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Archive for the ‘Pope Francis’ Category

36e7vzLast week, we had a combox discussion about what in the Church needs reform. David Schutz, in a thoughtful post on the reform of the Curia, reminds us that reform can’t stop in one place, and that – in Church history – those in most need of reform have usually been those most resistant.

Read the whole post for gems like this:

Don’t think that the Curia can reformed without the whole Church being reformed; and don’t think that the Church can be reformed without YOU (and me) being reformed.

…and this:

…it isn’t a “liberal vs conservative” thing, it is an “inward vs outward” thing. The Counter-Reformation was, of necessity, “inward”. But the time for “inward” is gone, and the time for “outward” – Evangelisation – is here. Yet a characterisation of both the old fashioned dyed-in-the-wool liberals and new Rad Trads is that they both share the view of an “inward looking”, aka, “self-referential” Church.

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Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter!

What a joy it is for me to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons…

Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin, of evil! Love has triumphed, mercy has been victorious!

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom.

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell – to the abyss of separation from God – this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus and transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and his glory is the living man (cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, 4,20,5-7).

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.

Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let Israel say: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’” (Ps 117:1-2).

[Unscripted remarks] Dear brothers and sisters who have come from all over the world to this Square, the heart of Christianity and to all of you joining us via the media, I repeat my wishes for a happy Easter! Bring to your families and your nations the message of joy, of hope, and of peace that every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed. May the Risen Lord, who defeated sin and death, sustain us all especially the weakest and those most in need. Thank you for your presence and the witness of your faith. A thought and special thanks for the gift of these beautiful flowers that come from the Netherlands. I affectionately repeat to all of you: May the Risen Christ guide all of you and all of humanity on the paths of justice, love, and peace!

[Pope Francis then imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.]

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Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia says:

Lombardi said today that Francis has now moved to a suite in the Domus, leaving the simple room which he was assigned by lot along with the other cardinal-electors prior to the Conclave. The suite had been prepared for the new Pope in anticipation of renovations others might’ve sought to the Palace apartment; the study in Francis’ new quarters is shown above.

As the pontiff determined where he’d live, the Vatican previously stated that Francis wanted his living arrangements to be marked by “simplicity and sharing.” Beyond his Masses in the house chapel, the Pope is said to have been taking his meals in common with the Domus’ residents and guests…

Beyond seeking a humbler set-up – not to mention a home-base that’s less isolating and, perhaps, easier to sneak out of as he sees fit – Francis’ decision to remain at S. Marta underscores a unique reality of the new papacy: unlike his predecessors since time immemorial, the pontiff has no personal household of aides and domestics who’ve come with him to the Vatican. As the household traditionally shares the Palace residence with the Pope, the lack of a “family” of his own means that Francis would’ve been occupying the old apartment by himself.

Rocco has some more details and some good pictures of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.  He reports that the Pope will still use the office suite in the Papal Apartments of the Apostolic Palace for meetings and other work.

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479699_10200882652894910_1998537882_nMy beloved is a born teacher. In every job he’s ever had, he has made knowledge-transfer a pivotal part of his job performance. He brings his skills into his family life, as a father, as a grandfather, as a husband. At times, his insistence that mistakes and trials are learning opportunities can be a little trying. Note to husbands: If your wife is leaping on one foot around the floor, holding the broken toe she has just sustained from the fall of a heavy wooden bedhead, it is not a good time to lean your head in the window and say: “What have you learned from this experience?”

He’s right, though. (He usually is, God bless him.)  “What have you learned from this experience?” It’s the logical and productive way to look at what happens to us, good and bad.

In a post reacting to widespread debate about Pope Francis’ style, David Schütz invites us to ponder “What can we learn from this experience?”

There was a time when ceremonial grandeur attracted people to the Church. There some societies in which it still does. Unfortunately, our western society is no longer such. While the grandeur of the Church remains very attractive to some of us, there are a lot of others for whom (rightly or wrongly – and I would definitely say wrongly) this grandeur interpreted as a display of wealth in the face of the overwhelming poverty of many in the world. In a word, it spells “hypocrisy”. To many it has become an impenetrable barrier to hearing the message of the Gospel.

