Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saint October 9 : Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman
AmericanCatholic : (1801-1890)

Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford's Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons as well as two novels. His poem, "Dream of Gerontius," was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.

After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective.

Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory, founded three centuries earlier by St. Philip Neri. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland.

Before Newman, Catholic theology tended to ignore history, preferring instead to draw deductions from first principles—much as plane geometry does. After Newman, the lived experience of believers was recognized as a key part of theological reflection.

Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian DoctrineOn Consulting the Faithful in Matters of DoctrineApologia Pro Vita Sua (his spiritual autobiography up to 1864) and Essay on the Grammar of Assent. He accepted Vatican I's teaching on papal infallibility while noting its limits, which many people who favored that definition were reluctant to do.

When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur" (Heart speaks to heart). He was buried in Rednal (near Birmingham) 11 years later. After his grave was exhumed in 2008, a new tomb was prepared at the Oratory church in Birmingham.

Three years after Newman died, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In time, his name was linked to ministry centers at many public and private colleges and universities in the United States.

Pope Benedict XVI beatified Newman on September 19, 2010, at Crofton Park (near Birmingham). The pope noted Newman's emphasis on the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society but also praised his pastoral zeal for the sick, the poor, the bereaved and those in prison. 


John Henry Newman has been called the "absent Father of Vatican II" because his writings on conscience, religious liberty, Scripture, the vocation of lay people, the relation of Church and State, and other topics were extremely influential in the shaping of the Council's documents. Although Newman was not always understood or appreciated, he steadfastly preached the Good News by word and example. 

Newman composed this prayer: "God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.

"I have a mission; I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons; He has not created me for naught.

"I shall do good—I shall do his work. I shall be an angel of peace while not intending it if I do but keep his commandments. Therefore, I will trust him."
Text Shared from AmericanCatholic

Saint October 9 : St. Denis : Patron of Headaches, Rabies, and Possessed People

St. Denis
Feast: October 9
Feast Day:
October 9
Third century, Italy
258 at Montmarte
Major Shrine:
Abbey of Saint-Denis, Saint Denis Basilica
Patron of:
France; Paris; against frenzy; against strife; headaches; hydrophobia; possessed people; rabies

Bishop of Paris, and martyr. Born in Italy, nothing is definitely known of the time or place, or of his early life. His feast is kept on 9 October. He is usually represented with his head in his hands because, according to the legend, after his execution the corpse rose again and carried the head for some distance. That, however, while still very young he was distinguished for hisvirtuous life, knowledge of sacred things, and firm faith, is proved by the fact that Pope Fabian (236-250) sent him with some other missionary bishops to Gaul on a difficult mission. The Church of Gaul had suffered terribly under the persecution of the Emperor Decius and the new messengers of Faith were to endeavour to restore it to its former flourishing condition. Denis with his inseparable companions, the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, arrived in the neighbourhood of the present city of Paris and settled on the island in the Seine. The earliest document giving an account of his labours and of his martyrdom (Passio SS. Dionsyii, Rustici et Eleutherii), dating from the end of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh century and wrongly attributed to the poet Venantius Fortunatus, is interwoven with much legend, from which, however, the following facts can be gleaned.
On the island in the Seine Denis built a church and provided for a regular solemnization of the Divine service. His fearless and indefatigable preaching of the Gospel led to countless conversions. This aroused the envy, anger and hatred of the heathen priests. They incited the populace against the strangers and importuned the governor Fescenninus Sisinnius to put a stop by force to the new teaching. Denis with his two companions were seized and as they persevered in their faith were beheaded (about 275) after many tortures. Later accounts give a detailed description of the confessors' sufferings. They were scourged, imprisoned, racked, thrown to wild beasts, burnt at the stake, and finally beheaded. Gregory of Tours simply states: "Beatus Dionysius Parisiorum episcopus diversis pro Christi nomine adfectus poenis praesentem vitam gladio immente finivit" (Hist. Franc. I, 30). The bodies of the three holy martyrs received an honourable burial through the efforts of a pious matron named Catulla and a small shrine was erected over their graves. This was later on replaced by a beautiful basilica (egregium templum) which Venantius celebrated in verse (Carm. I, ii).
From the reign of King Dagobert (622-638) the church and the Benedictine monastery attached to it were more and more beautifully adorned; the veneration of St. Denis became by degrees a national devotion, rulers and princes vying with one another to promote it. This development is due in no small degree to an error prevailing throughout the Middle Ages, which identified St. Denis of Paris with St. Dionysius the Areopagite, and with the Pseudo-Dionysius, the composer of the Areopagitic writings. The combining of these three persons in one was doubtless effected as early as the eighth or perhaps the seventh century, but it was only through the "Areopagitica" written in 836 byHilduin, Abbot of Saint-Denis, at the request of Louis the Pious, that this serious error took deep root. The investigations of Launoy first threw doubt on the story and the Bollandist de Bye entirely rejected it. Hilduin was probably deceived by the same apocryphal Latin and Greek fictions. The possession of the Areopagitic writings (since 827 in Saint-Denis) strengthened his conviction of this truth. Historiographers of the present day do not dispute this point. All attempts of Darras, Vidieu, C. Schneider, and others to throw some light on the subject have proved fruitless.

Pope Francis... it was Christ‘s deep desire that His disciples remain united in His love. Angelus Text/Video

Radio Vaticana Report: Pope Francis appealed for Christian unity on Wednesday pointing out that divisions between Christians of different denominations are hurtful for the Church and for Christ. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope said that we must not forget that there are many who belong to different confessions who share our faith in Christ. Many of us, even within our Catholic Church – he said – have resigned ourselves to this division that has often been cause of conflict, suffering and even wars throughout the course of history. And the Pope invited those present to ask themselves what is their position regarding all this: “are we resigned, or even indifferent to this division? Or do we firmly believe that we can and we must walk together towards reconciliation and full communion?” Divisions between Christians – the Pope continued – wound the Church and wound Christ. The Church – he said – is the body and Christ is the head.
He pointed out that divisions between Christ’s followers are clearly contrary to his will, as expressed in his prayer to the Father that all might be one, so that the world might believe (cf. Jn 17:21). 
We also know – Pope Francis said – that it was Christ‘s deep desire that His disciples remain united in His love.

