Thursday, 29 September 2016

Details of Pope Francis' visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan

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Details of Pope Francis' visit
to Georgia and Azerbaijan
 
At a briefing for journalists at the Holy See press office on Monday, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke gave details of Pope Francis’ forthcoming three day visit to the republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It’ll be his 16th pastoral visit outside Italy and it’ll be focused on the themes of peace and brotherhood, following on from the message of peace that he took with him to the neighbouring republic of Armenia last June.
The Pope is scheduled to leave the Vatican on Friday morning, headed for the Georgian capital Tbilisi. His first encounter there will be with the president, with government authorities and representatives of civil society gathered at the imposing presidential palace. From there he goes on to meet the country’s Orthodox leader Patriarch Elia, who was also on hand for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the newly independent nation back in 1999.
The final event on Friday will be a visit to the Syro-Chaldean church of St Simon the Tanner, one of three different rites making up the small Catholic community in the former Soviet nation. The pope will join Syro-Chaldean bishops from around the world there to pray for peace in Syria and Iraq.
Pope Francis begins the following day with Mass at a stadium in Tbilisi named after one of Georgia’s most famous footballers. Significantly, a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate will also be present at the Mass, a sign of growing friendship despite the many doctrinal difficulties that continue to divide leaders of the two Churches.
In the afternoon, the Pope will meet with priests, religious and seminarians at one of the two Catholic parishes in the capital, before greeting several hundred disabled and vulnerable people being cared for by members of the Camilian order.  The Pope’s final event in Georgia will be a visit to the patriarchal cathedral in the nearby ancient city of Mtshketa, listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
On the final day of the trip, Pope Francis flies from Tbilisi to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan where he’ll celebrate Mass for the tiny Catholic community at the only parish church run by the Salesian order. In the afternoon he’ll make a courtesy visit to the president and meet the region’s Muslim leader, Sheik  Allashukur Pashazade, before taking part in an interfaith encounter with representatives of all the other religious communities in the country.

SOURCE:NEWS.VA


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Pope: overcome spiritual desolation through prayer, not pills or drink

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Pope: overcome spiritual desolation through prayer, not pills or drink
 
Pope Francis said silence and prayer is the way to overcome our darkest moments, rather than resorting to pills or alcoholic drinks to escape from our woes. His comments came during his homily at the morning Mass celebrated on Tuesday at the Santa Marta residence. 
Taking his cue from the day’s first reading where Job was living through a spiritual desolation and was giving vent to his sorrows before God, the Pope’s homily focused on these dark moments of spiritual desolation that all of us experience at some point and explained how we can overcome them. He said although Job was in deep trouble and had lost everything he did not curse God and his outburst was that of “a son in front of his father.”
All of us sooner or later experience a spiritual darkness
“Spiritual desolation is something that happens to all of us: it can be stronger or weaker … but that feeling of spiritual darkness, of hopelessness, mistrust, lacking the desire to live, without seeing the end of the tunnel, with so much agitation in one’s heart and in one’s ideas…  Spiritual desolation makes us feel as though our souls are crushed, we can’t succeed, we can’t succeed and we also don’t want to live: ‘Death is better!’ This was Job’s outburst. It was better to die than live like this. We need to understand that when our soul is in this state of generalized sadness we can barely breathe: This happens to all of us… whether strong or not ….. to all of us. (We need to) understand what goes on in our hearts.”
Pope Francis went on to pose the question: “What should we do when we experience these dark moments, be it for a family tragedy, an illness, something that weighs us down?.” Noting that some people would think of taking a pill to sleep and remove them from their problems or drinking one, two, three or four glasses” he warned that these methods “do not help.” Instead, today’s liturgy shows us how to cope with this spiritual desolation, “when we are lukewarm, depressed and without hope.”
The Pope said the way out from this situation is to pray, to pray loudly, just as Job did, day and night until God listens.
“It is a prayer to knock at the door but with strength! ‘Lord, my soul is surfeited with troubles. My life draws near to Hell. I am numbered among those who go down into the pit; I am a man without strength.’ How many times have we felt like this, without strength?  And here is the prayer. Our Lord himself taught us how to pray in these dreadful moments. ‘Lord, you have plunged me into the bottom of the pit. Upon me, your wrath lies heavy. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.’ This is the prayer and this is how we should pray in our darkest, most dreadful, bleakest and most crushed moments that are really crushing us. This is genuine prayer. And it’s also giving vent just like Job did with his sons. Like a son.”
Silence, closeness and prayer is how to help those who are suffering
The importance of silence, being close and using prayer was stressed by Pope Francis who said that was the correct way for friends to behave when faced with those who are undergoing dark moments, warning words and speeches in these situations can do harm.  
“First of all, we must recognize in ourselves these moments of spiritual desolation, when we are in the dark, without hope and asking ourselves why. Secondly, we must pray to the Lord like today’s reading from Psalm 87 teaches us to pray during our dark moments. ‘Let my prayer come before you, Lord.’ Thirdly, when I draw close to a person who is suffering, whether from illness, or whatever other type of suffering and who is experiencing a sense of desolation, we must be silent: but a silence with much love, closeness and caresses.  And we must not make speeches that don’t help in the end and even can do harm.”
The Pope concluded his homily by asking the Lord to grant us these three graces: the grace to recognize spiritual desolation, the grace to pray when we are afflicted by this feeling of spiritual desolation and also the grace to know how to be close to people who are suffering terrible moments of sadness and spiritual desolation.”

