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Pope Francis to travel to Pompeii and Naples

(Vatican Radio) The official programme for Pope Francis’ visit to Pompeii and Naples was published Tuesday by the Vatican Press Office.

The one-day visit scheduled for Saturday, 21 March will begin at 7am in the Vatican where the Pope will board a helicopter that will take him to the Shrine of Pompeii where he will gather in prayer.
 
At 9am Pope Francis is due to arrive in Scampia, an impoverished area close to Naples where he will meet with the community in the John Paul II Square.

Midmorning sees the Pope celebrating Mass in Naples’ central Piazza del Plebiscito.

A special moment will be dedicated to prison inmates when the Pope travels to the “Giuseppe Salvia” Detention Centre in Poggioreale where he will also share lunch with some of the detainees.

In the early afternoon he is scheduled to venerate the relics of Saint Gennaro and meet with the clergy, the religious and the deacons in the city's main Cathedral.

Before departing for the Vatican at approximately 6pm, Pope Francis will visit some sick people in the Basilica del Gesù and will meet a group of young people at a venue on the Caracciolo sea-front.

He will travel back to the Vatican by helicopter.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Cardinal Turkson: Amazon protection about more than ecology

(Vatican Radio) A press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office Monday morning to present the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network (REPAM), established in 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil, during a meeting of bishops whose territories include Amazon regions, priests, missionaries of congregations who work in the Amazon jungle, national representatives of Caritas and laypeople belonging to various Church bodies.

“We are not talking simply about ecological issues – maintaining the trees which are threatened by the logging that goes on there – it is also about the biodiversity which is also being threatened by the fact when farms are created they basically go monocultural for intensity of production,” said Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Listen to the interview with Cardinal Peter Turkson: 

“The indigenous population is also threatened by the fact that their natural habitat is taken away,” he told Vatican Radio.

“When they talk about the Amazonian threat, it is not just that the forests are disappearing - and that the source of water and the atmosphere – but the different lifeforms are all under threat,” Cardinal Turkson said.

The form in which REPAM is structured is meant to  serve as a model for other local churches in other countries facing similar challenges.

“This is an initiative that has been brought over here to put emphasis on the ecclesiality of the initiative,” said Cardinal Turkson.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Santa Marta: An invitation to do good

(Vatican Radio)  God “generously forgives” those who “learn to do good”, but what he doesn’t forgive is “hypocrisy and fake saints”, said Pope Francis at Mass Tuesday morning in Casa Santa Marta chapel.

Pope Francis said that there has never been any doubts that God prefers “sanctified sinners” – people who, despite their past sins, learn how to do a greater good -- to “fake saints” – people who are more concerned with appearing saintly than doing good.

The Pope was reflecting on the first reading from Isaiah, which he described as an "invitation and an imperative" that comes directly from God: "Cease to do evil, learn to do good" defending orphans and widows, namely "those who no one remembers".  Pope Francis said this category includes the "abandoned elderly", "children who do not go to school", and those "who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross". Essentially it is an invitation to conversion:

"But how can I convert? 'By learning to do right!'. Conversion. You cannot remove the filth of the heart as you would remove a stain: we go to the dry cleaner and leave cleansed ... This filth is removed by 'doing': taking a different path, a different path from that of evil. 'Learn to do right!', That is, the path of doing good. And how do I do good? It’s simple! 'Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow'. Remember that in Israel the poorest and most needy were orphans and widows: do justice to them, go there to the wounds of humanity, where there is so much pain ... And by doing so, by doing good, you will cleanse your heart ".

Pope Francis continued that a cleansed heart is promised God’s forgiveness.  God does not keep account of the sins of those who concretely love their neighbors.  "If you do this, if you take this path to which I invite you - the Lord tells us - 'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'. It is an exaggeration, the Lord exaggerates: but it is the truth! The Lord gives us the gift of His forgiveness. The Lord forgives generously. 'I forgive you this much, then we'll see about the rest....' No, no! The Lord always forgives everything! Everything! But if you want to be forgiven, you must set out on the path of doing good. This is the gift! '.

Pope Francis went on to say the Gospel of the day, instead, presents the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes. He was reflecting on people "who say all the right things, but do the exact opposite."