So – Pope Francis said - we must not be resigned to these divisions, but must join our prayer to that of Jesus in imploring constant openness to dialogue and appreciation of the gifts of others among all his followers.
In loving the Lord and sharing the riches of his love - he said - we will better see what unites us rather than what separates us.  
By dwelling in the truth, and practicing forgiveness and charity, we will be ever more conformed to Christ’s will, reconciled with one another, and led closer to the goal of full unity which he wills for all his disciples.
Pope Francis invited all Christians to help one another, walking together, praying together and doing works of charity. “Like that we will achieve communion along the way. It is called spiritual ecumenism: walking along the paths of life all together in our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord” he said.
And commenting on the fact that he cannot resist sharing personal memories and sentiments, Pope Francis said: “We are speaking about communion… communion amongst us. And today I am so grateful to the Lord because today it is 70 years since my own First Communion. And to take First Communion means to enter into communion with others,” with all those who belong to different communities but believe in Jesus Christ.
The Pope concluded thanking the Lord for the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion and urged all Christians to go forward towards full Christian Unity. And when our goal appears too distant and we are discouraged – he said -  we can find comfort in the fact that God will always listen to his Son’s prayer that all Christians be one.

(Linda Bordoni)

Breaking 185 Churches Destroyed and 190000 Displaced in Nigeria

AFRICA/NIGERIA - New toll of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram: 185 churches destroyed and 190,000 civilians flee

Jos (Agenzia Fides) - 185 churches in the Maiduguri Diocese were torched and 190,545 people displaced. This is the toll of the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram in the past two months in the diocese of Maiduguri, whose territory includes the States of northern Nigeria: Borno, Yobe and some areas of Adamawa. This was announced by the Director of Communications of the Diocese, Fr. Gideon Obasogie.
In the past two months, 11 cities in territory of the diocese have fallen into the hands of Boko Haram (according to the local Bishop, Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, the Islamist sect controls in all 25 cities in the north of Nigeria, see Fides 19/09/2014). "It is over 30 days now that our Church communities in Gulak, Shuwa, Michika, Bazza (among others) were sacked by the callous attacks of the Boko Haram terrorists", said the Director of Social Communications.
"Gwoza and Magadali had been under the tyrannical and despotic control of the terrorists and this is almost the sixtieth day" says Fr. Obasogie. "Our Priests are displaced, while citizens, who were supposed to celebrate their independence as a free Nation, were rather counting their losses and regrets as they had been reduced to the status of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. Where is the freedom? " he asked.
Fr. Obasogie describes the terrible conditions in which displaced people are forced to live, welcomed in the homes of relatives and friends (even 60-70 people at a time), or in makeshift structures in Maiduguri, Mubi, Yola, Uba, Gombe, Biu and Damaturu. The thought of the displaced people go to those who were unable to flee, the elderly or sick people but also young people. Today, October 7, a regional summit is being held in Niamey, Niger's capital, to fight Boko Haram, which is also threatening its neighbors, as demonstrated by the death of 7 people in the north of Cameroon, killed by a rocket fired by the fundamentalists in Nigeria. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 07/10/2014)

Breaking News Franciscan Priest and 20 Parishioners Kidnapped in Syria - Please PRAY

Syria: Franciscan priest and 20 parishioners kidnapped | Father Hanna Jallouf, Custody of the Holy Land, Qunyeh, Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra," Franciscan priest kidnapped, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Syria: Franciscan priest and 20 parishioners kidnapped
A Franciscan priest and 20 other Christians have been seized by Al-Qaeda linked rebels in a village in northwestern Syria, the Franciscan mission to the Holy Land said yesterday.
"On the night of 5 October, Father Hanna Jallouf of the Custody of the Holy Land, parish priest at Qunyeh, Syria, was taken by some brigades linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra," a statement from the Custody of the Holy Land said.
Following their capture, an unspecified number of Franciscan nuns had taken refuge with the villagers, it said. Qunyeh is a village of several hundred people in Idlib province, and lies some eight kilometres (five miles) from the Turkish border.
According to Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, from the Custos of the Holy Land, the 62-year-old priest was seized along with 20 villagers. in Jerusalem, Fr Pizzaballa said there was great concern over the fate of the priest. Fr Jallouf is a Syrian who has worked in Qunyeh for 12 years.
"They are accusing them of being collaborators"  - with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said, insisting that this was not true. "We don't know what to do. We don't know with whom to talk, we're totally unable to get in touch with anyone," added Fr Pizzaballa.
According to a source linked to the Franciscan Order in Aleppo, Al-Nusra rebels had forced their way into the convent and "looted everything".
The Custody of the Holy Land confirms that they are not able to say where Father Hanna and his parishioners are now and, at this time, they have no possibility of contact with him or his captors. Their statement concludes with an appeal to pray for the priest "and for the other victims of this tragic and senseless war".
 Source: Custos of the Holy Land

Today's Mass Readings : Wednesday October 8, 2014

Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 463

Reading 1GAL 2:1-2, 7-14

Brothers and sisters:
After fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas,
taking Titus along also.
I went up in accord with a revelation,
and I presented to them the Gospel that I preach to the Gentiles–
but privately to those of repute–
so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.
On the contrary,
when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised,
just as Peter to the circumcised,
for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised
worked also in me for the Gentiles,
and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me,
James and Cephas and John,
who were reputed to be pillars,
gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership,
that we should go to the Gentiles
and they to the circumcised.
Only, we were to be mindful of the poor,
which is the very thing I was eager to do.

And when Cephas came to Antioch,
I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.
For, until some people came from James,
he used to eat with the Gentiles;
but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself,
because he was afraid of the circumcised.
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him,
with the result that even Barnabas
was carried away by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that they were not on the right road
in line with the truth of the Gospel,
I said to Cephas in front of all,
“If you, though a Jew,
are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew,
how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Responsorial Psalm PS 117:1BC, 2

R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations,
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.

Gospel LK 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”

Latest Vatican Information Service News and Synod Congregations

- Programme of the Pope's visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe
- The Pope to visit France in 2015
- Second General Congregation
- Third General Congregation
- Other Pontifical Acts
- General Audience: “divisions between Christians wound Christ”
- Fourth General Congregation: the Synod Fathers discuss current proposals on family pastoral and the situation in Africa, threatened by Ebola
- Fifth General Congregation: critical situations within the family, the question of mixed marriages, and mercy and truth for the divorced and remarried
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Francis to the Synod Fathers: “Speak clearly, listen with humility, accept with an open heart”
- Summary of the Relatio ante disceptationem
- Nurturing “God's dream”, guided by the Holy Spirit
- Angelus: “A Bible for every family, to read often”
- Prayer vigil for the Synod: may the Synod Fathers be able to listen to God and to the People
- Francis to disabled athletes: your testimony is a great sign of hope
- Christians in the Middle East: the Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her children
- In brief
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
Programme of the Pope's visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe
Vatican City, 7 October 2014 (VIS) – The programme of the Holy Father Francis' visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 25 November, was published today.
The Pope will leave from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 7.55 a.m., arriving in Strasbourg at 10 a.m., where he will be received privately. At 10.35 he will address the European Parliament and at 12.05 p.m. will speak before the Council of Europe. At 1.50 p.m. he will depart for Rome, where he will arrive at Ciampino airport at 3.50 p.m.
The Pope to visit France in 2015
Vatican City, 7 October 2014 (VIS) – The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., today announced the Holy Father's intention to make an apostolic trip to France during 2015.
Second General Congregation
Vatican City, 7 October 2014 (VIS) – The second general Congregation, held yesterday afternoon, opened the discussions of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The theme, according to the agenda set forth in the Instrumentum Laboris, was: “God’s Plan for Marriage and the Family” (Part I, Chapter 1), and “The Knowledge and Acceptance of the Teachings on Marriage and the Family from Sacred Scripture and Church Documents” (Part I, Chapter 2).
Based on the premise that the family is the basic unit of human society, the cradle of gratuitous love, and that taking about the family and marriage implies education in fidelity, it was reiterated that the family constitutes the future of humanity and must be protected.
From many quarters, however, there has emerged the need to adapt the language of the Church, so that doctrine on the family, life and sexuality is understood correctly: it is necessary to enter into dialogue with the world, looking to the example offered by the Vatican Council, or rather with a critical but sincere openness. If the Church does not listen to the world, the world will not listen to the Church. And dialogue may be based on important themes, such as the equal dignity of men and women and the rejection of violence.
The Gospel must not be explained, but rather shown – it was said in the Assembly – and above all, the lay faithful must be involved in the proclamation of the Good News, demonstrating the missionary charism. Evangelisation must not be a depersonalised theory, but must instead ensure that families themselves give concrete witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel. The challenge, it was said, is that of passing from a defensive situation to an active, proactive one, or rather, reviving the capacity for proposing the heritage of faith with a new language, with hope, ardour and enthusiasm, offering convincing testimonies and creating a bridge between the language of the Church and that of society.
In this sense, the use of a “biblical” rather than a “theological-speculative” catechesis was called for, since, in spite of appearances to the contrary, people are no longer satisfied by selfishness and instead seek ideals. Humanity desires happiness and the Christian knows that happiness is Christ, but no longer succeeds in finding the suitable language to communicate this to the world. The Church, instead, must be “magnetic”; it must work by attraction, with an attitude of friendship towards the world.
With regard to couples in difficulty, it was emphasised that the Church needs to be close to them with understanding, forgiveness and mercy: mercy, it was said, is God’s first prerogative, but it must be seen in the context of justice, as only in this way will the whole of God’s plan be respected.
Marriage is and remains an indissoluble sacrament; however, since the truth is Christ, a Person, and not a series of rules, it is important to maintain the principles while changing the concrete forms of their implementation. In short, as Benedict XVI said, novelty in continuity: the Synod does not call Doctrine into question, but reflects on the Pastoral, or rather spiritual discernment for the application of such Doctrine in response to the challenges faced by contemporary families. In this sense, mercy does not eliminate the commandments, but it provides the hermeneutic key to them.
Furthermore, it was underlined that even imperfect situations must be considered with respect: for instance, de facto unions in which couples live together with fidelity and love present elements of sanctification and truth. It is therefore essential to look first and foremost at the positive elements, so that the Synod may infuse with courage and hope even imperfect forms of family, so that their value may be recognised, according to the principle of graduality. It is necessary to truly love families in difficulty.
In the context of a society in which there prevails a sort of “ego-latry”, leading to defamiliarisation, it is important to acknowledge the loss of a sense of the covenant between a man ( and a woman) and God. The proclamation of the beauty of the family, therefore, must not be simply aesthetic, the presentation of a mere ideal to imitate, but must instead present the importance of definitive commitment based on the covenant between married couples and God.
Another essential point is the rejection of clericalism: at times the Church seems more concerned with power than with service, and for this reason she does not inspire the hearts of men and women. It is therefore necessary to return to the imitation of Christ, and to rediscover humility: the reform of the Church must begin with the reform of the clergy. If the faithful see pastors who imitate Christ they will therefore draw close to the Church once more, enabling her to proceed from the act of evangelising to being inherently evangelical.
The theme of the essential value of sexuality within marriage was also considered: sexuality outside marriage is discussed so critically that married sexuality can appear almost as a concession to imperfection. The Synod indicated, more briefly, the need for a greater formation of priests in relation to policies in favour of the family and the re-launching of the transmission of faith within the family.
During the hour of free discussion, from 6 to 7 p.m., two suggestions emerged: that the Synod send a message of encouragement and appreciation to families in Iraq, threatened by extermination perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists and forced to flee so as not to renounce their faith. The suggestion was subject to vote and approved by a majority.
Another call was the need to reflect on the married clergy of the oriental Churches, as they too often live through “family crises”, which may extend to the question of divorce.
Third General Congregation
Vatican City, 7 October 2014 (VIS) – The general debate continued throughout today’s third general Congregation. The theme according to the order of the Instrumentum Laboris was: “The Gospel of the Family and the Natural Law” (Part I, Chapter 3) and “The Family and Vocation of the Person in Christ” (Part I, Chapter 4).
At the opening of the Congregation, it was announced that the Ordinary Consistory, convoked by the Holy Father for Monday 20 October, will be devoted to the situation in the Middle East, on the basis of the results of the meeting of various Papal Representatives and Superiors of the competent Dicasteries, held in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October. The theme of the Consistory will be presented by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. The meeting will also be attended by six Oriental Patriarchs and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal.
The general debate then continued in relation to the issues stated above. It was agreed that greater preparation for marriage is necessary, so that it is not only valid but also fruitful. The suggestion was to look not only towards remedies for failure of the conjugal union, but also to focus on the conditions that render it valid and fruitful. It is necessary to transmit a vision of marriage that does not regard it as a destination, but rather as a path to a higher end, a road towards the growth of the person and of the couple, a source of strength and energy. The decision to marry is a true vocation and as such requires fidelity and coherence in order to become a true locus for the growth and the protection of the human being.
For this reason, married couples must be accompanied throughout their path in life, by means of intense and vigorous family pastoral care. The path of preparation for the marriage sacrament, must therefore be long, personalised and also severe, without the fear of eventually leading to a reduction in the number of weddings celebrated in Church. Otherwise, there is the risk of filling the Tribunals with marriage cases.
A further point that emerged during the discussion was the influence of the mass media, at times intrusive, in presenting ideologies contrary to the doctrine of the Church in relation to family and marriage. In this respect, it was said, Catholics must be protected but must also be better prepared: the Church must offer her teaching in a more incisive manner, presenting doctrine not merely as a list of prohibitions, but also by drawing closer to the faithful, as Jesus did. In this way, acting with empathy and tenderness, it will be possible to reduce the gap between doctrine and practice, between the teachings of the Church and the daily life of families. What is needed is not a choice between doctrine and mercy, but rather the beginning of an enlightened pastoral care to encourage above all those families in difficulty, who are often aware of a sense of not belonging to the Church.
Today’s debate then turned again to couples in difficulty and divorced and civilly remarried persons, for whom, it was said, that the Church should offer not judgement but truth, with a gaze of understanding, because people follow the truth, and will follow the Church if she speaks the truth. The “medicine” of mercy offers acceptance, care and support. Also because – it was shown – suffering families do not seek rapid pastoral solutions, and they do not wish to be a mere statistical figure, but rather feel the need to be inspired, to feel that they are welcomed and loved. More space must be allowed for a sacramental rather than a juridical form of logic.
With regard to the approach to the Eucharist by the divorced and remarried, it was emphasised that it is not the sacrament of the perfect, but rather of those who are on the way.
Like yesterday afternoon, the debate focused on the need to renew the language of the proclamation of the Gospel and the transmission of doctrine: the Church must be more open to dialogue, and must listen more frequently (and not only in exceptional cases) to the experiences of married couples, because their struggles and their failures cannot be ignored; on the other hand, they can be the basis of a real and true theology. Again, in relation to language, some perplexity was expressed at the suggestion – included in the Instrumentum Laboris – to deepen the concept, of biblical inspiration, of the “order of creation” as a possibility of rereading “natural law” more meaningfully: it was added that it is not enough to change the vocabulary if a bridge to effective dialogue with the faithful is not then created. In this sense, the much foretold and widespread need for change may be understood, it was said, as pastoral conversion, to make the proclamation of the Gospel more effective.
In the Assembly, three specific dimensions of the family were presented: the vocation to life, the missionary aspect understood as witnessing Christ through the family unity, and acceptance of the other, as the family is the first school of otherness, the place in which it is possible to learn patience and slowness, in contrast to the frenzy of the contemporary world. A further dimension of the family unit is shown also in holiness, as the family educated in holiness is the icon of the Trinity, the domestic Church in the service of evangelisation, the future of humanity.
Other points indicated during the third general Congregation related to the importance of catechesis for families, especially for children, and prayer between domestic walls, so that it may give rise to a true generation of faith, enabling its transmission from parents to children. Finally, the need for a more thorough formation for priests and catechists was underlined.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 7 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Krakow, Poland, presented by Archbishop Jan Zajac upon reaching the age limit.

General Audience: “divisions between Christians wound Christ”
Vatican City, 8 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, punctual as always, the Holy Father entered St. Peter's Square in an open-top Jeep to greet the faithful in attendance at this Wednesday's general audience. He dedicated his catechesis to the “many brothers who share with us our faith in Christ, but who belong to other confessions or to traditions different to our own”. He emphasised that even today the relations between Christians of different confessions are not always characterised by respect and cordiality, and asked, “What is our current attitude to this situation? Are we indifferent or do we firmly believe that we can and must walk towards reconciliation and full communion?”.
The Pope emphasised that the divisions between Christians wound the Church and Christ, and remarked that Jesus wanted his disciples to remain united in His love. This unity was already under threat in Jesus' time, explained Pope Francis, and He urged his disciples to speak unanimously, so “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose”.
The bishop of Rome also mentioned that throughout history the devil has tempted the Church with the intention of dividing her. Unfortunately, the Church has been marked by serious and painful divisions that have at times been long-lasting, continuing until the present day. For this reason, “it is very difficult to reconstruct the reasons and, above all, to find possible solutions. … What is certain is that, in one way or another, behind all these lacerations there is always arrogance and selfishness, which are the cause of every disagreement and which make us intolerant, incapable of listening and of accepting those who have a vision or a position different from our own”.
“Now, faced with this, is there anything that we as members of the Holy Mother Church, can and should do? Without doubt there must be no lack of prayer, in continuity and in communion with Jesus. And together with prayer, the Lord asks of us a renewed openness: He asks us not to close ourselves against dialogue and encounter, but rather to accept all that is valid and positive that is offered to us even from those who think differently to us or who adopt different positions. Let us not focus on what divides us, but rather on that which unites us, seeking to know and love Christ better and to share the richness of His love. … We are divided against ourselves. However, we all have something in common: we believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord … in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We walk together, we are on the same path … let us help each other! Let us receive communion on the way. This is spiritual ecumenism: walking the path of life together in our faith in Jesus Christ the Lord”.
Continuing on the theme of communion, the Holy Father told the faithful present that today he is very thankful to the Lord, since it is seventy years since his first communion. “Receiving the First Communion means entering into communion with others, with our brothers in our Church, and also with all those who belong to different communities but who believe in Jesus”.
Francis concluded by encouraging all to walk together towards full unity. “History has separated us, but we are on the path to reconciliation and communion. And when it seems that our goal is too distant or we are discouraged, we may be comforted by the idea that God cannot cover His ears to the voice of His own Son, and cannot fail to respond to His prayer and ours, that all Christians are truly one”.
Fourth General Congregation: the Synod Fathers discuss current proposals on family pastoral and the situation in Africa, threatened by Ebola
Vatican City, 8 October 2014 (VIS) – The general debate continued during the fourth general Congregation, following the order of the Instrumentum Laboris. The theme was “The Pastoral Program for the Family: Various Proposals Underway” (Part II, Chapter 1).
Firstly, the link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family was underlined: it was said that the first generates the second. This is because faith is seen mostly as a set of doctrinal mores, whereas it is primarily a free act by which one entrusts oneself to God. This gave rise, among other things, to the suggestion of devising a “Vademecum” dedicated to the catechesis of the family, so as to strengthen its evangelising mission. Furthermore, the weakness of the faith of many baptised persons was underlined; this often leads to the marriage of couples who do are not appropriately aware of what they are undertaking.
Secondly, a great challenge facing families today was mentioned: that of the “dictatorship of unitary thought” that aims to introduce into society those countervalues that distort the vision of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The crisis of values, atheist secularism, hedonism, and the ambition of power destroy families today, distorting it, weakening people and consequently rendering society fragile. It is therefore important to recover in the faithful the awareness of belonging to the Church, as the Church grows by attraction and the families of the Church attract other families.
For its part, the Church, an expert in humanity, must underline the beauty and the need everyone has for the family, as it is indispensable. It is necessary to reawaken in humanity the sense of belonging to the family unit. In addition, as a reflection of God’s love, which is never an isolated love, the family opens one to relationships and bonds with others, thus becoming the foundation for society.
Mention was also made of the link between priests and families: they accompany families in all the most important stages of their lives, sharing in their joys and difficulties; families, in turn, help priests to experience celibacy as a full and balanced emotional life, rather than as a sacrifice. In addition, the family was defined as the “cradle of vocations” as it is precisely within the domestic walls, in common prayer, that the call to the priesthood is frequently heard.
A further link that was underlined is that between baptism and marriage: without a serious and in-depth Christian initiation, the meaning of the sacrament of marriage is diminished. Therefore, it is to be emphasised that Christian marriage cannot be seen solely as a cultural tradition or a social need, but rather must be understood as a vocational decision, undertaken with suitable preparation that cannot be improvised in a few meetings, but must be carried out over a period of time.
Attention then turned to how work affects the dynamics of the family: these are two dimensions that must be reconciled, through increasingly flexible working hours, new contractual models, and attention to geographical distances between home and work. Furthermore, technology can lead to work being brought home, making family dialogue difficult.
Numerous interventions, especially in relation to Africa, drew attention to the many challenges the family must face in this continent: polygamy, levirate marriage, sects, war, poverty, the painful crisis of migration, international pressure for birth control, and so on. These are problems that undermine family stability, placing it in crisis. In the face of such challenges, it is necessary to respond with in-depth evangelisation, able to promote the values of peace, justice and love, an adequate promotion of the role of women in society, thorough education of children and the protection of rights for all victims of violence.
In the hour dedicated to open discussion – from 6 to 7 p.m. – attention returned to the need for a new language in the proclamation of the Gospel, with particular reference to the new media technologies. With regard to the indissolubility of marriage, it was highlighted that today it would appear that the law is opposed to the good of the person. In reality, the truth of the conjugal bond and its stability is inscribed within the person, and therefore it is not a question of setting the law and the person in opposition to each other, but rather of understanding how to help the person not to betray his or her own truth.
Further reflection was proposed in relation to families who have not received the gift of children despite wishing for them, and those in regions affected by the Ebola virus.
Finally, the image of the Church as light was recalled, in the hope that this may be not only the light of a beacon, that remains constant and illuminates from afar, but also a torch, or rather a “soft light” that accompanies humanity on its path, step by step.
The Pontifical Council for the Family donated to the members of the Synod a copy of the extensive Enchiridion on the family.
Fifth General Congregation: critical situations within the family, the question of mixed marriages, and mercy and truth for the divorced and remarried
Vatican City, 8 October 2014 (VIS) – In the fifth general Congregation, which took place tis morning and which the Holy Father did not attend on account of the general audience, the general debate continued on the themes outlined in the Instrumentum laboris: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family (Part II, Chapter 2). The Crisis of Faith and Family Life / Critical Situations within the Family / External Pressures on the Family / Special Situations”.
First and foremost, the debate focused on the Church in the Middle East and in North Africa. Both exist in difficult political, economic and religious situations, with serious repercussions on families. Where there are laws that impede the reunification of families, poverty leads to migration, where there is religious fundamentalism and Christians do not enjoy equal rights with Muslim citizens, there are often difficult problems for families resulting from mixed marriages.
Indeed, in these contexts, interreligious or so-called “mixed” marriages are present and on the increase in these contexts. It was said that the challenge of the Church is therefore to understand what form of catechesis may be offered to children born of such a union and how it is possible to respect to the unknown situation of those Catholics who, united in mixed marriages, wish to continue to practice their religion. Such couples, it was said, must not be neglected and the Church must continue to take care of them. A further challenge is also represented by those Christians who convert to Islam in order to marry: also in this case, suitable reflection is necessary.
The question is not simply interreligious, but at times also ecumenical: there are cases in which a Catholic who has contracted a canonical marriage and is not able to obtain a declaration of nullity passes to another Christian confession, remarrying in a Church which permits this. In any case, without prejudice to the shared patrimony of faith, the need to follow the path of mercy in difficult situations was underlined.
With regard to the question of divorced and remarried persons, it was highlighted that the Synod must certainly take the issue into consideration, with the prudence required for important matters, but must also combine the objectivity of truth with mercy for the person and for his or her suffering. It is necessary to remember that many faithful find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
Mention was made of the commitment of the Holy See, whose voice is always heard in the defence of families at all levels – international, national and regional – with the aim of emphasising its dignity, its rights and duties, and always noting that, as Benedict XVI said, her “no” is in reality a “yes” to life. Therefore, it was underlined that the Church must combat the educational and religious silence in families, as there is no place for hesitation and greater commitment to witnessing the Gospel is needed. Creativity in pastoral ministry is always necessary.
The Assembly went on to reflect on the indispensable contribution of the lay faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel in the family: in particular, the young, ecclesial movements and new communities provide a service of vital importance, carrying out a prophetic mission that runs counter to the current of our times. Listening and believing in the laity, therefore, is shown to be essential, as it is in them and with them that the Church may find the answers to the problems of the family.
Another theme taken into consideration was that of the precariousness of work and unemployment. The distress caused by the lack of a secure job creates difficulties within families, along with the poverty that often prevents families from having a home. Furthermore, a lack of money often leads to it becoming “deified” and to families being sacrificed on the altar of profit. It is necessary to re-emphasise that money must serve rather than govern.
There was further reflection on the need for greater preparation for marriage, also with special attention to emotional and sexual education, encouraging a true mystical and familiar approach to sexuality. The great contribution of grandparents to the transmission of faith in families was then recalled and it was highlighted how important it is for the family unit to welcome the elderly with solidarity, care and tenderness. The same care must be reserved to the sick, to overcome the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis frequently warns against.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 8 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Bishop Fausto Tardelli of San Miniato, Italy, as bishop of Pistoia (area 821, population 228,600, Catholics 219,300, priests 119, permanent deacons 22, religious 178), Italy.
- Bishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, as coadjutor of the archdiocese of Merida-Badajoz (area 17,405, population 597,300, Catholics 588,100, priests 311, religious 637), Spain.
- appointed Msgr. Levi Bonatto, of the personal prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Goiania (area 13,320, population 2,024,000, Catholics 1,221,000, priests 208, permanent deacons 14, religious 573), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Brazil in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He holds a degree in economics from the Federal University of the State of Parana and a degree in canon law from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including chaplain of the “Castelo” cultural centre in Campinas and of the “Alfa e Esplanada” cultural centre in Sao Jose dos Campos; spiritual father for seminarians in the diocese of Sao Jose dos Campos; chaplain of the “Os Pinhais” professional centre for girls with limited economic resources, and professor of canon law and theology at the “Studium Generale” of Opus Dei in Sao Paulo. He is currently chaplain of the “Marumbi” cultural centre, coordinator of the “Santa Cruz” priestly society in the State of Parana and confessor at the “Sao Jose” minor seminary of Curitiba.

Francis to the Synod Fathers: “Speak clearly, listen with humility, accept with an open heart”
Vatican City, 6 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the presence of the Holy Father, the First General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelisation” took place in the Synod Hall. The Pope greeted the Synod Fathers and all the collaborators in the Synod – the relators, consultors, translators and all those “who have worked with dedication, patience and competence, for long months, reading and working on the themes, texts and the work of this Extraordinary General Assembly”.
Today I also thank you, dear cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, priests, men and women religious and laypersons for your presence and your participation that enriches the works and the spirit of collegiality and synodality for the good of the Church and families. … You bring the voice of the particular Churches, gathered at the level of the local Churches through the Episcopal Conferences. The universal Church and the particular Churches are of divine institution; the local Churches, understood in this way, are of human institution. You will bring this voice in synodality. It is a great responsibility: bring the reality and problems of the Churches to help them to walk the path of the Gospel of the family”.
“A general basic condition is this: speak clearly. Let no one say, 'this can't be said, they will think this or that about me'. Everything we feel must be said, with parrhesia. After the last Consistory in February 2014, which focused on the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying that it was a pity that some cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the Pope, thinking perhaps that the Pope thought differently. This is not good – it is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord we feel must be said: without human respect, without timidness. And, at the same time, we must listen with humility and accept with an open heart all that our brothers say. With these two attitudes, synodality is achieved”.
“Therefore, I ask of you”, insisted Francis, “these two attitudes of brothers in the Lord: speak with parrhesia and listen with humility. And do so with great tranquillity and peace, because the Synod always takes place 'cum Petro et sub Petro', and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a protection of faith”.
At the end the Holy Father's brief address and that of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, presiding at the session, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, gave a presentation of the various stages in the preparation of this Extraordinary Assembly, the number of participants, the novelties and the work of the Secretariat of the Synod following the last Ordinary General Assembly held in October 2012 under the papacy of Benedict XVI. He concluded by expressing the hope that this Synod may be “a privileged space for this synodal collegiality, that proclaims the Gospel while walking its path. May it be permeated by a new openness to the Spirit, by a method and a style of life and witness that guarantee unity in diversity, apostolicity in Catholicity”. Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and relator general of the Synod, went on to read the “Relatio ante disceptationem”, summarised in the following article.
Summary of the Relatio ante disceptationem
Vatican City, 6 October 2014 (VIS) – The “Report prior to discussion” presented this morning by Cardinal Peter Erdo, relator general, introduces the work of the Synod, emphasising the main points in relation to which the discussion of the Assembly should develop. In this sense, it is important to highlight a new element: the report of this Synod Assembly already includes the Synod Fathers' written discourses, sent in advance to the Secretariat General of the Synod, with the aim of responding better to the collegial sense of the Assembly.
First and foremost, Cardinal Erdo's report encourages the family to be regarded with hope and mercy, proclaiming its value and beauty as, in spite of the many difficulties, it is not a “model off course”; we live in a world of mere emotions, he continues, in which life “is not a project, but rather a series of moments” and “stable commitment appears formidable” for humanity rendered fragile by individualism. But it is precisely here, faced with these “signs of the times”, that the Gospel of the family offers itself as a remedy, a “true medicine” that is to be proposed by “placing oneself in the corner of those who find it more difficult to recognise and live it”.
No, therefore, to “doom and surrender” within the Church. “There exists a clear and broadly shared heritage of faith”. For example, ideological forms such as gender theory or the equality of homosexual unions with marriage between a man and a woman do not find consensus among the majority of Catholics, while marriage and the family are still largely understood as a “patrimony” for humanity, to be protected, promoted and defended. Certainly, among believers doctrine is often little known or practised, but this does not mean that it is under discussion”. This is particularly relevant in relation to the indissolubility of marriage and its sacramental nature among baptised persons. The indissolubility of marriage is not called into question; on the other hand, it is uncontested and for the greater part observed also in the pastoral practice of the Church with those whose marriages have failed and who seek a new beginning. Therefore, not doctrinal, but rather practical questions – inseparable from the truths of faith – are in discussion in this Synod, of an exquisitely pastoral nature”.
This leads to the need for greater formation, above all for engaged couples, so that they are clearly aware both of the sacramental dignity of marriage, based on “uniqueness, fidelity and fruitfulness”, and of its nature as “in institution in society”. Although threatened by “disrupting factors” such as divorce, abortion, violence, poverty, abuse, the “nightmare” of precariousness and the imbalance caused by migration, explains Cardinal Erdo, the family remains a “school of humanity”. “The family is almost the last welcoming human reality in a world determined near exclusively by finance and technology. A new culture of the family can be the starting point for a renewed human civilisation”.
Therefore, continues the cardinal, the Church supports the family in a concrete way, although this “does not exclude the need for active commitment on the part of States” in the protection and promotion of the common good, through suitable policies.
Turning later to those who live in difficult marital conditions, Cardinal Erdo highlights that the Church is a the “House of the Father”; in relation to these people, a “renewed and adequate action of family pastoral” is necessary, in particular to enable them to feel loved by God and the ecclesial community, from a merciful perspective that does not, however, cancel out “truth and justice”. “Consequently, mercy does not take away the commitments which arise from the demands of the marriage bond. They will continue to exist even when human love is weakened or has ceased. This means that, in the case of a (consummated) sacramental marriage, after a divorce, a second marriage recognised by the Church is impossible, while the first spouse is still alive”.
Considering the diversity of situations – divorces, civil marriages, cohabitation – Cardinal Erdo highlighted the need for “clear guidelines” so that the pastors of local communities may offer practical help to couples in difficulty, avoiding improvisation and “do it yourself” pastoral care. With regard to divorced and civilly remarried persons, he underlines that it would be misleading to concentrate only on the question of receiving sacraments – it is instead important to look at the broader context of preparation for marriage and support – pastoral rather than bureaucratic – for couples, to help them understand the reasons for the failure of their first union and to identify the causes for nullity: “As regards the divorced who are civilly married, many have said that the distinction needs to be made between the one who is guilty for the break-up of the marriage and the innocent party. The Church’s pastoral care should extend to each of them in a particular way”.
