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Pope writes preface for diaconate book

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written the preface to a new book that contains his various pronouncements on the vocation to the diaconate which he says is “primarily realized in the service of the poor.”

The book by the Reverend Enzo Petrolino, a deacon from the diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova in Italy, brings together the Pope’s statements about the permanent diaconate from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires with his most recent ones as Bishop of Rome.

Listen to the report by Richard Marsden:

In his preface to the book entitled “The Diaconate in the thought of Pope Francis: A Poor Church for the Poor”, the Pontiff acknowledges that the roots of the permanent diaconate have been rediscovered in the period following the Second Vatican Council.

Writing in the forward, Pope Francis says: “The Church finds in the permanent diaconate the expression and at the same time the impulse to become itself a visible sign of the diaconia of Christ the Servant in the history of mankind.”

“Diakonia” is a Greek term in the Gospels which refers to the exercise of charity towards the poor.

The Pope writes: “The sensitivity to the formation of a ‘diaconal conscience’ can be considered the basic motive that must permeate Christian communities.”

He adds that all diaconia in the Church “has its beating heart in the Eucharistic Ministry and is primarily realized in the service of the poor who bear in themselves the face of the suffering Christ.”

The Pope recalls the moment when he was elected in the conclave and Cardinal Claudio Hummes turned to him saying: “Do not forget the poor.” It was then that in his heart he heard the name Saint Francis of Assisi, who tradition tells us was a deacon.

“He is for me,” Pope Francis writes, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and guards creation. He is the man from whom deacons must be inspired.”

 

 

Irish churches call for end to paramilitary attacks on Children’s Day

(Vatican Radio)  The leaders of Ireland’s Catholic and Protestant churches have called for an end to all paramilitary attacks in Northern Ireland, saying that violence continues to negatively impact the lives and wellbeing of children and young people.

Church leaders from several denominations made the appeal in a statement to commemorate Universal Children’s Day, instituted by the United Nations and held annually on 20 November.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

Signers of the statement include Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh; the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke; the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Dr Laurence Graham; the President of the Irish Council of Churches, Bishop John McDowell; and, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, Rt Rev Dr Noble McNeely.

Legacy of violent conflict

In the document, church leaders lament the continued violence to which children are exposed, “either as victims of direct attacks, or as members of families subjected to attacks or intimidation.”

They say the Peace Process – resulting in the Good Friday Agreement signed nearly 20 years ago – was meant to protect young people “from the violence that blighted the lives of previous generations.”

The Northern Ireland conflict, also known as “The Troubles”, began in the late 1960’s and lasted until the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement was signed on 10 April 1998.

“We need to ask ourselves whether the legacy of violent conflict here has caused us to feel powerless to challenge the culture that supports the continuation of this type of violence,” the statement reads.

Initiatives for children's wellbeing

Calling on all members of society to make communities “safe and welcoming places”, Ireland’s religious leaders applaud the many people “working to give our young people better opportunities and help those at risk make better choices”.

These include youth and sports clubs, churches, and educators, they say.

Funding cuts, however, have left a cloud of uncertainty hanging over these important initiatives.

“In this context, it is more important than ever,” they write, “that we seek to lend our support to initiatives that offer young people the chance to achieve their full potential and challenge those who seek to trap them in never-ending cycles of violence.”

Archbishop of Detroit on Beatification of Fr Solanus Casey

(Vatican Radio) The Catholic Archbishop of Detroit spoke of his joy and gratitude for the beatification of Father Solanus Casey who is only the second U.S.-born man to be beatified. The beatification Mass was taking place in the U.S. city of Detroit on November the 18th.

Father Solanus was born in Wisconsin and joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit in 1898 and quickly became known for his closeness and sympathy towards all those who were poor, sick and needy.  It was not long before reports of miraculous favours attributed to his prayers began to spread throughout the region. He died in 1957 at the age of 87.  His beatification came after the miraculous healing of a Panamanian woman was attributed to his intercession.

