Sunday, June 26, 2016

Saint June 27: Our Lady of Perpetual Help - #OurLady #PerpetualHelp


June 27, is the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, and the Madonna di San Matteo. We are reminded that Our Blessed Mother constantly intercedes for us with Jesus, Our Lord—in our times of struggle, pain, and difficulty.
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer but the Mother of the redeemed as well. We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and His mercy is from age to age on those who love Him. Our greatest fear is that in time of temptation, we may fail to call out to you, and become lost children. Intercede for us, dear Mother, in obtaining pardon for our sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance, and the grace always to call upon you, Mother of Perpetual Help.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a title and devotion given to Our Blessed Mother, following an association with a Byzantine painting originating as early as the 13th century. Since that time, this golden image has inspired Catholics to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for intercession with her beloved Son, Jesus Christ. The painting, as interpreted by art historians and theologians, represents a message of salvation and reparation: “You can come to me.” The icon, possibly painted in Crete by an unknown artist, depicts Our Blessed Mother, holding the infant Christ. To her right is the Archangel Michael, carrying the lance and sponge of the crucifixion. On her left is the Archangel Gabriel carrying the cross and nails used in the crucifixion. Also known as the Theotokos of the Passion, the icon suggests that Christ, even as an infant, knew of His passion and death, and is seeking the comfort of his mother.
The origins and early history of the painting are lost to record, but in the fifteenth century, the icon was first venerated at the Church of San Matteo. Prior to that, history suggests that the painting was stolen in Crete, and brought to Italy by a pious merchant, who eventually (possibly following an apparition of the Blessed Mother to his daughter) bequeathed the painting to the church, which was served for a time by the Hermits of Saint Augustine. The picture remained in the church for nearly three hundred years.
In 1812 the French invaded Rome and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared. Between 1863 and 1865 it was discovered in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula. Under the direction of Pope Pius XI, the original icon was displayed for public veneration under the care of the Redemptorist Fathers at the Church of Saint Alphonsus (built on the original site of the destroyed Church of San Matteo), where it remains today.
Text shared from 365 Rosaries Blog
Powerful Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
O MOTHER of Perpetual Help, Grant that I may ever invoke Your most powerful name, Which is the safeguard of the living And the salvation of the dying.
O purest Mary! O sweetest Mary! Let your name henceforth Be ever on my lips.
Delay not, O Blessed Lady, To succor me Whenever I call on you.
In all my temptations, In all my needs, I will never cease To call on you Ever repeating Your sacred name, Mary, Mary!
Oh, what consolations, What sweetness, What confidence, What emotion fills my soul When I utter your sacred name, Or even only think of you!
I thank the Lord For having given you, For my good, So sweet, so powerful, So lovely a name.
But I will not be content With merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me Ever to hail you, Mother of Perpetual Help.
Mother of Perpetual Help, Pray for me And grant me the favor I confidently ask of you.

Saint June 27 : St. Cyril of Alexandria : #Doctor of the #Church

St. Cyril of Alexandria
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: June 27


Information:
Feast Day:June 27
Born:376 at Alexandria, Egypt 
Died:444 at Alexandria, Egypt
Patron of:Alexandria, Egypt
Doctor of the Church. St. Cyril has his feast in the Western Church on the 28th of January; in the Greek Menaea it is found on the 9th of June, and (together with St. Athanasius) on the 18th of January.
He seems to have been of an Alexandrian family and was the son of the brother of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria; if he is the Cyril addressed by Isidore of Pelusium in Ep. xxv of Bk. I, he was for a time a monk. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople when that bishop held the "Synod of the Oak" in 402 and deposed St. John Chrysostom. Theophilus died 15 Oct., 412, and on the 18th Cyril was consecrated his uncle's successor, but only after a riot between his supporters and those of his rival Timotheus. Socrates complains bitterly that one of his first acts was to plunder and shut the churches of the Novatians. He also drove out of Alexandria the Jews, who had formed a flourishing community there since Alexander the Great. But they had caused tumults and had massacred the Christians, to defend whom Cyril himself assembled a mob. This may have been the only possible defence, since the Prefect of Egypt, Orestes, who was very angry at the expulsion of the Jews was also jealous of the power of Cyril, which certainly rivaled his own. Five hundred monks came down from Nitria to defend the patriarch. In a disturbance which arose, Orestes was wounded in the head by a stone thrown by a monk named Ammonius. The prefect had Ammonius tortured to death, and the young and fiery patriarch honoured his remains for a time as those of a martyr. The Alexandians were always riotous as we learn from Socrates  (VII, vii) and from St. Cyril himself (Hom. for Easter, 419). In one of these riots, in 422, the prefect Callistus was killed, and in another was committed the murder of a female philosopher Hypatia, a highly-respected teacher of neo-Platoism, of advanced age and (it is said) many virtues. She was a friend of Orestes, and many believed that she prevented a reconciliation between the prefect and patriarch. A mob led by a lector, named Peter, dragged her to a church and tore her flesh with potsherds till she died. This brought great disgrace, says Socrates, on the Church of Alexandria and on its bishop; but a lector at Alexandria was not a cleric (Scr., V, xxii), and Socrates does not suggest that Cyril himself was to blame. Damascius, indeed, accuses him, but he is a late authority and a hater of Christians.

Theophilus, the persecutor of Chrysostom, had not the privilege of communion with Rome from that saint's death, in 406, until his own. For some years Cyril also refused to insert the name of St. Chrysostom in the diptychs of his Church, in spite of the requests of Chrysostom's supplanter, Atticus. Later he seems to  have yielded to the representations of his spiritual father, Isisdore of Pelusium (Isid., Ep. I, 370). Yet even after the Council of Ephesus that saint still found something to rebuke in him on this matter (Ep. I, 310). But at last Cyril seems to have long since been trusted by Rome.