SOURCE:NEWS.VA


Monday, 26 September 2016

Pope Francis at Angelus: prayers for Mexican Church, nation

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Pope Francis at Angelus: prayers for Mexican Church, nation
 
Pope Francis offered prayers for slain Mexican priests on Sunday, and put his support behind the ongoing pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican Bishops.
Speaking with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, following Mass to mark the Jubilee of Catechists celebrated as part of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and ahead of the traditional noonday Angelus prayer, Pope Francis said, “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and of civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”
The Holy Father went on to say, “I assure my prayer for the dear Mexican people, that the violence, which has in recent days reached even several priests, might cease.”
Two priests were abducted and murdered in Poza Rica, Veracruz state.
Their abductions and murders took place at a time in which Church leaders have been calling for increased protection for clergy, as the Church in Mexico advocates in defence of traditional marriage while the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto pushes for a change in the law to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages.
14 priests have been killed since Peña Nieto took office in 2012, along with scores of thousands of kidnappings and homicides since that same year, most of which are related to the ongoing violence between rival drug cartels in the country.
SOURCE:NEWS.VA


Sunday, 25 September 2016

Pope offers comfort to friends and relatives of Nice attack victims

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Pope offers comfort to friends and relatives of Nice attack victims

 
Pope Francis on Saturday sought to comfort relatives and close friends of the more than 80 victims of the attack in Nice in July, who were run down by a man driving a truck as they celebrated France's national day. The pope began his solemn address by apologising for not speaking French because he said his was not "bon". Then, shifting to Italian, he urged those who were "attacked by the demon" to respond with "forgiveness, love and respect for your neighbour" rather than giving in to the temptation to react with hate and violence. 
Among the some 1,000 people who attended the ceremony were members of Nice's Jewish community and a local Muslim imam. "It makes me happy to see that inter-religious relations are very vibrant among you, and this cannot but soothe the wounds left by this dramatic event," Francis said. Islamic State (IS) militants claimed responsibility for the July 14 Nice attack. Less than two weeks later, IS militants killed an elderly French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, in his church, prompting the pope to declare the "the world is at war". But the pope also insisted the war was not a religious one, and that it was wrong to "identify Islam with violence", suggesting instead that the lack of economic opportunities for young people in Europe was one of the causes of terrorism. After speaking briefly, the pope descended from the pulpit and spent more than 45 minutes meeting those who attended the ceremony, many of whom were in tears.

SOURCE:NEWS.VA




Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pope to journalists: truth and respect for human dignity

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Pope to journalists:
truth and respect for human dignity
 
