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Thursday, April 11, 2019
Wow Pope Francis Suddenly falls to Ground to Kiss Feet of Leaders from South Sudan at meeting for Peace - Video
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Pope Francis says "I shall never tire of repeating this: peace is possible!" at Spiritual Retreat for South Sudan - FULL TEXT + Video
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Domus Sanctae Marthae
Thursday, 11 April 2019
Thursday, 11 April 2019
1. I extend a cordial welcome to each of you here present: the President of the Republic and the Vice-Presidents of the future Presidency of the Republic, who in accordance with the terms of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan will assume their high national responsibilities on 12 May next. I also offer fraternal greetings to the members of the South Sudan Council of Churches, who spiritually accompany the flock entrusted to them in their respective communities; I thank all of you for the good will and open heart with which you accepted my invitation to take part in this retreat in the Vatican. I would likewise offer a special greeting to the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby, who conceived this initiative – he is a brother who is always moving forwards on the path of reconciliation – and to the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Very Reverend John Chalmers. I join all of you in giving heartfelt thanks and praise to God for enabling us to share these two days of grace in his holy presence, in order to implore and receive his peace.“Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:19). I address you with the same encouraging and comforting words with which the risen Lord greeted his fearful and disconsolate disciples when he appeared to them in the Upper Room following his resurrection. It is extremely important for us to realize that “peace” was the very first word that the Lord spoke. Peace was his first gift to the Apostles after his sorrowful passion and his triumph over death. I offer that same greeting to you, who come from a situation of great suffering, for yourselves and your people, a people sorely tried by the consequences of conflicts. May it echo in the “upper room” of this house, like the words of the Master, and enable each of you to draw new strength to work for the desired progress of your young nation. Like the fire of Pentecost that descended on the young Christian community, may it kindle a new light of hope for all the people of South Sudan. Holding all these intentions in my heart, I renew my greeting: “Peace be with you!”
Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us, and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue. Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people. Jesus Christ, whom God the Father sent into the world as the Prince of Peace, gave us the model to follow. Through his own sacrifice and obedience, he bestowed his peace on the world. That is why, from the moment of his birth, the choir of angels sang the heavenly hymn: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Lk 2:14). What joy it would bring, were all the South Sudanese people to raise with one voice the song that echoes that of the angels: “O God, we praise and glorify you for your grace on South Sudan, land of great abundance; uphold us in peace and harmony” (first verse of the South Sudan national anthem). How I wish that the voices of the entire human family could join that heavenly choir in singing glory to God and working for peace among all men and women!
The gaze of God
2. We are all aware that this meeting is something altogether special and in some sense unique, since it is neither an ordinary bilateral or diplomatic meeting between the Pope and Heads of State, nor an ecumenical initiative involving representatives of different Christian communities. Instead, it is a spiritual retreat. The word “retreat” itself indicates a desire to step back from our usual environment or activities and to retire to a secluded place. The adjective “spiritual” suggests that this new space and experience should be marked by interior recollection, trusting prayer, deep reflection and encounters of reconciliation, so as to bear good fruits for ourselves and, as a consequence, for the communities to which we belong.
The purpose of this retreat is for us to stand together before God and to discern his will. It is to reflect on our own lives and the common mission the Lord has entrusted to us, to recognize our enormous shared responsibility for the present and future of the people of South Sudan, and to commit ourselves, reinvigorated and reconciled, to the building up of your nation. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not forget that God has entrusted to us, as political and religious leaders, the task of being guides for his people. He has entrusted much to us, and for this reason will require from us much more! He will demand an account of our service and our administration, our efforts on behalf of peace and the well-being of the members of our communities, especially the marginalized and those most in need. In other words, he will ask us to render an account not only of our own lives, but the lives of others as well (cf. Lk 12:48).
The cry of the poor who hunger and thirst for justice binds us in conscience and commits us in our ministry. They are the least in the eyes of the world, yet precious in God’s eyes. In using the expression “God’s eyes”, I think of the gaze of the Lord Jesus. Every spiritual retreat, like our daily examination of conscience, should make us feel that, with our whole being, our entire history, all our virtues and even our vices, we stand before the gaze of the Lord, who is able to see the truth in us and to lead us fully to that truth. The Word of God gives us a striking example of how the encounter with the gaze of Jesus can mark the most important moments in the life of a disciple. I am speaking of the three times that the Lord gazed upon the Apostle Peter, which I would now like to recall.
The first time that Jesus gazed upon Peter was when his brother Andrew brought him to Jesus and pointed him out as the Messiah. Jesus then fixed his gaze on Simon and said to him that henceforth he would be called Peter (cf. Jn 1:41-42). Later, the Lord would tell him that on this “rock” he would build his Church, indicating that he was counting on Peter to carry out his plan of salvation for his people. Jesus’ first gaze, then, was a gaze of “election”, choosing, which awakened enthusiasm for a special mission.
The second time Jesus gazed on Peter was late at night on Holy Thursday. Peter had denied the Lord a third time. Jesus, forcibly led away by the guards, fixed his gaze on him again, which awakened in him this time a painful but salutary repentance. The Apostle went out and “wept bitterly” (Mt 26:75) at having betrayed the Master’s call, his trust and his friendship. Jesus’ second gaze, then, touched Peter’s heart and brought about his conversion.
Finally, after the resurrection, on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus once more fixed his gaze on Peter and asked him three times to declare his love. He then entrusted him once again with the mission of shepherding his flock, and indicated that this mission was to culminate in the sacrifice of his life (cf. Jn 21:15-19).
In a real way, all of us can say that we were called to the life of faith and were chosen by God, but also by our people, to serve them faithfully. In this service, we may well have made mistakes, some rather small, others much greater. Yet the Lord Jesus always forgives the errors of those who repent. He always renews his trust, while demanding – of us especially – total dedication to the cause of his people.
Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus’ gaze rests, here and now, on each of us. It is very important to meet this gaze with our inner eye and to ask ourselves: How is Jesus gazing on me today? To what is he calling me? What does the Lord want me to forgive and what in my attitudes does he want me to change? What is my mission and the task that God entrusts to me for the good of his people? That people belongs to him, not to us; indeed, we ourselves are members of the people. It is simply that we have a responsibility and a particular mission: that of serving them.
Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is also gazing, here and now, upon each one of us. He looks at us with love, he asks something, he forgives something and he gives us a mission. He has put great trust in us by choosing us to be his co-workers in the creation of a more just world. We can be sure that his gaze penetrates the depths of our hearts; it loves, transforms, reconciles and unites us. His kind and merciful gaze encourages us to renounce the paths that lead to sin and death, and it sustains us as we pursue the paths of peace and goodness. Here is an exercise that is beneficial, one that we can always do, even at home: consider that Jesus is gazing on me, on us and that it will be this same gaze, full of love, which will greet us on the last day of our earthly life.
The gaze of the people
3. God’s gaze is especially directed to you; it is a look that offers you peace. Yet there is another gaze directed to you: is the gaze of our people, and it expresses their ardent desire for justice, reconciliation and peace. At this moment, I want to assure all your fellow citizens of my spiritual closeness, especially the refugees and the sick, who have remained in the country with great expectations and with bated breath, awaiting the outcome of this historic day. I am certain that they are accompanying this meeting with great hope and fervent prayer. Noah waited for the dove to bring him an olive branch to show the end of the flood and the beginning of a new era of peace between God and man (cf. Gen 8:11). In the same way, your people is awaiting your return to your country, the reconciliation of all its members, and a new era of peace and prosperity for all.
My thoughts turn first to all those who have lost their loved ones and their homes, to families that were separated and never reunited, to all the children and the elderly, and the women and men who have suffered terribly on account of the conflicts and violence that have spawned so much death, hunger, hurt and tears. We have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our Father, who desires to grant them justice and peace. I think often of these suffering souls and I pray that the fires of war will finally die down, so that they can return to their homes and live in serenity. I pray to Almighty God that peace will come to your land, and I ask all men and women of good will to work for peace among your people.
Dear brothers and sisters, peace is possible. I shall never tire of repeating this: peace is possible! Yet this great gift of God is at the same time a supreme duty on the part of those with responsibility for the people. We Christians believe and know that peace is possible, for Christ is risen. He has overcome evil with good. He has assured his disciples of the victory of peace over everything that fans the flames of war: pride, greed, the lust for power, self-interest, lies and hypocrisy (cf. Homily at the Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 23 November 2017).
It is my prayerful hope that all of us will take up our lofty calling to be peacemakers, striving in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity with every member of our people, a spirit that is noble, upright, strong and courageous, to build peace through dialogue, negotiation and forgiveness. I urge you, then, to seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you. People are wearied, exhausted by past conflicts: please remember that with war, all is lost! Your people today are yearning for a better future, which can only come about through reconciliation and peace.
With great hope and trust, I learned last September that the highest political representatives of South Sudan had signed a peace agreement. Today, therefore, I congratulate the signatories of that document, both present and absent, without exception, beginning with the President of the Republic and the heads of political parties, for having chosen the path of dialogue, for your readiness to compromise, your determination to achieve peace, your readiness to be reconciled and your will to implement what has been agreed upon. I express my heartfelt hope that hostilities will finally cease, that the armistice will be respected – please, that the armistice be respected – that political and ethnic divisions will be surmounted, and that there will be a lasting peace for the common good of all those citizens who dream of beginning to build the nation.
The common efforts of our fellow Christians and the various ecumenical initiatives of the South Sudan Council of Churches on behalf of reconciliation and peace, and care for the poor and the marginalized, have made a significant contribution to the progress of the entire South Sudanese people. I recall with joy and gratitude my recent meeting in the Vatican with the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan and South Sudan during their Visit ad limina Apostolorum. I was struck by their optimism grounded in a living faith and shown in tireless outreach, but also by their concern about the many political and social difficulties. Upon all the Christians of South Sudan who, in helping those in greatest need, bind up the wounds of Jesus’ body, I implore God’s abundant graces and assure them of a constant remembrance in my prayers. May they be peacemakers in the midst of the South Sudanese people, by their prayers and by their witness, and with the spiritual guidance and human help of every member of the people, including its leaders.
In conclusion, I renew my gratitude and appreciation to all of you, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan, for taking part in this retreat. To all the dear South Sudanese people I express my fervent good wishes of peace and prosperity. May the Merciful God touch the heart of every man and every woman in South Sudan, fill them with his grace and blessings, and bring forth rich fruits of lasting peace, even as the waters of the Nile, flowing through your country, bring life and abundant growth. Finally, I confirm my desire and hope that soon, by God’s grace, I will be able to visit your beloved nation, together with my dear brothers here present: the Archbishop of Canterbury and the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
A final prayer
4. I would like to conclude this meditation with a prayer, following the invitation of the Saint Paul. The Apostle wrote: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2).
Holy Father, God of infinite goodness, you call us to be renewed in your Spirit, and you show your power above all in the grace of forgiveness. We recognize your fatherly love when, in a world torn by dissension and discord, you touch human hearts and open them to reconciliation. How often have men and women broken your covenant! Yet, instead of abandoning them, you renewed your bond with them through Jesus, your Son and our Redeemer: a bond so firm that it can never be broken.
We ask you, then, to touch with the power of the Spirit the depths of every human heart, so that enemies will be open to dialogue, adversaries will join hands and peoples will meet in harmony. By your gift, Father, may the whole-hearted search for peace resolve disputes, may love conquer hatred and may revenge be disarmed by forgiveness, so that, relying solely on your mercy, we may find our way back to you. Make us open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, so that we may live a new life in Christ, in everlasting praise of your name and in the service of our brothers and sisters (cf. Prefaces of Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation I and II). Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters, may peace be with us, and may it dwell in our hearts forever!