It was in the winter of 427-28 that the Antiochene Nestorius became Patriarch of Constantinople. His heretical teaching soon became known to Cyril. Against him Cyril taught the use of the term Theotokus in his Paschal letter for 429 and in a letter to the monks of Egypt. A correspondence with Nestorius followed, in a more moderate tone than might have been expected. Nestorius sent his sermons to Pope Celestine, but he received no reply, for the latter wrote to St. Cyril for further information. Rome had taken the side of St. John Chrysostom against Theophilus, but had neither censured the orthodoxy of the latter, nor consented to the patriarchal powers exercised by the bishops of Constantinople. To St. Celestine Cyril was not only the first prelate of the East, he was also the inheritor of the traditions of Athanasius and Peter. The pope's confidence was not misplaced. Cyril had learnt prudence. Peter had attempted unsuccessfully to appoint a Bishop of Constantinople; Theophilus had deposed another. Cyril, though in this case Alexandria was in the right, does not act in his own name, but denounces Nestorius to St. Celestine, since ancient custom, he says, persuaded him to bring the matter before the pope. He relates all that had occurred, and begs Celestine to decree what he sees fit (typosai to dokoun--a phrase which Dr. Bright chooses to weaken into "formulate his opinion"), and communicate it also to the Bishops of Macedonia and of the East (i.e. the Antiochene Patriarchate).

The pope's reply was of astonishing severity. He had already commissioned Cassian to write his well known treatise on the Incarnation. He now summoned a council (such Roman councils had somewhat the office of the modern Roman Congregations), and dispatched a letter to Alexandria with enclosures to Constantinople, Philippi, Jerusalem, and Antioch. Cyril is to take to himself the authority of the Roman See and to admonish Nestorius that unless he recants within ten days from the receipt of this ultimatum, he is separated from "our body" (the popes of the day had the habit of speaking of the other churches as the members, of which they are the head; the body is, of course the Catholic Church). If Nestorius does not submit, Cyril is to "provide for" the Church of Constantinople. Such a sentence of excommunication and deposition is not to be confounded with the mere withdrawal of actual communion by the popes from Cyril himself at an earlier date, from Theophilus, or, in Antioch, from Flavian or Meletius. It was the decree Cyril has asked for. As Cyril had twice written to Nestorius, his citation in the name of the pope is to be counted as a third warning, after which no grace is to be given.

St. Cyril summoned a council of his suffragans, and composed a letter which were appended twelve propositions for Nestorius to anathematize. The epistle was not conciliatory, and Nestorius may well have been taken aback. The twelve propositions did not emanate from Rome, and were not equally clear; one or two  of them were later among the authorities invoked by the Monophysite heretics in their own favour. Cyril was the head of the rival theological school to that of Antioch, where Nestorius had studied, and was the hereditary rival of the Constantinopolitan would-be patriarch. Cyril wrote also to John, Patriarch of Antioch, informing him of the facts, and insinuating that if John should support his old friend Nestorius, he would find himself isolated over against Rome, Macedonia, and Egypt. John took the hint and urged Nestorius to yield. Meanwhile, in Constantinople itself large numbers of the people held aloof from Nestorius, and the Emperor Theodosius II had been persuaded to summon a general council to meet at Ephesus. The imperial letters were dispatched 19 November, whereas the bishops sent by Cyril arrived at Constantinople only on 7 December. Nestorius, somewhat naturally, refused to accept the message sent by his rival, and on the 13th and 14th of December preached publicly against Cyril as a calumniator, and as having used bribes (which was probably as true as it was  usual); but he declared himself willing to use the word Theotokos. These sermons he sent to John of Antioch, who preferred them to the anathematizations of Cyril. Nestorius, however, issued twelve propositions with appended anathemas. If Cyril's propositions might be might be taken to deny the two natures in Christ, those of Nestorius hardly veiled his belief in two distinct persons. Theodoret urged John yet further, and wrote a treatise against Cyril, to which the latter replied with some warmth. He also wrote an "Answer" in five books to the sermons of Nestorius.
As the fifteenth-century idea of an oecumenical council superior to the pope had yet to be invented, and there was but one precedent for such an assembly, we need not be surprised that St. Celestine welcomed the initiative of the emperor, and hoped for peace through the assembly. (See EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF.) Nestorius found the churches of Ephesus closed to him, when he arrived with the imperial commissioner, Count Candidian, and his own friend, Count Irenaeus. Cyril came with fifty of his bishops. Palestine, Crete, Asia Minor, and Greece added their quotient. But John of Antioch and his suffragans were delayed. Cyril may have believed, rightly or wrongly, that John did not wish to be present at the trial of his friend Nestorius, or that he wished to gain time for him, and he opened  the council without John, on 22 June, in spite of the request of sixty-eight bishops for a delay. This was an initial error, which had disastrous results.
The legates from Rome had not arrived, so that Cyril had no answer to the letter he had written to Celestine asking "whether the holy synod should receive a man who condemned what it preached, or, because the time of delay had elapsed, whether the sentence was still in force". Cyril might have presumed that the pope, in agreeing to send legates to the council, intended Nestorius to have a complete trial, but it was more convenient to assume that the Roman ultimatum had not been suspended, and that the council was bound by it. He therefore took the place of president, not only as the highest of rank, but also as still holding the place of Celestine, though he cannot have received any fresh commission from the pope. Nestorius was summoned, in order that he might explain his neglect of Cyril's former monition in the name of the pope. He refused to receive the four bishops whom the council sent to him. Consequently nothing remained but formal procedure. For the council was bound by the canons to depose Nestorius for contumacy, as he would not appear, and by the letter of Celestine to condemn him for heresy, as he had not recanted. The correspondence between Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople was read, some testimonies where read from earlier writers show the errors of Nestorius. The second letter of Cyril to Nestorius was approved by all the bishops. The reply of Nestorius was condemned. No discussion took place. The letter of Cyril and the ten anathemaizations raised no comment. All was concluded at one sitting. The council declared that it was "of necessity impelled" by the canons and by the letter of Celestine to declare Nestorius deposed and excommunicated. The papal legates, who had been detained by bad weather, arrived on the 10th of July, and they solemnly confirmed the sentence by the authority of St. Peter, for the refusal of Nestorius to appear had made useless the permission which they brought from the pope to grant him forgiveness if he should repent. But meanwhile John of Antioch and his party had arrived on the 26th and 27th of June. They formed themselves into a rival council of forty-three bishops, and deposed Memnon, Bishop of Ephesus, and St. Cyril, accusing the latter of Apollinarianism and even of Eunomianism. Both parties now appealed to the emperor, who took the amazing decision of sending a count to treat Nestorius, Cyril, and Memnon as being all three lawfully deposed. They were kept in close custody; but eventually the emperor took the orthodox view, though he dissolved the council; Cyril was allowed to return to his diocese, and Nestorius went into retirement at Antioch. Later he was banished to the Great Oasis of Egypt.