Pope Francis on Thursday met with the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, telling them that truth, professionalism and respect for human dignity were essential elements in their work.
Meeting with the assembled Italian journalists in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Thursday, Pope Francis told them that there were few professions that have “so much influence on society like that of journalism.” He noted that they are usually the ones who are there to record what he called,  the "first draft of history”, “the building of the news agenda and introducing people to the interpretation of events.”
He also noted that the journalistic profession was one that was continually adapting to changes in the way people digest news through new forms of media.
In his discourse the Pope stressed three essential elements in the work of a journalist, that he said, could serve to “improve the society in which we live”: To love the truth, to embody professionalism and to respect human dignity.
Truth
He said that loving the truth meant not only stating it, but living it  and bearing witness to it in their work, adding, even in journalism we must be able to discern between shades of grey surrounding the events that we are called to tell.”
Speaking about the second element, professionalism, Pope Francis underlined that when there was professionalism, journalists remained “a cornerstone, a fundamental element for the vitality of a free and pluralistic society.”
Respecting human dignity
On the subject of human dignity, the Pope stressed the importance of responsible journalism and he reiterated earlier comments he made about rumours being a form of "terrorism", and  how you can kill a person with language. The Holy Father went on to say that “journalism cannot become a '' weapon of destruction "of people and even nations.” Criticism, is legitimate, he added, “as well as the denunciation of evil, but this must always be done respecting the other, his life, his affections”.
Holy See communications
Pope Francis during his discourse also commented on the changing communication’s environment of the Holy See. He said that it was experiencing a renewal process from which journalists should benefit, adding “the Secretariat for Communication will be the natural point of reference for your valuable work.”

SOURCE:NEWS.VA



Friday, 23 September 2016

Pope Francis: Vanity is osteoporosis of the soul

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Pope Francis contrasted the anxiety that comes from the Holy Spirit and the anxiety that comes from a dirty conscience. During his homily during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he also spoke about vanity, which “masks” life, making it look like something it is not. 
Two forms of anxiety
The Gospel of the day describes King Herod (Antipas) as being perplexed or anxious because, having had John the Baptist killed, he now felt threatened by Jesus. He was worried just as his father, Herod the Great, was troubled after the visit of the Magi. There can be two different kinds of anxiety in the soul, Pope Francis said, a “good” anxiety, which “the Holy Spirit gives us” and which “makes the soul restless to do good things”; and a “bad” anxiety, “that which is born from a dirty conscience.” The two Herods tried to resolve their anxiety by killing, going forward over “the bodies of the people”:
These people who had done such evil, who does evil and has a dirty conscience and cannot live in peace, because they live with a continual itch, with a continual rash that does not leave them in peace… These people have done evil, but evil always has the same root, any evil: greed, vanity, and pride. And all three do not leave the conscience in peace; all three do not allow the healthy restlessness of the Holy Spirit to enter, but bring you to live like this: anxiously, with fear. Greed, vanity, and pride are the roots of all evils.
Vanity, the osteoporosis of the soul
The day’s first Reading, taken from Ecclesiastes, speaks about vanity:
The vanity that makes us swell up. The vanity that does not have long life, because it is like a soap bubble. The vanity that does not give us true gain. What profit comes to the person for all the effort he puts into worrying? He is anxious to appear, to pretend, to seem. This is vanity. If we want to speak simply: vanity is covering up real life. And this makes the soul sick. Because in the end, if they cover up their real life in order to appear or to seem a certain way, all the things they do to pretend… What is gained? Vanity is like an osteoporosis of the soul: the bones seem good on the outside, but within they are totally ruined. Vanity makes us a fraud.
A face like an image in a picture, but the truth is otherwise
It’s like con men who “mark the cards” in order to win, the Pope continued. But “this victory is a fiction, it’s not true. This is vanity: living to pretend, living to seem, living to appear. And this makes the soul restless.” Pope Francis recalled the strong words Saint Bernard had for the vain: “Think of what you will be: food for worms.” Following on the saint’s thought, the Pope said, “All this ‘putting make-up’ on life is a lie, because the worms will eat you and you will be nothing.” What power does vanity have? he asked. Driven by pride to wickedness, it does not allow you to see your mistakes, “it covers everything, everything is covered”:
How many people do we know that appear one way: ‘What a good person! He goes to Mass every Sunday. He makes great donations to the Church.’ This is how they appear, but the osteoporosis is the corruption they have within. There are people like this – but there are also holy people! – who do this. This is vanity: You try to appear with a face like a pretty picture, and yet your truth is otherwise. And where is our strength and security, our refuge? We read it in the psalm between the readings: ‘Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation.’ And before the Gospel we recalled the words of Jesus: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ This is the truth, not the cosmetics of vanity. May the Lord free us from these three roots of all evil: greed, vanity, and pride. But especially from vanity, that makes us so bad.


SOURCE:NEWS.VA