Now I know that many of us have suffered the horrors of banality in the last 50 years or so in the Church – where the beautiful has been ditched for the common, and the lowest-common-denominator at that. So I am not talking about that. But we are mistaken if we think that the only kind of beauty that can be put up against such banal ugliness is grandeur. There is beauty in simplicity too. Or, to put it otherwise, simplicity can be as beautiful as grandeur. And attractive.

So, I think Pope Francis has judged that – in order that the Church’s message be heard – a new kind of beauty needs to shine forth from the Church at the highest level: the beauty of simplicity. This is not a criticism of his predecessor, or of those of us who happen to find grandeur attractive.

Also take a look at Darwin Catholic’s post ‘There is not just one way to be Pope’:

It seems to me that John Paul II’s dense intellectualism combined with his oversize and highly charismatic personality was arguably exactly what the Church needed at the time of his pontificate — as we emerged from a time in which it seemed like the roof was coming down and everything was up for grabs. Benedict’s liturgical focus was another thing that the Church desperately needed at the time that he was chosen — and I think that his ability to write deeply yet clearly was also a huge need. If John Paul II’s struggle to incorporate Catholic teaching and a moderl philosophical understanding of the human person were something very much needed in our modern era, I at the same time suspect that Benedict’s books (both his books about the life of Christ and the many books he wrote prior to his pontificate) may actually be read more often by ordinary Catholics in the coming decades than anything that John Paul II wrote.

Similarly, I think that Francis’ intentional simplicity is something that we need to see in our pope at times. This is not to say that Benedict and John Paul were not simple. They were, though in different ways. But while not every saint needs (or should) be simple in the sort of over-the-top way that our pope’s namesake St. Francis of Assisi was, St. Francis nonetheless remains a good saint to have. That it is good that we have St. Francis as an example does not mean that every other saint is the less for not being St. Francis.

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IRISH NUN SUPERVISES TEACHER AT PRIMARY SCHOOL IN SOUTHERN SUDANAnother post from my comment stream, this one contributed by Jerry from a comment posted on the Guardian’s website. Thanks, Jerry.

As one might imagine, most of the comments on this website – and for that matter, all other British and Western European websites – will be couched in a healthy dose of cynicism and/or disdain and disillusionment, but personally, I’m optimistic, albeit not being Catholic or even Christian myself. Look, I realise it’s naive to expect the church to change its stance on homosexuality or premarital sex or women priests or abortion or priests’ being able to marry. At the same time, I realise that the church is still quite an extraordinarily powerful organisation, and if its leader is going to champion the poor and the most vulnerable, especially at a time when the world is in the throes of one of the worst economic crises of recent times, then I’d say more power to his elbow! It’s really a breath of fresh air to have a pope from the developing world who has likely seen poverty’s most ugly face first hand.

I’m also inclined to believe that there’s more than meets the eye behind Benedict’s resignation. Given the Francis gets to form his Curia from scratch now that the former Curia has been disbanded, let’s also hope he weeds out the rot that has set in at the very heart of the Church.

Plainly put, I don’t see why one should throw the baby out with the bathwater and write off the Church simply because it won’t change its stances on social issues. As someone who works with charities which tend to the poorest and the most vulnerable, most of them tend to be overwhelmingly Christian charities. Christians in action make a world of difference and I’ve seen this first hand. The Catholic Church still wields an extraordinary amount of clout, especially in the developing world – and if it can make even a small difference in alleviating poverty, I’d take that over the all mouth and no trousers type keyboard warriors.

Here are some figures from the 2012 Church book of statistics:

In the field of education, the Catholic Church runs 70,544 kindergartens with 6,478,627 pupils; 92,847 primary schools with 31,151,170 pupils; 43,591 secondary schools with 17,793,559 pupils. The Church also cares for 2,304,171 high school pupils, and 3,338,455 university students. Compared to the previous year there has been a slight increase concerning kindergartens (+2.425) and a decrease concerning pupils (-43.693); a slight decrease in primary schools (-124 and an increase in pupils (+178.056); increase in secondary schools (+1.096) and pupils (+678.822); there is also an increase in secondary school pupils (+15.913) and university students (+63.015) who are monitored.

