Tuesday 1- Thursday 3
POPE ATTENDS A MEETING WITH eight CARDINALS
Pope Francis and his eight cardinal advisers on Church governance spent much of their first day together discussing the reform of the Synod of Bishops.
Possible changes to the organization of the world Synod of Bishops, which has been a periodic gathering of bishops from around the world to discuss a specific theme of Church life, were moved to the top of the meeting’s agenda.
The Synod’s new secretary-general, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, joined the Pope and cardinals for their discussion.
Among the topics of the Pope’s reflection were the mission of the Church, the relationship between the Universal Church and local churches, collegiality, the Church and poverty, and the role of the laity.
Each of the cardinals then offered a summary of the suggestions he had collected in preparation for the meeting, and offered his views on what should be the major areas of the Council’s work.
One of the topics mentioned most often, Father Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said, was concern for the role of the laity in the Church and the world.
Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals are laying out plans to completely overhaul the Roman Curia, underlining its role of “service to the Universal Church and the local churches,” the Vatican spokesman said.
The discussions, Father Lombardi said, are going clearly in the direction of an apostolic constitution to replace Pastor Bonus, and not simply “cosmetic retouches or marginal modifications” of the 1988 document.
The eight cardinal advisers are: Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, USA; George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State; and Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. At the end of their meeting, Council members announced they would hold their second meeting with the Pope December 3-5, and they planned to meet again at the Vatican in February
ABOUT “JUSTICE” AND “SOLIDARITY”
Addressing a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), Pope Francis asked whether “‘justice’ and ‘solidarity’ are just words in our dictionary or do we all work to make them a reality?”
Addressing the participants in the Pacem in Terris Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pope Francis tied the migrants’ tragedy to the “inhuman global economic crisis, a serious symptom of a lack of respect for the human person.”
The October 2-4 commemorative conference in Rome focused on educating a new generation of Catholics for political involvement and leadership, on challenges facing the United Nations and the international community, and on modern challenges to establishing a culture of peace.
POPE FRANCIS’ VISIT TO ASSISI
Making his first pilgrimage as Pope to the birthplace of his papal namesake, Pope Francis called on the whole Church to imitate St. Francis of Assisi, embracing poverty and stripping itself of the “spirit of world.”
“A Christian cannot coexist with the spirit of the world,” he said. Worldliness “leads us to vanity, arrogance, pride. And this is an idol, it is not of God.”
The Pope spoke on the Feast of St. Francis, in the “stripping room” of the Assisi archbishop’s residence, where the saint shed himself of his rich clothes and embraced a life of poverty.
The Pope mourned the African immigrants killed in the previous day’s sinking of a boat near the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where in July he made his first trip as Pope outside Rome.
The Pope’s morning in Assisi culminated in a Mass he celebrated in the square outside the Basilica of St. Francis.
The Pope’s day in Assisi included visits to various sites associated with St. Francis, including his tomb in the Basilica of St. Francis; the Church of San Damiano, where the saint had a vision of Jesus; the hermitage where he went to pray in isolation; the small “Porziuncola” church, now contained inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where he founded the Franciscan Order; the tomb of his friend St. Clare; and the cathedral where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.
A PRAYER FOR THE LOST LIVES IN LAMPEDUSA
During his midday Angelus address, Pope Francis asked the thousands who joined him in St. Peter’s Square for the Marian prayer to join him for a moment of silence.
“We remember those who lost their lives in Lampedusa,” the Pope said. “Let us all pray silently for these brothers and sisters of ours — men, women and children. Let our hearts cry for them.”
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the official Pope Francis appointed in August to be his almoner and distribute charity, traveled to Lampedusa as a sign of the Pope’s personal concern for the dead, the survivors and the coast guard and humanitarian workers at the scene.
A SYNOD ON FAMILIES, DIVORCE, REMARRIAGE
The Vatican announced that an extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops will meet October 5-19, 2014, to discuss the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”
The Pope had told reporters accompanying him on his plane back from Rio de Janeiro in July that the next synod would explore a “somewhat deeper pastoral care of marriage,” including the question of the eligibility of divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. Pope Francis added at the time that Church law governing marriage annulments also “has to be reviewed, because ecclesiastical tribunals are not sufficient for this. It is complex, the problem of the pastoral care of marriage.”
Such problems, he said, exemplified a general need for forgiveness in the Church today.
“The Church is a mother, and she must travel this path of mercy, and find a form of mercy for all,” the Pope said.
POPE MEETS ROME JEWS
At a meeting with members of Rome’s Jewish community, Pope Francis denounced anti-Semitism and recalled the 1943 deportation of more than 1,000 of the city’s Jews to Nazi concentration camps.
“It’s a contradiction for a Christian to be anti-Semitic, his roots are in part Jewish,” the Pope said. “May anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and the life of every man and woman.”
Pope Francis gave a delegation led by Rabbi Riccardo Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, a message commemorating the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Rome’s Jews on October 16, 1943. Of the more than 1,000 people sent to Auschwitz by the German occupiers that day, only 16 eventually returned.