And to you three, who have signed the peace Agreement, I ask, as a brother: remain in peace. I ask you this wholeheartedly. Let us go forwards. There will be many problems, but do not be fearful, go forwards, solve the problems. You have begun a process: may it finish well. There will be disagreements between you both, yes. These also should remain in the office, but before the people, hands united. In this way, as ordinary citizens you will become Fathers of the Nation. Allow me to ask you this from the heart and with my deepest sentiments.FULL TEXT + Image Source: Blog Share from Vatican.va
#BreakingNews Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes on Sexual Abuse in the Church and Thanks Pope Francis for Showing "the light of God" - FULL TEXT
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: the Church and the sexual abuse scandal |
Benedict XVI published a long essay in the German monthly Klerusblatt and the Italian daily Corriere della Sera - FULL TEXT Below:
From 21 to 24 February 2019, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of all the episcopal conferences of the world gathered in the Vatican to reflect together on the crisis of faith and of the Church felt throughout the world following the spreading of the shocking news of abuses committed by clerics on minors. The size and gravity of the information on these episodes have deeply shaken priests and lay people and many of them have determined the questioning of the faith of the Church as such. We had to give a strong signal and we had to try to start again to make the Church credible again as the light of the people and as a force that helps in the struggle against the destructive powers.
Having myself operated, at the time of the public explosion of the crisis and during its progressive development, in a position of responsibility as a pastor in the Church, I could not but ask myself - although I no longer had any direct responsibility for Emeritus - how, starting from a glance retrospective, I could contribute to this recovery. And so, in the span of time that goes from the announcement of the meeting of the presidents of episcopal conferences to its real beginning, I have put together some notes with which to provide some indication that could be of help in this difficult moment. Following contacts with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and with the Holy Father himself, I consider it right to publish the text thus conceived in «Klerusblatt».
My work is divided into three parts. In a first point I try very briefly to outline in general the social context of the question, in the absence of which the problem is incomprehensible. I try to show how an unprecedented process took place in the 1960s, an order of magnitude that in history is almost unprecedented. It can be affirmed that in the two decades between 1960 and 1980 the criteria valid up to that moment on the subject of sexuality have completely failed and it has resulted in an absence of norms which in the meantime we have tried to remedy.
In a second point I try to mention the consequences of this situation in the formation and life of priests.
Finally, in a third part, I will develop some perspectives for a correct response from the Church.
The process started in the 1960s and moral theology
1. The situation began with the introduction, decreed and supported by the State, of children and youth to the nature of sexuality. In Germany, Käte Strobel, the Minister of Health at that time, had a film produced for information purposes in which everything that could not be shown publicly, including sexual intercourse, was represented. What at first was only meant to inform young people, later, as was obvious, was accepted as a general possibility.
The "Sexkoffer" (sex suitcase) edited by the Austrian government was also similar. Sexual and pornographic films became a reality, to the point of being projected even in the stations' cinemas. I still remember how one day, going to Regensburg, I saw that he was waiting for a mass of people in front of a large cinema, as until then he had only been seen in time of war when he hoped for some extraordinary distribution. I was also impressed in my memory when I arrived in the city on Good Friday in 1970 and saw all the advertising columns hung with advertising posters that presented in large format two completely naked people hugged tightly.
Among the freedoms that the 1968 revolution wanted to conquer there was also complete sexual freedom, which no longer tolerated any norm. The propensity for violence that characterized those years is closely linked to this spiritual collapse. In fact, the projection of sex films was no longer allowed in the planes, since violence broke out in the small community of passengers. Since even the excesses in dress provoked aggressiveness, the principals tried to introduce school clothes that could allow a climate of study.
The fact that pedophilia was diagnosed as allowed and convenient is also part of the physiognomy of the 1968 Revolution. At least for young people in the Church, but not only for them, this was in many ways a very difficult time. I have always wondered how in this situation young people could go towards the priesthood and accept it with all its consequences. The widespread collapse of priestly vocations in those years and the enormous number of resignations from the clerical state were a consequence of all these processes.
2. Regardless of this development, in the same period there was a collapse of Catholic moral theology that made the Church helpless in the face of those processes in society. I try to outline the development of this dynamic very briefly. Until Vatican II, Catholic moral theology was largely founded on naturalistic law, while Sacred Scripture was used only as a background or a support. In the struggle waged by the Council for a new understanding of Revelation, the natural law option was almost completely abandoned and a moral theology completely founded on the Bible was required. I still remember how the faculty of the Jesuits in Frankfurt prepared a very gifted young father (Bruno Schüller) for the elaboration of a moral completely founded on Scripture. The beautiful dissertation of Father Schüller shows the first step in the elaboration of a morality founded on Scripture. Father Schüller was then sent to the United States of America to continue his studies and returned with the knowledge that it was not possible to systematically elaborate a morality only from the Bible. He subsequently tried to elaborate a moral theology that proceeded in a more pragmatic way, without however being able to provide an answer to the crisis of morality.
Finally, the thesis that moral was to be defined only according to the purposes of human action was widely affirmed. The old adage "the end justifies the means" was not reaffirmed in this so crude form, and yet the conception it expressed became decisive. Therefore there could not even be something absolutely good, nor something always evil, but only relative evaluations. The good was no longer there, but only what is relatively better at the time and depending on the circumstances.
