Oct 22 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, on occasion of the 2017 iteration of World Mission Sunday. In the letter, the Holy Father reflects on the upcoming centenary of the great missionary charter of the 20th century, the Apostolic Letter Maximum illud of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, promulgated on November 30th, 1919.
Below, please find the full text of the letter in its official English translation
To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Fernando Filoni
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples
On 30 November 2019, we will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, with which Pope Benedict XV sought to give new impetus to the missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel. In 1919, in the wake of a tragic global conflict that he himself called a “useless slaughter,” the Pope recognized the need for a more evangelical approach to missionary work in the world, so that it would be purified of any colonial overtones and kept far away from the nationalistic and expansionistic aims that had proved so disastrous. “The Church of God is universal; she is not alien to any people,” he wrote, firmly calling for the rejection of any form of particular interest, inasmuch as the proclamation and the love of the Lord Jesus, spread by holiness of one’s life and good works, are the sole purpose of missionary activity. Benedict XV thus laid special emphasis on the missio ad gentes, employing the concepts and language of the time, in an effort to revive, particularly among the clergy, a sense of duty towards the missions.
That duty is a response to Jesus’ perennial command to “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). Obeying this mandate of the Lord is not an option for the Church: in the words of the Second Vatican Council, it is her “essential task,” for the Church is “missionary by nature.” “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity; she exists in order to evangelize.” The Council went on to say that, if the Church is to remain faithful to herself and to preach Jesus crucified and risen for all, the living and merciful Saviour, then “prompted by the Holy Spirit, she must walk the same path Christ walked: a path of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice.” In this way, she will effectively proclaim the Lord, “model of that redeemed humanity, imbued with brotherly love, sincerity and a peaceful spirit, to which all aspire.”
What Pope Benedict XV so greatly desired almost a century ago, and the Council reiterated some fifty years ago, remains timely. Even now, as in the past, “the Church, sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the love of God to all men and nations, is aware that there still remains an enormous missionary task for her to accomplish.” In this regard, Saint John Paul II noted that “the mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion,” and indeed, “an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service.” As a result, in words that I would now draw once more to everyone’s attention, Saint John Paul exhorted the Church to undertake a “renewed missionary commitment”, in the conviction that missionary activity “renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support.”
In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, drawing from the proceedings of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which met to reflect on the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith, I once more set this urgent summons before the whole Church. There I wrote, “John Paul II asked us to recognize that ‘there must be no lessening of the impetus to preach the Gospel’ to those who are far from Christ, ‘because this is the first task of the Church.’ Indeed, ‘today missionary activity still represents the greatest challenge for the Church’ and ‘the missionary task must remain foremost.’ What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity.”
I am convinced that this challenge remains as urgent as ever. “[It] has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion that cannot leave things as they presently are. ‘Mere administration’ can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission.’” Let us not fear to undertake, with trust in God and great courage, “a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. The renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion can only be understood in this light: as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth and in this way to elicit a positive response from all those whom Jesus summons to friendship with himself. As John Paul II told the Bishops of Oceania, ‘All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion.’”
The Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud called for transcending national boundaries and bearing witness, with prophetic spirit and evangelical boldness, to God’s saving will through the Church’s universal mission. May the approaching centenary of that Letter serve as an incentive to combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past. Instead, may we be open to the joyful newness of the Gospel. In these, our troubled times, rent by the tragedies of war and menaced by the baneful tendency to accentuate differences and to incite conflict, may the Good News that in Jesus forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear, be proclaimed to the world with renewed fervour, and instil trust and hope in everyone.
In the light of this, accepting the proposal of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I hereby call for an Extraordinary Missionary Month to be celebrated in October 2019, with the aim of fostering an increased awareness of the missio ad gentes and taking up again with renewed fervour the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity. The Missionary Month of October 2018 can serve as a good preparation for this celebration by enabling all the faithful to take to heart the proclamation of the Gospel and to help their communities grow in missionary and evangelizing zeal. May the love for the Church’s mission, which is “a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people,” grow ever stronger!
I entrust you, venerable Brother, the Congregation which you head, and the Pontifical Missionary Societies with the work of preparing for this event, especially by raising awareness among the particular Churches, the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and among associations, movements, communities and other ecclesial bodies. May the Extraordinary Missionary Month prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity. May it likewise advance the preaching of the Gospel, biblical and theological reflection on the Church’s mission, works of Christian charity, and practical works of cooperation and solidarity between Churches, so that missionary zeal may revive and never be wanting among us.
