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Speakers: Aim for truth with love to help those with same-sex attraction

For Courage member Daniel Mattson, the intersection of his life with the gay rights movement caused "all hell to break loose."

Congress urged to keep health care gains, protect life, conscience rights

The chairman of the U.S. bishops' domestic policy committee said Jan. 18 that a repeal of the federal health care law should not take place without immediate passage of a plan that preserves people's access to adequate health care and also protects human life, conscience rights and the poor.

Pope meets with organizers of exhibit on history of Jubilees

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met Thursday with organizers of an exhibition on the history of the Jubilees, which was hosted by the Italian Senate from March to June 2016. The President of the Italian Senate, Pietro Grasso, let the delegation of organizers and volunteers.

The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for the exhibition, which documented “multiple aspects” of the Jubilee Years, beginning with the first, in 1300, called by Pope Boniface VIII. Since that time, the Pope said, “each Jubilee has left its mark on the history of Rome: from architecture to the welcome of pilgrims; from the arts to caregiving and charitable activities.” But, Pope Francis continued, “there is an essential element, the heart of each Holy Year, which should never be lost sight of: in the Jubilee one encounters the goodness of God and the fragility of man, who always stands in need of the love and forgiveness of God.” God reveals His omnipotence, the Pope said, especially by showing mercy, which is a trait proper to God Himself.

Offering his gratitude to those who helped with the exhibition, and to the Italian Senate which hosted it, Pope Francis said expressed his hope that everyone might continue “to draw abundant and enduring spiritual fruits from the Jubilee experience.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: ‘Christian life is a daily struggle against temptation’

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday invited the faithful to let themselves be drawn by Jesus pointing out that Christian life is a daily struggle against temptation.

Speaking during the homily at morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope warned against the temptations that lead us down the wrong path.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Referring to the Gospel reading of the day, Pope Francis said Jesus came to destroy the influence of evil on our hearts.

Recounting the passage from the Gospel of Mark that tells of  how large numbers of people followed Jesus with enthusiasm, the Pope posed the question: ‘why were the crowds attracted?’

The Gospel, he said, tells us that some were sick and wanted to be healed but there were also people who liked listening to Jesus because he touched their hearts. This was because, he explained, the Father drew people to Jesus.

So much so, Francis said, Jesus told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. And he said He too was moved because he saw these people as sheep without a shepherd, and thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit the Father was drawing them to the Lord.

And, the Pope emphasized,  the reason for which so many people were attracted by Jesus Christ was nothing to do with Apologetics.

Commenting upon the end of the Gospel passage which says ‘whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God"’, Francis said that whenever we try to approach God, the unclean spirits try to prevent us from doing so, and “wage a war against us.”

Those, he said, who feel they are very Catholic and never have temptations, must pray because they are on the wrong path.

“A Christian life without temptations is not Christian, he said: it is ideological, it is Gnostic, but it is not Christian”.

When the Father draws people to Jesus, Pope Francis explained, there is an opposite force that causes conflict.

“That’s why St Paul speaks of Christian life as a struggle: a daily struggle. A fight!” he said: That’s why Jesus came: “to destroy Satan's empire, the empire of evil”.

He came to destroy its influence in our hearts, the Pope said. So while the Father is attracting you to Jesus, the spirit of evil is seeking to destroy that attraction.

The Pope concluded with the exhortation to fight on and feel the heart that struggles for the victory of Jesus.

"May the Lord give us the grace to know how to discern what is going on in our hearts and to choose the right path upon which the Father draws us to Jesus” he said.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: Luther’s intention was to renew the Church, not divide her

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday said that “the intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her”.

Speaking to members of an Ecumenical Delegation from Finland who are in the Vatican to take part in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Pope recalled his visit to Sweden last October and said that the “gathering there gave us the courage and strength, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together.”

The Pope ended his speech with off-the-cuff remarks thanking the bishop leading the delegation for having brought his grandchildren to the audience and pointing out that  "we need the simplicity of children: they will show us the path that leads to Jesus Christ."

The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place from 18 to 25 January focussing on a theme selected on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation: “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us”.

The celebration concludes with Vespers, presided over by Pope Francis, in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls on January 25th.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the members of the Ecumenical Delegation from Finland:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    
    I joyfully welcome all of you, members of the Ecumenical Delegation, who have come as pilgrims from Finland to Rome on the occasion of the feast of Saint Henrik.  I thank the Lutheran Bishop of Turku for his kind words.  For more than thirty years, it has been a fine custom for your pilgrimage to take place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which calls us to draw closer to one another anew through conversion.  True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Redeemer.  If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another.  During these days let us pray more fervently to the Holy Spirit so that we may experience this conversion which makes reconciliation possible.