Catholic charity and healthcare centres

Charity and healthcare centres run in the world by the Church include:

5,305 hospitals most of them in America (1,694) and Africa (1,150)

18,179 dispensaries mainly in America (5,762); Africa (5,312) and Asia (3,884)

547 Care Homes for people with Leprosy mainly in Asia (285) and Africa (198)

17,223 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability mainly in Europe (8,021) and America (5,650)

9,882 orphanages, about one third in Asia (3,606)

11,379 creches

15,327 marriage counselling centres mainly in America (6,472)

34,331 social rehabilitation centres

9,391 other kinds of institutions, mostly located in America (3,564) and Europe (3,159).

One more statistic – in the vexed area of AIDS, one in every four AIDS victims world wide receives care in a Church-run facility; in Africa, that figure is between 40% and 50%.  In 2011, there were “117,000 Catholic medical facilities, from clinics in the deepest jungle to large urban hospitals in the developing world, that are involved in treating both people that are already infected with AIDS and trying to prevent the transmission to at-risk populations.” [PBS News]

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Pope Francis centred the homily of his inaugural Mass on St Joseph, and what imitating St Joseph means for us today.

In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!
The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

The Telegraph has a description of the inaugural Mass, and several video clips showing highlights.

Big Pulpit has a roundup of inaugural Mass stories.

And here’s a roundup of my own: video clips showing Catholic joy at the election of a new Pope. As iBenedictines says:

We rejoice because we have a pope. Every single Catholic, whether Eastern Rite or Western Rite, whether attached to labels like liberal or conservative or utterly indifferent to them, rejoices because without a pope the Church is somehow incomplete. Each and every one of us has a personal connection to this man. At times that connection may be expressed negatively, but if so it will be with the negativity of family membership.

First, the reaction of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. H/T Matthew Archibold.

Next the reaction in the Square:

and this one, H/T Lisa Hendy:

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431797_10150623857983387_15337298386_9282229_892989336_nSeveral weeks ago, Joanne McPortland asked for ‘an average Joe’ for Pope. Take a look at her post for her reasons, but here’s the essence of her request:

May the Holy Spirit give us a new St Joseph, guardian of the Church as he was of Mary and her Child—a father, a protector, a craftsman, a man in the world but not of it. It strikes me that the feast of St Joseph the Worker, March 19, may fall within the Conclave. What better time for the Holy Spirit to give us a pope with the gifts of those two Josephs—Roncalli and Ratzinger?

Take a look at what Karl Rahner says in a homily for the Feast of St Joseph, and see if you think she’s got what she prayed for.

CommunionOfSaints3[1]The Catholic Church today [March 19] celebrates the feast of her patron, her heavenly protector. We can understand such a feast only if we believe in the communion of saints, if we know by faith that God is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living, if we confess that whoever has died in God’s grace lives with God and precisely for that reason is close to us, and if we are convinced that these citizens of heaven intercede for their brothers and sisters on earth in the eternal liturgy of heaven.

The meaning of such a feast can be grasped only if we believe that after death all the events of this earthly life are not simply gone and past, over and done with forever, but that they are preparatory steps that belong to us for eternity, that belong to us as our living future. For our mortality does not change to eternity in an instant; rather, it is slowly transformed into life.

The blessed men and women with whom we have fellowship in the communion of saints are not pale shadows. Rather, they have brought over into the eternal life of God the fruits of their earthly life, and thus have brought with them their own personal uniqueness.

Their God even calls them by name in the one today of eternity. They are ever the same as they were in the unique history of their own lives. We single out one individual from among them to honor him as our heavenly protector and intercessor, because his own individuality means something unique and irreplaceable to us. We mean that between him and us there exists a specific rapport that makes him a special blessing for us and assigns a special duty to us, if we are to be worthy of his protection.

40758From this point of view, is it possible to think that Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin and foster father of our Lord, is particularly suited to be a patron of a twentieth-century person? Is it possible to think that anyone living today will be able to see himself reflected in Joseph? Are there not people today who, if they are true to their character as willed by God, are a people of small means, of hard work, of only a few words, of loyalty of heart and simple sincerity?

Certainly every Christian and every Christian nation are charged with the entire fullness of Christian perfection as a duty that is never completed. But every nation and every human being have, so to speak, their own door, their own approach, through which they alone can come nearer to the fullness of Christianity. Not all of us will find access to the boundless vistas of God’s world through the great gate of surging rapture and burning ardor. Some must go through the small gate of quiet loyalty and the ordinary, exact performance of duty. And it is this fact, I am inclined to think, that can help us to discover a rapport between earth and heaven, between Christians today and their heavenly intercessor.