From the Vatican, 22 October 2017
XXIX Sunday of Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint John Paul II
World Mission Sunday
 Letter to the Leaders of the Warring Peoples, 1 August 1917: AAS IX (1917), 421-423.
 Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, 30 November 1919: AAS 11 (1919), 445.
 Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, 7 December 1965, 7: AAS 58 (1966), 955.
 Ibid., 2: AAS 58 (1966), 948.
 Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 8 December 1975, 14: AAS 68 (1976), 13.
 Decree Ad Gentes, 5: AAS 58 (1966), 952.
 Ibid., 8: AAS 58 (1966), 956-957.
 Ibid., 10: AAS 58 (1966), 959.
 Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, 7 December 1990, 1: AAS 83 (1991), 249.
 Ibid., 2: AAS 83 (1991), 250-251.
 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium 15: AAS 105 (2013), 1026.
 Ibid., 25: AAS 105 (2013), 1030.
 Ibid., 27: AAS 105 (2013), 1031.
 Ibid., 268: AAS 105 (2013), 1128.
 Ibid., 80: AAS 105 (2013), 1053.
Oct 22 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.
Addressing them ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis shared a reflection on the Reading from the Sunday Gospel, which this week came from St. Matthew and contains the maxim, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.”
Pope Francis explained that the episode teaches us both the legitimacy of earthly authority and the primacy of God in human affairs and over all the universe.
“The Christian is called to be concretely committed in human and social realities,” said Pope Francis, “without putting God and ‘Caesar’ in contraposition.” He said that counterposing God and Caesar would be, “a fundamentalist attitude.”
“The Christian,” Pope Francis continued, “is called upon to engage concretely in earthly realities, but enlightening them with the light that comes from God. Entrusting oneself to God in the first, and placing one’s hope in Him, do not require us to escape from reality, but rather to work diligently to render unto Him, all that it His. That is why the believer looks to future reality, to that of God: that he might live his earthly life in fullness, and respond with courage to its challenges.”(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 22 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has proclaimed October, 2019 an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” to be marked and celebrated in the whole Church throughout the world, and entrusted the mission of the Church in the world especially to Pope St. John Paul II.
The Holy Father recalled his intention to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month on Sunday – World Mission Sunday – during the course of remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, to pray the traditional Angelus with him at noon.
“Today,” said Pope Francis, “World Mission Day is celebrated, on the theme: Mission at the heart of the Christian faith. I urge everyone to live the joy of mission by witnessing the Gospel in the environs where each one lives and works.”
The Holy Father went on to say, “At the same time, we are called upon to support with affection, concrete help, and prayer, the missionaries who have gone out to proclaim Christ to those who still do not know Him.”
“I also recall,” he continued, “that I intend to promote an Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019, in order to nourish the ardor of the evangelizing activity of the Church ad gentes. On the day of the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, missionary Pope, we entrust to his intercession the mission of the Church in the world.”(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 19 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked World Food Day this week with a visit to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) where he called on world leaders and policymakers to work for a concrete, practical consensus to prevent the most tragic effects of climate change hitting the weakest and most defenseless.
“We need to change our lifestyles, the use of resources, production and consumption patterns,” the Pope said, and he decried what he described as the “negligence” that is damaging the “delicate balances of the ecosystems” and the “arrogance of manipulating and controlling” the planet.
Hosting the Pope at FAO’s Headquarters in Rome was FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, who immediately afterwards spoke to Vatican Radio:
Da Silva points out that the Vatican has Permanent Observer Status at FAO but most important, he says, as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church he represents values that FAO shares: solidarity, dignity, and hope in a better world.
“We share those values in FAO and Pope Francis is a continuing inspiration for us, and not only through ‘Laudato Sì’ where he approaches the issue of climate change – a very important common global value” he says.
He says that Pope Francis is one of those rare people who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting important values: “these people are indispensable”.
“I think that Pope Francis is one of those people who have worked hard all of their lives and that he is one of the few indispensable people in the world today” he says.
Before addressing his audience at FAO, da Silva says he had the opportunity to speak with Pope Francis personally about some of the programmes his organization shares with the Vatican.
“We discussed particularly the need to concentrate our efforts in Africa and to stop the conflicts, and also to deal with the impact of climate change” he says.