    On this path, we Catholics and Lutherans, from several countries, together with various communities sharing our ecumenical journey, reached a significant step when, on 31 October last, we gathered together in Lund, Sweden, to commemorate through common prayer the beginning of the Reformation.  This joint commemoration of the Reformation was important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels.  After fifty years of official ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, we have succeeded in clearly articulating points of view which today we agree on.  For this we are grateful.  At the same time we keep alive in our hearts sincere contrition for our faults.  In this spirit, we recalled in Lund that the intention of Martin Luther five hundred years ago was to renew the Church, not divide her.  The gathering there gave us the courage and strength, in our Lord Jesus Christ, to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together.   

    In preparing the common commemoration of the Reformation, Catholics and Lutherans noted with greater awareness that theological dialogue remains essential for reconciliation and that it is advanced through steadfast commitment.  Thus, in that communion of harmony which permits the Holy Spirit to act, we will be able to find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the Church, and will be able to draw ever closer to  full and visible unity.  I pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently towards a common sacramental understanding of the Church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry.

    Therefore 2017, the commemorative year of the Reformation, represents for Catholics and Lutherans a privileged occasion to live the faith more authentically, in order to rediscover the Gospel together, and to seek and witness to Christ with renewed vigour.  At the conclusion of the day of commemoration in Lund, and looking to the future, we drew inspiration from our common witness to faith before the world, when we committed ourselves to jointly assisting those who suffer, who are in need, and who face persecution and violence.  In doing so, as Christians we are no longer divided, but rather united on the journey towards full communion.

    I am pleased to recall also that this year the Christians of Finland celebrate the centenary of the Finnish Ecumenical Council, which is an important instrument in promoting communion of faith and life among you.

    Finally, in 2017 your homeland, Finland, will celebrate one hundred years as an independent State.  May this anniversary encourage all the Christians of your country to profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – as did Saint Henrik so zealously – offering a witness of faith to the world today and putting that faith into practice through concrete acts of service, fraternity and sharing. 

    In the hope that your pilgrimage may contribute to further strengthening the good cooperation between Orthodox, Lutherans and Catholics in Finland and in the world, and that the common witness of faith, hope and love may bear abundant fruit through Saint Henrik’s intercession, I willingly invoke God’s grace and blessing upon you all.
 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

U.S. abortion rate at its lowest since 1973 Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. abortion rate is down to its lowest level since the Supreme Court made abortion legal virtually on demand in 1973, and the rate is half of its early-1980s peak.

HBO’s ‘The Young Pope’

Behind the opening credits of "The Young Pope," a naked baby boy crawls over a sea of infant mannequins, and a man dressed as the Roman pontiff emerges at the other end. As bizarre as that may sound, the controversial, provocative new miniseries from pay-cable channel HBO only gets stranger from there.

Pope Audience: We look with hope to unity not division

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Christian Unity and reconciliation are possible. He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in the Paul the VI hall where he also continued his catechesis on Christian hope.

Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report

We look more 'to that' which unites us rather than that which 'divides us”. Those were Pope Francis’ words on Wednesday during his weekly General Audience as he recalled this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Inviting Christians to pray for this week and also recalling his visit to Lund in Sweden to Commemorate the Reformation, the Pope said “we continue the journey together to deepen our communion and to give it more and more a 'visible form.”

In Europe, the Holy Father stressed, this common faith in Christ is like a green thread of hope” adding that, “communion, unity and reconciliation 'are possible.”

As Christians, he said, “we are responsible for  'this message and we have to bear witness to it with our lives.”

The Pope made the comments while greeting an Ecumenical delegation from Germany.

Also during his audience and continuing his catechesis on Christian hope, Pope Francis reflected on the story of the prophet Jonah, who sought to flee from a difficult mission entrusted to him by the Lord. 

He said that, “when the ship that Jonah had boarded was tossed by a storm, the pagan sailors asked him, as a man of God, to pray that they might escape sure death. 

The Pope noted that, “the story reminds us of the link between hope and prayer.” 

Anguish in the face of death, he added,  “often makes us recognize our human frailty and our need to pray for salvation.” 

The Holy Father explained that Jonah prays on behalf of the sailors and as a result, “the sailors come to acknowledge the true God.”

He also underlined that “as the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection makes clear, death itself can be, for each of us, an invitation to hope and an encounter in prayer with the God of our salvation.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

Iowa ministry celebrates decade of helping women transition from prison

(CNS) Franciscan Sister Gwen Hennessey, director of Clare Guest House, puts a different spin on the “What would Jesus do?” slogan. “I think what we provide is what Jesus would do,” said Gwen, who directs the transitional home for women released from prison. Clare Guest House began as an initiative of the Sioux City Multicultural […]

The post Iowa ministry celebrates decade of helping women transition from prison appeared first on CathNewsUSA.

In visit to Kurdistan, US bishop hears priorities of Iraqi Christians

(CNS) After meeting with church leaders in northern Iraq, a US bishop said he will advocate differently for Iraqi religious minorities. Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, told Catholic News Service by phone that the Iraqi Catholic clergy do not want to see a safe corridor set up for Christians, as some in […]

The post In visit to Kurdistan, US bishop hears priorities of Iraqi Christians appeared first on CathNewsUSA.