Monday, June 8, 2015

Saint June 9 : St. Ephrem of Syria : Doctor : Patron of Spiritual Directors

St. Ephrem of Syria
Feast: June 9

Feast Day:June 9
Born:306 at Nisibis, Mesopotamia (in modern Syria)
Died:9 June 373 at Edessa (in modern Iraq)
Patron of:Spiritual directors and spiritual leaders
Born at Nisibis, then under Roman rule, early in the fourth century; died June, 373. The name of his father is unknown, but he was a pagan and a priest of the goddess Abnil or Abizal. His mother was a native of Amid. Ephraem was instructed in the Christian mysteries by St. James, the famous Bishop of Nisibis, and was baptized at the age of eighteen (or twenty-eight). Thenceforth he became more intimate with the holy bishop, who availed himself of the services of Ephraem to renew the moral life of the citizens of Nisibis, especially during the sieges of 338, 346, and 350. One of his biographers relates that on a certain occasion he cursed from the city walls the Persian hosts, whereupon a cloud of flies and mosquitoes settled on the army of Sapor II  and compelled it to withdraw. The adventurous campaign of Julian the Apostate, which for a time menaced Persia, ended, as is well known, in disaster, and his successor, Jovianus, was only too happy to rescue from annihilation some remnant of the great army which his predecessor had led across the Euphrates. To accomplish even so much the emperor had to sign a disadvantageous treaty, by the terms of which Rome lost the Eastern provinces conquered at the end of the third century; among the cities retroceded to Persia was Nisibis (363). To escape the cruel persecution that was then raging in Persia, most of the Christian population abandoned Nisibis en masse. Ephraem went with his people, and settled first at Beit-Garbaya, then at Amid, finally at Edessa, the capital of Osrhoene, where he spent the remaining ten years of his life, a hermit remarkable for his  severe asceticism. Nevertheless he took an interest in all matters that closely concerned the population of Edessa. Several ancient writers say that he was a deacon; as such he could well have been authorized to preach in public. At this time some ten heretical sects were active in Edessa; Ephraem contended vigorously with all of them, notably with the disciples of the illustrious philosopher Bardesanes. To this period belongs nearly all his literary work; apart from some poems composed at Nisibis, the rest of his writings-sermons, hymns, exegetical treatises-date from his sojourn at Edessa. It is not improbable that he is one of the chief founders of the theological "School of the Persians", so called because its first students and original masters were Persian Christian refugees of 363. At his death St. Ephraem was borne without pomp to the cemetery "of the foreigners". The Armenian monks of the monastery of St. Sergius at Edessa claim to possess his body.

The aforesaid facts represent all that is historically certain concerning the career of Ephraem. All details added later by Syrian biographers are at best of doubtful value. To this class belong not only the legendary and occasionally puerile traits so dear to Oriental writers, but also others seemingly reliable, e.g. an alleged journey to Egypt with a sojourn of eight years, during which he is said to have confuted publicly certain spokesmen of the Arian heretics. The relations of St. Ephraem and St. Basil are narrated by very reliable authors, e.g. St. Gregory of Nyssa (the Pseudo?) and Sozomen, according to whom the hermit of Edessa, attracted by the great reputation of St. Basil, resolved to visit him at Caesarea. He was warmly received and was ordained deacon by St. Basil; four years later he refused both the priesthood and the episcopate that St. Basil offered him through delegates sent for that purpose to Edessa. Though Ephraem seems to have been quite ignorant of Greek, this meeting with St. Basil is not improbable; some good critics, however, hold the evidence insufficient, and therefore reject it, or at least withhold their adhesion. The life of St. Ephraem, therefore, offers not a few obscure problems; only the general outline of his career is known to us. It is certain, however, that while he lived he was very influential among the Syrian Christians of Edessa, and that his memory was revered by all, Orthodox, Monophysites, and Nestorians. They call him the "sun of the Syrians," the "column of the Church", the "harp of the Holy Spirit". More extraordinary still is the homage paid by the Greeks who rarely mention Syrian writers. Among the works of St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 819) is a sermon (though not acknowledged by some) which is a real panegyric of St. Ephraem. Twenty years after the latter's death St. Jerome mentions him as follows in his catalogue of illustrious Christians: "Ephraem, deacon of the Church of Edessa, wrote many works [opuscula] in Syriac, and became so famous that his writings are publicly read in some churches after the Sacred Scriptures. I have read in Greek a volume of his on the Holy Spirit; though it was only a translation, I recognized therein the sublime genius of the man" (De viris illustr., c. cxv). Theodoret of Cyrus also praised his poetic genius and theological knowledge (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxvi). Sozomen pretends that Ephraem wrote 3,000,000 verses, and gives the names of some of his disciples, some of whom remained orthodox, while others fell into heresy (Hist. Eccl., III, xvi). From the Syrian and Byzantine Churches the fame of Ephraem spread among all Christians. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on 1 February. In their menologies and synaxaria Greeks and Russians, Jacobites, Chaldeans, Copts, and Armenians honour the holy deacon of Edessa.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

Saint June 9 : St. Columbkille of #Ireland : 1st Missionary to #Scotland

ST. COLUMBKILLE is one of three great saints of Ireland and was the first missionary to Scotland. Born in 521 in Donegal, Ireland to a family connected to kings and princes, Columb was a man gifted with incredible talents. He wrote poetry and music, established churches and monasteries, preached the gospel and painted manuscripts. St. Adamnan, his biographer wrote of him: "He had the face of an angel; he was of an excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in counsel . . . loving unto all." He is personally described as "A man well-formed, with powerful frame; his skin was white, his face broad and fair and radiant, lit up with large, gray, luminous eyes.”
DoveFrom an early age Columb seemed destined for the priesthood, his family sent him off to study under the future St. Finnian and at Clonard Abbey he surrendered his princely claims, became a monk and was ordained. He spent the next 15 years preaching and teaching in Ireland. As was the custom in those days, he combined study and prayer with manual labor. By his own natural gifts as well as by the good fortune of his birth, he soon gained ascendancy as a monk of unusual distinction. By the time he was 25, he had founded no less than 27 Irish monasteries, including those at Derry, Durrow, and Kells, as well as some 40 churches. His work for the Church gained him the addition of “kille” to his name. Columb means “dove” in Gaelic and kille is “church”, so he came to be known as the “church’s dove”. Columb lived, with every ounce of his energy, the commission of Jesus to “go and make disciples.”
QuillThere is a famous tale about Columbkille that stands as one of the first copyright cases on record: Columbkille was so anxious to have a copy of Finnian’s Psalter that he shut himself up at night in the church that contained it and secretly transcribed it by hand. He was discovered by a monk who watched him through the keyhole and reported it to his superior. Bibles and prayer books were so scarce in those days that Abbot Finnian claimed the copy, refusing to allow it to leave the monastery. Columbkille refused to surrender it until he was obliged to do so, under protest, on Finnian's appeal to King Diarmaid, who said, "To every cow its calf," meaning to every book its copy.