Pope Francis voiced hopes that memory of the atrocity would inspire “new generations not to allow themselves to fall into line, not to let themselves be caught up by ideologies, never to justify the evil they encounter, and not to lower their guard against anti-Semitism and against racism, regardless of where they are from.”
SPECIAL MARIAN DAY
Before a crowd of more than 100,000 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis formally entrusted the world to Mary.
“We are confident that each of us is precious in your sight,” the Pope said, facing the statue of Mary that normally stands in the shrine at Fatima, Portugal. “Guard our lives in your arms; bless and strengthen every desire for goodness.”
The short ceremony was the culmination of a special Marian Day organized for the Year of Faith. In his homily during the morning’s Mass, Pope Francis celebrated Mary as a model of docility, fidelity and gratitude to God.
“Let us invoke Mary’s intercession,” he said. “May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength.”
An Italian air force helicopter transported the statue.
The statue was then brought to the residence of retired Pope Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he briefly venerated the statue in the monastery’s small chapel. Afterwards, Pope Francis welcomed the statue at the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.
Pope Francis led the vigil service the evening before, which included a recitation of the seven sorrows of Mary.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone stepped down with a speech praising the pontificate of retired Pope Benedict XVI and stressing its continuity with that of Pope Francis.
The cardinal made his remarks at a ceremony in the Apostolic Palace marking the end of his seven years as the chief aide to two Popes. Before his speech, Pope Francis thanked the cardinal for the “courage and patience with which you have lived the adversities you have had to face. They are so many.”
The ceremony had also been planned as a welcome to the incoming secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, but to the surprise of most in the room, Pope Francis announced that the archbishop had been unable to attend on account of a “small surgical intervention” that would keep him away from work for a “few weeks.”
The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the archbishop had traveled to his native Veneto region of northeastern Italy for the surgery, whose nature the spokesman declined to specify. The new secretary of state, who until the end of September served as papal nuncio to Venezuela, could be in Rome by the end of October, Father Lombardi said.
THE CHURCH IS “APOSTOLIC”
The Church can describe itself as “apostolic” only if it shares the Gospel with the world, remaining faithful to the teaching of the apostles and living out Gospel values, Pope Francis said.
“A Church closed in on itself and its past, a Church concerned only with its little rules, customs and attitudes is a Church that betrays its identity,” the Pope told more than 70,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience.
Continuing a series of audience talks about how the creed describes the Church, Pope Francis said the adjective “apostolic” comes from the Church’s connection to the 12 men Jesus chose as his closest companions and sent to share with the entire world what he had told and shown them.
POPE MEETS PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT
Pope Francis gave Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a fancy pen as a gift, and Abbas told the Pope, “I hope to sign the peace agreement with Israel with this pen.”
The Pope and Palestinian president had spent almost half an hour meeting privately.
A Vatican statement about Abbas’ meeting with the Pope and a later meeting with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, said, “The reinstatement of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians” was a topic in both conversations.
The Vatican statement on Abbas’ meetings said the Pope and Palestinian leader also discussed the ongoing war in Syria and expressed their hopes that “dialogue and reconciliation may supplant the logic of violence as soon as possible.”
The two also discussed the work underway on a Vatican-Palestinian agreement regulating “several essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine,” as well as the situation of Christian communities in the Palestinian territories and the contributions Christians make to society throughout the Middle East.
2014 LENTEN RETREAT AWAY FROM VATICAN
The annual papal retreat will take place March 9-14 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference center in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome.
Pope Francis chose Msgr. Angelo De Donatis to preach the retreat. Pastor of a parish in the center of Rome, he established a spirituality center there and is well known as a spiritual director of priests and seminarians.
THE ROLE OF CATHOLIC MEDIA
Catholic media are important not only as means of documenting Church events, Pope Francis said, but especially as means for bringing the Church and the Gospel closer to people.
Catholic media professionals must report news and share stories, “dialoguing with a world that has a need to be listened to and understood, but also needs to receive the message of true life,” the Pope said.
In a message to employees of the Vatican Television Center, which was marking its 30th anniversary as a producer and distributor of Vatican and papal video, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church needs the best communications media available, but they must be used as a service to the Church and part of its evangelizing mission.
POPE RECEIVES NEW U.S. ENVOY TO VATICAN
Kenneth F. Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, officially presented his credentials to Pope Francis today.
The United States has not had an ambassador to the Vatican since November 2012, when Miguel H. Diaz resigned and left Rome to become a professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton in Ohio.
Hackett is a former president of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, which he first joined in 1972 after a post-college stint with the Peace Corps in Ghana. He retired as president of CRS in December 2011.
The new ambassador is also a former North American president of Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of humanitarian agencies of the Catholic Church, and a former member of the board of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
MARY AS A MODEL
Mary lived her faith “in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and concerns every mother has, like preparing food, clothing, caring for the home,” he said at his weekly general audience.
With more than 85,000 people gathered inside and outside St. Peter’s Square for the audience, Pope Francis continued his series of audience talks about the Church by focusing on the Second Vatican Council’s assertion that Mary is “the model of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ.”