Meanwhile Pope Celestine was dead. His successor, St. Sixtus III, confirmed the council and attempted to get John of Antioch to anathematize Nestorius. For some time the strongest opponent of Cyril was Theodoret, but eventually he approved a letter of Cyril to Acacius of Berhoea. John sent Paul, Bishop of Emesa, as his plenipotentiary to Alexandria, and he patched up reconciliation with Cyril. Though Theodoret still refused to denounce the defence of Nestorius, John did so, and Cyril declared his joy in a letter to John. Isidore of Pelusium was now afraid that the impulsive Cyril might have yielded too much (Ep. i, 334). The great patriarch composed many further treatises, dogmatic letters, and sermons. He died on the 9th or the 27th of June, 444, after an episcopate of nearly thirty-two years.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

#BreakingNews Pope Francis "...not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended." Interview on Plane - FULL TEXT

Pope Francis on the Plane to Rome from Armenia spoke to reporters on June 26, 2016. This was at the end of his three-day papal visit to Armenia. He spoke about Brexit, the Orlando shooting addressing comments that Church should apologize to homosexual persons for having “marginalized” them which were mentioned by Cardinal Marx.  
Please find below the full text of the press conference, translated by Catholic News Agency:

Fr. Lombardi: Holy Father, thanks so much for being here at the end of this quite brief, but very intense trip. We have been content to accompany you and now we wish to pose you some questions, taking advantage of your kindness. We have a list of people who are signed up to speak and we can begin, as is usual, with the colleagues from Armenia, as we give them the priority. The first is Artur Grygorian, of Armenian Public Television.
Pope Francis: I thank you so much for your help on this trip, all of your work that does good to people… communicating well the things. They are good news… and good news always does good. Thanks so much! Thanks.
Artur Grygorian (Armenian Public Television): Your Holiness, it is known you have Armenian friends, you had contacts with the Armenian community earlier in Argentina. During the last three days you touched the Armenian spirit. What are your feelings, impressions? And what will be your message for the future, your prayers for Armenia? Thanks.
Pope Francis: Well, let’s think to the future and then let’s go to the past. I hope for justice and peace for this people and I pray for this, because it is a courageous people. And I pray that they find justice and peace. I know that so many are working for this; and also I was very happy last week when I saw a photograph of President Putin with the two Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents… at least they’re speaking! And also with Turkey and the president of the republic in his welcoming speech spoke clearly, he had the courage to say: let’s come to an agreement, forgive each other, and look to the future. And this is a great courage for a people who has suffered so much, no? It’s the icon of the Armenian people. This came to me today while I was praying a bit. It’s a life of stone and a tenderness of a mother. It has carried crosses, but stone crosses - and you see them, eh! - but it has not lost its tenderness, art, music, those “suspended chords”, so difficult to understand and with great geniality. A people who has suffered so much in its history and only the faith has kept it on its feet, because the fact is that it was the first Christian nation, this isn’t sufficient! It was the frist Christian nation because the Lord blessed it, because it had the saints, it had bishop saints, martyrs, and for this in resisting Armenia has made itself a “stony skin”, let’s call it that, but it has not lost the tenderness of a maternal heart. Armenia is also a mother!
And this is the second question, let’s go to the first now. If I had so many contacts with the Armenians… I went often with them to Masses, I have many Armenian friends… One thing that I usually don’t like to do for rest, but I would go to dinner with them and you have heavy dinners, eh! But, very good friends, no? A very good friend is Archbishop Kissag Mouradian and Boghossian, a Catholic… but among you, more important than belonging to the Apostolic Church or the Catholic Church, is the “Armenism”, and I understood this in those times. Today, an Argentinian from an Armenian family that when I went to the Masses, the archbishop always made him sit next to me so he could explain some ceremonies or some words that I didn’t know greeted me. One, two and three, but I start with three.
Fr. Lombardi: Now we give the word to another Armenian representative, Jeannine Paloulian.
Jeannine Paloulian (Nouvelles d’Armenie): Yesterday evening at the ecumenical encounter of prayer you asked about carrying out reconciliation with Turkey and Azerbaijan. I would like to ask you simply, given that you are about to go to Azerbaijan in some weeks, what will you do, a concrete sign like you’ve given to Armenia, what is the sign you’d like to give to Azerbaijan tomorrow?
Pope Francis: I will speak to the Azerbaijanis of the truth of what I have seen, of what I have felt and I will also encourage them. I met the Azerbaijani president and I spoke with him… I’ll tell you also that not making peace for a little piece of land, because it’s not a big deal, means something dark, no? But I say this to all the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis… Possibly, they can’t agree on the ways of making peace, and on this they need to work. But I don’t know what else to say… I will say that at the moment it comes to my heart, but always positively trying to find solutions that are viable, that move ahead.
Fr. Lombardi: Thanks a lot. And now we give the floor to Jean Louis de La Vassiere of France Presse, for whom I believe it may be the last trip that he makes with us, so we are happy to give him a voice.
Jean Luis de La Vassiere (AFP): Holy Father, first I wanted to thank you on my behalf and for Sebastien Maillard of La Croix… we are leaving Rome and we wanted to thank you from our hearts for this spring breeze that you’re blowing on the Church… then I have a question: why did you decide to add openly the word genocide to your speech at the presidential palace? On a painful theme like this, do you think it’s useful for peace in this complicated region?
Pope Francis: In Argentina, when you spoke of the Armenian extermination, they always used the word “genocide.” I didn’t know another. At the cathedral in Buenos Aires, we put a stone cross in the third altar on the left, remembering the Armenian genocide. The archbishop came, two Armenian archbishops, the Catholic and the Apostolic, they inaugurated it… also the Apostolic Archbishop in the Catholic Church of St. Bartholomew made an altar in memory of St. Bartholomew… but always… I didn’t know another word. I come from this word. When I arrived in Rome, I heard another word: “The Great Evil” or the “terrible tragedy,” but in Armenian, I don’t know how to say it… and they tell me that no, that that is offensive, that of “genocide,” and that you must say this. I’ve always spoke of three genocides in the last century… always three! The first was the Armenian, then that of Hitler, and the last is that of Stalin… there are small ones, there is another in Africa, but as in the orbit of the two great wars there are these three… I’ve asked why… “but some feel like it’s not true, that there wasn’t a genocide”... another said to me… a lawyer told me this that really interested me: the word “genocide” is a technical word. It’s a word that has a technicity that it is not a synonym of “extermination.” You can say extermination, but declaring a “genocide” brings with it actions of reparation… this is what the lawyer said to me. Last year, when I was preparing the speech, I saw that St John Paul II had used the word, that he used both: Great Evil and genocide. And I cited that one in quotation marks… and it wasn’t received well. A statement was made by the Turkish government. Turkey, in a few days called its ambassador to Ankara, who is a great man, Turkey sent us a top ambassador, who returned three months ago... “an ambassadorial fast.” But, he has the right.. The right to protest, we all have it. In this speech at the start there wasn’t a word, that is true. I respond because I added it. But after having heard the tone of the speech of the president and also with my past with this word, and having said this word last year in St. Peter’s publicly, it would have sounded strange not to say at least the same thing. But there, I wanted to underscore something else, and I don’t think I err that I also said: in this genocide, as in the other two, the great international powers looked in the other direction. And this was the thing. In the Second World War some powers, which had photographed the train lines that led to Auschwitz had the possibility to bomb and didn’t do it. An example. In the context of the First War, where was the problem of the Armenians? And in the context of the Second War where was the problem of Hitler and Stalin and after Yalta of the area… and all that no one speak about. One has to underscore this. And make the historical question: why didn’t you do this, you powers?