Furthermore, in view of the limited knowledge of the marriage sacrament and an increasing “divorce mentality”, “it does not seem hazardous ... to believe that many marriages celebrated in the Church may be invalid”. This leads to the suggestion included in the Relatio to recognise “in the first place the obligation for two appeals of confirmation on the declaration of nullity of the marriage bond” and in any case “to avoid any type of mechanics or impression of granting a divorce” or “to avoid solutions which are unjust and scandalous”. In this respect, it is necessary also to study the practice of various Orthodox Churches which permit second or third marriages of a penitential nature.
Finally, in the last part of the document, Cardinal Erdo focuses on the Gospel of life: existence is from conception to to natural death, he remarks, and “openness to life is an essential part and intrinsic need of conjugal love, while nowadays, especially in the West, there are those who choose not to have children and those who would have them at any cost; “in both cases, the possibility of procreating a child is reduced to one’s ability of self-determination. … Welcoming life, assuming responsibility in procreating life and the care required are possible only if the family is not conceived as an isolated unit but an active part in a network of relationships. ... Increasing importance is being given to not leaving the family and families on their own, but to accompanying and supporting them in their everyday journey. ... Family tragedies are often the result of desperation, loneliness and a painful cry which no one knew how to discern”.
It is therefore important to rediscover a sense of widespread and concrete solidarity, to overcome any “privatisation of love” which empties the family of meaning and entrusts it instead to individual choice. It is necessary to create, on an institutional level, the conditions favourable to welcoming a child and for the care of the elderly as a social asset to be protected and promoted. The Church should devote herself in a special way to education in love and sexuality, explaining its value and avoiding banalisation and superficiality.
In conclusion, affirms Cardinal Erdo, the challenge for this Synod is to try to bring to today’s world, beyond the circle of practicing Catholics and considering the complex situation of society, “the attractiveness of the Christian message” about marriage and the family, giving answers that are true and full of charity”, because “the world needs Christ”.
The full text in English of the “Relatio ante disceptationem” can be consulted at:
Nurturing “God's dream”, guided by the Holy Spirit
Vatican City, 5 October 2014 (VIS) – “Today the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his 'dream', the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care”, said the Holy Father in his homily during the Holy Mass celebrated this morning in the Vatican Basilica to inaugurate the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation”.
“God’s 'dream' is his people”, continued Francis. “He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice. But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted. … The temptation to greed is ever present. … Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move. We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realise his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity”.
“We are all sinners and can also be tempted to 'take over' the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can 'thwart' God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity”. The Holy Father concluded, “to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by 'the peace of God which passes all understanding'. In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God”.
Angelus: “A Bible for every family, to read often”
Vatican City, 5 October 2014 (VIS) – At midday, following the celebration of the Holy Mass for the inauguration of the Synod, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He thanked the Pauline brothers who distributed Bibles to mark the centenary of their foundation. “With the inauguration of the Synod on the Family, with the help of the Pauline brothers we can say, a Bible in every family”, he said, remarking that “the Bible is not to be kept on a shelf, but rather kept at hand to be read often, every day, individually or together, husband and wife, parents and children, perhaps in the evening, especially on Sunday. In this way the family grows and goes forth, with the light and strength of the Word of God”.
The bishop of Rome invited all to “support the work of the Synod with prayer, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary”. He added, “In this moment we join spiritually with those who, in the Shrine of Pompeii, elevate the traditional 'Supplication' to Our Lady of the Rosary. May she obtain peace for families and for the entire world”.
Prayer vigil for the Synod: may the Synod Fathers be able to listen to God and to the People
Vatican City, 5 October 2014 (VIS) – At 6 p.m. yesterday, Saturday, in St. Peter's Square, a prayer vigil was held for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, organised by the Presidency of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The Synod Fathers participated in the event, which alternated moments of prayer with reflection and testimonies of family life. At 7 p.m., the Holy Father joined the families and the faithful to say, “This is the time at which we willingly return home to find ourselves at the same table, surrounded by affection, the good we have done and received, the encounters that have warmed the heart or helped it grow, the good wine that offers us a glimpse in our days of the feast without end. It is also the most difficult time for those who find themselves face to face with their own solitude, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and unfulfilled plans: how many people pass their days in the blind alley of resignation, neglect, even rancour; in how many homes is there a lack of the good wine of joy and thus of the flavour, the very knowledge, of life. This evening let us become the voice of prayer for all; a prayer for all”.
Francis went on to speak about “the communion of life assumed by married couples, their openness to the gift of life, mutual care, the encounter and the memory of generations, educational accompaniment, the transmission of Christian faith to children … in all this, the family continues to be an unequalled school in humanity, an indispensable contribution to a just and caring society. And the deeper its roots are, the further it is possible to go in life without becoming lost or feeling like a stranger in any land. This horizon helps us to grasp the importance of the Synod Assembly that opens tomorrow”.
“To seek what the Lord asks of His Church now, we must listen to the heartbeat of our times and perceive the spirit of humanity today, remaining impressed by their joys and hopes, their sadness and anguish. At that point we will know how to propose credibly the good news on the family”. Before concluding the Pope asked the Holy Spirit to offer the Synod Fathers the gift of listening to God and His people, invoking a sincere, open and fraternal encounter enabling them to face with pastoral responsibility the questions that come with changing times, yet always looking to Jesus Christ. He added, “With the joy of the Gospel we will recover the traces of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and a friend to the poor; a Church able, 'in patience and in love, to overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without'”.
Francis to disabled athletes: your testimony is a great sign of hope
Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope received in audience seven thousand disabled athletes, members of the Italian Paralympic Committee. In his address he remarked that sport promotes contact and relations with people from different cultures and environments, and helps us become accustomed to accepting difference, transforming it into an opportunity for mutual enrichment and discovery. “Above all”, he affirmed, “sport becomes a valuable opportunity to recognise that we are brothers and sisters walking side by side, to favour a culture of inclusion and to reject throwaway culture”.