By touring the square and kissing babies before the audience, giving his talk and greetings in several languages, and personally blessing the sick, newlyweds and other special guests at the end, Pope Francis spent more than three and a half hours in the square.
MARRIAGE ISN’T EASY, BUT IT’S BEAUTIFUL
“There are problems in marriage: different points of view, jealousies, arguments, but tell young couples to never let the day end without making peace. The sacrament of matrimony is renewed in this act of peace,” the Pope said during a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
“This path is not easy, but it is so beautiful,” the Pope said. “It’s beautiful. Tell them that.”
Pope Francis, departing from his prepared text, told members of the Council, “When I hear the confession of a young married man or woman, and they refer to their son or daughter, I ask, ‘How many children do you have?’ and they tell me. Maybe they’re expecting another question after that, but I always ask, ‘And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you spend time with your children?’”
“The free gift of a parent’s time is so important,” he said.
Saturday 26-Sunday 27
PILGRIMAGE OF FAMILIES
A Catholic wedding is not simply a beautiful ceremony; through the sacrament of marriage a couple receives from God the grace they will need to fulfill their mission in the world, Pope Francis said.
Addressing an estimated 100,000 people who came St. Peter’s Square October 26 for a Year of Faith celebration of family life, Pope Francis said Catholic spouses are not naive; they know difficult moments will come.
The evening’s formal program began with a little girl identified only as Federica showing the Pope a drawing she made of her mother teaching her to cook cutlets.
Dozens of people — from children to grandparents — were invited to speak to the Pope and the crowd, sharing the stories of their family lives.
Pope Francis urged Catholic couples to go against the cultural trend of seeing everything, including relationships, as fleeting. Marriage is a life-long journey, he said, “a long journey, not little pieces.”
Pope Francis also told the crowd that three phrases are essential for a peaceful family life: “‘May I?’ to make sure you aren’t being intrusive, ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’”
The next morning, Pope Francis was back in St. Peter’s Square celebrating Mass with the families. And, again, he spoke of the importance of praying as a family.
The faith, he said, is not “a personal treasure like a bank account” or something to be kept “in a strong box,” he said. A faith that is not shared with others might as well be “embalmed,” he added.
POPE RECEIVES AUNG SAN SUU KYI
Pope Francis met with Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, for what the Vatican called a “rather significant encounter” between two leaders “fundamentally on the same wavelength” regarding nonviolence, democracy and “peaceful coexistence in today’s world.”
“The Holy Father told me that emotions such as hatred and fear diminish life and the value of the person,” Suu Kyi told reporters after the meeting. She said the Pope also told her “we need to value love and understanding to improve the lives of people.”
NEW CARDINALS IN FEBRUARY
Pope Francis will create his first cardinals during a consistory February 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.
The names of the new cardinals are usually announced a little more than a month before the consistory itself.
The technical limit on the number of voting-age cardinals is 120. That means that, if the Pope respects that ceiling, he could name 14 new ones.
FEAST OF ALL SAINTS
Saints aren’t superheroes; they are regular people who just never left God’s side after encountering him and his love, Pope Francis said on the feast of All Saints.
“Being a saint is not a privilege of the few, like someone getting a large inheritance. All of us have inherited through baptism the ability to become saints,” he said.
Before reciting the Angelus with people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope talked about God’s call to holiness.
The Pope said the saints’ message to women and men today is to “trust in the Lord because he never disappoints.”
The Pope greeted the many men and women who ran in the annual 10-kilometer Race of the Saints.
“St. Paul would say that a Christian’s whole life is a race for winning the prize of holiness; you are giving us a good example. Thank you for this race,” he said.
GOD ALWAYS FORGIVES
God never ceases to forgive, offering even the disobedient the chance for eternal life, Pope Francis said.
“Even if our entire existence is surrounded by threats, nothing can ever separate us from the love that Christ himself gained for us,” the Pope said in a homily in St. Peter’s Basilica during a memorial Mass for the 9 cardinals and 136 bishops who had died over the preceding year.
Pope Francis prayed that the “Lord welcome them into his kingdom of light and peace, where the just and those who have been faithful witnesses to the Gospel live eternally.”
Referring to the day’s Gospel reading (Lk 19:1-10) about a short man who climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus, the Pope urged his listeners to “climb up, as did Zacchaeus, climb onto the tree of the desire to be forgiven. I assure you that you will not be disappointed.”
A SPECIAL PRAYER FOR NOEMI
Saying, “don’t worry, we aren’t taking up a collection,” Pope Francis asked people at his weekly general audience to perform an act of charity by praying for a seriously ill 18-month-old girl named Noemi.
The baby’s father said his daughter has spinal muscular atrophy. The family, he said, was invited by the Pope to visit the Vatican, pray with him, spend the night and share their meals with him.
Being part of the Church means sharing “spiritual goods — the sacraments, charisms and charity” — including by helping someone or praying for those in need, he said at his weekly general audience.
Returning to the theme of “the communion of saints,” which he spoke about at his audience, Pope Francis said it not only refers to the bond existing between Church members living and dead, but also refers to “the bond of unity and sharing that should mark the life of Christians on earth.”