able to overcome the darkness of evil and guide us on the path of goodness,” the Pope wrote in a message for World Mission Sunday 2013, to be celebrated on October 20 at the Vatican and in most dioceses.
Pope Francis thanked the churches in traditionally mission territory, such as Africa, for their willingness to send priests and religious to other countries, including in Europe and North America.
The pontiff also urged all Catholics to take responsibility for the Church’s missionary activity, including by giving financial support to the Pontifical Mission Societies.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO RESPECT, DEFEND HUMAN LIFE
“Parents are called to pass on to their children the awareness that life must always be defended,” Pope Francis wrote in a message to people joining in the Brazilian Catholic Church’s celebration of Family Week, which began August 11.
The Pope returned to his condemnation of the “throwaway culture,” something he spoke against several times during his July 22-28 visit to Brazil. He had said that modern cultures tend to treat even human lives as disposable, pointing to the way people, societies and even governments tend to treat both the young and the old.
A PRAYER FOR EGYPT
In light of the “painful news” coming from Egypt August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Pope Francis said he was praying for “all the victims and their families, for the injured and those who are suffering.”
“Let us pray together for peace, dialogue and reconciliation in that dear land and throughout the world,” the Pope told an estimated 12,000 people who joined him in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, for the feast day Mass and recitation of the Angelus prayer.
Before reciting the Angelus in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Francis asked the crowds gathered there to join him in asking Mary, Queen of Peace, to hear his prayers for Egypt.
MARY IS ALWAYS NEAR, HELPING THE CHURCH FACE ITS TRIALS
Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the Church, is already in glory in heaven, but she is always with the Church and helps it face the trials of the devil, Pope Francis said in his homily at a Mass for the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
The Pope celebrated the Mass in the main square of Castel Gandolfo, a small town in the hills about 16 miles south of Rome where previous Popes have spent the summer months.
Pope Francis told the crowd that praying the rosary and meditating on the events of suffering and joy in the life of Mary and Jesus can give them the strength they need to continue “the battle against the evil one and his accomplices.”
The Pope encouraged people to pray with Mary and to trust her as “our mother, our representative, our sister, the first believer to arrive in heaven.”
FAITH ISN’T ORNAMENTAL
Faith “is not decorating your life with a bit of religion as if life were a cake that you decorate with cream,” the Pope said before reciting the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis’ Angelus address included an explanation of a passage from the day’s Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus tells his disciples: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”
“Following Jesus means renouncing evil, selfishness and choosing goodness, truth and justice even when that requires sacrifice and renouncing our own interests.”
MINI-AUDIENCE FOR JAPANESE STUDENTS
Not wanting to disappoint 200 Japanese junior high school students, Pope Francis held a special audience August 21 in the San Damaso Courtyard of the apostolic palace.
The students from Seibu Gakuen Bunri Junior High School in Tokyo had planned their trip to Rome and the Vatican long before the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would not hold his weekly general audiences in August.
The Pope told the students that traveling, getting to know people who are different from themselves, learning about other cultures and religions “is good for you, it helps you grow.”
“Dialogue is what brings peace,” the Pope told the group, which included Christians and Buddhists. “Peace is impossible without dialogue.”
After the students sang for him, Pope Francis told them that give-and-take is important in dialogue, but he was very sorry that he couldn’t reciprocate with a song of his own.
POPE DENOUNCES MASSACRES IN SYRIA
Pope Francis called again for an end to the fighting in Syria, denouncing the “multiplication of massacres and atrocious acts,” including the suspected chemical weapons attack that left hundreds dead.
“It is not clashes, but an ability to meet and to dialogue that offers prospects for a hope of resolving the problems,” the Pope said after reciting the Angelus.
Once again the Pope asked the crowd to join him in praying that Mary, Queen of Peace, would intercede to stop the atrocities in Syria.
He asked the international community to pay more attention to the conflict in Syria and help the nation’s people “find a solution to this war that is sowing destruction and death.”
“DIALOGUE IS ONLY HOPE FOR PEACE IN SYRIA”
Pope Francis met at the Vatican with King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan. They spent 20 minutes speaking alone.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the Vatican said that the Pope and king “reaffirmed that the path of dialogue and negotiation is the only option for putting an end to the conflict and violence that each day cause the loss of many human lives, especially among the unarmed population.”
The Vatican, the statement said, also expressed appreciation for the king’s commitment to promoting interreligious dialogue and his decision to convoke a conference in September about the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East.
NEW SECRETARY OF VATICAN STATE
The Pope appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, a longtime official in the Vatican secretariat of state and nuncio to Venezuela since 2009, to be his secretary of state.
On October 15, Archbishop Parolin will succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78, who came to the post in 2006 after serving as archbishop of Genoa, Italy.