Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on June 30, 2013

Pope Francis prayed the Angelus on Sunday with faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square. In remarks before the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father spoke of the conscience as the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God. Pope Francis praised his predecessor, Benedict XVI, as a model of docile attention to the voice of one’s conscience. “Pope Benedict XVI has given us a great example in this sense,” he said. “When the Lord had made it clear, in prayer, what was the step he had to take, he followed, with a great sense of discernment and courage, his conscience, that is the will of God speaking to his heart.” Below, is Radio’s translation of the Holy Father’s remarks.

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday's Gospel (Lk 9:51-62) shows a very important step in the life of Christ: the moment in which, as St Luke writes, "[Jesus] steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. (9:51 )” Jerusalem is the final destination, where Jesus, in his last Passover, must die and rise again, and so to fulfill His mission of salvation.

From that time, forth, after the steadfast decision, Jesus aims straight for the finish line, and even to the people he meets and who ask to [be allowed to] follow Him, He says clearly what are the conditions: not having a permanent abode; knowing how to detach oneself from familiar affections; not succumbing to nostalgia for the past.

Jesus also said to his disciples, charged with preceding Him on the way to Jerusalem to announce His coming, not to impose anything: if they do not find willing welcome, they are [simply] to proceed further, to move on. Jesus never imposes. Jesus is humble. Jesus extends invitations: “If you want, come.” The humility of Jesus is like this: He always invites us. He does not impose. 

All this makes us think. It tells us, for example, the importance, even for Jesus, of conscience: listening in his heart to the Father's voice, and following it. Jesus, in his earthly life, was not, so to speak, “remote-controlled”: He was the Word made flesh, the Son of God made man, and at one point he made a firm decision to go up to Jerusalem for the last time - a decision taken in His conscience, but not on His own: ​​with the Father, in full union with Him! He decided in obedience to the Father, in profound intimate attunement to the Father’s will. For this reason, then, was the decision was steadfast: because it was taken together with the Father. In the Father, then, Jesus found the strength and the light for His journey. Jesus was free. His decision was a free one. Jesus wants us Christians to be free as he is: with that liberty, which comes from this dialogue with the Father, this dialogue with God. Jesus wants neither selfish Christians, who follow their egos and do not speak with God, nor weak Christians, without will: “remote-controlled” Christians, incapable of creativity, who seek ever to connect with the will of another, and are not free. Jesus wants us free, and this freedom – where is it found? It is to be found in the inner dialogue with God in conscience. If a Christian does not know how to talk with God, does not know how to listen to God, in his own conscience, then he is not free – he is not free. 

So we also must learn to listen more to our conscience. Be careful, however: this does not mean we ought to follow our ego, do whatever interests us, whatever suits us, whatever pleases us. That is not conscience. Conscience is the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God. It is the inner place of our relationship with Him, who speaks to our heart and helps us to discern, to understand the path we ought to take, and once the decision is made, to move forward, to remain faithful.

Pope Benedict XVI has given us a great example in this sense. When the Lord had made it clear, in prayer, what was the step he had to take, he followed, with a great sense of discernment and courage, his conscience, that is, the will of God that spoke to his heart – and this example of our father does much good to all of us, as an example to follow.

May Our Lady, who, with great simplicity, listened to and meditated deep within herself upon the Word of God and what was happening to Jesus. She followed her son deep conviction, with steadfast hope. May Mary help us to become more and more men and women of conscience – free in our conscience, because it is in conscience that the dialogue with God is given – men and women able to hear the voice of God and follow it with decision.

After the Angelus, the Holy Father had these remarks:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Italy we celebrate the Day of charity of the Pope. I desire to thank the bishops and all the parishes, especially the poorest ones, for the prayers and offerings that support the many pastoral initiatives and charitable activities of the Successor of Peter in every part of the world. Thank you all!

I extend my heartfelt greetings to all the pilgrims present, particularly to the many faithful from Germany. I also greet the pilgrims from Madrid, Augsburg, Sonnino, Casarano, Lenola, Sambucetole and Montegranaro, the group of lay Dominicans, the Apostolic Fraternity of Divine Mercy in Piazza Armerina, the Friends of the Missions of the Precious Blood, UNITALSI of Ischia di Castro and the children of Latisana.

I wish you all a good Sunday!

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pope Francis received pilgrims and visitors in St Peter's Square on Wednesday morning for his weekly General Audience. In his catechetical remarks, the Holy Father concentrated on the image of the Church as living temple and People of God. Below, is a translation of his remarks.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like briefly to refer to one more picture that helps us to illustrate the mystery of the Church: that of the temple (cf. Lumen Gentium, 6).

What does the word, ‘temple’ call to mind? It makes us think of a building, a construction. In particular, it recalls to many minds the history of the People of Israel narrated in the Old Testament. In Jerusalem, the great Temple of Solomon was the locus of the encounter with God in prayer. Within the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God's presence among the people, and inside the Ark were the Tablets of the Law, the manna and the rod of Aaron, a reminder that God had always been in the history of his people, had always been with them on their journey, always directed their stride – and the Temple recalls this story. We, too, when we go to the temple, must remember this story – my story – the story of each one of us – of how Jesus encountered me, of how he walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.

That, which was prefigured in the ancient Temple, is realized in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit: the Church is the “house of God”, the place of His presence, where we can find and meet the Lord, the Church is the temple in which dwells the Holy Spirit, who animates, guides and sustains her. If we ask ourselves, “Where we can meet God? Where can we enter into communion with Him through Christ? Where can we find the light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our lives?” the answer is, “in the People of God, among us, for we are Church – among us, within the People of God, in the Church – there we shall meet Jesus, we shall meet the Holy Spirit, we shall meet the Father.

The ancient temple was built by the hands of men: they wanted to “give a home” to God, to have a visible sign of His presence among the people. With the Incarnation of the Son of God, the prophecy of Nathan to King David is fulfilled (cf. 2 Sam 7.1 to 29): it is not the king, it is not we, who are to “give a home to God,” but God Himself who “builds his house” to come and dwell among us, as St. John writes in the Prologue of his Gospel (cf. 1:14). Christ is the living Temple of the Father, and Christ himself builds His “spiritual home”, the Church, made not of stone materials, but of “living stones” – of us, our very selves. The Apostle Paul says to the Christians of Ephesus: you are “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: in whom all the building, being framed together, growth up into an holy temple in the Lord.(Eph 2:20-22)” How beautiful this is! We are the living stones of God, profoundly united to Christ, who is the rock of support, and among ourselves. What then, does this mean? It means that we are the Temple – the Church, but, us, living – we are Church, we are [the] living temple, and within us, when we are together, there is the Holy Spirit, who helps us grow as Church. We are not isolated, we are People of God – and this is the Church: People of God.

It is, moreover, the Holy Spirit with His gifts, who designs the variety – and this is important – what does the Holy Spirit do in our midst? He designs the variety – the variety, which is the richness of the Church and unites everything and everyone, so as to constitute a spiritual temple, in which we offer not material sacrifices, but us ourselves, our life (cf. 1 Pt 2:4-5). The Church is not a weave of things and interests, it is rather the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Temple in which God works, the Temple in which each of us with the gift of Baptism is living stone. This tells us that no one is useless in the Church – no on is useless in the Church! – and should anyone chance to say, some one of you, “Get home with you, you’re useless!” that is not true. No one is useless in the Church. We are all needed in order to build this temple. No one is secondary: “Ah, I am the most important one in the Church!” No! We are all equal in the eyes of God. But, one of you might say, “Mr. Pope, sir, you are not equal to us.” But I am just like each of you. We are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters. No one is anonymous: all form and build the Church. Nevertheless, it also invites us to reflect on the fact that the Temple wants the brick of our Christian life, that something is wanting in the beauty of the Church. 

So I would like for us to ask ourselves: how do we live our being Church? We are living stones? Are we rather, so to speak, tired stones, bored, indifferent? Have any of you ever noticed how ugly a tired, bored, indifferent Christian is? It’s an ugly sight. A Christian has to be lively, joyous, he has to live this beautiful thing that is the People of God, the Church. Do we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, so as to be an active part of our communities, or do we close in on ourselves, saying, “I have so many things to do, that’s not my job.”?

May the Lord grant us His grace, His strength, so that we can be deeply united to Christ, the cornerstone, stone of support for all of our lives and the life of the Church. Let us pray that, animated by His Spirit, we might always be living stones of the Church.

Message of the Virgin Mary to the World From Medjugorje on June 25, 2013

"Dear children! With joy in the heart I love you all and call you to draw closer to my Immaculate Heart so I can draw you still closer to my Son Jesus, and that He can give you His peace and love, which are nourishment for each one of you. Open yourselves, little children, to prayer – open yourselves to my love. I am your mother and cannot leave you alone in wandering and sin. You are called, little children, to be my children, my beloved children, so I can present you all to my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call." 

Holy Gospel, Feast of Blessed Father Yaacoub Haddad the Capuchin. June 26, 2013

Letter of James 2:14-23. 
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to 
Saint Luke 10:25-37. 
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend." Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Pope Francis' Homily on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, June 24, 2013

The church exists for courageously proclaiming -until martyrdom- Christ, to serve and "take nothing for herself". In his homily at morning Mass on Monday, Pope Francis pointed to St. John the Baptist as model for Church: he didn't claim the Truth, the Word as his own; he diminished himself so Christ could shine. 

Monday June 24th is the Solemnity of the Birth of the Saint, whom the Gospels indicate as the forerunner or precursor of Jesus. Dedicating his homily him Pope Francis said the Church is called to proclaim the Word of God, even to martyrdom. 

A 16th's Century painting of John the Baptist

Pope Francis began his homily addressing best wishes to all who bear the name John. The figure of John the Baptist, the Pope said, is not always easy to understand. "When we think of his life - he observed – we think of a prophet," a "man who was great and then ends up as a poor man." Who is John? The Pope said john himself explains: "I am a voice, a voice in the wilderness," but "it is a voice without the Word, because the Word is not him, it is an Other." Here then is the mystery of John: "He never takes over the Word," John "is the one who indicates, who marks". The "meaning of John's life - he added - is to indicate another." Pope Francis then spoke of being struck by the fact that the "Church chooses to mark John’s feast day” at a time when the days are at their longest in the year, when they "have more light." And John really "was the man of light, he brought light, but it was not his own light, it was a reflected light." John is "like a moon" and when Jesus began to preach, the light of John "began to decline, to set". "Voice not Word - the Pope said - light, but not his own" 

"John seems to be nothing. That is John’s vocation: he negates himself. And when we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful - all believed that he was the Messiah - when we contemplate this life, how it is nullified to the point of the darkness of a prison, we behold a great mystery. We do not know what John’s last days were like. We do not know. We only know that he was killed, his head was put on a platter, as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I don’t think you can lower yourself much more than this, negate yourself much more. That was the end that John met". 

Pope Francis noted that in prison John experienced doubts, anguish and he called on his disciples to go to Jesus and ask him, "Are you You, or should we expect someone else?". His life is one of “pain and darkness”. John “was not even spared this”, said the Pope, who added: "the figure of John makes me think so much about the Church": 

"The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word, her husband, who is the Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest of the Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. 'But I never think', only this: he indicated, he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret. Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church ... "

The Church, he added, must hear the Word of Jesus and raise her voice, proclaim it boldly. "That - he said - is the Church without ideologies, without a life of its own: the Church which is the mysterium lunae which has light from her Bridegroom and diminish herself so that He may grow"

"This is the model that John offers us today, for us and for the Church. A Church that is always at the service of the Word. A Church that never takes anything for herself. Today in prayer we asked for the grace of joy, we asked the Lord to cheer this Church in her service to the Word, to be the voice of this Word, preach this Word. We ask for the grace, the dignity of John, with no ideas of their own, without a Gospel taken as property, only one Church that indicates the Word, and this even to martyrdom. So be it! "

Mass was co-celebrated by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and attended by a group of priests and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for Culture, a group of employees of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology and the Vatican’s Philatelic and Numismatic Office.

Cardinal Al Rahi Condemns the Attacks on the Lebanese Army

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi described on Monday as “executioners” all parties that use illegitimate arms against the Lebanese people, saying the country was paying the price of their actions. “When we use illegitimate arms against the people of our nation we all become executioners,” al-Rahi said during a ceremony in Adma, north of Beirut.

“There is only one victim that is Lebanon,” he said. “They are all executioners!” he added about the March 8 and 14 alliances whom he blamed for the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon. He said the attack on the army in the southern city of Sidon is an assault on the state, the dignity of the people and the nation's self-esteem. He also described the attack on state institutions as “a crime against the people and high treason.”

At least 12 soldiers have been killed in less than 24 hours of clashes with supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in Sidon. The fighting intensified on Monday, a day after the violence began, when al-Asir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint in Abra where the cleric's Bilal Bin Rabah mosque lies.

Al-Rahi condemned “all those covering up for the crimes, including politicians,” saying they were as guilty as those committing the crimes. He urged the judiciary to arrest Sidon's gunmen and give them the ultimate punishment “although some politicians, who are professionals in covering up for crimes, might pressure it.”

The patriarch said Sidon's fighting and similar cases in different regions in addition to the involvement in Syria's war came despite the Baabda declaration in which different parties had pledged to distance Lebanon from the region's crises. “They are the results of the persistence to paralyze state institution and dismantle them,” he said.

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on June 23, 2013

On a hot sunny day in Rome, Pope Francis greeted thousands of pilgrims and tourists from the window of the Papal apartments above St Peter’s Square who had come to hear the recitation of the Sunday Angelus. Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel the Pope recalled some of the most incisive words that Jesus spoke, “"Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it". The Holy Father said that this phrase is really a summary of Christ’s message which almost makes us hear his voice.

Explaining the meaning of Jesus’ words Pope Francis said that the martyrs offer the best example of losing one's life for Christ. Both in the past and today, he continued, in many parts of the world, there are martyrs both men and women who are imprisoned, or killed for the sole reason of being Christian. 

But the Pope also noted that there is also the daily martyrdom, which do not result in death but is also as he put it, a "loss of life" for Christ, people doing their duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus. These people the Holy Father said are the fathers and mothers who every day put into practice their faith by devoting their lives for the good of the family. 

Pope Francis also recalled the “many priests, monks, nuns who give generosity their service to the kingdom of God”. And the young people who give up their interests to devote their time to children, the disabled, and the elderly.

The Pope then spoke of the Christians and non-Christians who "lose their life" for the truth, adding “those who serve the truth serve Christ.”

Before reciting the Marian prayer the Holy Father focused his attention on one great man who gave his life for the truth, John the Baptist whose feast day is celebrated on June 24th. He said John was chosen by God to prepare the way before Jesus. John devoted himself entirely to God and his messenger. But it was Jesus who eventually died for the cause of truth.

During the Angelus the Pope also stressed ,especially to the young people present, the importance of having the courage to go against the tide of current values that do not conform to the path of Jesus.

Holy Gospel, Sixth Sunday of Pentecost: Sending of the Apostles

First Letter to the Corinthians 12:12-13, 27:30 
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 10:16-25. 
‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

How To Pray The "Our Father" By Pope Francis

To pray the Our Father we have to have a heart at peace with our brothers. We don't pray "my Father," but "our Father," because "we are not an only child, none of us are”. This was the focus of Pope Francis' homily at Mass Thursday morning in Casa Santa Marta. The Pope emphasized that we believe in a God who is a Father, who is "very close" to us, who is not anonymous, not "a cosmic God." 

Prayer is not magic, rather it is entrusting ourselves to the Father’s embrace. Pope Francis centered his homily on the prayer of the "Our Father" taught by Jesus to His disciples, of which the Gospel speaks today. Jesus, he said, immediately gives us a piece of advice in prayer: "In praying, do not babble", do not make "worldly noises, vain noises”. And he warned that "prayer is not a magical thing, there is no magic with prayer." Someone once told me that when he went to a "witch doctor" they said a lot of words to heal him. But that "is pagan." Jesus teaches us, "we should not turn to Him with so many words," because "He knows everything." He adds, the first word is "Father," this "is the key of prayer." "Without saying, without feeling, that word – he warned - you cannot pray": 

"To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic God? That’s quite normal these days, is it not? ... praying to the cosmic God, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a rather light culture ... You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, 'Father '. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language".

"Father," he reiterated, "is a strong word" but "opens the door". At the time of sacrifice, the Pope said, Isaac realized that "something was wrong" because "he was missing a sheep," but he trusted his father and “confided his worries to his father’s heart" . "Father" is the word that "the son" who left with his legacy "and then wanted to return home" thought of. And that father "sees him come and goes running" to him, "he threw himself in his arms", "to cover him with love." "Father, I have sinned:" this is, the Pope said, "the key of every prayer, to feel loved by a father": 

"We have a Father. Very close to us, eh! Who embraces us ... All these worries, concerns that we have, let's leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: Our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say 'Father' to Him." 

This, he added, explains the fact that Jesus, after having taught us the Our Father, stresses that if we do not forgive others, neither will the Father forgive us our sins. "It's so hard to forgive others – said the Pope - it is really difficult, because we always have that regret inside." We think, "You did this to me, you wait '... and I’ll repay him the favour ": 

"No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray. This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. 'Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot'. It’s true, I understand. 'I cannot say our, because he did this to me and this ...' I cannot! 'They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them'. It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say 'Father' and how to say 'our'. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say 'Father' and to be able to say 'our', and thus make peace with all our enemies. " 

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, June 19, 2013

“The Church is not an charitable, cultural or political association, but a living Body, that walks and acts in history. And this Body has a head, Jesus, who guides, nourishes and supports it”, said Pope Francis Wednesday as he continued his series of lessons on the Creed during his General Audience.

A boiling summer sun brought temperatures to a high of 29°s, but despite this St Peter’s square was packed by tens of thousands of pilgrims. In his catechesis he told them we must remain united to the Church lamenting the divisions among Christians which he says ‘wounds this Body’. He said differences in church can enrich us and help us grow, but “a Body must be united to survive." 

In off-the-cuff remarks Pope Francis revealed how earlier Wednesday morning he had spent almost 40 minutes in prayer with an evangelical pastor, praying for unity in the Church. Below a translation of the Holy Father’s Catechesis, Wednesday, June 20, 2013: 

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

Today I will focus upon another expression with which the Second Vatican Council indicates the nature of the Church: that of the body, the Council says that the Church is the Body of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, 7).

I would like to start from a text of the Acts of the Apostles which we know well: the conversion of Saul, who will then be called Paul, one of the greatest evangelists (cf. Acts 9:4-5). Saul was a persecutor of Christians, but while he is on the road leading to the city of Damascus, suddenly a light envelops him, he falls to the ground and hears a voice saying "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? '. He asks: "Who are you, Lord?", And the voice answers: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting" (v. 3-5). This experience of St. Paul tells us how deep the union between we Christians and Christ Himself. When Jesus ascended into heaven he did not leave us orphans, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit, our union with Him has become even more intense. The Second Vatican Council says that Jesus " communicating His Spirit, Christ made His brothers, called together from all nations, mystically the components of His own Body" (Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 7).

The image of the body helps us to understand this deep Church-Christ bond, which St. Paul has developed especially in the First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. chap. 12). First, the body brings our attention to a living reality. The Church is not an charitable, cultural or political association, but a living body, that walks and acts in history. And this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, feeds and supports it. This is a point I want to emphasize: if the head is separated from the rest of the body, the whole person cannot survive. So it is in the Church, we must remain bound ever more deeply to Jesus. But not only that: just as the body needs the lifeblood to keep it alive, so we must allow Jesus to work in us, that His Word guide us, that His presence in the Eucharist nourish us, animate us, that His love gives strength to our love of neighbor. And this always! Dear brothers and sisters, let us remain united to Jesus, let us trust in Him, direct our life according to His Gospel, nourish ourselves with daily prayer, listening to the Word of God, participation in the Sacraments.

And here I come to a second aspect of the Church as the Body of Christ. St Paul says that as members of the human body, although different and many, we form one body, as we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-13). In the Church, therefore, there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions, there is no dull uniformity, but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. But there is communion and unity: we are all in a relation to each other and we all come together to form one living body, deeply connected to Christ. Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians; it means remaining united to the Pope and the Bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and also means overcoming personal interests and divisions, in order to understand each other better, to harmonize the variety and richness of each member; in a word, to love God and the people who are next to us more, in the family, in the parish, in the associations. In order to live a Body and its limbs must be united! Unity is beyond all conflict. Always! Conflicts, when they don’t end well, separate us from each other, they separate us from God. Conflict can help us to grow but can also divide us. We must not travel the path of division, of conflict among us, no we must all be united – with our differences – but united because that is the path of Jesus!

Unity is beyond all conflict. Unity is a grace that we must ask of the Lord so he may save us from the temptations of the division, from internal struggles and selfishness, from gossip. How much damage gossip does! How much damage! Never gossip about others, never!. How much damage divisions among Christians, being partisan, narrow interests causes to the Church,! Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity. But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics,...in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask God to help us to be members of the Body of the Church always deeply united to Christ, help us not to hurt the Body of the Church with our conflicts, our divisions, selfishness: help us to be living members bound to each other by a single power, that of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).

Below the English language summary 
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as the Body of Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, received in Baptism, we are mystically united to the Lord as members of one body, of which he is the head. The image of the mystical body makes us realize the importance of strengthening our union with Christ through daily prayer, the study of God’s word and participation in the sacraments. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that the Body of Christ, while one, is made up of a variety of members. Within the communion of the Church, and in union with the Pope and Bishops, each of us has a part to play, a gift to share, a service to offer, for building up the Body of Christ in love. Let us ask the Lord to help us reject every form of divisiveness and conflict in our families, parishes and local Churches. At the same time, let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to others, to promote unity and to live in harmony as members of the one Body of Christ, inspired by the gift of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on June 16, 2013

“Let us say ‘Yes’ to life and not death.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily on Sunday morning for Evangelium Vitae Day, a day celebrating the Gospel of Life. An estimated 200,000 people were in Saint Peter’s Square for Holy Mass and the Angelus that followed with Pope Francis to mark the Year of Faith event dedicated to the Gospel of Life. 

In his homily, the Pope noted how the Scriptures continuously tell us how God is the Living One who bestows life. However, he said that “all too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the ‘Gospel of Life’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.”

The Holy Father went on to say that people dream of building a new “Tower of Babel”, a city of man that is without God. They believe that the rejection of “God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment.” As a result,” the Pope continued, “the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death.” Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to “say ‘Yes’ to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints.”

In his Angelus address following Mass, Pope Francis pointed to a perfect example of one who followed the Gospel of Life. He called attention to Saturday’s beatification of a husband and father of seven from Capri Italy who was killed in a concentration in 1944 for witnessing to his faith. Blessed Oduardo Focherini had saved countless lives from Nazi persecution before losing his own. 

Below is an English translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address.

Dear brothers and sisters,
At the conclusion of this Eucharistic celebration dedicated to the Gospel of life, I am pleased to recall that yesterday, in Carpi, Oduardo Focherini, husband and father of seven, journalist, was proclaimed Blessed. Captured and imprisoned because of hatred against his Catholic faith, he died in the concentration camp of Hersbruck in 1944 at the age of 37. He rescued many Jews from the Nazi persecution. Together with the Church in Carpi, we give thanks to God for this witness to the Gospel of Life! I offer my sincere thanks to all of you who have come from Rome and from many other places in Italy and the world, particularly families and those who work directly for the promotion and protection of life.

I cordially greet the 150 members of the “Grávida” Association – Argentina, gathered in the city of Pilar. Many thanks for what you have done! Be courageous, and go forward!Finally, I greet the many participants of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle rally, and also those of the State Police Motorbike club.

We turn now to Our Lady, entrusting every human life, especially the most fragile, defenseless, and weak, to her maternal protection.

Historical Meeting Between Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury

On Friday June 14, Pope Francis met with the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It was the first meeting between them. At the end of his visit to the Vatican, Archbishop Welby, said he and Pope Francis shared ideas on economic justice, on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, but also on their deeply personal experiences of God’s calling in their daily lives.Following their morning audience and joint prayer service, the leader of the Anglican Communion described the Pope as a man of “extraordinary humanity, on fire with the Spirit of Christ”. While admitting there are obstacles on the road to reconciliation between Anglicans and Catholics, he said he sensed a new vigour and common commitment “to prove the radicality” of the Christian Gospel.Speaking to Philippa Hitchen in the garden of the Venerable English College at the end of the brief visit, the archbishop said he and the Pope also joked about the way they had inaugurated their ministries within two days of each other earlier this year!

Below, is the translation of Pope Francis' discourse at the meeting, followed by the complete text of Archbishop Welby's address: 

Your Grace, Dear Friends,
On the happy occasion of our first meeting, I make my own the words of Pope Paul VI, when he addressed Archbishop Michael Ramsey during his historic visit in 1966: “Your steps have not brought you to a foreign dwelling ... we are pleased to open the doors to you, and with the doors, our heart, pleased and honoured as we are ... to welcome you ‘not as a guest or a stranger, but as a fellow citizen of the Saints and the Family of God’” (cf. Eph 2:19-20).

I know that during Your Grace’s installation in Canterbury Cathedral you remembered in prayer the new Bishop of Rome. I am deeply grateful to you – and since we began our respective ministries within days of each other, I think we will always have a particular reason to support one another in prayer.

The history of relations between the Church of England and the Catholic Church is long and complex, and not without pain. Recent decades, however, have been marked by a journey of rapprochement and fraternity, and for this we give heartfelt thanks to God. This journey has been brought about both via theological dialogue, through the work of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and via the growth of cordial relations at every level through shared daily lives in a spirit of profound mutual respect and sincere cooperation. In this regard, I am very pleased to welcome alongside you Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. These firm bonds of friendship have enabled us to remain on course even when difficulties have arisen in our theological dialogue that were greater than we could have foreseen at the start of our journey.

I am grateful, too, for the sincere efforts the Church of England has made to understand the reasons that led my Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to provide a canonical structure able to respond to the wishes of those groups of Anglicans who have asked to be received collectively into the Catholic Church: I am sure this will enable the spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions that form the Anglican patrimony to be better known and appreciated in the Catholic world.

Today’s meeting is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the search for unity among Christians is prompted not by practical considerations, but by the will of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who made us his brothers and sisters, children of the One Father. Hence the prayer that we make today is of fundamental importance. This prayer gives a fresh impulse to our daily efforts to grow towards unity, which are concretely expressed in our cooperation in various areas of daily life. Particularly important among these is our witness to the reference to God and the promotion of Christian values in a world that seems at times to call into question some of the foundations of society, such as respect for the sacredness of human life or the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall recently.

Then there is the effort to achieve greater social justice, to build an economic system that is at the service of man and promotes the common good. Among our tasks as witnesses to the love of Christ is that of giving a voice to the cry of the poor, so that they are not abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers.

I know that Your Grace is especially sensitive to all these questions, in which we share many ideas, and I am also aware of your commitment to foster reconciliation and resolution of conflicts between nations. In this regard, together with Archbishop Nichols, you have urged the authorities to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict such as would guarantee the security of the entire population, including the minorities, not least among whom are the ancient local Christian communities. As you yourself have observed, we Christians bring peace and grace as a treasure to be offered to the world, but these gifts can bear fruit only when Christians live and work together in harmony. This makes it easier to contribute to building relations of respect and peaceful coexistence with those who belong to other religious traditions, and with non-believers.

The unity we so earnestly long for is a gift that comes from above and it is rooted in our communion of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As Christ himself promised, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Let us travel the path towards unity, fraternally united in charity and with Jesus Christ as our constant point of reference. In our worship of Jesus Christ we will find the foundation and raison d’être of our journey. May the merciful Father hear and grant the prayers that we make to him together. Let us place all our hope in him who “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).

Below, is the complete text of Archbishop Justin Welby’s address to Pope Francis, which was delivered in English: 

Your Holiness, 
Dear Friends:
I am full of love and gratitude to be here. In the last few days we have been remembering the death of Blessed Pope John XXIII in the midst of the Second Vatican Council. At the Requiem said at Lambeth Palace fifty years ago this weekend by Archbishop Michael Ramsey, my much-loved predecessor said of him: ‘Pope John has shown us again the power of being, by being a man who touches human hearts with charity. So there has come to many a new longing for the unity of all Christians, and a new knowledge that however long the road may be, charity already makes all the difference to it.’

Having for many years found inspiration in the great corpus of Catholic social teaching, and worked on its implications with Catholic groups; having spent retreats in new orders of the Church in France, and being accompanied by the Prior of another new order; I do indeed feel that I am (in the words of Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Michael) coming to a place where I can feel myself at home.Your Holiness, we are called by the Holy Spirit of God, through our fraternal love, to continue the work that has been the precious gift to popes and archbishops of Canterbury for these past fifty years, and of which this famous ring is the enduring token. I pray that the nearness of our two inaugurations may serve the reconciliation of the world and the Church.

As you have stressed, we must promote the fruits of our dialogue; and, with our fellow bishops, we must give expression to our unity in faith through prayer and evangelisation. It is only as the world sees Christians growing visibly in unity that it will accept through us the divine message of peace and reconciliation.

However, the journey is testing and we cannot be unaware that differences exist about how we bring the Christian faith to bear on the challenges thrown up by modern society. But our ‘goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey’ (Benedict XVI, Spe salvi 1), and we can trust in the prayer of Christ, ‘ut omnes unum sint’ (Jn 17.21). A firm foundation of friendship will enable us to be hopeful in speaking to one another about those differences, to bear one another’s burdens, and to be open to sharing the discernment of a way forward that is faithful to the mind of Christ pressed upon us as disciples.

That way forward must reflect the self-giving love of Christ, our bearing of his Cross, and our dying to ourselves so as to live with Christ, which will show itself in hospitality and love for the poor. We must love those who seek to oppose us, and love above all those tossed aside—even whole nations—by the present crises around the world. Also, even as we speak, our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer terribly from violence, oppression and war, from bad government and unjust economic systems. If we are not their advocates in the name of Christ, who will be?

Your Holiness, dear brother, I assure you of the love, respect and prayer of the bishops, clergy and people of the Anglican Communion.

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pope Francis on Wednesday addressed the crowds of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the weekly General Audience. Below is the  full translation of his address.

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today I would like to touch briefly on another of the terms with which the Second Vatican Council defined the Church, that of “People of God" (cf. Dogmatic Constitution. Lumen Gentium, 9; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 782). I shall do so with a few questions upon which we can all reflect.

1. What does it mean to be "People of God"? First of all, it means that God does not really belong to any people; for it is He who calls us, who summons us, who invites us to be part of his people, and this invitation is open to all, without distinction, because God’s mercy “desires all people to be saved "(1 Tim 2:4). Jesus does not tell the Apostles and us to form an exclusive group, an elite group. Jesus says: Go and make disciples of all nations (cf. Mt 28:19). St Paul says that within the people of God, in the Church, "there is neither Jew nor Gentile ... for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). I would like to say to those who feel far from God and the Church, to those who are fearful or indifferent, to those who think they can no longer change: the Lord is calling you too to be part of his people and he does it with great respect and love! He invites us to be a part of this people, the people of God

2. How do you become a member of this people? It is not through physical birth, but through a new birth. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born from above, of water and of spirit to enter the Kingdom of God (cf. John 3:3-5). It is through Baptism that we are introduced to this people, through faith in Christ, the gift of God which must be nurtured and tended to throughout our whole life. Let us ask ourselves: how can I grow in the faith that I received in my Baptism? How do tend to this faith that I have received and that the people of God has? How do I make it grow? And another question.

3. What is the law of the People of God? It is the law of love, love for God and love for our neighbor according to the new commandment that the Lord left us (cf. Jn 13:34). It is a love, however, that is not sterile sentimentality or something vague, it is recognizing God as the only Lord of life and, at the same time, accepting the other as a true brother, overcoming divisions, rivalry, misunderstandings, selfishness; the two things go together. We have still so far to go to be able to live concretely according to this new law, the law of the Holy Spirit working within us, the law of charity, of love! When we see in the many wars between Christians in the newspapers or on TV, how can the people of God understand this? Within the people of God there are so many wars! And in neighborhoods, in workplaces, so many wars due to envy, jealousy. Even within the same family, there are so many internal wars. We must ask the Lord to help us understand this law of love. How good, how nice it is to love each other as true brothers. How nice that is! Let's do something today: perhaps we all have our likes and dislikes, and perhaps many of us are angry with others. But at least let’s say to the Lord: "Lord, I am angry with him or with her. I pray for him and for her. I pray to you". To pray for those with whom we are angry. It's a big step in this law of love. Let's do it today!

4. What mission does this people have? To bring to the world the hope and the salvation of God: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to be friends of His; to be the yeast that ferments the dough, the salt that gives flavour and preserves from decay, the light that brightens. Just as I said, it is enough to open a newspaper, and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it all together. God is stronger! All of us! And you know why He is stronger? Because He is the Lord, the only Lord. God is stronger! Good! And I would like to add that reality which is sometimes dark and marked by evil can change, if we are the first to bring the light of the Gospel especially with our lives. If in a stadium, let’s think of the Olympic Stadium in Rome, or that of San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires, if on a dark night one person lights up a lamp, you can barely see it, but if each of over seventy thousand spectators switches on his own light, the whole Stadium lights up. Let's make our lives a light of Christ; and together we will bring the light of the Gospel to the whole world.

5. What is the goal of this people? Its end is the kingdom of God, which has been begun by God Himself on earth, and which is to be further extended until it is brought to perfection by Him at the end of time, when Christ, our life, shall appear (cf. Lumen Gentium, 9). The goal then is full communion with the Lord; it’s to enter into his divine life where we will live the joy of his love without measure. That full joy.

Dear brothers and sisters, to be Church, is to be God's people, according to the Father’s great plan of love, it means to be the yeast of God in this humanity of ours, it means to proclaim and to bring God's salvation into this world, which is often lost, in need of encouraging answers, answers that give hope, that give new vigour in the journey. May the Church be a place of mercy and of hope in God, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel. And to feel welcomed, loved, forgiven, encouraged, the Church’s doors must be open, so that all may come and that we can go out of those doors and proclaim the Gospel. Thank you so much.

Feast of Saint Anthony in Istanbul Amid Turmoil

"Many young people who go to Taksim Square pass by our church, light a candle to St. Anthony, then they go to demonstrate. They are people of all social classes and religions. As Franciscans, in this delicate moment for the country we pray, through the intercession of St. Anthony, for the good and peace in the country ": This is what Fr. Anton Bulai says, he is pastor of the St. Anthony Church in Istanbul, situated in the centre of the town, not far from Taksim Square. 

Protesters at Taksim Square

The local community of six Franciscan friars are preparing the feast of St. Anthony, on June 13, a celebration with ancient roots, and a feast that welcomes Christians of all denominations and many non Christians, devoted to the Saint."It is a feast that involves the whole local Church: we will be close to our Bishop, Mgr. Louis Pelatre who will celebrate Mass. But it is also an ecumenical feast, open to all: religious leaders and believers of all other communities come, " explains friar Anton. There will be a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and non Christian faithful. 

Anthony is a saint known and loved in Turkey especially for the initiative of the "Bread of the poor" where for over 60 years poor people benefit from, without distinction of religion or ethnicity. Fr. Bulai explains: "Every Tuesday, since the time of the Apostolic Delegate Angelo Roncalli, who went to our church, to our convent, one prays and distributes bread to the hungry or needy." In recent years, "a special blessing and gifts for the children" have marked the feast of the 13th of June. 

The feast today is in the midst of a wave of protest that, notes the pastor, "might somehow discourage the participation of the people," given the fear of disorder or violence. From the Church of St. Anthony "there will always be a word of peace, of good and reconciliation." "Our Church and our Franciscan witness in Turkey continues: we are a convent with the doors always open to welcome, we are always ready to pray, bless, and welcome anyone who approaches and comes to light a candle to the Saint: and there are many people who do it every day, of every social class and religion," notes Fr. Bulai.

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on June 09, 2013

Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square this Sunday. In his remarks to the gathered faithful, the Holy Father reflected on the mercy of Our Lord, which is the focus of the Church's prayerful attention during the month of June, traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Below, please find the English translation of the Holy Father's remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion.

Dear brothers and sisters!
The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the highest human expression of divine love. Just this past Friday, in fact, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus: the feast that sets the tone for the whole month. Popular piety highly prizes symbols, and the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God's mercy – but it is not an imaginary symbol, it is a real symbol, which represents the center, the source from which salvation for all humanity gushed forth.

In the Gospels we find several references to the Heart of Jesus, for example, in the passage where Christ says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. (Mt 11:28-29)” Then there is the key story of the death of Christ according to John. This evangelist in fact testifies to what he saw on Calvary: that a soldier, when Jesus was already dead, pierced his side with a spear, and from the wound flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19.33-34). John recognized in that – apparently random – sign, the fulfillment of prophecies: from the heart of Jesus, the Lamb slain on the cross, flow forgiveness and life for all men.

But the mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment: indeed it is a force that gives life, that raises man up! [This Sunday]’s Gospel tells us this as well, in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is just arrived in Nain, a village in Galilee, at the very moment in which a funeral is taking place. a boy is buried, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes itself on the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her (v. 13).” This “compassion” is the love of God for man, it is mercy, i.e. the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: a mother, in fact, experiences a reaction all her own, to the pain of her children. In this way does God love us, the Scripture says.

And what is the fruit of this love? It is life! Jesus said to the widow of Nain, “Do not weep,” and then called the dead boy and awoke him as from a sleep (cf. vv. 13-15). The mercy of God gives life to man, it raises him from the dead. The Lord is always watching us with mercy, [always] awaits us with mercy. Let us be not afraid to approach him! He has a merciful heart! If we show our inner wounds, our sins, He always forgives us. He is pure mercy! Let us never forget this: He is pure mercy! Let us go to Jesus! 

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her immaculate heart – a mother’s heart – has shared the “compassion” of God to the full, especially at the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. May Mary help us to be meek, humble and compassionate with our brethren.

Beginning of the Synod of the Chaldean Church

On Wednesday, June 5 the Synod of the Chaldean Church convened by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I Sako began in Baghdad. The beginning of the assembly was also attended by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, Apostolic Nuncio to Jordan and Iraq. With the arrival of the bishop of Aleppo Antoine Audo, all the Chaldean Bishops - except Sarhad Jammo, Bishop of St. Peter the Apostle in San Diego of the Chaldeans – are gathered in the center of the Iraqi capital.

The agenda of the synodal assembly is more than challenging. Several points on the agenda: the appointment of bishops in several Chaldean bishoprics left vacant; the formation of priests; the final draft of a “law” of the Chaldean Church; updating and harmonization of the liturgical rites celebrated unevenly in the various dioceses; the study of concrete measures to curb the phenomenon of migration and encourage Christians to remain in their homeland or to make return. 

In a statement issued by the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the bishops called upon all "the sons and daughters of the Chaldean Church" to invoke the success of the Synodal Assembly. The Almighty Father is invoked in order to be helped "to love our Chaldean Church as it is, in all its varieties and differences, in its greatness as its weakness." In front of the "storms" that "blow against the boat in which we find ourselves". .

Pope Francis' Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, June 05, 2013

When stock markets drop ten points its ‘a tragedy’ but starving children, homeless people dying on our streets, people disposed of like trash - such as the unborn or the elderly - has become the norm. This is the result of a culture of waste, of our being unable to ‘read the signs’ of God’s creation, His free gift to us, and of allowing money and not man rule society. A culture of solidarity should prevail over our culture of waste, because when we care for and cultivate creation – including the human person – when we share our resources, we all have enough. 

This Wednesday Pope Francis dedicated his general audience with thousands of pilgrims and visitors to St Peter’s square to the UN World Environment Day. Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food.

When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15). And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb "to cultivate" reminds me of the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not “care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read what Benedict XVI calls "the rhythm of the love story of God and man." Why does this happen? Why do we think and live in a horizontal manner, we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.

But to "cultivate and care" encompasses not only the relationship between us and the environment, between man and creation, it also regards human relationships. The Popes have spoken of human ecology, closely linked to environmental ecology. We are living in a time of crisis: we see this in the environment, but above all we see this in mankind. The human person is in danger: this is certain, the human person is in danger today, here is the urgency of human ecology! And it is a serious danger because the cause of the problem is not superficial but profound: it is not just a matter of economics, but of ethics and anthropology. The Church has stressed this several times, and many say, yes, that's right, it's true ... but the system continues as before, because it is dominated by the dynamics of an economy and finance that lack ethics. Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules. God our Father did not give the task of caring for the earth to money, but to us, to men and women: we have this task! Instead, men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the "culture of waste." If you break a computer it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs, the dramas of so many people end up becoming the norm. If on a winter’s night, here nearby in Via Ottaviano, for example, a person dies, that is not news. If in so many parts of the world there are children who have nothing to eat, that's not news, it seems normal. It cannot be this way! Yet these things become the norm: that some homeless people die of cold on the streets is not news. In contrast, a ten point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy. A person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy! Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash.

This "culture of waste" tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person is no longer perceived as a primary value to be respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled, if not yet useful - such as the unborn child - or no longer needed - such as the elderly. This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic parameters. We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.

A few days ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read the story of the miracle of the loaves: Jesus feeds the crowd with five loaves and two fishes. And the conclusion of the piece is important: " They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets" (Lk 9:17). Jesus asks his disciples not to throw anything away: no waste! There is this fact of twelve baskets: Why twelve? What does this mean? Twelve is the number of the tribes of Israel, which symbolically represent all people. And this tells us that when food is shared in a fair way, with solidarity, when no one is deprived, every community can meet the needs of the poorest. Human ecology and environmental ecology walk together.

So I would like us all to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter. Thank you. 

Summary in English
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Our Audience today coincides with World Environment Day, and so it is fitting to reflect on our responsibility to cultivate and care for the earth in accordance with God’s command (cf. Gen 2:15). We are called not only to respect the natural environment, but also to show respect for, and solidarity with, all the members of our human family. These two dimensions are closely related; today we are suffering from a crisis which is not only about the just management of economic resources, but also about concern for human resources, for the needs of our brothers and sisters living in extreme poverty, and especially for the many children in our world lacking adequate education, health care and nutrition. Consumerism and a “culture of waste” have led some of us to tolerate the waste of precious resources, including food, while others are literally wasting away from hunger. I ask all of you to reflect on this grave ethical problem in a spirit of solidarity grounded in our common responsibility for the earth and for all our brothers and sisters in the human family.

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore and the United States. God bless you all!

Monthly Message of the Virgin Mary to Nonbelievers on June 02, 2013 From Medjugorje

“Dear children; In this restless time, anew I am calling you to set out after my Son—to follow Him. I know of the pain, suffering and difficulties, but in my Son you will find rest; in Him you will find peace and salvation. My children, do not forget that my Son redeemed you by His Cross and enabled you, anew, to be children of God; to be able to, anew, call the Heavenly Father: ‘Father’. To be worthy of the Father, love and forgive, because your Father is love and forgiveness. Pray and fast, because that is the way to your purification, it is the way of coming to know and becoming cognizant of the Heavenly Father. When you become cognizant of the Father, you will comprehend that He is all you need. I, as a mother, desire my children to be in a community of one single people where the Word of God is listened to and carried out.* Therefore, my children, set out after my Son. Be one with Him. Be God’s children. Love your shepherds as my Son loved them when He called them to serve you. Thank you.

Pope Francis' Sunday Angelus Message on June 02, 2013

More than 100,000 pilgrims were in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday for the Pope’s weekly Angelus address. On a beautiful June day, Pope Francis spoke about the Feast of Corpus Christi, “the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.” 

This feast, the Holy Father said, “calls us to convert to faith in Providence, to be able to share the little that we are and that we have, and never to close in on ourselves.” Below, please find the translation of the complete text of Pope Francis’ catechesis during the Sunday Angelus: 

Dear brothers and sisters,
Last Thursday we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, which in Italy and other countries is transferred to Sunday. It is the Feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Gospel tells the story of the miracle of the loaves (Luke 9:11-17). I want to focus on one aspect that always strikes me and makes me think. We are on the shore of Lake Galilee, the evening draws near, Jesus cares for the people who have been with him for so many hours: there are thousands of them, and they are hungry. What to do? The disciples are discussing the problem, and they say to Jesus, “Dismiss the crowd” so that they can go into the neighboring villages to find food. But Jesus says, “Give them some food yourselves” (v. 13). The disciples are unsettled, and they respond, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,” as if to say: just enough for ourselves.

Jesus knows very well what to do, but wants to involve his disciples, He wants to teach them. The attitude of the disciples is human attitude, an attitude that seeks the most realistic solution, a solution that does not create too many problems: Dismiss the crowd - they say - let each one arrange what he can for himself; for the rest, you have already done so much for them: you preached, you healed the sick...Dimiss the crowd!

Jesus’ attitude is completely different, and is dictated by His union with the Father and compassion for the people, the compassion Jesus has for all of us: Jesus feels our problems, feels our failings, feels our needs. Before those five loaves, Jesus thinks: here is providence! From this tiny amount, God can bring forth what is necessary for everyone. Jesus trusts completely in the heavenly Father, He knows that in Him all things are possible. So he tells the disciples to have the people sit down in groups of fifty – this is not accidental: this means that they are no longer a crowd, but they become communities, nourished by the bread of God. Then He takes the loaves and fishes, raises His eyes to heaven, says the blessing – the reference to the Eucharist is clear - and then He breaks them and begins to give them to the disciples, and the disciples distribute them... and bread and fish do not do not run out! This is the miracle: more than a multiplication it is a sharing, animated by faith and prayer. They all ate and some was left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the bread of God for humanity.

The disciples saw, but didn’t understand the message well. They were caught up, like the crowd, in the enthusiasm of success. Once again, they followed human logic and not that of God, that of service, of love, of faith. The feast of Corpus Christi calls us to convert to faith in Providence, to be able to share the little that we are and that we have, and never to close in on ourselves. Let us ask our Mother Mary to help in this conversion, to truly follow the Jesus whom we worship in the Eucharist. Amen.

After the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis appealed for prayers for victims of war. Speaking to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed sorrow and preoccupation for the war that has been raging in Syria for the past two years. He observed that it particularly strikes the defenseless civil population that hopes for a just peace and comprehension.

“Wars” – Pope Francis said – “are always madness: all is lost in war, all is to be gained in peace”. Speaking after the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope asked those present to pray in silence for those who have fallen in war and for all other victims of conflict. And he spoke of the tragic consequences of war which - he said - brings with it death, destruction, huge economic and environmental damage, as well as the scourge of kidnapping.

“In deploring all of these” – Francis continued –“I wish to assure my prayers and my solidarity for those who are being held in captivity and for their families, and I appeal to the humanity of the kidnappers to free their victims”. Let us always pray – he concluded – “for our beloved Syria”.

The Pope then revealed that on Sunday morning, the second of June, the day in which Italy observes “Republic Day” and lays a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, he celebrated Mass with a group of soldiers and families of military personnel who have been killed during peace missions which – he said – “aim to promote reconciliation and peace in countries in which the blood of brothers continues to be spilt in wars that are always madness”. Pope Francis concluded his address with yet another heartfelt appeal for prayers for those who have fallen in war, for those who are wounded in conflict, and for their families.