To find out more about the personality of Father Solanus and the importance of this beatification, Susy Hodges spoke to the Archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron:

Listen to the interview: 

Archbishop Vigneron said the beatification “fills us with gratitude and joy” and confirmed "our own sense of the holiness” of Father Solanus. He described the Capuchin priest as a “most beloved figure” within the Catholic community of Detroit and far beyond that. “He was very humble and devoted to his vocation” …… "and connected to people very powerfully,” Archbishop Vigneron said.

Vatican Weekend for November 19th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for November 19th, 2017 features our weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading, “There’s more in the Sunday Gospel than Meets the Eye,” plus our resident Vatican watcher Joan Lewis reviews the past week’s events in the Vatican.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges:

Vatican Weekend for November 18th, 2017

Vatican Weekend for November 18th, 2017 features a report on Pope Francis’ general audience where he speaks of the Mass as a living encounter with the Lord, an interview with a Curial official about the Church’s first World Day of the Poor called for by Pope Francis, we talk to one of the participants at the recent Vatican symposium on disarmament and development and the Archbishop of Detroit tells us more about the figure of Fr. Solanus Casey, ahead of Saturday’s Beatification Mass in the U.S. city.

Listen to this program produced and presented by Susy Hodges: 

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo dies aged 92

Cardinal Andrea  Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the Archpriest emeritus of the Basillica of Saint Paul outside the Walls died on 19th November. He was 92 years old.

Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo was born in Turin on 27 August 1925. His Father, Giuseppe, was a colonel of the Italian Army who was killed during the Ardeatine Massacre during the Second World War. During this time Andrea and his sister Adriana were sheltered  by clergy of the Ukrainian college in Rome. Andrea also fought during the War. Many years later, both he and his sister publicly expressed their forgiveness of those who had killed their Father.

He was also related to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who was Chairman of Ferrari.

After studying and working as an Architect,  Montezemolo trained as a priest for the Diocese of Rome. Ordained in 1954 he was then selected for diplomatic service, serving in Nunciatures across the world, most notably in Mexico, Japan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. After working in the Secretariat of State he become under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1972, becoming Secretary in 1977. He was consecrated as Titular Archishop of Anglona by Cardinal Villot.

In 1980 he became Apostolic Nuncio to Honduras and Niocaragua. Other postings as Nuncio included Uruguay, Papa New Guinea, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Jordan, Italy and San Marino. He played a leading role in establishing full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel in 1993.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as Archpriest of the Basillica of Saint Paul outside the Walls in 2005. He was responsible for overseeing much of the restoration work inside the Basillica, including work on Saint Paul’s tomb.

He was also an expert in ecclesiastical heraldry and help to design Pope Benedict’s coat of arms.

 Pope Benedict appointed him a Cardinal in 2006. He  retired in 2009. Pope Francis visited him at his nursing home in 2016.

Pope Francis receives Uruguayan Bishops in audience

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday received in audience the Bishops of Uruguay who are in the Vatican for their ad limina visit.

They will be in the Vatican until November 22nd and are scheduled to meet with officials at various Vatican Dicasteries, including a meeting with members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where they will discuss some ongoing beatification and canonization processes.

On Sunday, November 19th, they will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica for the 1st World Day of the Poor.    

Bishop Heriberto Bodeant of Melo told us that the bishops of Uruguay are very close to Pope Francis also thanks to the geographical proximity of their homelands. 

Listen

Bishop Bodeant notes that the Uruguayan bishops come from the same ‘neighbourhood’ where Cardinal Bergoglio used to live, and they speak the same kind of Spanish as he does.

He says that they also recognize in him the echo of their Latin American ‘way’ in communion with the whole Catholic Church and in line with the directives of the Aparecida document which Bergoglio himself penned.

He says they are listening to his appeal to go forth and into the existential and geographical peripheries and in this appeal they recognize a Latin American voice: “this is very encouraging for us”.

“Pope Francis knows deeply our country and the Uruguayan church” he said and is very aware of the reality the Catholic Church works within after more than a century of secularized culture.

