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Pope at General Audience: 'Jesus came to save us from death'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death. He also prayed for the over 300 victims of a deadly bombing in Somalia's capital Mogadishu and condemned the terrorist attack that falls on an ravaged tortured nation. 

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Noting that death is a reality that modern civilization “tends, more and more, to set aside” and not reflect upon, Pope Francis said that for believers death is actually “a door” and a call to live for something greater.  

For those “in doubt”, he added, it contains a glimmer of light that shines through a slightly open threshold.

For all of us, he continued, in the mystery of death is a grace and that light will shine for everyone.

Prepare for death

The pope invited those present to think of the moment of their death and imagine the time when Jesus will take us by hand and say: “come, rise and come with me”.

In that moment, he said, hope will end and it will become reality.

Often, he continued we find ourselves unprepared to face death, and yet for centuries past civilizations had the courage to face this inevitable reality. Older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  

Pointing out that our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath, Francis said “death lays bare our lives” forcing us to acknowledge that all those actions born from pride, anger and hatred” were useless and vain.

To the contrary, he said, it highlights how all the good things that we have sown have germinated and now “hold us by the hand”. 

Jesus will take us by the hand

Jesus, the Pope explained, is the one who ultimately helps us to confront the mystery of death. He shows us that it is natural to weep and to mourn the loss of a loved one, just as he wept at Lazarus’ death.  

But he did not only mourn, he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb pointing out that “Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death”.

Recalling the gospel story of Jairus who turned to Jesus in faith asking him to save his sick daughter, and Jesus’s exhortation: “Do not fear, only believe”, the Pope urged Christians not to be afraid, but to keep the flame of faith burning.

Jesus, Francis said, puts us on this “ridge” of faith: every time death comes to tear us away from the fabric of live and our earthly ties, Jesus is there reminding us that He is the resurrection and the life.

We are all small and defenseless before the mystery of death, Pope Francis concluded, but if we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts, Jesus will take us by the hand, just as he did with Jairus’ daughter when he said: "Talitha cum" which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise. To each of us, he concluded, he will say: “I say to you, arise.”   

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope addresses “Religions for Peace”‎ delegation

(Vatican Radio)  “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and ‎unique role to play in building ‎peace,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday.  “They cannot be neutral, much less ‎ambiguous, where peace is concerned,” he ‎told a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace”, who met him in the Vatican. 

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition that advances common action among the world’s religious communities to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies, and protect the earth.

Peace and justice

Noting that “peace is both a divine gift and a human achievement,” the Pope said “believers of all religions are called to implore peace and to intercede ‎for it.”  He stressed that “peacemaking and the pursuit ‎of justice go together,‎” and said that “all men and women of good will, particularly those in positions of ‎responsibility, are summoned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and ‎hands.” 

Violence in God’s name

Pope Francis once again denounced violence in the name of religion saying, “they gravely offend God, ‎who is peace and the source of peace, and has left in ‎human beings a reflection of his wisdom, power ‎and beauty.”

Care for creation

The Pontiff expressed appreciation for the efforts of Religions for Peace, saying “religions are ‎bound by their very nature to promote peace ‎through justice, fraternity, ‎disarmament and care for creation.‎”  He said there is a “need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of the ‎religions in promoting an ‎integral ecology.”  Religions, he noted have the “wherewithal to further a moral ‎covenant ‎that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for ‎creation.”  The Pope expressed satisfaction that there are many examples of the power of interreligious cooperation around the world  that oppose violent ‎conflicts, advance sustainable development and ‎protect the earth.  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s condolence for death of Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal

Pope Francis has expressed his condolence for Philippine Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, who passed away in Cebu on Wednesday.  The 86-year old prelate who was Archbishop of Cebu for nearly 3 decades until his retirement in 2010, died of complications from pneumonia. 

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, expressing gratitude for Cardinal Vidal’s  “untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines”.

Please find below the text of the Pope’s condolence telegram: 

The Most Reverend Jose S. Palma

Archbishop of Cebu

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, I extend my sincere condolences to you, and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cebu.  Joining with you in expressing profound gratitude for the late Cardinal’s untiring and devoted service to the Church, and for his constant advocacy of dialogue and peace for all the people in the Philippines, I commend his soul to the infinite love and mercy of our heavenly Father.  As a pledge of consolation and hope in the Lord, to all who mourn his passing in the certain hope of the Resurrection, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing

                                                                       FRANCISCUS PP.

Cardinal Ricardo J. Vidal, Archbishop emeritus of Cebu (Philippines), was born on 6 February 1931 in Mogpoc, Philippines. He did his studies at the minor seminary of the Most Holy Rosary (which later assumed the title of Our Lady of Carmel) and at the seminary of San Carlo.

He was ordained on 17 March 1956. The Bishop of Lucena entrusted him as spiritual director of the local seminary of Mount Carmel. He then became superior of the same institute and was dedicated to the formation of the young candidates to priesthood until 10 September 1971, when he was named Coadjutor Bishop of Malolos, Bulacan, and was elected to the titular church of Claterna. He received episcopal ordination on 30 November 1971. On 22 August 1973 he was named Archbishop of Lipa in Batangas.

On 13 April 1981 he was named Coadjutor with the right of succession to the Archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Julio Rosales. He was named Archbishop on 24 August 1982.

He served as president of the Bishops’ Commission for Vocations within the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He was also vice-president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and then president from 1985 to 1987.

He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 25 May 1985,with the Title of Ss. Pietro e Paolo in Via Ostiense (Sts. Peter and Paul in Via Ostiense, Rome).

In a message, Cebu archdiocese’s spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan said the prelate died due to infection leading to septic shock at the city’s Perpetual Succour Hospital where he was hospitalized on Oct 11 when he became seriously ill. 

Requesting prayers for the prelate’s soul, Tan said the details of funeral rites will be made available as soon as possible.

A native of Mogpog, Marinduque, Vidal was ordained a priest in 1956 by Bishop and Servant of God Alfredo Maria Aranda Obviar.

Then Pope John Paul II appointed Vidal head of the Cebu archdiocese in 1982. He retired in 2011.

In a statement released shortly after Vidal’s death, CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas stressed Vidal’s legacy will live on despite his passing.

“Cardinal Vidal cannot die. He who has always shared in the dying and rising of the Lord daily in his priestly life cannot die. He now joins the immortal ones who served the Lord faithfully here on earth. His wisdom and his humility, his love for priests and his devotion to the Virgin Mary must live on in us whom he has left behind,” he said. Archbishop Villegas also expressed hope in Cardinal Vidal’s intercession for the faithful. “Rest well Eminence. Pray for us in the Father’s House.”

Meanwhile Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo praised Card Vidal for being a “true servant-leader rather than a ‘prince.’”

“For me his legacy is his own outstanding character. Some of these are: Humility, low profile style; Simplicity and Approachability; Ability to listen even to opposing views; Prudence in political issues; Courage in presenting and defending the CBCP position leading to the 1986 People Power; Charity for those considered as ‘enemies,’” he said in a message to CBCPNews.

With the death of Card. Vidal, the number of cardinals worldwide now stands at 219, of whom 120 are ‎below the age of 80, hence are eligible to vote for a new pope.  Ninety-nine are non-voters.  ‎

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis deplores Mogadishu terror attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack that killed over 300 people, including children, in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Speaking during the weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wished to express his sorrow for the massacre that took place on Saturday.

“This terrorist act , he said, deserves to be most strongly deplored, also because it falls on a population that is already suffering deeply”.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Pope said he is praying for the dead, for the wounded, for their families and for the whole people of Somalia.

“I implore the conversion of those who are violent and send my encouragement to those, who with enormous difficulties, are working for peace in that tortured land” he said.

On the ground in Mogadishu nearly 70 people are still missing  from Saturday's bomb blast that killed more than 300 people in one of the world's deadliest attacks in years

The death toll of 302 is expected to rise. 

Somalia’s government has blamed the attack on the al-Shabab extremist group, which has not commented.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope General Audience: English Summary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reminded Christians that Jesus came to heal us and to save us from death.

He was addressing the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, during which he continued his catechesis on Christian Hope.

Please find below the English Summary of the Pope’s catechesis: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: this morning I wish to reflect on Christian hope and the reality of death, a reality which our modern world so often leaves us unprepared to face.  Past civilizations had the courage to face death, and older generations taught the younger to see that inescapable event as a call to live for something enduring, greater than themselves.  For our days, no matter how many they are, pass like a breath.  It is Jesus, however, that ultimately helps us to confront this mystery.  He shows us that it is natural to mourn the loss of a loved one.  For he too wept at Lazarus’ death.  But he did not only mourn; he also prayed to the Father and called Lazarus from the tomb.  Here is our Christian hope: Jesus has come to heal us, to save us from death. He says: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25); if we believe in him, even if we die, we will live.  In the face of our sorrow, Jesus invites us to faith in him.  This is our hope: when we mourn, we know that Christ remains always close to us.  And one day, when we too face death, we will hear Jesus’s voice: “I say to you, arise” (Mk 5:41).   

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis backs International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

(Vatican Radio) During the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded the crowds that on Tuesday, 17th October, we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

It’s an occurrence that was established 25 years ago by the UN and it continues to challenge leaders and policymakers to put in place appropriate social protection systems and measures that cover everybody, especially the most vulnerable.

In his address on Sunday, Pope Francis said “poverty has nothing to do with fatality: it stems from causes that must be recognized and removed”.

One organization that is marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is Caritas Europa with a call to leaders to ensure that no one is left under the poverty line.

Shannon Pfohman, Policy and Advocacy Director of Caritas Europa told Linda Bordoni why it is important to mark a day such as this in 2017 and about how she is looking forward to the establishment by Pope Francis, on November 19th, of the World Day of the Poor.

Listen:

Shannon Pfohman explains that a Day such as this is an important awareness raising event, globally, because the scourge of poverty is still of enormous proportions.

She says that “despite the European Union’s efforts to tackle poverty starting with the 2020 European Strategy Goals which including a target to diminish the number of people in poverty, little has improved” for a number of reasons.