Da Silva also revealed that Pope Francis promised to send a special message for the meeting that FAO is organizing during the African Union Summit that FAO is organizing next January 2018 in Addis Ababa.
(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 19 2017
(Vatican Radio) Methodist and Catholic theologians are meeting just outside Rome this week, marking the 50th anniversary of the first ecumenical dialogue group following the Second Vatican Council. That first session of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission was held in the hill town of Ariccia in October 1967.
Pope Francis met with members of the current Commission on Thursday, together with leaders of the World Methodist Council, saying that half a century of dialogue has set us free from estrangement and suspicion and helped us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
South African Bishop Ivan Abrahams is General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the concrete fruits of this ecumenical journey….
He says two of the key ingredients that have marked this “50 year pilgrimage or journey” are the love and trust that has been built up and that are reflected in the seven joint reports that have been produced thus far.
One of the great challenges, he says, is to let the fruits of this dialogue “percolate to the local level and we need to see how we can do that much more effectively”.
'That they may be one'
He notes that the latest dialogue report entitled ‘A Call to Holiness: from glory to glory’ stresses that working for unity is “a fundamental part of our mission and our witness to the world, to see that Jesus’ high priestly prayer is made reality”.
Speaking about the situation in his native South Africa, Abrahams says that as he saw the demise of apartheid in his lifetime, “I’d hoped to see the reality of “that they may be one” in my lifetime”.
Autonomy in mission and witness
Talking about the Methodist model of governance, he says there’s no compromise on key issues of faith, but “we don’t apply the ‘one size fits all’ model”, leaving the various conferences autonomy to make their own decisions about mission and witness.
Asked about Pope Francis’ efforts to give local Catholic bishops’ conferences with more autonomy over pastoral decision making, Abrahams says “I think that it is really the only way to go, if we speak about the integrity of the Gospel, because every cultural context is uniquely different”.
Pope Francis embodies unity
While practical cooperation on issues like migration, refugees or climate change are important, he says, consensus in the theological dialogue remains crucial because “we need to clarify so we can walk together”.
Finally Bishop Abrahams praises Pope Francis’ way of reaching out to young generations, saying he is “a beacon of hope” and “somebody who embodies the unity that we’re seeking to live”.(from Vatican Radio)
Oct 24 2017
Dublin, Ireland, Oct 24, 2017 / 03:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Prayer, reparation, and praising God are the focus of a new Benedictine priory in Ireland, which focuses especially on reparation for the sins of priests.
“It was never our predetermined plan to come to Ireland,” Silverstream Priory’s Father Benedict Andersen, O.S.B., told CNA. “But we believe that, through circumstances that we could never have foreseen, Divine Providence placed us here to play some sort of role, however modest, in the life of the Irish Church.”
Silverstream Priory is the home of the Benedictine Monks of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
The priory is a former residence of the Visitation Sisters in Stamullen, a village about 22 miles north of Dublin. It is believed to be the first monastery established in Ireland’s County Meath since King Henry VIII suppressed them.
“The Reformation, which was ruthlessly enforced in Ireland, dealt a near fatal blow to the monastic life, and it almost seems as if certain contemporary forces and trends are conspiring to finish it off completely,” said Father Benedict, who hails from Colorado.
There are many Americans at the priory. The prior, Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, is from Connecticut. Tulsa, Okla. native Dom Elijah Carroll also comes from the U.S. The priory has a postulant from Toledo, Ohio and a priest from the Archdiocese of St. Louis. One member is from County Meath, while one novice is from Australia and another from Denmark.
According to Father Benedict, one of the glories of the Benedictine order is that their sole reason for existence is “the lifelong search for God in separation from the world, and the perpetual praise of God in the Sacred Liturgy.”
The monk himself was baptized Catholic as an infant in 1980. Both his parents came from very large Catholic families, but for various reasons they became estranged from the Church and began practicing an Evangelical, charismatic form of Christianity.
In his own words, Father Benedict “rebelled” against this upbringing by seeking the depths of ancient Christianity. He became an Orthodox Christian for his twenties and studied at an Orthodox seminary. He returned to full communion with the Church “as a positive desire to be in full communion with the principal Petrine See, ‘Old Rome’ (as the Orthodox call it), the Church of my baptism.”
Dom Kirby and Father Benedict moved to Ireland in 2012 as the only members of their Benedictine community, which began in Tulsa, Okla.