BoatWhile historically a bit unclear, an unfortunate period followed, during which, owing to Columbkille's protection of a refugee and his impassioned denunciation of an injustice by King Diarmaid, war broke out between the clans of Ireland, and Columbkille became an exile of his own accord. Filled with remorse on account of those who had been slain in battle and condemned by many of his own friends, he experienced a change of heart and an irresistible call to preach to those who had not heard the gospel. In 563, at the age of 42, he left Ireland with 12 companions and landed on an island now known as Iona. Here on this desolate rock, only three miles long and two miles wide, in the northern sea off the southwest corner of Mull, Scotland, he began his work; and, Iona became a center of Christian learning. It became the heart of Celtic Christianity and a potent factor in the conversion of the Picts, Scots, and Northern English. Monks from the monasteries established by Columbkille would later travel to mainland Europe and Christianize the Frank and Germanic tribes.
There are many miracles and incredible events recorded by St. Adamnan in his biography of St. Columbkille and they make for interesting reading. If you wish to believe it, he is one of the first people to encounter the Loch Ness monster. His memory remains a potent force in Celtic lands and his poetry and songs are still sung:
“Alone with none but Thee, my God,
I journey on my way;
what need I fear when Thou art near,
O King of night and day?"

Man keeps promise to Our Lady to help the Poor - Founds Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Movement

Sydney Man Keeps Promise to Holy Mother to Help World's Poor

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Jun 2015
Badwee Moussa founder of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary movement and the Rosary Army to help the poor and in need worldwide
After 11 years of marriage, Sydney couple Badwee and Nazha Moussa were in despair. They desperately wanted to start a family but so far the blessed gift of children had eluded them. That's when Badwee invoked the Virgin Mary. Almost immediately his prayers were answered.
"The moment we were told Nazha was pregnant, I gave thanks to God and the Holy Mother and told her I would keep my promise," Badwee says.
As he prayed to the Virgin Mary and promised that once he and Nazha had a child he would show his thanks by taking his family on a pilgrimage of the Holy Marian Shrines of Lourdes, Fatima as well as those in Lebanon, the homeland of the parents of the Australian-couple.
"Our daughter's arrival 10 years ago was a 100 percent miracle," Badwee says today. "In hearing our prayers, my life was transformed. That's when I told God to  work through me, to use my hands and feet and all things in every way to proclaim His great love and His great gift."
Naming his daughter Mary, after the Holy Mother, Badwee and his family embarked on the promised pilgrimage, praying and giving thanks at the Marian shrines of France, Portugal and Lebanon.  Badwee also set about his other promise to Our Lady which was to dedicate his life to helping the world's poor and making a real difference to their lives. That was 10 years ago.
The Sydney group in royal blue t shirts spent time with deaf children and adults cared for by the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga
Today  Badwee and Nazha the proud parents of 10 year old Mary and two more daughters, Aleicha 7 and baby of the family, Gabriella 4.
Badwee is also a man on a mission. Founder of Sydney's Queen of the Most Holy Rosary community and the online internantional Rosary Army, for the past three years he has been a tireless fundraiser and supporter of the work of the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga, in Philippines.
Helped by members of the community he founded together with a contingent of tireless young people who are part of Bankstown's St Felix de Valois Youth Ministry and other parishes across Sydney, Badwee has also collected and shipped containers filled with donated goods to help those in need.
Sydney's Ben Saliba plays with one of the young children with multiple disabilities cared for by the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga
In the wake of Cyclone Haiyan, a container packed with blankets, blood pressure packs, flashlights, white goods, furniture, canned goods, first aid kits, flashlights, medicines, nappies and other essentials was sent to the Philippines.
Badwee and his team have also organised containers filled with food and other goods to those in need in Fiji, the Lebanon and most recently, to Iraq.
"There are few places where Christians are safe in Iraq. They persecuted by both Shi'ites and Sunnis and we try to do whatever we can for them," he says.
Organising a container of desperately needed food for the Christians of Iraq, he tells relates the story of what he insists shows the power of power of prayer and Divine providence.
"My wife and I were doing a check list of all the food supplies we had collected for the container to be shipped to the Iraqi Christians. My wife was telling me that the only thing we needed was more flour, when a woman came into the delicatessen we own and run, and asked why we needed flour. When we told her, she took out her mobile phone, made a call and suddenly we had 10 tonnes of flour to add to the container," he says.
In addition to sending the containers of donated goods to those in need across the world, each Christmas for the past two years Badwee has taken a group of young volunteers, many of whom are members of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary community and members Bankstown's St Felix de Valois youth ministry to spend several weeks working alongside the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga.
Since joyous and long awaited arrival of their first child, Mary proud father Badwee has devoted his life to the Lord and the Holy Mother
The poor in Naga eke out an existence. Their only home is city's rubbish tips. Many also suffer from disabilities. Some are deaf, others blind, still others with physical challenges from injury, illness and malnutrition. The Missionaries of the Poor care for many of the disabled children in their monastery and feed hundreds of the poor each day.
Until last Christmas the only way they could get an ill child or adult, or a pregnant woman to the nearest hospital was in one of their trucks, which were old and always at risk of breaking down.
Fundraising is one of Badwee's fortes and last year with the help of Ben Saliba of the St Felix de Valois parish, they managed to raise more than $40,000 for the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga.
"This enabled us to buy the Brothers an ambulance which we presented to them when we arrived last Christmas," Badwee says.
Now he is about to start fundraising in earnest not only for the Missionaries of the Poor in Naga, but for the Missionaries newest venture in Timor Leste.
Proud parents Badwee and Nazha Moussa (right) thank the Holy Mother for the gift of their girls (l to r) Mary, Aleicha and Gabriella
"The Missionaries of the Poor are already based in seven countries. They go to the most impoverished places on earth to help the poorest of the poor. Now they are about to expand and open a monastery in East Timor and we have told them that we will help raise the money for a brand new hospital and to help them with their Monastery and Apostalate so they can care for Timor's abandoned children and the elderly," he says.
To raise funds Badwee calls on the Rosary Army he established online and which now has more than 30,000 members worldwide. The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary community also pitch in as do families, friends and parishes such as St Felix de Valois. Together with movie evenings, special movie screenings and a host of other events, th group's fourth annual Gala Fundraising Dinner is being held at Fairfield's Imperial Paradiso on 26 July.
For anyone who wishes to attend the dinner or make a donation to the Missionaries of the Poor and their work in the Philippines and Timor Leste,  SMS Badwee at 0433 318 875 or see
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney Australia
Badwee Moussa led a group of Australians to assist the Missionaries of the Poor's work in the Philippines in December last year