I don’t accuse, I ask a question. It’s curious. They looked at the war, at so many things… but not the people… and I don’t know if it’s true, but I would like to know if it’s true that when Hitler persecuted the Jews, one of the words, of the thing that he may have said was “Well, who remembers today the Armenians, let’s do the same with the Jews.” I don’t know if it’s true, maybe it’s hearsay, but I’ve heard this said. Historians, search and see if it’s true. I think I answered. But I never said this word with an offensive intention, if not objectively.
Elisbetta Piqué, La Nacion: Congratulations for the trip, first of all. We wanted to ask you: we know that you are the Pope and Pope Benedict, the Pope Emeritus, is also there, but lately some statements from the prefect of the pontifical household, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, have come down, who suggested that there is a shared Petrine ministry, if I’m not mistaken, with one active Pope and one contemplative Pope. Are there two Popes?
Pope Francis: There was a time in the Church when there were three! (laughs) I didn’t read those declarations because I didn’t have time to see those things. Benedict is a Pope Emeritus, he said it clearly that February 11th when he was giving his resignation as of February 28th when he would retire and help the Church with prayer.
And, Benedict is in the monastery praying. I went to see him so many times... or by telephone. The other day he wrote me a little little letter. He still signs with his signature, wishing me well for this trip, and once, not once but many times, I’ve said that it’s a grace to have a wise grandfather at home. I’ve also told him to his face and he laughs, but for me he is the Pope Emeritus. He is the wise grandfather. He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer.
I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, “among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.” And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh - I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character - that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.
He is the Pope Emeritus. Then, I don’t know if you remember that I thanked him publicly. I don’t know when but I think it was on a flight, Benedict, for having opened the door to Popes emeriti. But, 70 years ago bishops emeriti didn’t exist. Today, we have them… but with this lengthening of life, but can you run a Church at this age, with aches and pains or not? And he, courageously, and with prayer and with science, with theology decided to open this door and I believe that this is good for the Church.
But there is one single Pope, and the other… maybe they will be like the bishops emeriti, I’m not saying many but possibly there could be two or three. They will be emeriti... They are emeriti.
The day after tomorrow, the 65th anniversary of his episcopal (Fr. Lombardi says something to the Pope), sorry, priestly ordination will be celebrated. His brother Georg will be there because they were both ordained together. There will be a little event with the dicastery heads and few people because he prefers a … he accepted, but very modestly, and also I will be there and I will say something to this great man of prayer, of courage that is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope, who is faithful to his word and a great man of God, is very intelligent, and for me he is the wise grandfather at home.
Fr. Lombardi: Thank you, Holiness. And now we give the word to Alexej Bukalov, one of our deans, who as you know represents Italtass, and so the Russian culture is with us.
Pope Francis: Did you speak Russian in Armenia?
Bukalov (Italtass): Thank you Holiness, thanks for this trip which is your first trip on ex-Soviet territory and for me it was very important to follow it. My question goes a bit outside of this issue: I know that you have greatly encouraged this Pan-Orthodox Council, when even at the encounter with Patriarch Kirill in Cuba it was mentioned as a wish. Now what judgement do you make of this, let’s say, “forum.”
Pope Francis: A positive judgement. A step was made forward, not with 100 percent, but a step forward. The things that have “justified,” in quotation marks, and I’m sincere about them, are the things that with time can be resolved. Also themselves, these four who didn’t go, who wanted to do it a little bit later. But I think the first step is made as you can, as children, they make their first step but they do as they can. First they do like cats and then they take their first steps. I am happy. They’ve spoken of so many things. I think the result is positive. The single fact that these autocephalous Churches have gathered in the name of Orthodoxy to look upon each others' faces, to pray together and speak and maybe tell some jokes… but that is extremely positive! I thank the Lord! At the next there will be more. Blessed be the Lord.
Fr. Lombardi: Thank you, Holiness.. Now we pass the microphone to Edward Pentin who represents the English language this time.
Edward Pentin (National Catholic Register): As John Paul II, you seem to be a supporter of the European Union and you praised the European project when you recently won the Charlemagne prize. Are you worried that Brexit could bring about the disintegration of Europe and eventually war?
Pope Francis: There is already a war in Europe. Moreover, there is a climate of division, not only in Europe, but in its own countries. If you remember Catalonia, last year Scotland. These divisions… I don’t say that they are dangerous, but we must study them well, and before take a step forward for a division, to speak well amongst ourselves, and seek out viable solutions… I honestly don’t know. I have not studied the reasons why the United Kingdom wanted to make this decision, but there are divisions. I believe I said this once, I don’t know where, but I said it: That independence will make for emancipation. For instance, all our Latin American countries, even the countries of Africa, have emancipated from the crown, from Madrid. Even in Africa from Paris, London, Amsterdam . . . And this is an emancipation, and is more understandable because behind it there is a culture, there is a way of thinking . . . . rather, the seccession of a country -- I’m still not speaking of Brexit; we think of Scotland, all these... It is a thing that has been given a name, and this I say without offending, it is a word which politicians use: Balkanization, without speaking ill of the Balkans. It is somewhat of a seccession, it is not emancipation. And behind (it) there are histories, cultures, misunderstandings, even good will . . . this is clear. For me, unity is always better than conflict, but there are different ways of unity . . . and even fraternity, and here comes the European Union; fraternity is better than animosity and distance. Fraternity is better and bridges are better than walls. One must reflect on all of this. It is true: a country . . . I am in Europe, but . . . I want to have certain things that are mine from my culture and the step that . . . and here I come to the Charlemagne Prize, which is given by the European Union to discover the strength that it had from its roots. It is a step of creativity, and also of “healthy disunity,” to give more independence, more liberty to countries of the Union, to think of another form of Union, to be creative. And creative in places of work, in the economy. There is a liquid economy in Europe. For instance, in Italy 40 percent of young people aged 25 and younger do not have work. There is something that is not good in this massive Union, but we do not throw the baby in the bath water out the window, no? We look to redeem the things and recreate, because recreation of human things, also our personality, is a journey, which one must always take. A teenager is not like an adult, or an elderly person. It is the same and it is not the same. One recreates continuously. It is this that gives life, the desire to live, and gives fruitfulness. And this I underline: today, the word, the two key words for the European Union, are creativity and fruitfulness. This is the challenge. I don’t know, it’s what I think.
Fr. Lombardi: Thank you Holiness, and so now we give the word to Tilmann Kleinjung, who is from the ARD, from the national German radio and also I think this might be his last trip so we are happy to give him this possibility.
Kleinjung (ARD): Yes, also I am about to depart for Bavaria. Thanks for this question.
Pope Francis: Too much beer!
Kleinjung: Too much beer … Holy Father, I wanted to ask you a question. Today you spoke of the gifts of the shared Churches, of the gifts shared by the Churches together. Seeing that you will go in I believe four months to Lund for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the reformation, I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides but also to recognize the gifts of the reformation. Perhaps also – this is a heretical question – perhaps to annul or withdraw the excommunication of Martin Luther or of some sort of rehabilitation. Thank you.