“So today it is an important day to remind policy makers and world leaders of the importance to focus attention on the situation of poverty today” she said.

Caritas Europa has issued a statement entitled ‘Let’s make poverty history by 2030!”. Pfohman explains that this is related to the Sustainable Development goals adopted by the UN and it refers to the Agenda 2030. 

“We are now hoping that this agenda will contribute to ending poverty because the first goal of the SDGs is to end poverty and it has a number of different targets that governments are supposed to adopt and incorporate in their National Plan in order to meet this – and other goals - by 2030” she said.


Poverty in Europe

Although the European continent is home to many of the world’s richest nations, it is by no mean free from the scourge of poverty. Pfohman said that there are different understandings of what we mean when we speak of poverty: “Pope Francis often refers to material and spiritual poverty”.

For the European Commission, poverty is measured, Pfohman explained, by considering three main elements linked to income, to social exclusion and material deprivation and to very low work intensity.

“Every fourth person in the EU is experiencing at least one of these three forms of poverty or social exclusion” she said.

Pope Francis

Pfohman speaks of the boost organizations such as Caritas receive from the Pope.

“Pope Francis and the Catholic Social Teaching is the basis for our advocacy message and having a strong speaker like the Pope makes our message louder and heard more globally” she said.

World Day of the Poor

Looking ahead to the near future she said: “We look forward to him introducing the World Day of the Poor on November 19th which will be an attempt to look at the many forms of material and spiritual poverty that poison people’s hearts and harm their dignity”.

Pfohman also said the Pope will be making an appeal to society in the week before November 19th to focus on the globalization of indifference and to put our beliefs into action: “as Pope Francis says we are not talking about statistics, we are talking about people”.

Recommendations for European Governments

Pfohman also speaks about the work Caritas Europa is doing and says that one of the suggestions for improvement is very much linked to the need for European Governments to revise their social protection system.

In this regard, she said, Caritas has a number of recommendations, the first of which sees the family as a vital cell of society and as a safety net: “We wish to ensure the right to family life by promoting a series of family oriented policies”.

The second recommendation, she continued, regards fostering inclusive labour markets and recognizing the value of work and people’s contribution to society.

The third, regards the revamping of “the social protection system to ensure comprehensive national social provision coverage to meet the needs of all persons residing in the country”.

Pfohman says Caritas has numerous other recommendations but she highlights that at Caritas they are also hopeful that the European Pillar of Social Rights which should be proclaimed on November 17th at the EU Social Summit “will be another support for member States in their effort to tackle poverty and social exclusion throughout Europe”.       

      

(from Vatican Radio)

St. Luke the Evangelist

On October 18, Catholics and other Christians around the world will celebrate the feast of St. Luke, the physician and companion of St. Paul whose gospel preserved the most extensive biography of Jesus Christ.St. Luke wrote a greater volume of the New Testament than any other single author, including the earliest history of the Church. Ancient traditions also acknowledge Luke as the founder of Christian iconography, making him a patron of artists as well as doctors and other medical caregivers.Luke came from the large metropolitan city of Antioch, a part of modern-day Turkey. In Luke's lifetime, his native city emerged as an important center of early Christianity. During the future saint's early years, the city's port had already become a cultural center, renowned for arts and sciences. Historians do not know whether Luke came to Christianity from Judaism or paganism, although there are strong suggestions that Luke was a gentile convert.Educated as a physician in the Greek-speaking city, Luke was among the most cultured and cosmopolitan members of the early Church. Scholars of archeology and ancient literature have ranked him among the top historians of his time period, besides noting the outstanding Greek prose style and technical accuracy of his accounts of Christ's life and the apostles' missionary journeys.Other students of biblical history adduce from Luke's writings that he was the only evangelist to incorporate the personal testimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose role in Christ's life emerges most clearly in his gospel. Tradition credits him with painting several icons of Christ's mother, and one of the sacred portraits ascribed to him – known by the title “Salvation of the Roman People�-- survives to this day in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.Some traditions hold that Luke became a direct disciple of Jesus before his ascension, while others hold that he became a believer only afterward. After St. Paul's conversion, Luke accompanied him as his personal physician-- and, in effect, as a kind of biographer, since the journeys of Paul on which Luke accompanied him occupy a large portion of the Acts of the Apostles. Luke probably wrote this text, the final narrative portion of the New Testament, in the city of Rome where the account ends.Luke was also among the only companions of Paul who did not abandon him during his final imprisonment and death in Rome. After the martyrdom of St. Paul in the year 67, St. Luke is said to have preached elsewhere throughout the Mediterranean, and possibly died as a martyr. However, even tradition is unclear on this point. Fittingly, the evangelist whose travels and erudition could have filled volumes, wrote just enough to proclaim the gospel and apostolic preaching to the world.Patronage: artists, bachelors, bookbinders, brewers, butchers, doctors, glass makers, glassworkers, gold workers, goldsmiths, lacemakers, lace workers, notaries, painters, physicians, sculptors, stained glass workers, surgeons.