“I must say that we have been received very well, from the very beginning until now,” Father Benedict said. “While there are of course major differences, I feel very much at home.”
In Father Benedict’s eyes, contemporary Irish culture is heavily Americanized, “sometimes for good but increasingly, I’m afraid, for the worst.”
The monk sees an “immense cultural shift” following the unprecedented success of the Irish economy in the 1990s. He suggested this success “had the downside of greatly accelerating the decay of Irish Catholic faith and practice since the Second Vatican Council.”
The “horrors” of Ireland’s sexual abuse scandals by clergy gave an “incalculable blow” to the Church’s credibility, he added.
“This island was once dotted from east to west, north to south, with monasteries. The heartbeat of the Irish people was the heartbeat of the monastic round of prayer,” Father Benedict said.
Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 Letter to the Catholics in Ireland noted the role of monasteries in promoting Eucharistic Adoration and their ability to revitalize priestly life through retreats.
“We have, as it were, our marching orders from the Holy See, and while we cannot physically leave the cloister, we are dedicated to an unseen, spiritual battle for the soul of this country, and specifically for its priests,” Father Benedict said.
The monks dedicate their time and energies to prayer, Mass and the eight hours of the Divine Office.
“Our approach to the faith and the spiritual life relies to a great extent on our study of the Scriptures (particularly the Psalter) and the Church Fathers, both Eastern and Western,” the monk explained. “Our monastic customs are thoroughly traditional, yet we are always aware of St. Benedict’s spirit of moderation and adaptation to various circumstances.”
The Benedictines of Silverstream Priory have adopted the charism of Mother Catherine-Mectilde de Bar, who founded the Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in the 17th century.
“Mother Mectilde established her particular Benedictine family to adore the Blessed Eucharist in a spirit of reparation for offenses and abuses committed against the Sacrament of Christ’s love,” Father Benedict said. “As monks, however, we have a particular focus on reparation for the sins of priests which, especially of late, have so disfigured the Face of Christ in the eyes of the world.”
“Out of weakness and defeat, and yes, even sin and infidelity, can come power and victory,” he continued. “May God hold our country close once again to his Sacred Heart, beating in the Sacred Host.”
Bishop Michael Smith of Meath presided at the monastery’s canonical establishment earlier this year, saying he was “delighted to recognize the unique presence of this new monastery.”
“Through their prayer, study and hospitality, the monks are ‘speaking to the heart’ and their quiet witness is a reminder that the Lord continues to provide the Church with new gifts and grace,” the bishop said, the newspaper The Irish Catholic reports.
This article was originally published on CNA March 17, 2017.
Oct 23 2017
Austin, Texas, Oct 23, 2017 / 03:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Texas' bishops have welcomed the decision of an appeals court delaying the government-assisted procurement of an abortion by an undocumented teenager who is under federal custody in the state.
However, a request for a review of the appeal has been filed, again opening up the question of whether the government will be forced to facilitate an abortion for the unaccompanied minor.
“Federal and Texas state officials are to be commended for defending the life of an innocent unborn child in a recent case involving an unaccompanied pregnant minor in federal immigration custody,” the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops stated Oct. 20.
They said a lower court’s Oct. 18 ruling allowing the girl to get an abortion would “require the government to facilitate and participate in ending the innocent life of the unborn child.”
“Indeed, this case, one of many brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has as its objective compelling others to perform, facilitate, or pay for abortion who do not wish to do so. This objective is unconscionable. No one —the government, private individuals or organizations — should be forced to be complicit in abortion,” the bishops urged.
The bishops’ statement came in response to an Oct. 20 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The case revolves around the question of whether the federal government will facilitate an abortion for a 17-year-old from Central America, known only as “Jane Doe.” Since September, the minor has been in federal custody in a Texas shelter operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement – an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under Texas law, minors must have either parental consent or a state permission to obtain an abortion. Doe received state permission Sept. 25, 2017. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has objected to transporting the minor to abortion appointments.
The government argues that since she is a minor in their custody, it has the right to determine what is in the best interest of the teen, and also states it has an interest in not creating incentives for minors to cross international borders in order to obtain abortions.
On Oct. 20, a three-judge appellate panel ruled that Doe would not be allowed immediately to obtain the abortion. This overruled a Texas district court’s ruling that Doe should be allowed to access an abortion immediately.