Pope Francis: I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct. But in that time, if we read the story of the Pastor, a German Lutheran who then converted when he saw reality – he became Catholic – in that time, the Church was not exactly a model to imitate. There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power...and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err. He made a medicine for the Church, but then this medicine consolidated into a state of things, into a state of a discipline, into a way of believing, into a way of doing, into a liturgical way and he wasn’t alone; there was Zwingli, there was Calvin, each one of them different, and behind them were who? Principals! We must put ourselves in the story of that time. It’s a story that’s not easy to understand, not easy. Then things went forward, and today the dialogue is very good. That document of justification I think is one of the richest ecumenical documents in the world, one in most agreement. But there are divisions, and these also depend on the Churches. In Buenos Aires there were two Lutheran churches, and one thought in one way and the other...even in the same Lutheran church there was no unity; but they respected each other, they loved each other, and the difference is perhaps what hurt all of us so badly and today we seek to take up the path of encountering each other after 500 years. I think that we have to pray together, pray. Prayer is important for this. Second, to work together for the poor, for the persecuted, for many people, for refugees, for the many who suffer; to work together and pray together and the theologians who study together try...but this is a long path, very long. One time jokingly I said: I know when full unity will happen. - “when?” - “the day after the Son of Man comes,” because we don’t know...the Holy Spirit will give the grace, but in the meantime, praying, loving each other and working together. Above all for the poor, for the people who suffer and for peace and many things...against the exploitation of people and many things in which they are jointly working together.
Cecile Chambraud (Le Monde): Asks a question about deaconesses.
Pope Francis: There is a president in Argentina who advised presidents of other countries: “When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission.” But, the first to be surprised by this news was me… The dialogue with religious was recorded and published on L'Osservatore Romano and something else... And we had heard that in the first centuries there were deaconesses. One could study this and one could make a commission. Nothing more has been requested. They were educated, not just educated, beloved of the Church. And I recounted that I knew a Syrian, a Syrian theologian who had died, the one who wrote a critical edition of Saint Ephrem, in Italian, and once speaking of deaconesses, when I came and was staying at Via della Scrofa, he lived there, at breakfast speaking…  but he did not know well if they had ordination. Certainly there were these women who helped the bishop, and helped in three things: In the baptism of women, because there was the baptism of immersion; second, in the pre-baptismal unction for women, third – this makes me laugh – when there was a woman who went to complain to the bishop because her husband beat her, the bishop called one of these deaconesses, who looked at the woman's body to find bruises... this is why it was done for this.
But, one can study, if it is the doctrine of the Church and if one might create this commission. They said: “The Church opens the door to deaconesses.” Really? I was a bit annoyed because this is not telling the truth of things. I spoke with the prefect of the [Congregation for the] Doctrine of the Faith, and he told me, “look, there is a study which the international theological commission had made in 1980.” And I asked the president to please make a list.
Give me a list of who I can take to create this commission. He sent me the list to create this commission, but I believe that the theme has been studied a lot, and I don't think it will be difficult to shed light on this argument. But, there is another thing, a year and a half ago I made a commission of women theologians who had worked with Cardinal Rylko, who had written a lovely book, because woman's thought is important. The women think differently from us, and one cannot make a good decision without listening to women. Sometimes in Buenos Aires, I consulted with my advisers, and then I asked women to come and they saw things in another light, which departed greatly . . . But, then, the solutions (were) very fruitful, very lovely.
I must meet these women who have done a good job, but because the dicastery of the laity is changing now, and I am waiting for what it does. But, to continue this second work which is another thing, the theological women . . . But this, I would like to emphasize, is more important: the way of understanding, of thinking, of seeing of women and the capabilities of women. The Church is a woman. It is 'la Chiesa', who is not a spinster; she is a woman married to the son of God, she is the spouse of Jesus Christ.
Cindy Wooden, CNS: Holiness, within the past few days Cardinal Marx, the German, speaking at a large conference in Dublin which is very important on the Church in the modern world, said that the Catholic Church must ask forgiveness to the gay community for having marginalized these people. In the days following the shooting in Orlando, many have said that the Christian community had something to do with this hate toward these people. What do you think?
Pope Francis: I will repeat what I said on my first trip. I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. One can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior...Certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others, no? ... But these are things that have nothing to do with the problem. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well...this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism. Then there are traditions in some countries, in some cultures that have a different mentality on this problem. I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness – like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) – must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times – when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners! – Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families...I remember from my childhood the culture in Buenos Aires, the closed Catholic culture. I go over there, eh! A divorced family couldn’t enter the house, and I’m speaking of 80 years ago. The culture has changed, thanks be to God. Christians must ask forgiveness for many things, not just these. Forgiveness, not just apologies. Forgive, Lord. It’s a word that many times we forget. Now I’m a pastor and I’m giving a sermon. No, this is true, many times. Many times … but the priest who is a master and not a father, the priest who beats and not the priest who embraces, forgives and consoles. But there are many. There are many hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, many saints. But these ones aren’t seen. Because holiness is modest, it’s hidden. Instead it’s a little bit of blatant shamelessness, it’s blatant and you see so many organizations of good people and people who aren’t as good and people who … because you give a purse that’s a little big and look at you from the other side like the international powers with three genocides. We Christians – priests, bishops – we have done this. But also we Christians have Teresa of Calcutta and many Teresa of Calcuttas. We have many servants in Africa, many laity, many holy marriages. The wheat and the weeds. And so Jesus says that the Kingdom … we must not be scandalized for being like this. We must pray so that the Lord makes these weeds end and there is more grain. But this is the life of the Church. We can’t put limits. All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit. But we are all sinners, me first of all! Alright. I don’t know if I have replied.
Fr. Lombardi: Holy Father, I’m allowing myself to pose you a final question and then we’ll leave you in peace.
Pope Francis: Don’t put me in difficulty!
Fr. Lombardi: No, it’s about the coming trip to Poland which we are already starting to prepare for, and you will dedicate this month of July to preparing for. If you could tell us something of the feelings with which you’re going to this World Youth Day in this Jubilee of Mercy… and another more specific point is this: we visited the Memorial of Tzitzernakaberd with you during the visit to Armenia… and you will also visit Auschwitz and Birkenau during the trip to Poland… so, now I felt saying that you desire to live this moment with more silence than with words as you have done here, also at Birkenau [sic] and I wanted to ask if you preferred to make a moment of silent prayer with a specific motive.
Pope Francis: Two years ago at Redipuglia I did the same to commemorate the centenary of the Great War, at Redipuglia. I went in silence… then there was a Mass, at Mass I preached, but there was something else. The silence. Today, we saw this morning the silence… it was today, right?
Fr. Lombardi: Yesterday.
Pope Francis: Yesterday… the silence… I would like to go to that place of horror, without speeches, without people, just the little necessities… but there will certainly be journalists… but without greeting this and this… no, no… alone, entering, praying and may the Lord give me the grace of crying. It’s this.
Fr. Lombardi: Thank you, Holiness… now, we will accompany you also in the preparation of this next trip and we thank you so much for the time you’ve dedicated us… and now, rest a bit, eat also, and rest also in the month of July, then …
Pope Francis: Again, thanks, also for your work and your benevolence. Thank you!