Francis reiterated that this aspect of sport becomes even more evident in relation to disabled athletes, because the physical disability they experience, “through sport and healthy competition, is transformed into a message of encouragement” for those who find themselves in similar situations, and becomes “an invitation to devote all your energies to doing good things together, overcoming barriers that we may encounter around us, and above all, those inside us”.
“Your witness, as athletes”, he exclaimed, “is a great sign of hope. It is the proof that in every person there is potential that at times we do not imagine, and that may develop with trust and solidarity. God the Father is the first to know this! He knows us better than any other, and He looks upon us with trust, He loves us as we are, but he enables us to grow according to what we are able to become. In this way, in your efforts for sport without barriers, for a world without exclusion, you are never alone” God our Father is with you!”.
“May sport therefore be for you a place where you are able to train every day, in relation to yourselves and others, a gymnasium that offers you the chance to get to know new people and environments and that helps you to be an active part of society”.
Christians in the Middle East: the Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her children
Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Pauline Chapel Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin celebrated Holy Mass for the papal representatives in the Middle East at the end of the meeting convoked at the behest of the Holy Father, dedicated to the situation faced by Christians in the region. Extensive extracts from his homily are published below:
“Today we celebrate this Holy Eucharist with concern for what is happening in various countries in the Middle East. We are profoundly troubled to see the growing threats to peace and disturbed by the conditions in which Christian communities live in the territories from Syria to Iraq, controlled by an entity that disregards rights and adopts terrorist methods to increase its power”.
“Such communities, which inhabit these lands since apostolic times, therefore find themselves facing situations of grave danger and open persecution, and are frequently forced to abandon everything and flee from their homes and their country. It is sad to note how persistent and active the forces of evil are, and how in some corrupt minds the conviction has taken hold that violence and terror are methods that can be used to impose one's will for power over others, under the pretext of affirming a specific religious concept. It is clearly a perversion of authentic religious meaning, with dramatic results and to which it is necessary to respond. The Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her sons and daughters, and the international community cannot remain neutral between victims and the aggressor”.
“'Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge'. Thus the psalmist prays. He, who was no stranger to difficulty and violent adversaries, confidently turns to the Lord. The wicked and their machinations do not frighten him, because his life is in the Lord's hands. He knows that his true strength and safety is the Lord Who gives him peace and joy and Who prepares a definitive and joyful future. … It is the joy of every faithful Christian who knows that History is led by Providence and that the forces of evil shall not prevail”.
“This certainty that we rejoice in, far from leaving us as idle or inert spectators, encourages us as individuals and as a Christian community, as Church, in constant and trusting prayer and urges us to put into effect all those concrete initiatives that help influence governments and public opinion. Nothing must be neglected that it may be possible to do to alleviate the suffering of our brethren in need and to stop the aggressors. Providence wishes also to make use of us, of our freedom and our industriousness, our initiative and our daily efforts”.
“Persecuted Christians and all those who suffer unjustly must be able to recognise that the Church is the institution that defends them, that prays and acts for them, that is not afraid of stating the truth, becoming the word for those without a voice, defence and support for those who are abandoned, who seek refuge, who are discriminated against. Indeed, everything depends on God and His Grace, but it is necessary to act as if it all depended on us, on our prayer and our solidarity”.
In brief
Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – THE HOLY FATHER HAS SENT A VIDEO MESSAGE to the International Centre of the Focolare Movement in Loppiano, Italy, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation by Chiara Lubich. The Pope remarked that Loppiano “inspired by the Gospel of fraternity … lives in the service of the Church and the world”, and offers a “living and effective witness of communion among persons of different nations, cultures and vocations” and maintaining, above all, mutual and continual charity in everyday life.
NO MORE WAR OR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, affirm the papal representatives in the Middle East at the end of their meeting in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October, during which they discussed the situation faced by Christians in the region. They expressed their serious concerns regarding the actions of various extremist groups, in particular the “Islamic State”, before whose violence and abuses it is impossible to remain indifferent. The international community cannot remain inert, they remarked, when faced with massacres carried out on the pretext of religious belief or ethnic origin or the exodus of thousands of people and the destruction of their places of worship. The participants in the meeting emphasised that it is acceptable to stop an unjust aggressor, always with respect for international law. However, the problem cannot be entrusted solely to the usual military response, but must be faced in more depth, starting from the root causes that are exploited by fundamentalist ideology. An important role can be played by religious leaders, Christian and Muslim, collaborating to promote dialogue and education in mutual understanding, and clearly denouncing the abuse of religion to justify violence. Faced with the crisis of so many people forced to leave their homes in a brutal fashion, the participants highlighted the need to recognise the rights of Christians and other ethnic and religious groups to be able to remain in their homelands and, should it be necessary for them to leave, to return in suitable conditions of safety, with the possibility of living and working in freedom and with prospects for the future. In the current circumstances this requires commitment on the part of the governments involved and the international community as a whole. Finally, they stressed that we cannot resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians, who for two thousand years have confessed the name of Jesus Christ there.
Vatican City, 4 October 2014 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received the following in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops;
- Archbishop Joseph Edward Kurtz of Louisville, U.S.A., president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, deputy president, Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins, secretary general and J. Brian Bransfield, adjunct secretary general;
- Archbishop Wojciech Zaluski, apostolic nuncio in Burundi;
- Msgr. Paolo Rudelli, special envoy and Holy See Permanent Observer at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 6 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
On Saturday, 4 October the Holy Father:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, England, presented by Bishop Kieran Conry, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- appointed Fr. Stane Zore, O.F.M., as metropolitan archbishop of Ljubljana (area 6,134, population 776,336, Catholics 554,417, priests 428, permanent deacons 221, religious 546), Slovenia. The bishop-elect was born in Sel Pri Kamniku, Slovenia in 1958, gave his solemn vows in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 1985. He has served in a number of roles, including parish priest, rector of the national Shrines of Brezje and Sveta Gora, guardian in various fraternities, master of novices, and provincial minister of the province of the Holy Cross in Slovenia. He is currently provincial minister of his order and president of the Conference of Men and Women Religious in Slovenia (KORUS).