Instead, the appeals court said, a sponsor must be found for the minor, and she must be released from federal custody into the custody of the sponsor. She would then be allowed to obtain the abortion by herself, with the sponsor taking her to and from the appointment. The government has until Oct. 31 to find a sponsor.
As of last week’s ruling, Doe is 15 weeks pregnant and has secured outside funding for the abortion. Abortion is prohibited in Texas after 20 weeks.
The ACLU, who is representing Doe, has filed an emergency petition asking for a full review of the case by all 10 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The Trump administration has asked the appeals court to deny the petition, saying the court will review the case Oct. 31 if no sponsor is found. The administration also stated that the teen can return to her home country in order to seek an abortion.
Texas' bishops objected to the ACLU’s ongoing attempts to require cooperation in abortion, and noted that religious organizations, such at the Catholic Church, are involved in immigration efforts for unaccompanied minors and work with pregnant mothers.
They also decried the ALCU’s previous litigation seeking to bar the reception of funds from faith based-organizations, saying such actions are “thwarting the delivery of vital human services by organizations with the competence and experience to provide them.”
“As this case continues through the legal process, we pray for this young mother and her unborn child, so both may enjoy the protection and refuge the United States offers.”
Oct 23 2017
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 10:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis preached Monday about the idolatry of money, which causes us to ignore those in need, allowing others to go hungry and die while we turn money and worldly possessions into false gods.
Today there are people who are greedy for more money and worldly goods, people who have “so much,” but walk by “hungry children who have no medicine, who have no education, who are abandoned,” he said Oct. 23 during his homily at Mass at the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta.
This is “an idolatry that kills,” that makes “human sacrifices” to the god of money, the Pope said.
“This idolatry causes so many people to starve,” he stated, pointing to the example of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people who have been displaced from their home in Burma, also known as Myanmar, due to ethno-religious persecution.
There are 800,000 Rohingya people in refugee camps, the Pope said. And of these, 200,000 are children. They are “malnourished, without medicine,” he said.
“Even today this happens,” he emphasized, noting how our prayers against idolatry “must be strong.”
We should pray: “Lord, please, touch the hearts of these people who worship… the god of money. Touch also my heart so I do not fall into” the same thing, that I can see everything clearly, he said.
The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group who reside in the Rakhine state of majority-Buddhist Burma. They have been denied citizenship for nearly 40 years, and their persecution by the government has intensified in recent years.
Pope Francis has spoken out on behalf of the minority many times in recent years. In November he will visit Burma, as well as Bangladesh, where he will undoubtedly speak out for the rights of religious and ethnic minorities.
In his homily, he reflected on the words of Christ in the day’s Gospel from St. Luke: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
God who ultimately puts a limit on our attachment to money, Pope Francis said, since at the end of life it becomes worthless.
Many men worship money and make money their god, he continued, but their life has no meaning. “Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God,” Francis said, quoting from the Gospel of Luke.
God underlines this with “gentleness” in the end, he said. To make ourselves rich in what matters to God, “that is the only way. Wealth, [yes], but in God.”
Oct 23 2017
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a video message to participants in a youth forum in Canada, Pope Francis told young people to meet Jesus in prayer, letting Christ direct their lives – thus leading them on an incredible adventure.
“Young people, let Christ reach you,” the Pope said.
“Let Him speak to you, embrace you, console you, heal your wounds, dissolve your doubts and fears – and you shall be ready for the fascinating adventure of life, that precious and inestimable gift that God places every day in your hands.”
Continuing, the Pope encouraged young people to go “meet Jesus, be with Him in prayer.”
“Entrust yourselves to Him, give your whole life over to His merciful love, and your faith…will be the luminous witness of generosity and of the joy there is in following Him, wherever He should lead you.”
Pope Francis sent the 8-minute video message to youth participating in the Canadian National Youth Forum, which was held Oct. 22 on the theme of the upcoming 2018 Synod of Bishops, “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
The nationally televised forum was hosted by Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and by Fr. Thomas Rosica, founder and CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.
In his message, Francis told the youth not to let people destroy and exploit the world – a world that reveals its beauty when people work together, looking for the good of each person.
“I invite you to flood the places where you live with the joy and enthusiasm typical of your youthful age, to irrigate the world and history with the joy that comes from the Gospel, from having met a Person: Jesus, who has enthralled you and has drawn you to be with Him,” he said.