"We are all clever and always find a path that is not right, to seem more virtuous than we are: it is the path of hypocrisy". "They pretend to convert, but their heart is a lie: they are liars! It 'a lie ... Their heart does not belong to the Lord; their heart belongs to the father of all lies, Satan. And this is fake holiness. Jesus preferred sinners a thousand times to these. Why? Because sinners told the truth about themselves. 'Get away from me, Lord, I am a sinner!': Peter once said. One of those [the hypocrites] never says that! 'Thank you Lord, that I am not a sinner, that I am righteous  ... In the second week of Lent we have these three words to think about, to ponder: the invitation to conversion; the gift that the Lord will give us, which is great forgiveness, a great forgiveness; and the trap -- that is, pretending to convert, while choosing the path of hypocrisy".

(from Vatican Radio)

Wrestler wins state title for Rachel

It took longer than expected, but Totino-Grace High School in Fridley finally delivered a state championship to Rachel Woell, a senior who died of cancer on Sept. 26 during an Eagles football game.

Shroud shows what pain Jesus endured

Donald Nohs, who is an expert on the Shroud of Turin, widely believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, talked to a Pittsburgh audience about the evidence of authenticity for the shroud.

Vatican security always on high alert after IS threats

The head of Vatican security said Islamic State militants have threatened the Vatican, but there are no indications of any planned attack.

Pope thanks Churches in North Africa for their courage

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has thanked the Church in Libya and the ecclesial communities in North Africa for their courage and for being a peaceful presence in an area where freedom of conscience is under threat.

The Pope was addressing members of the Episcopal Conference of North African Bishops, CERNA,   who are in the Vatican for their Ad Limina visit.

CERNA gathers prelates from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni

“You are one of the peripheries” of the world – Pope Francis said to the Prelates from North Africa - and you are the face and the heart with which God reaches out to the people of this periphery.

The courage of Catholics in Libya

Noting  that in the past years North Africa has become a land of conquest for more freedom of conscience and dignity as well as a battleground for those who impose change with weapons, the Pope thanked the Church in Libya for the “courage, loyalty and perseverance” shown by clergy, consecrated persons and laypeople who have stood their ground in the face of danger. They are true witnesses of the Gospel, said Francis, thanking them and encouraging them to continue in their efforts to contribute to peace and reconciliation throughout the region.

The need to accept diversity 

In his discourse the Pope insisted on the necessity of inter religious dialogue “in order to build where many destroy”.

Charity – he says – is able to open up countless paths that take the breath of the Gospel into diverse cultures and social contexts. And he said that the most effective antidote to violence is getting to know differences and accepting them as wealth and fecundity. 
      
Thus, Pope Francis told the bishops, that it is essential that the religious in their dioceses be trained in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

Charity reveals God

Pope Francis said that an infallible weapon in the hands of the “Church of encounter” is charity that must be offered to all without distinction. Thanking the North African bishops who, often with humble means, offer the love of Christ and of the Church to the poor, to the sick, to the elderly, to prison inmates and to the many African immigrants who find themselves in North African countries during their journeys of hope. In doing so he said: “you recognize their human dignity and work to raise awareness of such a huge human drama, you show the love that God has for each of them”. 

Look to the Saints

The Pope’s discourse also included many pastoral indications such as the need for attention for “permanent formation” of the clergy and spoke of his joy for the contribution offered by religious men and women in this Year of Consecrated Life. 

Inviting all consecrated people to make the beauty of their vocations “shine out”, the Pope pointed to Saints Cyprian and Augustin and to the Blessed Charles de Foucault as models to look up to. 

And pointing to those contemporary religious who sacrificed their lives in the name of the faith, Pope Francis expressed his happiness that in the past few years many Christian sanctuaries have been restored in Algeria.

The Pope concluded his discourse pointing out that welcoming “all” with “benevolence and without proselytism”, these communities express their will “to be a Church with open doors, always setting out and going forth”.

During the audience the bishops presented the Pope with a document entitled “Servants of Hope” that shines light on the reality of the Church’s presence in North Africa, and motivates its priests to be ministers of hope in an ever-changing situation, where parishes are being rejuvenated by new presences and where the Churches face the great challenge of ministering to migrants.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Santa Marta: Judge not

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that "we are all sinners" - not "in theory" but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is "a Christian virtue, indeed more than a virtue", it is the first step for those who want to be Christian:

“We are all masters, professors of self-justification: ‘No it wasn’t me, it’s not my fault, maybe yes, but not so much…that’s not the way it is…’. We all have an alibi to explain away our shortcomings, our sins, and we are often to put on a face that says "I do not know," a face that says ‘I didn’t do it, maybe someone else did’ an innocent face. This is no way to lead a Christian life”.