At the end of the 1980s and in the 1990s the crisis of the foundations and the presentation of Catholic morality reached dramatic forms. On January 5, 1989 the «Cologne Declaration» was published, signed by 15 Catholic theology professors who focused on several critical points of the relationship between episcopal teaching and the task of theology. This text, which initially did not go beyond the usual level of grievances, grew however very quickly until it became a cry of protest against the magisterium of the Church, collecting in a visible and audible way the potential of opposition that was mounting against the whole world against the expected magisterial texts of John Paul II (see D. Mieth, Kölner Erklärung, LThK, VI3.196).
Pope John Paul II, who knew the situation of moral theology very well and followed it carefully, arranged for work to begin on an encyclical that could fix these things. It was published with the title Veritatis splendor on 6 August 1993, provoking violent contrary reactions from moral theologians. Previously there had already been the Catechism of the Catholic Church which had systematically expounded convincingly the morality taught by the Church.
I cannot forget that Franz Böckle - then among the leading German-speaking moral theologians, who after being appointed emeritus professor had retired to his Swiss homeland -, in view of the possible decisions of Veritatis splendor, declared that if the Encyclical had decided that there are actions that always and in every circumstance should be considered evil, against this he would have raised his voice with all the strength he had. The good God spared him the realization of his purpose; Böckle died on 8 July 1991. The Encyclical was published on 6 August 1993 and in fact contained the statement that there are actions that can never become good. The Pope was fully aware of the weight of that decision at that time and, precisely for this part of his paper, he had once again consulted experts of absolute level who had not in themselves participated in the drafting of the Encyclical. There could not and there should have been no doubt that the morality based on the principle of balancing goods must respect a final limit. There are goods that are unavailable. There are values that it is never permissible to sacrifice in the name of an even higher value and that are above even the preservation of physical life. God is even more than physical survival. A life that was purchased at the price of the denial of God, a life based on a last lie, is a non-life. Martyrdom is a fundamental category of Christian existence. That in the end, in the theory supported by Böckle and many others, is no longer morally necessary, it shows that here goes the very essence of Christianity.
In moral theology, meanwhile, another question had become pressing: the thesis was widely affirmed that the Church's magisterium has the ultimate and definitive competence ("infallibility") only on questions of faith, while questions of morality do not they could become the object of infallible decisions of the ecclesiastical magisterium. In this thesis there is certainly something right that deserves to be discussed further and deepened. And yet there is a moral minimum that is inextricably connected with the fundamental decision of faith and which must be defended, if we do not want to reduce faith to a theory and recognize, on the contrary, the claim that it advances with respect to concrete life . From all this emerges how the authority of the Church in the moral field is radically challenged. Who in this area denies the Church a last doctrinal competence, forces her to silence precisely where the line between truth and lies is at stake.
Regardless of this question, the thesis developed in broad areas of moral theology that the Church neither has nor can have its own morality. In affirming this it is emphasized that all moral affirmations would have equivalents also in other religions and that therefore a Christian proprium could not exist. But to the question of the proprium of a biblical morality, one does not respond by stating that, for every single sentence, an equivalent can be found somewhere in other religions. Instead it is the set of biblical morality that as such is new and different from the individual parts. The peculiarity of the moral teaching of Sacred Scripture lies ultimately in its anchorage to the image of God, in faith in the one God who showed himself in Jesus Christ and who lived as a man. The Decalogue is an application to the human life of biblical faith in God. Image of God and morality go together and thus produce what is specifically new to the Christian attitude towards the world and human life. Moreover, from the beginning Christianity has been described with the word hodòs. Faith is a journey, a way of life. In the ancient Church, with respect to an increasingly depraved culture, the catechumenate was established as a space of existence in which what was specific and new about the Christian way of life was taught and also safeguarded with respect to the common way of life. I think that even today something similar to catechumenal communities is needed so that Christian life can assert itself in its peculiarity.
First ecclesial reactions
1. The process of dissolution of the Christian conception of morals, which has been prepared for a long time and which is underway, in the 1960s, as I tried to show, has experienced a radicalism like never before. This dissolution of the doctrinal authority of the Church in moral matters necessarily had to have repercussions also in the different living spaces of the Church. In the context of the meeting of the presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of the whole world, it concerns above all the question of priestly life and also that of seminaries. With regard to the problem of preparation for the priestly ministry in the seminaries, a wide collapse of the form in force up until that moment of this preparation is in fact observed.
In various seminars homosexual clubs were formed that acted more or less openly and that clearly transformed the climate in the seminaries. At a seminar in southern Germany, candidates for the priesthood and candidates for the lay ministry office lived together. During the common meals, the seminarians stood together with the married pastoral partners, partly accompanied by their wife and son and in some cases by their girlfriends. The climate in the seminary could not help priestly formation. The Holy See knew of these problems, without being informed in detail. As an initial step an apostolic visitation was arranged in the seminaries of the United States.
Since the criteria for the selection and appointment of bishops had also been changed after the Second Vatican Council, the relationship of bishops with their seminaries was also different. As a criterion for the appointment of new bishops, their "conciliarity" was now above all valid, as the most diverse things could be understood naturally with this term. In many parts of the Church, the feeling of reconciliation was in fact understood as a critical or negative attitude towards the tradition in force until that time, which now had to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world. A bishop, who had previously served as rector, had shown pornographic films to the seminarians, presumably with the intention of making them in this way able to resist against behavior contrary to the faith. There were individual bishops - and not only in the United States of America - who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole aiming in their dioceses to develop a kind of new, modern "catholicity". Perhaps it is worth mentioning that, in not a few seminars, students caught reading my books were considered unfit for the priesthood. My books were hidden like harmful literature and were so to speak under-table beds.
The Visit that followed did not bring new information, because evidently several forces had coalesced in order to conceal the real situation. A second visit was arranged which brought much more information, but on the whole it had no consequences. Nevertheless, starting in the 1970s, the situation in the seminars in general has been consolidated. And yet only sporadically there has been a strengthening of vocations, because on the whole the situation had developed differently.
2. The issue of pedophilia is, as far as I can remember, only become hot in the second half of the 1980s. In the United States in the meantime it had already grown, becoming a public problem. Thus the bishops asked for help in Rome because the canon law, as set in the New Code, did not appear sufficient to adopt the necessary measures. At first Rome and the Roman canonists had difficulties with this request; in their opinion, temporary suspension from the priestly ministry should have been enough to obtain purification and clarification. This could not be accepted by the American bishops because in this way the priests remained in the service of the bishop being thus considered as figures directly related to him. A renewal and a deepening of the criminal law, intentionally built in a bland way in the New Code, could only slowly make its way.
Added to this was a fundamental problem concerning the conception of criminal law. By now it was considered "conciliating" only the so-called "guarantism". It means that above all the rights of the accused had to be guaranteed and this to the point of excluding a condemnation. As a counterweight to the often insufficient possibility of defending themselves against the accused theologians, their right to defense was so widespread in the sense of guarantee that the sentences became almost impossible.
Allow me at this point a brief excursus. Faced with the extension of the sins of pedophilia, a word of Jesus comes to mind that says: "Whoever scandalizes one of these little ones who believe, it is better for him that a donkey is put around his neck and thrown into the sea" (Mk 9.42). In its original meaning this word does not speak of the solicitation of children for sexual purposes. The term "the little ones" in the language of Jesus refers to simple believers, who could be shaken in their faith by the intellectual pride of those who believe themselves to be intelligent. Jesus here then protects the good of faith with a peremptory threat of punishment for those who offend her. The modern use of those words in itself is not wrong, but it must not conceal their original meaning. In it, against every guarantee, it is clearly in light that it is important and not only the right of the accused to guarantee. Precious goods like faith are just as important. A balanced canon law, which corresponds to the message of Jesus in its entirety, must therefore not be guaranteed only in favor of the accused, whose respect is a good protected by law. It must also protect the faith, which is also an important asset protected by law. A canon law constructed in the right way must therefore contain a double guarantee: legal protection of the accused and legal protection of the good that is at stake. When today this concept is set out in itself clear, in general we come up against deafness and indifference on the question of the legal protection of the faith. In the common juridical conscience faith no longer seems to have the rank of a good to be protected. It is a worrying situation, on which the pastors of the Church must reflect and seriously consider.
To the brief references to the situation of priestly formation at the time of the public explosion of the crisis, I would now like to add some indications on the evolution of canon law in this question. In itself, the Congregation for the Clergy is responsible for the crimes committed by the priests. However, since in this case guarantism largely dominated the situation, we agreed with Pope John Paul II on the opportunity to attribute the competence on these crimes to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the title "Delicta maiora contra fidem". With this attribution the maximum penalty was also possible, that is to say the reduction to the lay state, which on the other hand would not have been applicable to other legal titles. It was not a ploy to be able to impose the maximum penalty, but a consequence of the weight of faith for the Church. In fact it is important to bear in mind that, in similar sins of clerics, faith is ultimately damaged: only where faith no longer determines the actions of men are such crimes possible. However, the severity of the penalty also presupposes a clear proof of the crime committed: it is the content of the guarantee that remains in force. In other words: in order to legitimately be able to apply the maximum penalty, a real criminal trial is necessary. And yet, in this way too much was asked of both the dioceses and the Holy See. And so we established a minimal form of criminal trial and left open the possibility that the Holy See itself would advocate the process in the event that the diocese or the metropolis were not able to carry it out. In any case, the trial had to be verified by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to guarantee the rights of the accused. In the end, however, in Feria IV (that is to say, the meeting of all the members of the Congregation), we created an instance of appeal, to also have the possibility of an appeal against the process. Since all this actually went beyond the strengths of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and there were delays that had to be avoided because of the matter, Pope Francis undertook further reforms.
1. What should we do? Do we need to create another Church so that things can adjust? This experiment has already been done and has already failed. Only love and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ can show us the right way. Let us try first of all to understand in a new and profound way what the Lord wanted and wants from us.
First of all I would say that if we really wanted to synthesize the contents of the faith founded in the Bible to the maximum, we could say: the Lord started a love story with us and wants to summarize in it the entire creation. The antidote to the evil that threatens us and the whole world lately cannot but consist in the fact that we abandon ourselves to this love. This is the real antidote to evil. The force of evil arises from our rejection of love for God. Those who rely on the love of God are redeemed. Our not being redeemed rests on the inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the way to the redemption of God. men.
If we now try to carry out this essential content of God's Revelation a little more broadly, we could say: the first fundamental gift that faith offers us consists in the certainty that God exists. A world without God can only be a meaningless world. In fact, where does all that is come from? In any case, it would lack a spiritual foundation. In some ways it would just be there, and it would be devoid of any purpose or meaning. There would no longer be criteria of good and evil. Therefore only what is stronger would have value. Power then becomes the only principle. The truth does not matter, indeed it does not actually exist. Only if things have a spiritual foundation, only if they are wanted and thought - only if there is a God who is a creator who is good and wants good - even the life of man can have a meaning.
That God exists as a creator and measure of all things is above all an original requirement. But a God who did not manifest himself at all, who did not make himself known, would remain a hypothesis and therefore could not determine the form of our life. In order for God to be really God in conscious creation, we must expect him to manifest himself in some form. He did it in many ways, and in a decisive way in the call that was addressed to Abraham and gave man that orientation, in the search for God, which overcomes every expectation: God becomes a creature himself, speaks to us men as a man .
So finally the phrase "God is" really becomes a happy news, precisely because it is more than knowledge, because it generates love and is love. To make people aware of this again is the first and fundamental task that the Lord assigns to us.
A society in which God is absent - a society that no longer knows it and treats it as if it did not exist - is a society that loses its criterion. In our time the motto of the "death of God" has been coined. When God dies in a society, it becomes free, we are assured. In truth, the death of God in a society also means the end of his freedom, because the meaning that offers orientation dies. And because the criterion that indicates the direction fails us by teaching us to distinguish good from evil. Western society is a society in which God in the public sphere is absent and for which he has nothing more to say. And this is why it is a society in which the criterion and the measure of the human are increasingly lost. In some places, then, sometimes it suddenly becomes perceptible that what is evil and destroys man has become obvious. This is the case of pedophilia. Still theorized not too long ago as quite right, it has spread more and more. And now, shaken and scandalized, we recognize that things are done about our children and young people that risk destroying them. That this could also spread in the Church and among priests must shake us up and shock us in a particular way.
How could pedophilia reach such a dimension? Ultimately, the reason lies in the absence of God. Even we Christians and priests prefer not to talk about God, because it is a discourse that does not seem to have practical utility. After the upheavals of the Second World War, in Germany we adopted our Constitution declaring ourselves explicitly responsible before God as a guiding criterion. Half a century later it was no longer possible, in the European Constitution, to take responsibility before God as a criterion of measurement. God is seen as a party affair of a small group and can no longer be taken as the criterion for measuring the community as a whole. This decision reflects the situation in the West, in which God has become a private minority.
The first task that must spring from the moral upheavals of our time consists in starting ourselves again to live of God, turned to him and in obedience to him. Above all we must ourselves again learn to recognize God as the foundation of our life and not set it aside as any empty word. I remain impressed by the warning that the great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once wrote on one of his cards: "The triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: do not presuppose it but put it before!". In fact, even in theology, God is often assumed to be an obviousness, but he is not really concerned with it. The theme "God" appears so unreal, so far from the things that occupy us. And yet everything changes if God is not presupposed, but is placed before it. If you don't leave it somehow in the background but you recognize it as the center of our thinking, speaking and acting.
2. God became man for us. The human creature is so close to his heart that he has joined it, entering concretely into history. Talk to us, live with us, suffer with us and for us he took death upon himself. We certainly speak of this in theology in a language and with learned concepts. But this is precisely the danger that we make ourselves lords of faith, instead of letting ourselves be renewed and dominated by faith.
Let us consider this by reflecting on a central point, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Our relationship with the Eucharist can only cause concern. Vatican II rightly intended to place this sacrament of the presence of the body and blood of Christ, of the presence of his person, of his passion, death and resurrection at the center of Christian life and the existence of the Church. In part this thing really happened and for this we want to thank the Lord with all our heart.
But another attitude is largely dominant: there is no new profound respect for the presence of the death and resurrection of Christ, but a way of dealing with him that destroys the greatness of the mystery. The declining participation in the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist shows how little we Christians of today are able to evaluate the greatness of the gift that consists in His real presence. The Eucharist is downgraded to a ceremonial gesture when it is considered obvious that good manners demand that it be distributed to all the guests on account of their belonging to the family, on the occasion of family celebrations or events such as weddings and funerals. The obviousness with which, in some places, those present, simply because they receive the Blessed Sacrament, shows that in Communion we can now see only a ceremonial gesture. If we reflect on what to do, it is clear that we do not need another Church invented by us. What is needed instead is the renewal of faith in the reality of Jesus Christ given to us in the Sacrament.
In conversations with the victims of pedophilia I have become increasingly aware of this need. A young girl who served as an altar at the altar told me that the parochial vicar, who was his superior since she was a clerk, introduced the sexual abuse that he performed on her with these words: "This is my body which is given for you ». It is obvious that the girl can no longer hear the words of the consecration without feeling terribly about herself all the suffering of the abuse suffered. Yes, we must urgently implore the Lord's forgiveness and above all plead and beg him to teach us all to understand again the greatness of his passion, of his sacrifice. And we must do everything to protect the gift of the Holy Eucharist from abuse.
3. And finally, here is the mystery of the Church. The words with which Romano Guardini, almost a hundred years ago, expressed the joyful hope that was then affirmed in him and in many others, remain impressed in his memory: "An event of incalculable importance began: The Church awakens in souls". By this he meant that the Church was no longer, as before, simply an apparatus that presents itself to us from the outside, experienced and perceived as a sort of office, but which began to be felt alive in the hearts themselves: not as something external but that touched us from within. About half a century later, reflecting again on that process and looking at what had just happened, I was tempted to reverse the sentence: "The Church dies in souls". In fact today the Church is largely seen only as a kind of political apparatus. In fact, it speaks only of using political categories and this is true even for bishops who formulate their idea of the Church of tomorrow to a large extent almost exclusively in political terms. The crisis caused by many cases of abuse by priests leads us to consider the Church even as something miserable that we must definitely take in our own hands and train in a new way. But a Church made by us cannot represent any hope.
Jesus himself compared the Church to a fishing net in which there are good and bad fish, since God himself is the one who will eventually have to separate from each other. Next to it is the parable of the Church as a field on which grows the good grain that God himself has sown, but also the tares that an "enemy" has secretly sown in the midst of the wheat. Indeed, the tares in the field of God, the Church, catches the eye due to its quantity and even the bad fish in the net show their strength. But the field still remains the field of God and the net remains God's fishing net. And in all times there is and there will be not only the tares and bad fish but also the sowing of God and good fish. Announcing both equally forcefully is not false apologetics, but a necessary service rendered to the truth.
In this context it is necessary to refer to an important text of the Apocalypse of St. John. Here the devil is called the accuser who accuses our brothers before God day and night (Rev 12: 10). In this way the Apocalypse takes up a thought that is at the center of the story that frames the book of Job (Gb 1 and 2, 10; 42, 7-16). Here it is said that the devil tries to discredit Job's rectitude and integrity as purely external and superficial. This is precisely what the Apocalypse speaks of: the devil wants to prove that there are no just men; that all human justice is only an external representation. If more could be tested, the appearance of justice would soon disappear. The story begins with a dispute between God and the devil in which God indicated in Job a true right. He will now be the test bench to determine who is right. "Take away what he possesses - the devil argues - and you will see that nothing will remain of his devotion." God allows him this attempt from which Job exits in a positive way. But the devil continues and says: "Skin for skin; all he has, the man is ready to give it for his life. But stretch out your hand a little and touch it in the bone and in the flesh and you will see how it will bless you in your face "(Job 2: 4f). Thus God grants the devil a second chance. He is also allowed to reach out to Job. He is only prevented from killing him. For Christians it is clear that that Job who for all humanity exemplifies before God is Jesus Christ. In the Apocalypse, the drama of man is represented in all its breadth. God the creator is opposed by the devil who discredits the entire creation and the entire humanity. He addresses himself not only to God but above all to men, saying: "But look what this God has done. Apparently a good creation. In reality as a whole it is full of misery and disgust ». The denigration of creation in reality is a denigration of God. The devil wants to prove that God himself is not good and wants to distance us from him.
The actuality of what the Apocalypse says is obvious. The accusation against God today focuses above all on discrediting his Church as a whole and thus moving away from it. The idea of a better Church created by ourselves is in truth a proposal of the devil with whom he wants to distance us from the living God, using a false logic in which we fall too easily. No, even today the Church does not consist only of evil fish and tares. The Church of God is also today, and even today it is the instrument with which God saves us. It is very important to contrast the whole truth with the lies and half-truths of the devil: yes, there are sin and evil in the Church. But even today there is also the holy Church which is indestructible. Even today there are many men who humbly believe, suffer and love and in whom the true God, the loving God, shows himself to us. Even today God has his witnesses ("martyrs") in the world. We just need to be vigilant to see them and listen to them.
The term martyr is taken from procedural law. In the trial against the devil, Jesus Christ is the first and authentic witness of God, the first martyr, to whom countless have followed since. The Church of today is like never before a Church of martyrs and so witness of the living God. If with a watchful heart we look around and we are listening, everywhere, among the simple people but also in the high hierarchies of the Church, we can find witnesses who with their life and their suffering are committed to God. It is laziness of the heart not wanting to notice of them. Among the great and fundamental tasks of our proclamation there is, within the limits of our possibilities, creating spaces of life for faith, and above all finding them and recognizing them.
I live in a house in which a small community of people continually discovers, in everyday life, so witnesses of the living God, pointing them out to me with gladness. Seeing and finding the living Church is a wonderful task that strengthens ourselves and that always makes us rejoice in faith.
At the end of my reflections I would like to thank Pope Francis for all he does to show us the light of God that even today has not gone down. Thank you, Holy Father!
1 O sacred head, so wounded
defiled and put to scorn.
O bleeding head, surrounded
so shamed and put to scorn!
What sorrow comes o'er thee,
the glow of life decays;
yet angel-hosts adore thee,
and tremble as they gaze.
2 Thy comeliness and vigour
is withered up and gone,
and in thy wasted figure
I see death drawing on.
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesu, all grace supplying,
turn thou thy face on me.
3 In this thy bitter passion,
good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding
for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.
Image: Stom,_Matthias_-_Christ_Crowned_with_Thorns_-_c._1633-1639 - Google Images
#BreakingNews Pope Francis at Conference against Human Trafficking "... it is to be considered a crime against humanity." FULL TEXT + Video
SPEECH OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE PARTICIPANTS AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE TRAFFICKING OF PEOPLE,
ORGANIZED BY THE MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES SECTION
OF THE DICASTERY FOR THE SERVICE OF INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Thursday, 11 April 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Thank you for inviting me to meet you at the end of your conference dedicated to the implementation of the Pastoral Guidelines on Trafficking in Persons, published by the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Department for the Human Integral Human Development Service, and approved by me. I thank Fr. Michael Czerny for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all the participants.
"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). In this sentence of the Gospel of John the mission of Jesus is summarized: to offer all men and women of every age life in fullness, according to the plan of the Father. The Son of God became man to indicate to all human beings the path of realization of their humanity, in conformity with the uniqueness and unrepeatability of each one.
Unfortunately, the present world is sadly characterized by situations that hinder the fulfillment of this mission. As evidenced by the Pastoral Guidelines on the Trafficking of Persons, "our times have marked a growth of individualism and egocentrism, attitudes that tend to consider others in a merely utilitarian perspective, attributing to them a value according to criteria of convenience and advantage personal »(n. 17).
It is essentially that tendency to commodification of the other, which I have repeatedly denounced.  Trafficking in persons is one of the most dramatic manifestations of this commodification. It, in its many forms, constitutes a wound "in the body of contemporary humanity",  a profound scourge in the humanity of those who suffer it and those who implement it. Indeed, trafficking disfigures the humanity of the victim, offending his freedom and dignity. But, at the same time, it dehumanizes those who perform it, denying them access to "life in abundance". Finally, trafficking seriously damages humanity as a whole, tearing apart the human family and even the Body of Christ.
The trafficking - we said - constitutes an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the victims, constitutive dimensions of the human being wanted and created by God. For this reason it is to be considered a crime against humanity.  And this without doubting. The same gravity, by analogy, must be attributed to all the contempt of the freedom and dignity of every human being, whether he is a compatriot or a foreigner.
Those who are guilty of this crime cause damage not only to others but also to themselves. In fact, each of us is created to love and care for others, and this reaches its climax in the gift of self: "No one has greater love than this: to give his life for his friends" (Jn 15, 13). In the relationship that we establish with others we play our humanity, approaching or moving away from the model of human being wanted by God the Father and revealed in the incarnate Son. Therefore, every choice contrary to the realization of God's project on us is a betrayal of our humanity and renounces the "life in abundance" offered by Jesus Christ. It's taking the ladder downhill, going down, becoming animals.
All actions that aim to restore and promote our humanity and that of others are in line with the mission of the Church, as a continuation of the saving mission of Christ. And this missionary value is evident in the struggle against all forms of trafficking and in the commitment towards the redemption of the survivors; a struggle and a commitment that also have beneficial effects on our own humanity, opening the way to the fullness of life, the ultimate end of our existence.
Your presence, dear brothers and sisters, is a tangible sign of the commitment that many local Churches have generously assumed in this pastoral field. The numerous initiatives that see you on the front line in order to prevent trafficking, protect survivors and prosecute offenders are worthy of admiration. I feel I must express special thanks to the many religious congregations that have worked - and continue to operate, even online, as "avant-garde" of the Church's missionary action against all forms of trafficking.
Much has been done and is being done, but much remains to be done. Faced with a phenomenon as complex as it is obscure, such as human trafficking, it is essential to ensure the coordination of the various pastoral initiatives, both locally and internationally. The offices in charge of the local Churches, religious congregations and Catholic organizations are called to share experiences and knowledge and to unite their forces, in a synergistic action that concerns the countries of origin, transit and destination of the persons being trafficked.
To make its action more adequate and effective, the Church must know how to make use of the help of other political and social actors. The stipulation of structured collaborations with institutions and other civil society organizations will guarantee more incisive and lasting results.
I sincerely thank you for what you are already doing on behalf of so many of our brothers and sisters, innocent victims of the commodification of the human person, we say the word, without shame: "the commodification of the human person". We have to say it and underline it because this is the truth. I encourage you to persevere in this mission, which is often risky and anonymous. Risky also for the laity, as much, but also for the religious. It's risky even inside the congregation, because they look at you wrong! The nuns say yes. It's risky, but you have to move on. It is anonymous, but precisely because of this irrefutable proof of your gratuitousness.
Through the intercession of Saint Josephine Bakhita, reduced to slavery as a child, sold and bought, but then liberated and "flourished" in fullness as God's daughter, I pray for you, I invoke on all of you and on those who are committed to fighting against treats abundant blessings. I assure you of my memory. I pray for you. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me.
 Cf. Address to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, 7 February 2015; General Audience, 22 April 2015; Apost. ap. postsin. Amoris laetitia, 54; Speech to members of the Anti-Mafia Parliamentary Commission, 21 September 2017.
 Address to the participants in the International Conference on the Trafficking in Human Persons, 10 April 2014.
 Cf. Speech to a group of new Ambassadors on the occasion of the presentation of the Credentials Letters, 12 December 2013; Speech to the Delegation of the International Association of Criminal Law, 23 October 2014; Message to the participants in the Conference on the Trafficking in Human Beings organized by the "Santa Marta Group", 30-31 October 2015; Speech to the participants in the Human Trafficking meeting promoted by "RENATE", 7 November 2016; Words to the participants in the Fourth World Day of Prayer and Reflection against the Trafficking in Persons, 12 February 2018; Pre-Synodal meeting with young people, 19 March 2018; Video message to the participants of the II International Forum on Modern Slavery, 5-8 May 2018; Speech to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 12 November 2018; Greetings to the members of the Galileo Foundation, 8 February 2019.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Blog Share from Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation
PATRON SAINT OF POLAND, BISHOP OF CRACOW, MARTYR
Feast: April 11
26 July 1030 as Szczepanowski, Poland
murdered on 8 May 1079 in the chapel of Saint Michael in a suburb of Cracow, Poland
1253 by Pope Innocent IV at Assisi, Italy
Cracow, Plock, Poland, soldiers in battle
Bishop and martyr, born at Szczepanów (hence called Szczepanowski), in the Diocese of Cracow, 26 July, 1030; died at Cracow, 8 May, 1079; feast on May 7 in Roman Martyrology, but on 8 May in Cracow, which has a special feast of the translation of his relics on 27 September; patron of Poland and the city and Diocese of Cracow; invoked in battle. In pictures he is given the episcopal insignia and the sword. Larger paintings represent him in a court or kneeling before the altar and receiving the fatal blow. No contemporary biography of the saint is in existence. At the time of his canonization a life appeared written by a Dominican Vincent(?) (Acta SS.,May, II, 196) which contains much legendary matter. His parents, Belislaus and Bogna, pious and noble Catholics, gave him a religious education. He made his studies at Gnesen and Paris(?). After the death of his parents he distributed his ample inheritance among the poor. Lambert Zula, Bishop of Cracow, ordained him priest and made him pastor of Czembocz near Cracow, canon and preacher at the cathedral, and later, vicar-general. After the death of Lambert he was elected bishop, but accepted only on explicit command of Pope Alexander II. He worked with his wonted energy for his diocese, and inveighed against vices among high and low, regardless of consequences. Boleslaw II had become King of Poland. the renown he had gained by his successful wars he now sullied by atrocious cruelty and unbridled lust. Moreover the bishop had several serious disputes with the king about a piece of land belonging to the Church which was unjustly claimed by Boleslaw, and about some nobles, who had left their homes to ward off various evils threatening their families and who were in consequence cruelly treated by the king. Stanislaus spared neither tears nor prayers and admonitions to bring the king to lead a more Christian life. All being in vain, Boleslaw was excommunicated and the canons of the cathedral were instructed to discontinue the Divine Offices in case the king should attempt to enter. Stanislaus retired to the Chapel of St. Michael in a suburb of Cracow. The king was furious and followed the bishop with his guards, some of whom he sent to kill the saint. These dared not obey, so Boleslaw slew him during the Holy Sacrifice. The body was at first buried in the chapel, but in 1088 it was transferred to the cathedral by Bishop Lambert II. St. Stanislaus was canonized 1253 by Innocent IV at Assisi.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)