He also said he wanted to remind them of the Jesus’ words when his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, where do you live?” and he answered, “Come and see.”
Jesus says the same thing to us, inviting us to come to him, he said, asking: Have you heard his voice? Encountered his gaze? Though “din and dizziness seem to reign in the world, this call continues to resonate in your soul, to open it to full joy,” he stated.
In order to respond to this call, you must discern God’s plan for your life, the Pope continued, a plan he has for each and every one of you. Even in difficulty or failure, God, “rich in mercy,” is always giving you his hand to help pick you back up again.
The Pope noted that some of these words were part of the letter he wrote to young people in January when he presented the theme of the upcoming Synod.
He emphasized that the world and the Church are in need of courageous young people, who don’t run away from difficulty, but face trials with “hearts open” to others.
He asked that they would not ignore their peers’ cries for help. “I count on your willingness, your commitment, your ability to face important challenges and dare to make the future, to take decisive steps along the path of change,” he said.
Concluding, Francis voiced his hope that the meeting between young people of Canada would be like the meeting of the first disciples, and that it would open them up to the beauty of a life spent following the Lord.
“For this reason I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like you, to whom God turned His loving gaze,” he said.
“Let yourselves be taken by Mary’s, and let her guide you to the joy of saying a full and generous, ‘Here I am!’ Jesus watches you and awaits a ‘Here I am!’ from each of you.”
Oct 23 2017
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2017 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Meeting with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem on Monday, Pope Francis said that the different religions in Jerusalem must live together in peace, preserving dignity and rights so that suffering and violence can end.
“The Holy City, whose Status Quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all,” the Pope said Oct. 23.
He expressed his closeness to all those who have suffered due to the conflict affecting the Holy Land for many years. The uncertainty of the situation and the lack of understanding between different groups continue to create insecurity, he noted.
And this insecurity, along with a restriction of fundamental rights, causes people to flee from their land. “I invoke God’s help in this,” he said, “and I ask all those involved to intensify their efforts to achieve a stable peace based on justice and recognition of the rights of all.”
To do this, we must reject all violence, discrimination or intolerance against people of Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith and their places of worship, the Pope emphasized.
Pope Francis spoke during a meeting with His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, offering his greeting to all of the members of the various Christian communities in the Holy Land.
He explained that it is his hope that Christians in the Holy Land will continue to be recognized as an integral part of the society and that they may continue to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace.
“This contribution will be the more effective to the extent that there is harmony among the region’s different Churches. Particularly important in this regard would be increased cooperation in supporting Christian families and young people, so that they will not be forced to leave their land,” he said.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem had an audience with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome Oct. 22-25. He was accompanied by Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina and Archdeacon Markos.
Pope Francis and Patriarch Theophilos III have met on two previous occasions: once during the Pope's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in May 2014 and again in June of the same year during an Invocation for Peace held in the Vatican Gardens.
In their meeting Monday, Francis said that we must continue to look toward the future and toward reconciliation, not letting ourselves get bogged down by past failures and mistakes. “I know that past wounds continue to affect the memory of many people,” he said.
“It is not possible to change the past, but, without forgetting grave failures of charity over the centuries, let us look to a future of full reconciliation and fraternal communion, and take up the work before us, as the Lord desires.”
The Pope explained that to not take up our work of reconciliation and communion today would be “an even graver fault,” because to do this would be to disregard “the urgent call of Christ.”
“May we not let the memory of times marked by lack of communication or mutual accusations, or present difficulties and uncertainty about the future, prevent us from walking together towards visible unity,” he continued.
We also shouldn’t let it keep us from praying and working together to serve those in need and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said.
After their meeting, Patriarch Theophilos also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
He also met with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, and with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“Here,” the Pope said, “I would reaffirm my heartfelt desire and commitment to progress on our way to full unity, in obedience to Jesus’ fervent prayer in the Cenacle ‘that they may all be one… so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”
He pointed out that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been an active and constructive participant in the ongoing theological dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, which he finds a “sign of hope on our journey.”
“How good it would be to say of Catholics and Orthodox living in Jerusalem,” he said, “what the Evangelist Luke said of the first Christian community: ‘All who believed were together… one heart and soul’ (Acts 2:44, 4:32).”
Concluding his speech, the Pope thanked Theophilos for his visit and reaffirmed his closeness to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.
“I hope and pray that the day of a stable and lasting peace for all will soon come,” he said.