#BreakingNews Flooding in West Virginia leaves 25 Dead and Hundreds with no Home - Please Pray

 West Virginia flooding has resulted in 25 deaths and left hundreds homeless In some areas 250 millimetres of rain was reported. There was also flooding in Texas, and flood watches spread to Louisiana, Mississippi. Some counties will receive federal assistance after the worst flooding in more than a century. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster for West Virginia. He also  ordered federal aid to affected individuals for temporary housing, repairs and other programs. A  state of emergency has been declared in 44 of 55 counties. 200 members of the West Virginia National Guard are helping rescue efforts. About 32,000 homes and businesses are without power. , Texas river flooding forced evacuations also and, claimed 6 lives. Please Pray for the affected families.

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The film is "based on true events"; while the outlines of the portion of Josemaría Escrivá's life presented in the movie are broadly accurate, most of the scenes in which Escrivá appears are fictional.   Rated PG-13 for "violence and combat sequences, some language and thematic elements." Director/Writer:   Roland Joffé

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#Breaking Pope Francis and Catholicos sign Declaration for Peace and Christian Unity in Armenia - FULL TEXT

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II, leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church on Sunday signed a common declaration, giving thanks for the progress towards Christian unity, and appealing for peace in the Middle East and other regions torn apart by conflict, terrorism and religious persecution.
At the conclusion of a three day pastoral visit to Armenia, the first country to embrace the Christian faith, the Pope joined the Patriarch in calling for a peaceful resolution in neighbouring Nagorno-Karabakh. The declaration also recalls “the extermination of a million and a half Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century”.
In the statement the two religious leaders pray for a change of heart in all who commit violence, as well as imploring leaders of nations to hear the cry of those people “who have urgent need of bread, not guns”.
They acknowledge all that is already being done to support victims of violence, but they insist that much more is needed on the part of political leaders and the international community to ensure the right of all to live in peace and security, to uphold the rule of law, to protect religious and ethnic minorities, to combat human trafficking and smuggling.
Please find below the full text of the Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II at Holy Etchmiadzin, Republic of Armenia
Today in Holy Etchmiadzin, spiritual center of All Armenians, we, Pope Francis and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II raise our minds and hearts in thanksgiving to the Almighty for the continuing and growing closeness in faith and love between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church in their common witness to the Gospel message of salvation in a world torn by strife and yearning for comfort and hope. We praise the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for enabling us to come together in the biblical land of Ararat, which stands as a reminder that God will ever be our protection and salvation. We are spiritually gratified to remember that in 2001, on the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the proclamation of Christianity as the religion of Armenia, Saint John Paul II visited Armenia and was a witness to a new page in warm and fraternal relations between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church. We are grateful that we had the grace of being together, at a solemn liturgy in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome on 12 April 2015, where we  pledged our will to oppose every form of discrimination and violence, and commemorated the victims of what the Common Declaration of His Holiness John-Paul II and His Holiness Karekin II spoke of as “the extermination of a million and a half Armenian Christians, in what is generally referred to as the first genocide of the twentieth century”  (27 September 2001).
We praise the Lord that today, the Christian faith is again a vibrant reality in Armenia, and that the Armenian Church carries on her mission with a spirit of fraternal collaboration between the Churches, sustaining the faithful in building a world of solidarity, justice and peace.
Sadly, though, we are witnessing an immense tragedy unfolding before our eyes, of countless innocent people being killed, displaced or forced into a painful and uncertain exile by continuing conflicts on ethnic, economic, political and religious grounds in the Middle East and other parts of the world. As a result, religious and ethnic minorities have become the target of persecution and cruel treatment, to the point that suffering for one’s religious belief has become a daily reality. The martyrs belong to all the Churches and their suffering is an “ecumenism of blood” which transcends the historical divisions between Christians, calling us all to promote the visible unity of Christ’s disciples. Together we pray, through the intercession of the holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, Thaddeus and Bartholomew, for a change of heart in all those who commit such crimes and those who are in a position to stop the violence. We implore the leaders of nations to listen to the plea of millions of human beings who long for peace and justice in the world, who demand respect for their God-given rights, who have urgent need of bread, not guns. Sadly, we are witnessing a presentation of religion and religious values in a fundamentalist way, which is used to justify the spread of hatred, discrimination and violence. The justification of such crimes on the basis of religious ideas is unacceptable, for “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (I Corinthians 14:33). Moreover, respect for religious difference is the necessary condition for the peaceful cohabitation of different ethnic and religious communities. Precisely because we are Christians, we are called to seek and implement paths towards reconciliation and peace. In this regard we also express our hope for a peaceful resolution of the issues surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.