Latest #News from #Vatican and #PopeFrancis at #HolySee

08-06-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 106 

- To the prelates of Puerto Rico: the Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system
- Tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
- Audience with the president of Argentina
- Angelus: those who are nourished by the bread of Christ cannot be indifferent to those without daily bread
- Francis urges recognition of the rights of childhood
- Apostolic trip to Sarajevo
- Francis meets the clergy of Sarajevo: the pastoral ministry of hope
- Ecumenical and interreligious meeting: dialogue cannot be confined to the leaders of religious communities
- The Pope to the young of Bosnia and Herzegovina: keep the hope that inspires life
- The Pope interviewed by journalists during return flight from Sarajevo
- Pilgrimage is a symbol of life
- Cardinals Menichelli and Macario do Nascimento Clemente to take possession of their titular churches
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts

- The Pope arrives in Sarajevo: heal the wounds of the past and look to the future with hope
- Mass in Kosevo stadium: “Be artisans of peace”
- Decrees for the Causes of Saints
- Audiences
- Other Pontifical Acts
To the prelates of Puerto Rico: the Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – The prelates of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. In the written discourse he handed to the bishops, Francis recalls that one of the first dioceses of the American continent was founded on this Caribbean archipelago, and he invites them to be “heralds of the Gospel and custodians of the hopes of the people”, called to “continue inscribing the work of God in the local Churches, inspired by a spirit of ecclesial communion, ensuring that faith grows and the light of the truth shines in our days too”.
“Spend your energy not in divisions and conflicts, but rather in building and collaborating”, the Pope advises. “Be aware that the more intense your communion is, the more the mission is encouraged. Know how to keep a distance from any form of ideological or political trend that may lead you to waste time and your true zeal for the Kingdom of God. The Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system, enabling her always to be a sign and safeguard of the transcendent nature of the human person”.
“The bishop is a model for his priests, and I encourage them always to seek spiritual renewal and to discover anew the joy of ministering to the flock within the great family of the Church”, Francis observes. “Before the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, I urge first you and then your priests to be faithful servants of God's forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Reconciliation, which allows God's love to be experienced in the flesh and offers every penitent the source of true inner peace”.
With reference to the task of the laity, the Pope reminds the bishops that “facilitating the sacramental life of the faithful and offering them an adequate continuing formation enables them to fulfil their mission”, and he expresses his hope that, “encouraged by the example of distinguished laypersons such as Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago, model of commitment and apostolic service, or the venerable master Rafael Cordero y Molina, they may continue along the path of a joyful adherence to the Gospel, deepening the social doctrine of the Church and participating lucidly and serenely in the public debates regarding the society in which they live”.
The Pope also remarks that one of the initiatives that must be increasingly consolidated is that of the pastoral ministry of the family, “afflicted by serious social problems: the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption. These are issues that give rise to concern. Let me to draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage. … The differences between man and women are not of the order of opposition or subordination, but rather communion and generation, always as the image and semblance of God. Without mutual commitment, neither of the two will be able to understand the other in depth. The sacrament of marriage is a sign of God's love for humanity and Christ's commitment to His Bride, the Church. Take care of this treasure, as one of the most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples”.
Tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father's tenth meeting with the Council of Cardinals began. The “Council of Nine” will continue its work until Wednesday 10 June.
Audience with the president of Argentina
Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) – This afternoon Pope Francis received the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in private audience. The very cordial meeting lasted for more than an hour and a half and took place in the Pope's study next to the Paul VI Hall. The president once again expressed the affection and closeness of the Argentine people to the Pope and asked for his blessing for all their compatriots.
Following the meeting, in the adjacent hall, the Pope greeted the large delegation accompanying the president on her visit, which will continue tomorrow with their attendance at the Conference of the FAO, meetings with the Italian authorities and finally a visit to the EXPO in Milan.
President Fernandez de Kirchner gave the Pope a number of very meaningful gifts: a large painting of the blessed bishop and martyr Oscar Arnulfo Romero by the Argentine artist Eugenio Cuttica; a book by Alberto Methol Ferre, an author greatly admired by the Holy Father (“Los estados continentales y el Mercosur”); an edition of the famous national poem “Martin Fierro”, occasionally quoted by the Pope in his discourses; two bas-reliefs for the blind or partially-sighted, with the title in braille, depicting the Virgin of Lujan, and a portrait of the Pope; a basket of typical Argentine products and a volume on the architectural heritage of Argentina, published on the occasion of the Bicentenary.
The Pope's gift was a reproduction of a beautiful eleventh-century Russian icon representing the “Our Lady of Tenderness”.
This is the fifth time – including the inauguration of Francis' papacy and World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro – that the Argentine president has met with the Holy Father.
Angelus: those who are nourished by the bread of Christ cannot be indifferent to those without daily bread
Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) – At midday today – the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or according to the better known Latin expression, Corpus Domini – the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Francis commented on the Gospel reading of this Sunday's liturgy, which narrates the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, when Jesus, pronouncing the words, “Take; this is my body”, assigns to the bread a function “that is not solely that of simple physical nourishment, but rather that of being present in his Person in the midst of the community of believers”.
The Last Supper is “the point of arrival of all of Christ's life. It is not merely the anticipation of His sacrifice that will be fulfilled on the Cross, but also the synthesis of an existence offered for the salvation of all of humanity”. Therefore, “when we eat this bread, we are associated with Jesus' life, we enter into communion with Him, we undertake to achieve communion among ourselves, and to transform our life into a gift, especially to the poorest”.
“Today's Solemnity evokes this fraternal message, and urges us to welcome the invitation to conversion and to service, to love and to forgiveness. It inspires us to convert, with our life, into imitators of what we celebrate in the liturgy. Christ, Who nourishes us in the form of the consecrated bread and wine, is the same Whom we encounter in daily events. … He is in every human being, even the smallest and most defenceless. The Eucharist, the source of love for the life of the Church, is a school of charity and solidarity. Those who are nourished by the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before those without daily bread. Today, we are aware, this is an increasingly serious problem”, Francis concluded.
Francis urges recognition of the rights of childhood
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled his recent visit to Sarajevo, a symbolic city that was for centuries known for the co-existence of peoples and religions, to the extent that it earned the name “Jerusalem of the West”, but in the recent past has transformed into a symbol of destruction and war. “A good process of reconciliation is now in process, and for this reason above all I went there: to encourage this path of peaceful co-existence between difference populations; a strenuous path, difficult but possible. And they are doing this well. I wish to again thank the authorities and citizens for their warm welcome, … the dear Catholic community, to whom I wished to take the affection of the universal Church, and in particular, all the faithful: Orthodox, Muslim, Jews and those of other religious minorities. I appreciated the commitment to collaboration and solidarity among these people who belong to different religions, inspiring everyone to carry forward the work of the spiritual and moral reconstruction of society. They work together as true brothers”.
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be celebrated next Friday, and the Holy Father therefore invited all to think of Christ's immense love. World Day against Child Labour will be held on the same day. “Many children throughout the world do not have the freedom to play or to go to school, and end up being exploited as cheap labour”, he said. “I hope that the international community will commit itself diligently and constantly to promoting the active recognition of childhood rights”.
Apostolic trip to Sarajevo
Francis meets the clergy of Sarajevo: the pastoral ministry of hope
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – The Cathedral of Sarajevo, consecrated to the Sacred Heart, was the location of the Pope's meeting with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The building, damaged during the siege of Sarajevo, was subsequently restored and is now able to hold 250 people. At the entrance there is a statue of St. John Paul II to commemorate his visit in 1997.
Francis was welcomed by the rector of the Cathedral and greeted by the cardinal archbishop of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljic. He paused for a moment to worship the Holy Sacrament and prayed silently before the tomb of the Servant of God Josip Stadler, the first archbishop of Sarajevo. A priest, a Franciscan friar and a nun then spoke about the suffering and persecutions they had experienced during the war in the Balkans.
The Pope, moved by their words, set aside the discourse he had prepared – extensive extracts of which we publish below – and addressed some off-the-cuff comments to them. “These accounts speak for themselves”, he said. “And this is the memory of your people! A people that forgets the past has no future. This is the memory of your fathers and mothers in the faith: only three people have spoken, but behind them there are many, many others who suffered the same things”.
“Dear sisters, dear brothers, you do not have the right to forget your own history. Not for the purpose of revenge, but rather to make peace. Not to look at these testimonies as something odd, but through them to love as they have loved. In your blood, in your vocation, there is the vocation and the blood of these three martyrs. And it is the blood and the vocation of many religious women and men, many priests, many seminarians. … Keeping memory alive so as to make peace. Some words struck my heart. One of them, repeated, 'forgiveness'. A man, a woman who is consecrated to the Lord’s service who does not know how to forgive, is not helpful. To forgive a friend who swore at you, or someone with whom you have argued, or a sister who is jealous of you, this is not all that difficult. But to forgive the one who slaps you in the face, who tortures you, who abuses you, who threatens to shoot you … this is difficult. And these three have done it, and they teach others to do it”.
“You are blessed who have such witnesses so close to you: do not forget them, please. Your life will grow with this memory. … Finally, I wish to say to you that this has been a story of cruelty. Even today, in this world war we see many, many, many acts of cruelty. Do always the opposite of cruelty: have an attitude of tenderness, of brotherhood, of forgiveness. And carry the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Church, holy Mother Church, wants it this way: small, tiny martyrdoms, before these small martyrs, these small witnesses to the Cross of Jesus”.
The following is the address Pope Francis had prepared:
“I come to your land as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, to strengthen and to encourage my brothers and sisters in the faith, and in particular you, who are called to work 'full time' in the vineyard of the Lord. He says to us, 'I am with you always, to the close of the age'. This certainty fills us with consolation and hope, especially when your ministry experiences difficulties. I think of the sufferings and trials both past and present in your Christian communities. Although you have lived through these circumstances, you did not halt, you endured, and worked hard to confront personal, social and pastoral challenges with a tireless spirit of service. May the Lord bless your efforts.
“I can imagine that the Catholic Church’s being numerically a minority in your country, coupled with the failures that sometime occur in ministry, may at times make you feel like Jesus’ disciples when, although having toiled all night long, they caught no fish. However, it is precisely in these moments, if we entrust ourselves to the Lord, that we experience the power of His word, the strength of His Spirit, which renews trust and hope in us. The fruitfulness of our service depends above all on faith: faith in Christ’s love, from which, as St. Paul reminds us, and which he know from experience, nothing can separate us! Fraternity within our communities also sustains and strengthens us: fraternity among priests, among men and women religious, among consecrated lay persons, among seminarians. In fact, fraternity among all of us, whom the Lord has called to leave everything so as to follow Him, gives us joy and consolation, and renders our work ever more fruitful. We are witnesses to fraternity!
“'Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock'. With these words - recorded in the Acts of the Apostles – St. Paul reminds us that if we want to help others become holy we cannot neglect ourselves, that is, neglect our own sanctification. And vice versa: dedication to God’s faithful people, being close to them in their lives, especially to the poor and the needy, helps us be conformed ever more to Christ. Attention to one’s own sanctification and pastoral charity towards people are two sides of the same coin and are mutually enriching. They must never be separated.
“What does it mean, today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a priest or consecrated person to serve the Lord’s flock?”, asked the Holy Father. “I think it means to carry out a pastoral ministry of hope, caring for the sheep that are in the sheepfold, but also going out in search of those who await the Good News and who do not know where to find it, or who on their own cannot find their way to Jesus. It means to meet the people where they live, including those sheep who are outside the sheepfold, far away, who may not yet have heard of Jesus Christ. It means taking care of the formation of Catholics in their faith and in their Christian lives. Encouraging the lay faithful to be protagonists in the evangelising mission of the Church. For this reason, I exhort you to develop Catholic communities open and 'going forth', able to welcome and to encounter, and to be courageous in their evangelical witness.
“The priest, the consecrated person, is called to live the anguish and the hope of the people; to work in concrete circumstances often characterised by tensions, discord, suspicions, insecurities and poverty. Faced with these painful situations, we ask God to grant us hearts that can be moved, capable of showing empathy; there is no greater witness than to be close to the spiritual and material needs of the faithful. It is the task of us bishops, priests and religious to make the people feel the nearness of God; to feel His comforting and healing hand; to be familiar with the wounds and tears of our people; to never tire of opening our hearts and offering a hand to all who ask us for help, and to all those who, perhaps because they feel ashamed, do not ask our help, but who are in great need of it. In this regard, I wish to express my deep appreciation to religious sisters for everything they do with such generosity, and above all for their faithful and dedicated presence.
“Dear priests, dear men and women religious, I encourage you to carry out joyfully your pastoral ministry whose effectiveness is the fruit of faith and grace, but also the fruit of a humble life, one detached from worldly concerns. Please, do not fall into the temptation of becoming a self-absorbed elite. The generous and transparent witness of priestly and religious life sets an example and gives encouragement to seminarians and to all those whom the Lord calls to serve Him. Standing by the side of young men and women, inviting them to share experiences of service and prayer, you will help them to discover the love of Christ and to open themselves up to the call of the Lord. May the People of God see in you that faithful and generous love which Christ has left to His disciples as a legacy.
“I wish also to offer a word to you, dear seminarians. Among the many beautiful examples of priests and consecrated men in your country, we remember in particular the Servant of God Petar Barbaric. His example unites Herzegovina, where he was born, to Bosnia, where he made his religious profession, as he also unites all priests, diocesan or religious. May this young candidate for the priesthood, whose life was so full of virtue, be a powerful example to each one of you.
The Virgin Mary is always near us, as a caring mother. She is the first disciple of the Lord, the first example of a life dedicated to him and to his brothers. When we find ourselves in difficulty, or when faced with a situation that makes us feel the depth of our powerlessness, let us turn to her with childlike trust. Then she always says to us – as at the wedding at Cana – 'Do whatever he tells you'. She teaches us to listen to Jesus and to follow His word, but to do so with faith! This is her secret, which as a mother, she wishes to transmit to us: faith, a genuine faith, enough so that even a grain of it can move mountains!
“By abandoning ourselves in trust, we can serve the Lord with joy, sowing hope everywhere. I assure you of remembrance in my prayers and I bless each of you and your communities. I ask you please, do not forget to pray for me”, concluded Francis, before imparting his final blessing.
Ecumenical and interreligious meeting: dialogue cannot be confined to the leaders of religious communities
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) - “Today’s meeting is a sign of our shared desire for fraternity and peace; it is a testimony to the friendship and cooperation that has been developing over the years and which you already experience daily. To be present here today is already a 'message' of that dialogue which everyone seeks and strives for”, said Pope Francis to the participants in the ecumenical and interreligious meeting held in the Franciscan international study centre of Sarajevo.
The leaders of the Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina greeted the Holy Father, who recalled one of the fruits of this desire for encounter and reconciliation – the establishment in 1997 of a local Council for Interreligious Dialogue, bringing together Muslims, Christians and Jews – and congratulated them on their work in promoting dialogue, coordinating common initiatives and developing relations with State authorities. “Your work in this region is immensely important, particularly in Sarajevo, which stands as the crossroads of peoples and cultures”, he said. “Here, on the one hand, diversity constitutes a great resource which has contributed to the social, cultural and spiritual development of this region, while, on the other, it has also been the cause of painful rifts and bloody wars. It is not by chance that the birth of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and other valuable initiatives in the area of interreligious and ecumenical work came about at the end of the war, in response to the need for reconciliation and rebuilding a society torn apart by conflict. Interreligious dialogue here, as in every part of the world, is an indispensable condition for peace, and for this reason is a duty for all believers”.
Francis underlined that interreligious dialogue, before being a discussion of the main themes of faith, is a “conversation about human existence”. “This conversation shares the experiences of daily life in all its concreteness, with its joys and sufferings, its struggles and hopes; it takes on shared responsibilities; it plans a better future for all. We learn to live together, respecting each other’s differences freely; we know and accept one another’s identity. Through dialogue, a spirit of fraternity is recognised and developed, which unites and favours the promotion of moral values, justice, freedom and peace. Dialogue is a school of humanity and a builder of unity, which helps to build a society founded on tolerance and mutual respect”.
For this reason, “interreligious dialogue cannot be limited merely to the few, to leaders of religious communities, but must also extend as far as possible to all believers, engaging the different sectors of civil society. Particular attention must be paid to young men and women who are called to build the future of this country. It is always worth remembering, however, that for dialogue to be authentic and effective, it presupposes a solid identity: without an established identity, dialogue is of no use or even harmful. I say this with the young in mind, but it applies to everyone.
“I sincerely appreciate all that you have managed to accomplish up to this point and I encourage each of you in your efforts for the cause of peace of which you, as religious leaders, are the first guardians here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I assure you that the Catholic Church will continue to offer her full support and willingness to help”, the Pope emphasised. “We are all aware that there is a long way yet to go. Let us not be discouraged, however, by the difficulties, but rather continue with perseverance along the way of forgiveness and reconciliation. While we seek to recall the past with honesty, thereby learning the lessons of history, we must also avoid lamentation and recrimination, letting ourselves instead be purified by God Who gives us the present and the future: He is our future, He is the ultimate source of peace.
“This city, which in the recent past sadly became a symbol of war and destruction, this Jerusalem of Europe, today, with its variety of peoples, cultures and religions, can become again a sign of unity, a place in which diversity does not represent a threat but rather a resource, an opportunity to grow together. In a world unfortunately torn by conflicts, this land can become a message: attesting that it is possible to live together side by side, in diversity but rooted in a common humanity, building together a future of peace and brotherhood. You can live life being a peacemaker!”.
Following his discourse, and before asking all those present to pray for him and assuring them of his prayers, Pope Francis recited the following prayer “to the Eternal, One and True Living God, to the Merciful God”:
“Almighty and eternal God,
good and merciful Father;
Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is visible and invisible;
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob,
King and Lord of the past, of the present and of the future;
sole judge of every man and woman,
Who reward Your faithful with eternal glory!
We, the descendants of Abraham according to our faith in You, the one God,
Jews, Christians and Muslims,
humbly stand before You
and with trust we pray to You
for this country, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
that men and women, followers of different religions, nations and cultures
may live here in peace and harmony.
We pray to You, O Father,
that it may be so in every country of the world!
Strengthen in each of us faith and hope,
mutual respect and sincere love
for all of our brothers and sisters.
Grant that we may dedicate ourselves
courageously to building a just society,
to being men and women of good will,
filled with mutual understanding and forgiveness,
patient artisans of dialogue and peace.
May each of our thoughts, words and actions
be in harmony with Your holy will.
May everything be to Your glory and honour and for our salvation.
Praise and eternal glory to You, our God!
The Pope to the young of Bosnia and Herzegovina: keep the hope that inspires life
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – The final stage of the Pope's apostolic trip to Sarajevo was his meeting with young people at the St. John Paul II diocesan Youth Centre, in a outskirts of the city. The centre, operative since 2006, is open to young people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions, and organises a variety of sports, social and voluntary activities, as well as pastoral and religious formation for Catholics. Francis was received by the rector of the Centre and some children who accompanied him to the gymnasium where he was awaited by around 800 people, to unveil the plaque dedicating the institution to St. John Paul II.
After greetings from the auxiliary of Banja Luka, Bishop Marko Semren, the Holy Father began a conversation with those present, setting aside the prepared text of his discourse, published in full below.
One of the young people asked why the Pope did not watch television any more, and he answered, “Yes, from the mid-1990s onwards, I felt one night that watching television was not good for, it distanced me, and led me away… and I decided not to watch any more. When I wanted to see a good film, I went to the television room in the Archbishop’s residence and watched it there. But just that film. The television used to make me feel alienated from myself. And yes, I am from the Stone Age, I am ancient! Now, I understand that the times have changed; we live in an age of images. And this is very important. In an age of images we must do what was done in the age of books: choose what is good for us! Out of this come two consequences: the responsibility of television networks to offer programs which encourage the good, which promote values, which build up society, which help us advance, not ones that drag us down. And then to produce programs that help us so that values, true values, may be reinforced and may help to prepare us for life. This is the responsibility of television networks. Secondly: knowing how to choose what programs to watch, and this is our responsibility. If I watch a program that is not good for me, that disparages my values, that leads me to become vulgar, even filthy, I need to change the channel. As was done in my Stone Age: when a book was good, you read it; when a book was not good for you, you would throw it away. And this leads to a third point: the point of evil fantasy, of those fantasies which kill the soul. If you who are young live attached to your computers and become slaves to the computer, you lose your freedom! And if you use your computer to look for dirty programs, you lose your dignity. Watch television, use the computer, but for good reasons, for great things, things which help us to grow. This is good”.
The second question was whether he had felt the joy and the love that all of the young people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had for him. “To tell you the truth, every time I meet with young people I feel their joy and love”, he answered. “Not only for me, but for ideals, for life. They want to grow! But there is some particular about you: you are, I think, the first post-war generation. You are the first flowers of spring … you want to go forwards and never go back to destruction, to those things that make us enemies of each another. I see in you this desire and this enthusiasm. And this is new for me. I see that you do not want destruction: you do not want to become each other's enemies. You want to journey together. And this is great! … It is not a case of 'them and us', but rather of 'we'. We want to be 'us', to not destroy our homeland, to not ruin our country. You are a Muslim, you are a Jew, you are Orthodox, you are Catholic… but we are 'us'. This is how to make peace. This distinguishes your generation, and it is your joy. You are called to great things. A great vocation: build bridges, not walls. And this is the joy that I see in you”.
The final question was, “What can you say to us, what is your message of peace for us young people?”
“Everyone speaks of peace”, said the Holy Father. “Some world leaders speak of peace, and say beautiful things about peace, but behind it all they still sell weapons. From you, I expect honesty, coherence between what you think, what you feel and what you do: these three things together. The contrary is called hypocrisy. Some years ago I watched a movie on this city, I don’t remember the name, but the German version (the one that I saw), was called 'Die Brücke' ('The Bridge'). I don’t know what it’s called in your language. And in the film I saw how bridges always unite. When a bridge is not used to go toward another person, but is closed off, it leads to the ruin of a city, the destruction of existence. Hence, from you, from this first post-war generation, I expect honesty and not hypocrisy. Be united, build bridges, but also let yourselves cross the bridges that you build. This is brotherhood”.
As he bid farewell to the young, and while doves were released as a sign of peace, the Pope exclaimed, “Mir Vama! This is the task I leave you. Make peace, together! These doves are a sign of peace which brings joy. And peace is made among all, between everyone: Muslims, Jews, Orthodox, Catholics and others. We are all brothers and sisters! We all adore the One God! Never ever let there be separation among you. Brotherhood and union. And now I must depart and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May the Lord bless you”.
Following the encounter, the Pope transferred by car to the airport in Sarajevo where he was greeted by the Croat member of the Tripartite Presidency, Dragan Covic, and at 8 p.m. he left for Rome, where he arrived an hour and a half later.
Discourse prepared by Pope Francis:
“Being here in this Centre dedicated to St. John Paul II, I cannot forget how much he did for young people, meeting them and encouraging them all around the world. To his intercession I entrust each of you, as well as every initiative which the Catholic Church has undertaken in your land to express her closeness to young people and indeed her confidence in them. We are on this journey together. I know the doubts and the hopes that you have in your hearts”, he continued. “Some of these have been expressed by Bishop Marko Semren and your representatives, Darko and Nadezda. In a special way, I join you in hoping that new generations may be offered real prospects for a dignified future in your country, thus avoiding the sad phenomenon of mass migration. In this regard, institutions are being called upon to put in place timely and courageous plans that will help young men and women to realise their legitimate aspirations; they will thus be able to contribute energetically to the upbuilding and growth of the country. The local Church, for her part, can contribute by means of suitable pastoral projects, focusing on educating the civic and moral conscience of the youth, and so help them to be protagonists in society. The Church’s commitment can already be seen, especially through the precious work of her Catholic schools, which are rightly open not only to Catholic students but to students of other Christian communities and other religions. However, the Church must always dare to hope for more, starting from the Gospel and driven by the Holy Spirit Who transforms persons, society, and the Church herself”.
Francis exhorted the young to play a “decisive role … in confronting the challenges of our times: certainly material challenges, but more so those which concern the vision of the human person. In fact, along with economic problems, difficulty in finding work and the consequent uncertainty regarding the future, there is a crisis of moral values and a diminished sense of the purpose of life. Faced with this critical situation, some may give in to the temptation to flee, to avoid problems, becoming self-absorbed, taking refuge in alcohol, drugs, or ideologies which preach hatred and violence. These are realities which I know well because they were unfortunately also present in Buenos Aires, where I come from. Thus I encourage you not to let yourselves be overcome by the difficulties, but to let the strength that comes from your being human and Christian flourish without fear; you will be then be able to sow seeds of a more just, fraternal, welcoming and peaceful society. Together with Christ, you young men and women are the vitality of the Church and society. If you let Christ form you, if you are open to dialogue with him in prayer, by reading and meditating upon the Gospel, you will become prophets and witnesses to hope.
“You are called to this mission: to reclaim the hope in your present circumstances of being open to the wonders of living; the hope which you have to overcome the way things are; hope to prepare for the future marked by a more dignified social and human environment; hope to live in a more fraternal world which is more just and peaceful, more genuine, worthier of the measure of mankind. My hope is that you will be always more aware that you are sons and daughters of this earth which has given life to you. This earth asks you to love her and to help her rebuild, to grow spiritually and socially, also with the help of your ideas and your work. To overcome every trace of pessimism, you will need the courage to offer yourselves joyfully and with dedication to the building of a welcoming society, a society which is respectful of all differences and oriented towards a civilisation of love. An great example of this way of living is seen in Blessed Ivan Mert. St. John Paul II Beatified him in Banja Luka. May he always be an example for you and be your protector.
“The Christian faith teaches us that we are called to an eternal destiny, to be sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, who create fraternity for the love of Christ. I am so pleased by the ecumenical and interreligious works taken up by you, young Catholics and Orthodox, with the involvement of Muslim young people as well. The John Paul II Youth Centre plays a central role in this important work, with initiatives that deepen mutual understanding and solidarity, allowing the various ethnic and religious groups to coexist peacefully together. I encourage you to continue this work, dedicating yourselves to common projects with real gestures that show your closeness and support to the poorest and most in need.
“Dear young people, your joyful presence, your thirst for truth and high ideals are signs of hope! Being young does not mean being passive, but rather means being tenacious in your efforts to achieve important goals, even if this comes at a price. Being young does not mean closing your eyes to difficulties: instead, it requires a refusal to compromise or be mediocre. It does not mean escaping or fleeing, but engaging rather in solidarity with everyone, especially the weakest. The Church counts on you and will continue to count on you who are generous and capable of great energy and noble sacrifices. For this reason, together with your pastors I ask you: do not isolate yourselves, but rather be ever more united among yourselves so that you may enjoy the beauty of fraternity and be always more fruitful in your actions.
“Everyone will see that you are Christians by how you, young Christians of Bosnia and Herzegovina, love one another and how committed you are to service. Be not afraid; do not flee from reality; be open to Christ and to your brothers and sisters. You are a vital part of that great people who make up the Church: a universal people, a people in whom all nations and cultures can receive God’s blessing and can discover the path to peace. With this people, each of you is called to follow Christ and to give your life to God and to your brothers and sisters, in the way that the Lord will reveal to you, or perhaps is revealing to you now! Will you respond? Do not be afraid. We are not alone. We are always in the presence of God our heavenly Father, with Jesus our Brother and Lord, in the Holy Spirit; and we have the Church and Mary our Mother. May She protect you and always give you the joy and courage to witness to the Gospel”.
Following the meeting, the Pope greeted a number of sick young people and appeared at the terrace of the Centre to bless the faithful gathered outside. Shortly after 7.30 p.m. he transferred by car to Sarajevo airport where he was greeted by the Croatian member of the Tripartite Presidency, Dragan Covic, and at 8 p.m. he departed for Rome, where he arrived an hour and a half later.
The Pope interviewed by journalists during return flight from Sarajevo
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – Medjugorje, a possible visit to Croatia, the need to make peace and not merely to talk about it, and the use of new technologies by young people were some of the issues the Pope reflected upon as he conversed with the journalists who accompanied him on the return flight to Rome following his apostolic trip in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
With regard to Medjugorje, which is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Francis recalled that Benedict XVI had instituted a commission of theologians and specialists, chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, which had studied the matter in depth and, although the definitive final meeting has not yet taken place, it is expected that the results will be communicated shortly.
In relation to Croatia, he mentioned that during his first trip in Europe, in Albania, he had said that he would like to visit the continent starting from its smallest countries. “In the Balkans, there are martyred countries which have suffered greatly and this is why my preference is here”.
“It is not enough to talk about peace, peace must be made. To speak about peace without making it is contradictory, and those who speak about peace while promoting war, for example through the sale of weapons, are hypocrites. It is very simple”, he said in response to a question linked to his meeting with the young in which he spoke about the fomentation of a climate of war.
Finally, with reference to virtual communication, he affirmed that virtual language is “a reality that we cannot deny: we must lead it onto a virtuous path, as it is a form of progress for humanity. But when this draws us away from life together, from family life, as well as from sport and art, and stay attached to the computer, this is a psychological malady”.
Pilgrimage is a symbol of life
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – As in previous years, the Pope has sent a message to participants in the 37th nocturnal pilgrimage on foot from Macerata to Loreto, Italy, gathered in the Helvia Recina stadium of Macerata during the night of 6 June to attend the opening Mass celebrated by Cardinal George Pell. This time, due to his apostolic trip to Sarajevo, the Holy Father's message was recorded in advance and broadcast on the occasion.
“Pilgrimage is a symbol of life”, says Francis. “It makes us think of life as walking, as a path. If a person does not walk, but instead stays still, this is not useful; it accomplishes nothing. Think of water: when water is not in the river, it does not course, but instead it remains still and stagnates. A soul that does not walk in life doing good, doing many things that one must do for society, to assist others, or who does not walk through life seeking God and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, is a soul that finishes in mediocrity and in spiritual poverty. Please: do not stand still in life!”
Cardinals Menichelli and Macario do Nascimento Clemente to take possession of their titular churches
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today communicated that the following cardinals will take possession of their titles in the coming days:
On Friday, 12 June at 7.00 p.m., Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, archbishop of Ancona-Osimo, Italy, will take possession of the title of Sacri Cuori di Gesù e Maria a Tor Fiorenza (Via Poggia Moiano, 12).
On Sunday, 14 June at 5 p.m., Cardinal Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal, will take possession of the title of Sant'Antonio in Campo Marzio (Via dei Portoghesi, 2).
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:
- Seven prelates of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference, on their “ad Limina” visit:
- Archbishop Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves, O.F.M., of San Juan de Puerto Rico, with former auxiliary Bishop Hector Manuel Rivera Perez;
- Bishop Daniel Fernandez of Arecibo;
- Bishop Ruben Antonio Gonzalez Medina, C.M.F., of Caguas;
- Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales of Fajardo-Humacao;
- Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, S.J., of Mayaguez; and
- Bishop Felix Lazaro Martinez, Sch.P., of Ponce.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Heiner Koch of Dresden-Meissen as metropolitan archbishop of Berlin (area 31,200, population 5,680,705, Catholics 407,060, priests 421, permanent deacons 35, religious 668), Germany,
- Fr. Benito Adan Mendez Bracamonte as military ordinary for Venezuela. The bishop-elect was born in Menegrande, Venezuela in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a bachelor's degree from the Javierian University of Bogota and specialised in bioethics at the Pontificial Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Rome. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Trujillo, including chaplain, vice rector of the diocesan seminary, director of the diocesan newspaper and parish priest, and in the military ordinary of Venezuela as military chaplain, director of formation of the seminary and vicar general.

06-06-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 105 
The Pope arrives in Sarajevo: heal the wounds of the past and look to the future with hope
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis arrived shortly after 9 a.m. in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the destination of his eighth apostolic trip. The central theme of the Holy See's concern for Bosnia-Herzegovina – visited twice by St. John Paul II – is peace, and this is perpetuated in the theme chosen for Pope Francis' visit: “Peace be with you”.
The Pontiff, who left Rome at 7.30 a.m., was received at the international airport of Sarajevo by President Dragan Crovic, the Croat member of the tripartite (Serb, Croat and Bosnian) Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, by the president of the Episcopal Conference and cardinal archbishop of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljic, and by Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, apostolic nuncio. From their he transferred by car to the presidential palace for the welcome ceremony and courtesy visit to the members of the Presidency: acting president Mladen Ivanic, the Croatian member Dragan Covic and the Bosnian member Bakir Izetbegovic.
Following the courtesy visit, Francis entered the presidential drawing room where he pronounced his first discourse in Sarajevo, before the civil authorities, the diplomatic corps, the bishops and various other religious leaders.
“I am pleased to be in this city which, although it has suffered so much in the bloody conflicts of the past century, has once again become a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence”, said the Pope. “Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have a special significance for Europe and for the whole world. Bosnia and Herzegovina has advanced from a culture of conflict and war to a culture of encounter.
“For centuries in these lands, communities were present who professed different religions, who belonged to distinct ethnic and cultural groups, each endowed with its own rich characteristics; each fostered its own traditions, without these differences having impeded for any length of time the establishment of mutually fraternal and cordial relationships”, he continued. “The very architecture and layout of Sarajevo reveal visible and substantial characteristics of these different communities, each a short distance from the other – synagogues, churches and mosques – so much so that Sarajevo has been called the 'Jerusalem of Europe'. Indeed it represents a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, a status which requires the building of new bridges, while maintaining and restoring older ones, thus ensuring avenues of communication that are efficient, sure and fraternal.
“We need to communicate with each other, to discover the gifts of each person, to promote that which unites us, and to regard our differences as an opportunity to grow in mutual respect”, he remarked. “Patience and trust are called for in such dialogue, permitting individuals, families and communities to hand on the values of their own culture and welcome the good which comes from others’ experiences. In so doing, even the deep wounds of the recent past will be set aside, so that the future may be looked to with hope, facing the daily problems that all communities experience with hearts and minds free of fear and resentment.
“I have come here as a pilgrim of peace and dialogue, eighteen years after St. John Paul II’s historic visit, which took place less than two years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord. I am happy to see the progress which has been made, for which we must thank the Lord and so many men and women of good will. However, we should not become complacent with what has been achieved so far, but rather seek to make further efforts towards reinforcing trust and creating opportunities for growth in mutual knowledge and respect. In order to favour this path, the solidarity and collaboration of the International Community is fundamental, in particular that of the European Union and of all Countries and Organisations operating in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina is indeed an integral part of Europe, the successes and tragic experiences of the former are integrated fully into the latter’s history of successes and tragedies. They constitute, too, a clear call to pursue every avenue of peace, in order that processes already underway can be yet more resilient and binding.
“In this land, peace and harmony among Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, and the initiatives taken to extend these even further, as well as the cordial and fraternal relations among Muslims, Hebrews and Christians, and other religious minorities, take on an importance that goes beyond its boundaries. These initiatives offer a witness to the entire world that such cooperation among varying ethnic groups and religions in view of the common good is possible; that a plurality of cultures and traditions can coexist and give rise to original and effective solutions to problems; that even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future. I saw at my arrival this morning in the Muslim, Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic and children of other religions whom I met at the airport – together and joyful! This is a sign of hope! May we stake our future on this.
“In order to successfully oppose the barbarity of those who would make of every difference the occasion and pretext for further unspeakable violence, we need to recognise the fundamental values of human communities, values in the name of which we can and must cooperate, build and dialogue, pardon and grow; this will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of the fanatical cries of hatred.
“Responsible politicians are called to the important task of being the first servants of their communities, taking actions which safeguard above all the fundamental rights of the human person, among which the right to religious freedom stands out. In this way it will be possible to build, with concrete measures, a more peaceful and just society, working step-by-step together to solve the many problems which people experience daily. In order for this to come about, it is vital that all citizens be equal both before the law and its implementation, whatever their ethnic, religious or geographical affiliation. All alike will then feel truly involved in public life. Enjoying the same rights, they will be able to make their specific contribution to the common good.
“The Catholic Church, by means of the prayer and the works of her faithful and her institutions, is taking an part in the process of material and moral reconstruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing the country’s joys and concerns. The Church is committed to offering her particular solicitude and closeness to the poor and to those most in need, inspired by the teaching and example of her Divine Master, Jesus. The Holy See praises the work carried out in these recent years, and is determined to continue promoting cooperation, dialogue and solidarity, in the sure knowledge that peace and mutual listening in an ordered and civil society are indispensable conditions for authentic and lasting development. Through the contribution of all, and leaving behind completely the dark clouds of storms gone by, the Holy See fervently hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina may continue along the journey embarked upon, so that after the winter chill, springtime may come to blossom. And already we see spring blooming here!” exclaimed the Pope.
“With these thoughts I implore the Almighty for peace and prosperity in Sarajevo and all of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, he concluded.
Mass in Kosevo stadium: “Be artisans of peace”
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – Following his address to the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pope Francis travelled by car to the Kosevo stadium, where he was awaited by more than sixty thousand people to participate in the Holy Mass. The readings were dedicated to peace and justice, and the ceremony took place in the Croatian language. In his homily (which he pronounced in Italian, with translations in Croatian), the Holy Father emphasised that peace is God's plan for humanity, and again denounced those who seek confrontation between cultures and civilizations; citing the prophet Isaiah, he reiterated that if the work of justice is peace, then that peace is built by hand, day by day. The following is the full text of his homily.
“The word peace echoes several times through the Scripture readings which we have just heard. It is a powerful, prophetic word! Peace is God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation. And it is a plan which always meets opposition from men and from the evil one. Even in our time, the desire for peace and the commitment to build peace collide with the reality of many armed conflicts presently affecting our world. They are a kind of third world war being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.
“Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: no more war!
“Within this atmosphere of war, like a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds, resound the words of Jesus in the Gospel: 'Blessed are the peacemakers'. This appeal is always applicable, in every generation. He does not say: 'Blessed are the preachers of peace', since all are capable of proclaiming peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner. No. He says: 'Blessed are the peacemakers', that is, those who make peace. Crafting peace is a skilled work: it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy... These, indeed, 'shall be called children of God', for God sows peace, always, everywhere; in the fullness of time, he sowed in the world his Son, that we might have peace! Peacemaking is a work to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.
“So how does one do this, how do we build peace? The prophet Isaiah reminds us succinctly: 'The effect of righteousness will be peace'. Opus justitiae pax ('the work of justice is peace'), from the Vulgate version of Scripture, has become a famous motto, even adopted prophetically by Pope Pius XII. Peace is a work of justice. Here too: not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned ... but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. When, by the grace of God, we truly follow this commandment, how things change! Because we ourselves change! Those whom I looked upon as my enemy really have the same face as I do, the same heart, the same soul. We have the same Father in heaven. True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people.
“St. Paul, in the second reading, shows us the attitude needed to make peace: 'Put on then ... compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive'. These are the attitudes necessary to become artisans of peace precisely where we live out our daily lives. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! We would fall into an illusive moralising. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace. And, going further, the Apostle says that peace is a gift of God because it is the fruit of his reconciliation with us. Only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with God can human beings become artisans of peace.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, today we ask the Lord together, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, for the grace to have a simple heart, the grace of patience, the grace to struggle and work for justice, to be merciful, to work for peace, to sow peace and not war and discord. This is the way which brings happiness, which leads to blessedness”.
Decrees for the Causes of Saints
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father Francis received in private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he authorised the Congregation to promulgate the following decrees:
- attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Francesco de Paola Victor, Brazilian diocesan priest (1827-1905);
- attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Klara Ludwika Szcz?sna, Polish co-founder of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (1863-1916).
- Servant of God Frederic de Berga (né Martí Tarrés Puigpelat) and 25 companions, Spanish priests and lay brothers of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, killed in hatred of the faith in 1936;
- Servant of God Joseph Thao Tiên, diocesan priest, and ten companions, professed priests of the Society of the Paris Foreign Missions and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and four lay companions, killed in hatred of the faith in Laos between 1954 and 1970.
- Servant of God Antonino Celona, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Handmaids of Reparation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1873-1952);
- Servant of God Ottorino Zanon, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Pious Society of St. Cajetan (1915-1972);
- Servant of God Marcello Labor, Italian diocesan priest (1890-1954);
- Servant of God Maria Antonia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (née Rachele Lalia), Italian founder of the Dominican Sisters of St. Sisto Vecchio (1839-1914).
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – In the afternoon of Friday 5 June the Holy Father received in separate audiences:
- Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints;
- Bishop Jorge Eduardo Lozano of Gualeguaychu, Argentina;
- Bishop Vicente Bokalic Iglic of Santiago del Estero, Argentina.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Jose Alberto Gonzalez Juarez as bishop of Tuxtepec (area 6,000, population 781,000, Catholics 738,000, priests 50, permanent deacons 10, religious 34), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in El Parral, Mexico in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical University in Mexico, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Tuxtla Gutierrez, including parish vicar, parish priest, superior of the preparatory course and teacher in philosophy, and rector of the seminary. He is currently parish of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and episcopal vicar for consecrated life.