"It’s easier to blame others" - observed the Pope - but "something strange happens if we try to behave differently: "If we begin to look at the things we are capable of doing, at first we “feel bad, we feel disgust ", yet this in turn "gives us peace and makes us healthy”.

Pope Francis continued, “when I feel envy in my heart and I know that this envy is capable of speaking ill of others and morally assassinating them”, this is “the wisdom of judging oneself”. "If we do not learn this first step in life, we will never, never be able to take other steps on the road of our Christian life, of our spiritual life":

“The first step is to judge ourselves.  Without saying anything out loud. Between you and your conscience. Walking down the street, I pass by a prison and say: "Well, they deserve it" - "Yet do you know that if it weren’t for the grace of God you would be there? Did you ever think that you are capable of doing the things that they have done, even worse?” This is what judging yourself means, not hiding from the roots of sin that are in all of us, the many things we are capable of doing, even if we cannot seen them”.

The Pope stressed another virtue: Shame before God, in a kind of dialogue in which we recognize the shame of our sin and the greatness of God's mercy:

"To You, Lord, our God, mercy and forgiveness. Shame on me and to You mercy and forgiveness". This Lent, it would do us all good to have this dialogue with the Lord: self-accusation. Let us ask for mercy. In the Gospel Jesus is clear: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful". When one learns to accuse oneself first then we are merciful to others: "But, who am I to judge, if I am able to do things that are worse?".

The phrase: "Who am I to judge another?" obeys Jesus’ exhortation: "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven". Instead, it highlights - "how we like to judge others, to speak ill of them”.

"May the Lord, in this Lent - said the Pontiff - give us the grace to learn to judge ourselves" in the knowledge that we are capable "of the most evil things" and say, "Have mercy on me, Lord, help me to be ashamed and grant me mercy, so I may be merciful to others".

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Santa Marta: Judge not

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

Listen:

The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that "we are all sinners" - not "in theory" but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is "a Christian virtue, indeed more than a virtue", it is the first step for those who want to be Christian:

“We are all masters, professors of self-justification: ‘No it wasn’t me, it’s not my fault, maybe yes, but not so much…that’s not the way it is…’. We all have an alibi to explain away our shortcomings, our sins, and we are often to put on a face that says "I do not know," a face that says ‘I didn’t do it, maybe someone else did’ an innocent face. This is no way to lead a Christian life”.

"It’s easier to blame others" - observed the Pope - but "something strange happens if we try to behave differently: "If we begin to look at the things we are capable of doing, at first we “feel bad, we feel disgust ", yet this in turn "gives us peace and makes us healthy”.

Pope Francis continued, “when I feel envy in my heart and I know that this envy is capable of speaking ill of others and morally assassinating them”, this is “the wisdom of judging oneself”. "If we do not learn this first step in life, we will never, never be able to take other steps on the road of our Christian life, of our spiritual life":

“The first step is to judge ourselves.  Without saying anything out loud. Between you and your conscience. Walking down the street, I pass by a prison and say: "Well, they deserve it" - "Yet do you know that if it weren’t for the grace of God you would be there? Did you ever think that you are capable of doing the things that they have done, even worse?” This is what judging yourself means, not hiding from the roots of sin that are in all of us, the many things we are capable of doing, even if we cannot seen them”.

The Pope stressed another virtue: Shame before God, in a kind of dialogue in which we recognize the shame of our sin and the greatness of God's mercy:

"To You, Lord, our God, mercy and forgiveness. Shame on me and to You mercy and forgiveness". This Lent, it would do us all good to have this dialogue with the Lord: self-accusation. Let us ask for mercy. In the Gospel Jesus is clear: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful". When one learns to accuse oneself first then we are merciful to others: "But, who am I to judge, if I am able to do things that are worse?".

The phrase: "Who am I to judge another?" obeys Jesus’ exhortation: "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven". Instead, it highlights - "how we like to judge others, to speak ill of them”.

"May the Lord, in this Lent - said the Pontiff - give us the grace to learn to judge ourselves" in the knowledge that we are capable "of the most evil things" and say, "Have mercy on me, Lord, help me to be ashamed and grant me mercy, so I may be merciful to others".

(from Vatican Radio)

John L. Allen Jr.: The Vatican’s financial reform: The nasty is back

(Crux) Over the centuries, court politics at the Vatican sometimes have had a seriously nasty side. If anyone was wondering whether that aspect of its culture had been killed off in the Francis era, or had simply gone dormant, late […]

The post John L. Allen Jr.: The Vatican’s financial reform: The nasty is back appeared first on CathNewsUSA.