Mindful of what Jesus taught his disciples when he said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25: 35-36), we ask the faithful of our Churches to open their hearts and hands to the victims of war and terrorism, to refugees and their families. At issue is the very sense of our humanity, our solidarity, compassion and generosity, which can only be properly expressed in an immediate practical commitment of resources. We acknowledge all that is already being done, but we insist that much more is needed on the part of political leaders and the international community in order to ensure the right of all to live in peace and security, to uphold the rule of law, to protect religious and ethnic minorities, to combat human trafficking and smuggling.
The secularization of large sectors of society, its alienation from the spiritual and divine, leads inevitably to a desacralized and materialistic vision of man and the human family. In this respect we are concerned about the crisis of the family in many countries. The Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church share the same vision of the family, based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between man and woman. 
We gladly confirm that despite continuing divisions among Christians, we have come to realize more clearly that what unites us is much more than what divides us. This is the solid basis upon which the unity of Christ’s Church will be made manifest, in accordance with the Lord’s words, “that they all may be one” (John 17.21). Over the past decades the relationship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church has successfully entered a new phase, strengthened by our mutual prayers and joint efforts in overcoming contemporary challenges. Today we are convinced of the crucial importance of furthering this relationship, engaging in deeper and more decisive collaboration not only in the area of theology, but also in prayer and active cooperation on the level of the local communities, with a view to sharing full communion and concrete expressions of unity.  We urge our faithful to work in harmony for the promotion in society of the Christian values which effectively contribute to building a civilization of justice, peace and human solidarity. The path of reconciliation and brotherhood lies open before us. May the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (cf. John 16:13), sustain every genuine effort to build bridges of love and communion between us.
From Holy Etchmiadzin we call on all our faithful to join us in prayer, in the words of Saint Nerses the Gracious: “Glorified Lord, accept the supplications of Your servants, and graciously fulfil our petitions, through the intercession of the Holy Mother of God, John the Baptist, the first martyr Saint Stephen, Saint Gregory our Illuminator, the Holy Apostles, Prophets, Divines, Martyrs, Patriarchs, Hermits, Virgins and all Your saints in Heaven and on Earth. And unto You, O indivisible Holy Trinity, be glory and worship forever and ever. Amen”.
Holy Etchmiadzin, 26 June 2016
His Holiness Francis                     His Holiness Karekin II

#PopeFrancis visits "Khor Virap" #Monastery in #Armenia where Noah's Ark Rested FULL Video

Vatican Radio) Pope Francis ended his three day Apostolic journey to Armenia, his 14th abroad with a visit to ‘Khor Virap’ monastery at the foot of  Mount Ararat. A significant site linked to the conversion of  this nation to Christianity.
The red brick monastery of Khor Virap at the foot of Mount Ararat where tradition holds that Noah’s ark came to rest after the floods is one of Armenia’s most sacred sites. It’s here that the most memorable image of Pope Francis’s visit to Armenia played out.
That of the Pope and the Patriarch standing out against the skyline in unison in the shadow of the snow-capped Mount, as together they release two white doves which flutter into the evening light before soaring up high. A striking gesture which holds within it a symbol of unity and peace.
By contrast the name of the monastery provides a sinking feeling as it means 'deep dungeon'. And while dark and musty dungeons really exist here, some sinking deep into the ground, over six metres under one of the Chapels of the monastery complex, what really matters is that it was in one of these dungeons, often referred to as a well, that Saint Gregory the Illuminator, was held prisoner for thirteen lonng years before bringing about the conversion of the King in 301, so at the beginning of the fourth century. A conversion which led to Armenia becoming the first nation ever to adopt Christianity as a State religion.
And a conversion which was no doubt on the Pope’s mind as together with the Patriarch he made his way up two narrow flights of stairs to the room known as the ‘Well of Saint Gregory’. They were there  to light a candle before making their way to the nearby Chapel to pray: the Patriarch in Armenian and the Pope in Italian.
Before leaving this land which Pope Francis has described as ‘beloved’ he  expressed the idea that it was a grace to find himself on these heights where, beneath the gaze of Mount Ararat, the very silence seems to speak.  And where the 'khatchkar' – the stone crosses – recount a singular history bound up with rugged faith and immense suffering. A history, he went on to say, replete with magnificent testimonies to the Gospel, to which you the Armenian people are heirs.
Words pronounced a day earlier when he had symbolically watered, once again together with the Patriarch, the seedlings of a vine in a model of Noah’s Ark. New life that grows out of memory.

#PopeFrancis "...on this holy Sunday may we follow God’s call to full communion..." at #Divine Liturgy FULL TEXT - Video

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, by the Catholicos of all Armenians Karekin II who thanked Pope Francis for his “brotherly visit”.
Pope Francis was the guest of the Oriental Orthodox Catholicos during his three day pastoral visit to Armenia and participated in Sunday’s celebration. (Pope Francis' discourse follows)
 Below, please find the English translation of Catholicos Karekin II’s discourse:
When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd;and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. John 13:34
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Yours Holiness, beloved brother in Christ, Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Armenia, Beloved spiritual brothers and faithful people, 
Over the course of the past few days we have been experiencing an abundance of spiritual joy and joint prayer while glorifying God in Holy Etchmiadzin. Today we have gathered for the celebration of Divine Liturgy, joined in prayer by the Pontiff of Rome, our beloved brother, Pope Francis.
It is symbolic that today’s reading of the Scripture, during the celebration of Divine Liturgy, was the story of the multiplication of bread. The Evangelist tells us that when Christ secluded himself, knowing this, the multitude of people followed Him, and when the Lord saw the gathered crowd, He had compassion for them and healed the sick. In the evening the apostles asked the Lord to set the people free so that they could find food for themselves. Christ commanded them to feed the people. However, there was a shortage of food, and the Lord blessed it and the bread, which had miraculously multiplied, was enough for the apostles to feed the entire multitude.
           The essence of this miracle, which became one of the important missions of Christ’s Holy Church, is the satisfaction of empty spirits by the Lord-given teachings and the support of the needy through compassion. The Lord urges His followers to rejuvenate faith by works, to conjoin prayer and worship with compassion, and to give alms; through which, by the appeasement of hardship and tribulations, we are co-workers with God, according to the words of the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:9). Through this vision, numerous prophesying Church fathers, graceful patriarchs, brave and good shepherds, countless witnesses of faith and devout believers have for centuries depicted the pages of the history of Christ’s Church with the devout preaching of the Word of God and the great works of giving alms and fostering; so that the people may be strengthened by faith, and through the works of faith they may secure the presence of God in the lives of humanity.
            Today, faith in God is being tempted and human souls are being hardened during times of hardship and difficulties as well as during times of wealth and lavishness, when they are disengaged with the concerns of those who long for daily bread and are in pain and suffering. Faith is put to the test by extremism and other kinds of ideologies; xenophobia, addictions, passions and self-centred profits. The processes of secularism are intensifying, spiritual and ethical values and views are distorted, and the family structure, established by God, is being shaken. The root of evil in modern life is in trying to build a world without God, to construe the laws and commandments of God which bring forward economic, political, social, environmental and other problems, that day by day deepen and threaten the natural way of life.
            Nevertheless, the world does not cease from being the center of God’s love and care. The Lord continues to say, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). The one who has tasted the delightful teachings of the Lord stoops to raise the fallen, to increase hope and faith in the hearts of men, and to repeat the miracle of the multiplication of the bread through supporting and consoling the needy, the sick, and the sorrowful. Goodness will prevail in the world and current challenges will be overcome by these commands of God, and by utilizing spiritual and moral values. All good works express God’s care towards humanity and the world, according to the words of the Lord, “behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), and as an affirmation of this, the churches of the world bring their service.
            Dear ones, during these days together with our spiritual brother, Pope Francis, with joint visits and prayers we reconfirmed that the Holy Church of Christ is one in the spreading of the gospel of Christ in the world, in taking care of creation, standing against common problems, and in the vital mission of the salvation of man who is the crown and glory of God’s creation. The inseparable mission of the Church of Christ is the strengthening of solidarity among nations and peoples, reinforcing of brotherhood and collaboration, and a witness to this is the participation in this Divine Liturgy today of the ethnic minorities in Armenia: the Assyrians, Belarus, Greeks, Georgians, Jews, Yezidis, Kurds, Germans, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians who in brotherly coexistence with our people bring their assistance towards the development of our country and the progress of social life.
            On this graceful day we are appreciative for another opportunity to thank Pope Francis on the occasion of his brotherly visit. We and our people will always pray for you, beloved brother, and for your efforts made towards peace and prosperity of humanity and towards the advancement of the Church of Christ. May God give you strength, bless and keep firm our Churches in love and collaboration and may He grant us new opportunities for witness of brotherhood. In your daily prayers remember the Armenian people, the Armenian statehood and the Armenian Church and the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
            With a prayerful spirit we ask for the protection and support of the Holy Right Hand of Almighty God to shelter those suffering from wars and terrorism, as well as those who are in starvation, poverty and other kinds of afflictions. We also beseech the Lord to pour abundant graces of heaven upon our lives and the whole world.  Amen
Below, please find the English translation of Pope Francis’ discourse:
Your Holiness, Dear Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters, 
            At the end of this greatly-desired visit, one already unforgettable for me, I join my gratitude to the Lord with the great hymn of praise and thanksgiving that rose from this altar.  Your Holiness, in these days you have opened to me the doors of your home, and we have experienced “how good and pleasant it is when brothers live in unity” (Ps 133:1).  We have met, we have embraced as brothers, we have prayed together and shared the gifts, hopes and concerns of the Church of Christ.  We have felt as one her beating heart, and we believe and experience that the Church is one.  “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).  With great joy we can make our own these words of the Apostle Paul!  Our meeting comes under the aegis of the holy Apostles whom we have encountered.  Saints Bartholomew and Thaddeus, who first proclaimed the Gospel in these lands, and Saints Peter and Paul who gave their lives for the Lord in Rome and now reign with Christ in heaven, surely rejoice to see our affection and our tangible longing for full communion.  For all this, I thank the Lord, for you and with you: Park astutsò! (Glory to God!).
            During this Divine Liturgy, the solemn chant of the Trisagion rose to heaven, acclaiming God’s holiness.  May abundant blessings of the Most High fill the earth through the intercession of the Mother of God, the great saints and doctors, the martyrs, especially the many whom you canonized last year in this place.  May “the Only Begotten who descended here” bless our journey.  May the Holy Spirit make all believers one heart and soul; may he come to re-establish us in unity.  For this I once more invoke the Holy Spirit, making my own the splendid words that are part of your Liturgy.  Come, Holy Spirit, you “who intercede with ceaseless sighs to the merciful Father, you who watch over the saints and purify sinners”, bestow on us your fire of love and unity, and “may the cause of our scandal be dissolved by this love” (Gregory of Narek,Book of Lamentations, 33, 5), above all the lack of unity among Christ’s disciples.
            May the Armenian Church walk in peace and may the communion between us be complete.  May an ardent desire for unity rise up in our hearts, a unity that must not be “the submission of one to the other, or assimilation, but rather the acceptance of all the gifts that God has given to each.  This will reveal to the entire world the great mystery of salvation accomplished by Christ the Lord through the Holy Spirit” (Greeting at the Divine Liturgy, Patriarchal Church of Saint George, Istanbul, 30 November 2014).
            Let us respond to the appeal of the saints, let us listen to the voices of the humble and poor, of the many victims of hatred who suffered and gave their lives for the faith.  Let us pay heed to the younger generation, who seek a future free of past divisions.  From this holy place may a radiant light shine forth once more, and to the light of faith, which has illumined these lands from the time of Saint Gregory, your Father in the Gospel, may there be joined the light of the love that forgives and reconciles.
            Just as on Easter morning the Apostles, for all their hesitations and uncertainties, ran towards the place of the resurrection, drawn by the blessed dawn of new hope (cf. Jn 20:3-4), so too on this holy Sunday may we follow God’s call to full communion and hasten towards it. (Text provided by Vatican Radio)
            Now, Your Holiness, in the name of God, I ask you to bless me, to bless me and the Catholic Church, and to bless this our path towards full unity.