“Religion is banned in public schools, religious ignorance is frequent, the charisma must be permanently announced” he said.

After this session with Pope Francis, Bishop Bodeant concluded: “we felt our hearts burning, we are ready to go on the road and to continue inviting all our people to live a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in His Church.”   

Pope pays tribute to "zealous" cardinal

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolence to the sister of Italian Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, a “zealous pastor” who died on Sunday at the age of 92.

The message praised the Cardinal for his work as a papal nuncio in several countries and his efforts to restore a “spiritual vitality” and “a new zeal” at the Papal Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where he was archpriest from 2005-2009.

Pope Francis said Cardinal Montezemolo was a “revered man of the Church, who lived with fidelity his long and fruitful priesthood and episcopate in the service of the Gospel and the Holy See.”

During his work in the pontifical representations to Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Honduras, Uruguay, Israel and Italy, he “devoted himself with wisdom to the good of those populations.”

The Pope added that the Cardinal’s work at St Paul’s Outside the Walls showed an “intense and competent commitment” particularly in the pastoral, organizational, and artistic-cultural areas.

At the end of the message sent to Marquise Adriana Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Pope Francis promised prayers for the repose of her brother’s soul and sent his Apostolic Blessing to all who mourn the Cardinal’s passing.

Please find the tellegram in full below:

MARQUISE ADRIANA CORDERO LANZA DI MONTEZEMOLO

THE DEPARTURE OF YOUR DEAR BROTHER, THE VENERABLE CARDINAL ANDREA CORDERO LANZA DI MONTEZEMOLO, INSPIRES IN MY HEART SENTIMENTS OF SINCERE ADMIRATION FOR A REVERED MAN OF THE CHURCH, WHO LIVED WITH FIDELITY HIS LONG AND FRUITFUL PRIESTHOOD AND EPISCOPATE IN THE SERVICE OF THE GOSPEL AND THE HOLY SEE. I REMEMBER WITH GRATITUDE HIS GENEROUS WORK IN THE PONTIFICAL REPRESENTATIONS OF VARIOUS COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA, NICARAGUA, HONDURAS, URUGUAY, ISRAEL AND ITALY, WHERE HE DEVOTED HIMSELF WITH WISDOM TO THE GOOD OF THOSE POPULATIONS. AS ARCHPRIEST OF THE PAPAL BASILICA OF SAINT PAUL OUTSIDE-THE-WALLS, HE GAVE THE WITNESS OF A PARTICULARLY INTENSE AND COMPETENT COMMITMENT BOTH FROM A PASTORAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL, AND AN ARTISTIC-CULTURAL POINT OF VIEW, ENDEAVOURING TO RESTORE SPIRITUAL VITALITY TO THE ENTIRE COMPLEX AND NEW ZEAL TO THE ECUMENICAL VOCATION OF THAT PLACE OF WORSHIP. I RAISE FERVENT PRAYERS FOR HIS REPOSE, SO THAT BY THE INTERCESSION OF THE VIRGIN MARY AND THE APOSTLE OF THE PEOPLE, THE LORD MAY RECEIVE THE DEPARTED CARDINAL IN HIS ETERNAL JOY AND PEACE, AND I SEND MY APOSTOLIC BLESSING TO YOU AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS, AND TO THOSE WHO MOURN THE PASSING OF THIS ZEALOUS PASTOR.

Pope on World Day of the Poor: they open for us the way to heaven

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall.

Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God's blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.”

Click below to hear our report

The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the homily he prepared for the occasion and delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica following the Gospel reading, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.” He went on to say, “When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.”

Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power” present, Pope Francis said, “[I]f in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

“For us,” the Pope continued, “it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them.

“To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.” 

Pope Francis: homily for World Day of the Poor

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of his homily on the occasion, in its official English translation

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We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.

The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission.

Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17).

The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”.

Omission is also the great sin where the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good.

How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26).

In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.

There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.

And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21).

So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds.