Vatican City, October 4, 2017
Joy is the sure sign of true Christian hope, for we know that evil will not have the upper hand,
and that God’s love, revealed on the cross, will ultimately triumph.
Certainly, there are times when the gift of hope proves costly.
This is the case with so many of our fellow Christians who presently experience persecution,
and with the martyrs in every age. Their witness inspires us to continue to hope in Christ’s promises.
As missionaries of hope, may we rejoice in God’s saving power, never lose heart,
and help others to look to the future with confidence.
Vatican City, September 20, 2017
… A seed of the absolute is beating within us. God does not disappoint: … Everything is born to flourish in an eternal Spring. God also created us to flourish. I remember that dialogue, when the oak tree asks the almond tree: ‘Speak to me about God’. And the almond tree blossomed.
… Wherever you may be, build! … Work for peace among people, and do not listen to the voice of those who spread hate and discord. … As different as [we] are from each other, human beings were created to live together. In conflicts, be patient: one day you will discover that each person is the custodian of a fragment of truth.
Love people. Love them one by one. Respect everyone’s journey, be it linear or troubled, because everyone has [a] story to tell. … Every child born is the promise of a life which once again reveals itself to be stronger than death. Every love which springs up is a power for transformation …
Vatican City, August 30, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters: I wish to reflect on the Gospel passage we have heard.
Saint John shares with us the precious memory of when Jesus called the first disciples and asked them:
"What do you seek?" It is a question that he asks each of us in our own time.
Jesus recognizes that a young heart, and a healthy one at that, is a searching heart,
full of a desire for life and happiness. For the first disciples, this encounter was only the beginning
of their relationship with Jesus and the living out of their vocation;
it ignited a flame in their hearts, which transformed them into missionaries
who always treasured the memory of that first encounter with Christ.
Their story reminds us how we discover our vocation. Whether we are called to marriage,
consecrated life or priesthood, our vocation finds its origin in our first encounter with Jesus.
It is that first spark which, even in the midst of trials, leads to an ever-deeper relationship with the Lord
and which brings us hope and joy. Let us treasure this flame of love that burns in our hearts,
by recalling our first encounter with Christ. May we be joyful disciples,
who dream with God of a better world, and who share the reason for our hope with all we meet.
*Dear brothers and sisters! *
"You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:34).
Throughout the first years of my pontificate, I have repeatedly expressed my particular concern for the lamentable situation of many migrants and refugees fleeing from war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty. This situation is undoubtedly a "sign of the times" which I have tried to interpret, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to express the Church’s concern for migrants, displaced people, refugees and victims of human trafficking.
Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age (Matthew 25:35-43). The Lord entrusts to the Church’s motherly love every person forced to leave their homeland in search of a better future. "Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate".
This is a great responsibility, which the Church intends to share with all believers and men and women of good will, who are called to respond to the many challenges of contemporary migration with generosity, promptness, wisdom and foresight, each according to their own abilities.
Sunday Angelus Greeting
Pope Francis spoke to the crowd of pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square and focused on the Gospel passage from Matthew, in which an enemy secretly plants weeds alongside the wheat in a master's field.
The image, he said, shows us the good seed that is planted in the world by God, but also the bad seed planted by the devil in order to corrupt the good.
It not only speaks of the problem of evil, but it also refers to God's patience in the master, who allows the weeds to grow alongside the wheat, so that the harvest is not lost.
"With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world good and evil are totally entwined, that it's impossible to separate them and weed out all the evil," Pope Francis said, adding that "only God can do this, and he will do it in the final judgment."
Instead, the parable represents "the field of the freedom of Christians," who must make the difficult discernment between good and evil, choosing which one to follow. Francis explained that this means "wanting to be good grain, with all of its strengths, and so to distance yourself from evil and it's seductions" while "preferring a Church that is the leaven of the dough, which is not afraid to dirty her hands washing the feet of her children, rather than a Church of the 'pure,' which pretends to judge before it's time who is in the Kingdom of God and who is not," he said.
Vatican City, June 28, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News).
On Wednesday Pope Francis said that following Christ means taking a path contrary to that of the world, and being prepared to suffer because of this; though we have hope because of God’s constant presence.
Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the theme of Christian hope during the weekly general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. This time he reflected on the counter-cultural life of the Christian, which will mean withstanding persecution on some level, and for some, even martyrdom.
As Christians we do this "not for a contrary spirit, but for loyalty to the logic of the Kingdom of God, which is a logic of hope, and is translated into a way of life based on the directions of Jesus," he continued.
Vatican City, May 31, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News).
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
As we approach the Solemnity of Pentecost we cannot neglect to speak of the relationship between Christian hope and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the wind that drives us onwards, that keeps us on the path, that makes us feel we are pilgrims and strangers, and that does not permit us to settle and to become a "sedentary" people.
The Letter to the Hebrews compares hope to an anchor (cfr. 6:18-19); and to this image we can add that of the sail. If the anchor is what gives the boat its security, keeping it "anchored" amid the waves of the sea, the sail is instead that which makes the boat move and advance on the waters. Hope is truly like a sail; it collects the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into the driving force pushing the boat, depending on the case, out to sea or to the shore.
The apostle Paul concludes his Letter to the Romans with this wish: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rm. 15,13). Let us reflect on the content of these beautiful words.
*Vatican City, May 4, 2017 / 10:47 am (CNA/EWTN News). *
Pope Francis on Thursday approved decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints advancing the causes for canonization of 12 individuals, including the American-born Capuchin Solanus Casey and the Vietnamese cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.
In his May 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation, Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Solanus Casey, which allows for his beatification.
Venerable Casey was known for his great faith, attention to the sick, and ability as a spiritual counselor.
Born Bernard Casey on Nov. 25, 1870, he was the sixth child of 16 born to Irish immigrants in Wisconsin. In 1898 he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and after struggling through his studies, in 1904 was ordained a "sacerdos simplex" – a priest who can say Mass, but not publicly preach or hear confessions.
Even in his 70s, Fr. Solanus Casey remained very active, and would even join the younger religious men in a game of tennis or volleyball. He died from erysipelas, a skin disease, on July 31, 1957, at the age of 87.
Fr. Michael Sullivan, provincial minister of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, said May 4 that "Long before we knew and loved Pope Francis, we had the example of Fr. Solanus who lived the Gospel of Mercy. Known for his compassion and simplicity, he drew many thousands to God."
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit commented that "The beatification of Father Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit and for the whole community of Southeast Michigan. He is an inspiration to all us Catholics – and to all – of the power of grace to transform one’s life."
Reuters, April 26, 2017
TORONTO (Reuters) - Pope Francis made a surprise appearance at a TED talk conference on Tuesday, urging powerful leaders "to act humbly" and said he hoped technological innovation would not leave people behind.
"The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly," said the pontiff, while seated at a desk. "If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other."
The comments echoed Francis' frequent themes to not ignore the plight of immigrants, the poor and other vulnerable people. The 18-minute video was filmed in Vatican City and broadcast to the audience at the annual TED 2017 conference in Vancouver. Speaking in Italian with subtitles, Francis urged solidarity to overcome a "culture of waste" that had affected not only food but people cast aside by economic systems that rely increasingly on automation.
"How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion," he said.
Vatican Radio, April 12, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters: During this Holy Week, our continuing catechesis on Christian hope looks to the mystery of the Cross. Unlike worldly hopes, which fail to bring lasting satisfaction, our Christian hope is grounded in God’s eternal love, revealed in the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial death and his rising to new life.
Jesus, in speaking of his imminent passion and death, uses the image of the seed that must fall to the ground and die, in order to bear fruit. His saving death and resurrection show that the self-giving love that is God’s very life can transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, apparent defeat into eternal victory. The Cross of Christ is thus the source of that unfailing hope which gives meaning and direction to our lives. Beyond the shadow of the Cross, we glimpse the glory to which we are called.
As we celebrate these holy days leading to Easter, may we contemplate in the crucified Lord the source of our lasting hope and the inspiration for our efforts to live in imitation of his undying love.
Pray and take action to protect the environment
In an innovation that surprised many church-watchers and upset some traditionalists, Pope Francis said that prayer and action to protect the environment should be added to the venerable seven corporal works of mercy
and the seven spiritual works of mercy
drawn from the Gospels and Christian tradition. "We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness," Francis wrote. "But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces." "Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world's poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact."
Vatican City, March 3, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News).
True fasting is helping your neighbor; while false fasting mixes religiosity with dirty deals and the bribes of vanity. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday, March 3, 2017.
The readings of the day speak about fasting; that is, the Pope explained, "about the penance that we are called to do in this time of Lent," in order to draw closer to the Lord. God delights in the "contrite heart," the Psalm says, "the heart of one who feels himself a sinner, who knows he is a sinner." In the first Reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God rebukes the false religiosity of the hypocrites who fast, while at the same time carrying out their own pursuits, oppressing their workers, "striking with wicked claw": on the one hand, doing penance, while on the other being unjust, making "dirty deals." The Lord calls us, instead, to a true fast, where we are attentive to our neighbor:
- "‘This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.’*
"Let us think on these words, let us think in our own hearts, how do we fast, pray, give alms? And it would help us to think about how we would feel about a man who, after a meal that cost 200 euros, for example, returns home and sees someone hungry, and doesn’t look at him and keeps walking. It would do us good to think about that."
*Vatican City, Feb 15, 2017 / 04:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- *
Continuing his catechesis on the theme of hope from earlier weeks, Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during the general audience reflecting on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which the saint speaks of boasting "in hope of the glory of God."
"So our greatest pride is to have as a Father a God who has no favorites, who does not exclude anyone, but who opens his home to all human beings, beginning with the last and the distant, because as his children we learn to console and support each other," he said.
"And then … we are at peace with ourselves, we are at peace in the family, in our community, at work and with the people we meet every day on our way," he said. The peace the Lord offers us "should not be understood as the absence of worries, disappointments, failures and the causes of suffering." If this were true, then our peace would be very short-lived, he said, adding that "the peace that comes from faith is instead a gift ... it is the grace to experience that God loves us" and there is always a guarantee that "he does not leave us alone even for a moment of our lives." It is the knowledge of the security of God’s love for us that helps us to bear suffering patiently, even in the most difficult moments, because "the mercy and goodness of the Lord are the greatest of all things and nothing will tear us from his hands."
Excerpted from article by Hannah Brockhaus
*Vatican City, February 1, 2017 *
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christian hope isn't about believing in something that may or may not come true, like hoping tomorrow's weather will be pleasant, Pope Francis said. "Christian hope is the expectation of something that already has been fulfilled and that certainly will be attained for each one of us," that is, knowing Christ died and is truly risen so that all of humanity may gain salvation and live together with God, the pope said Feb. 1 during his weekly general audience. Continuing a series of talks on Christian hope, the pope looked at St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:4-11) and what it teaches about the Christian belief in life after death. Christian hope … is belief in "a sure reality" because it is rooted in the real event of Christ's resurrection and his promise of eternal life with him. Everyone needs to learn to live each day … "in expectation of gazing at the Lord, of finding the Lord," he said. At the end of his main audience talk, the pope greeted members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, which seeks to act upon the pope's encyclical "Laudato Si'" and address climate change. He thanked them for their dedication to "taking care of our common home during this time of serious social-environmental crisis." He encouraged them to continue to expand and strengthen their networks "so that local churches may respond with determination to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."
--Adapted from Pope-Audience-Resurrection, CNS Feb. 1. 2017
Vatican City, December 19, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)
Young Catholics can be a force for joy and peace, Pope Francis told an audience with Catholic Action on Monday.
"Proclaiming to all the love and tenderness of Jesus, you become apostles of the joy of the Gospel. And joy is contagious."
Reflecting on the Nativity of Jesus Christ, he said: "The birth of Jesus is announced as a great joy, originating from the discovery that God loves us and, through the birth of Jesus, made Himself close to us to save us. We are beloved by God. What a wonderful thing!"
Adapted from Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, December 4, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)
… the condition to experiencing God’s kingdom - both on earth and in heaven - is conversion.
"(B)e converted every day, one step forward every day," Pope Francis said.
He encouraged the faithful to convert and prepare the way of the Lord in their hearts by examining their consciences and leaving behind the "convenient but misleading ... idols of this world: success at all costs, the power at the expense of the weak, the thirst for wealth, pleasure at any price."
"Christmas is a day of great joy, also exterior, but is primarily a religious event for which spiritual preparation is needed," Pope Francis said.
"In this Advent season, let us be guided by the exhortation of John the Baptist: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’"
--Vatican City, October 5, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News)
*Pope: Church's mission is to attract people to Christ, not proselytize *
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians are called to follow the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, who helped draw people to Jesus by way of attraction, not by proselytizing, Pope Francis said. She was a reminder that an authentic witness is proclaimed through a union with Christ "in prayer, adoration and in concrete charity, which is serving Jesus, who is present in the least of our brothers and sisters," he said Oct. 5 during his weekly general audience.
Among the estimated 25,000 in St. Peter's Square were 33 former prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp, whom he greeted after the audience and posed for pictures. Addressing the former prisoners and Polish pilgrims present, he said the day's feast of St. Faustina Kowalska "reminded the world that God is rich in mercy and that his love is more powerful than death, than sin and every evil."
--Vatican City, Sep 14, 2016 / 10:30 am (CNA/EWTN News)
Pope Francis reflected on the passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
"The invitation is in the imperative form: 'come to me,' 'take my yoke,' 'learn from me,'" Francis said.
"Dear brothers and sisters, for us there are moments of fatigue and disappointment. Then let us remember these words of the Lord, who gives us so much consolation and helps us to understand if we are putting our powers at the service of good," he said.
Vatican City, Aug 10, 2016 / 12:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis gave this reflection at the end of his General Audience in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall Aug. 10.
"Each of us must respond to the gift of mercy in our hearts by getting up and putting mercy into action," Pope Francis said Wednesday.
Speaking about a bishop who had in his cathedral one Holy Door of mercy for entering and one for exiting, Pope Francis said: "Let us also do the same with the journey that goes from the heart to the hands."
Pope Francis reflected on the pain of the mother of the young boy who died in Luke 7. At the word of Christ, the dead boy sat up and began to speak. "What Jesus did is therefore not only an action of salvation destined to the widow and her son, or a gesture of kindness limited to that town," he said. "Today, too, the Church recognizes a visit from God."
"Mercy, both in Jesus and in us, is a journey that starts from the heart to get to the hands. What does this mean? Jesus looks at you, heals you with his mercy, tells you: ‘Get up!’, And your heart is new," Pope Francis concluded.
--Adapted from the Catholic News Service.
Wisdom of Pope Francis
"The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is an auspicious occasion for promoting worldwide ever more evolved forms of respect for the life and dignity of each person. It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal. Today I would encourage all to work not only for the abolition of the death penalty, but also for the improvement of prison conditions, so that they fully respect the human dignity of those incarcerated. ‘Rendering justice’ does not mean seeking punishment for its own sake, but ensuring that the basic purpose of all punishment is the rehabilitation of the offender. The question must be dealt with within the larger framework of a system of penal justice open to the possibility of the guilty party’s reinsertion in society. There is no fitting punishment without hope! Punishment for its own sake, without room for hope, is a form of torture, not of punishment."
--Pope Francis Address to those attending the Sixth World Congress Against the Death Penalty In Oslo, June 21-23, 2016
Marriage Is for Life, Pope Francis Says
Because most people today do not understand that sacramental marriage really is a bond that binds them to each other for life, many marriages today can be considered invalid, Pope Francis said. Raising a point he has raised before, and one also raised by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis insisted on June 16 that the validity of a marriage implies that a couple understands that sacramental marriage is a bond that truly binds them to another for their entire lives.
"We are living in a culture of the provisional," he told participants in the Diocese of Rome's annual pastoral conference. The idea of commitments being temporary "occurs everywhere, even in priestly and religious life. The provisional. And for this reason a large majority of sacramental marriages are null. They say 'yes, for my whole life,' but they do not know what they are saying because they have a different culture," he said.
Attitudes toward marriage are influenced strongly by social expectations. Pope Francis told participants that when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he banned "shotgun weddings" from Catholic parishes because the strong social pressure to marry placed on a couple expecting a baby could mean they were not fully free to pledge themselves to each other for life through the sacrament. It was important, he said, that the couples were not abandoned, but were assisted by the church. Many of them, he said, "after two or three years would marry. I would watch them enter the church -- dad, mom and the child holding their hands. They knew well what they were doing."
"The crisis of marriage is because people do not know what the sacrament is, the beauty of the sacrament; they do not know that it is indissoluble, that it is for one's entire life," he said. "It's difficult."
Adapted from Cindy Wooden - Catholic News Service Jun 17 2016
The Feast of Corpus Christi
In Pope Francis’s homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi he notes, "when Christ tells his disciples to ‘give them something to eat yourselves,’ he is indicating that while he is the one who blesses and breaks the bread, providing enough to feed the entire hungry crowd, it is the disciples who offer the loaves and fish. Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had."
The Pope then pointed to how the pieces of bread, once broken "by the holy and venerable hands" of Jesus, were then placed into "the poor hands of the disciples," who distributed them to the people. In distributing the bread to the hungry crowd, the disciples are able to share in Christ’s own action, giving the people something to eat.
"Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all."
*Sunday, May 29, 2016 *
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy,
we now turn to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus had taught the great commandment of love for God and neighbour.
In reply to the question: "Who is my neighbour?", he recounts the story of the priest and the levite
who pass by a man in need at the side of the road. Their religiosity is ultimately inauthentic,
for it does not find expression in service to others. Love, the Lord tells us, is never abstract or distant;
it "sees" and it responds. The compassion shown by the Samaritan is an image of the infinite mercy of God,
who always sees our needs and draws near to us in love. The command to love God and neighbour, then,
is supremely practical; it entails caring for others even to the point of personal sacrifice.
By the end of the parable, we see that the "neighbour" is not so much the man in need,
but rather the one who responded to that need with compassion. Jesus tells all of us to be neighbours in this sense:
"Go and do likewise". He himself is the model of the Good Samaritan;
by imitating his love and compassion, we show ourselves truly to be his followers.
--Wednesday Audience, April 27, 2016 Vatican News Service
The New Testament "is truly the 'Gospel of mercy' because Jesus is mercy," Pope Francis said on Wednesday.
At every moment in his life, Jesus showed love to everyone: a love that is "pure, free and absolute," the pope said.
Jesus began his mission of mercy with his baptism in the Jordan River, waiting in line "with the sinners, he wasn't ashamed, he was there with everyone, with the sinners, to get baptized." He could have begun his public ministry with lots of fanfare, "in the splendor of the temple," to the "blast of trumpets" or "in the garments of a judge," but he didn't. Instead he chose to be with the people, taking on "the human condition, spurred by solidarity and compassion."
-- Wednesday Audience, April 6, 2016
"Dear Brothers and Sisters: The Sacred Scriptures present God as infinite mercy, but also as perfect justice. When we think of justice, we think of its legal administration, which seeks retribution and exacts a penalty. Such legal justice does not conquer evil, but simply stems its tide…. [But] This is God’s justice. He does not seek our condemnation, but our salvation. By making us see the wrong we have done, the Father helps us to recognize our need for his mercy revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s justice is his mercy. As God’s children, may we be open to his divine mercy, and readily and generously share it with our brothers and sisters."
--From the Wednesday audience with Pope Francis, February 3, 2016