The pages of the Bible tell us little about Joseph. But they tell us enough to know something of our heavenly patron. Not a single word of his has been recorded for us. He pondered, yes; that is expressly attested to. But he spoke little, so little that these words did not have to be transmitted to posterity. We know that he was a descendant of the noble lineage of David, the greatest in his nation’s history. But that was the past that the present, in its sober poverty, had yet to make perceptible. This present, however, was the hard life of one insignificant carpenter in a tiny village in one corner of the world. For the poor this present meant paying taxes and standing in line.

migranticonIt was the destiny of the “displaced person,” who had to seek scanty shelter among strangers, until the political situation again permitted a return to his homeland, the homeland that he must have loved, since he renounced living in the neighbourhood of the capital city and stayed in the “province” country of Galilee. He lived very inconspicuously in his Nazareth, so that the life of his family furnished no spectacular background for the public appearance of Jesus (Lk 4:22). However, this humble routine of the life of an insignificant man concealed something else: the silent performance of duty.

Three times the scripture says of Joseph: “He rose up.” He rose up to carry out God’s will as he perceived it in his conscience, a conscience that was so alert that it perceived the message of the angel even in sleep, although that message called him to a path of duty that he himself neither devised nor expected.

According to the witness of the Bible, this insignificant man’s humble routine concealed a further object of value: righteousness. Joseph was a just man, the Bible says, a man who regulated his life according to the word and law of God. Not only when this law suited his desires, but always and at all times, even when it was hard, and when the law judged to his disadvantage that his neighbor was right. He was righteous in that he was impartial, tactful, and respectful of Mary’s individuality and even of that which he could not understand in her.

His loyalty to duty and impartial righteousness, which is a manly form of love, also lived in him with respect to God his Father. He was a devout man and he was manly in his devotion. For him the service of God was not a matter of pious feelings that come and go, but a matter of humble loyalty that really served God and not his own pious ego. As Luke says: “Every year he went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, according to the custom.” Now we can tell what was the most important element in the life of this man whose everyday life was a life of duty, righteousness, and of manly devotion: this life was given the charge of protecting in a fatherly way the saviour of the world.

holy-cloakHe received into his family the one who came to redeem his nation from their sin, one to whom he himself gave the name of Jesus, a name which served the eternal Word of the Father, the Word who had become a child of this world. And people called their redeemer the son of a carpenter. When the eternal Word was audible in the world in the message of the Gospels, Joseph, having quietly done his duty, went away without any notice on the part of the world.

But the life of this insignificant man did have significance; it had one meaning that, in the long run, counts in each person’s life: God and his incarnate grace. To him it could be said: “Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” Who can doubt that this man is a good patron for us? This man of humble, everyday routine, this man of silent performance of duty, of honest righteousness and of manly piety, this man who was charged with protecting the grace of God in its embodied life?

Contemporary Christians might find their way back to what is best in them if the individuality of this man, their patron, were again producing more stature in them. Granted, a nation must have greatness of spirit and pioneers who will lead it toward new goals. Just as much, if not more so, however, a nation needs men and women of lifelong performance of duty, of clearheaded loyalty, of discipline of heart and body. A nation needs men and women who know that true greatness is achieved only in selfless service to the greater and holy duty that is imposed upon each life; human beings of genuine reverence, conquerors of themselves, who hear the word of God and carry out the inflexible decrees of conscience. It needs men and women who through their lives bear the childlike, defenseless grace of God past all those who, like Herod, attempt to kill this grace. A nation needs men and women who do not lose confidence in God’s grace, even when they have to seek it as lost, as Joseph once sought the divine child. Such individuals are urgently needed in every situation and in every class.

Rollini2241PatronChurchRomeSHeartBasilicaWe have a good patron, who is suitable for everyone. For he is a patron of the poor, a patron of workers, a patron of exiles, a model for worshipers, an exemplar of the pure discipline of the heart, a prototype of fathers who protect in their children the Son of the Father. Joseph, who himself experienced death, is also the patron of the dying, standing at our bedside. We have inherited from our Father a good patron. But the question put to us is whether we remain worthy of this inheritance, whether we preserve and increase the mysterious rapport between us and our heavenly intercessor.

Joseph lives. He may seem far away from us, but he is not. For the communion of saints is near and the seeming distance is only appearance. The saints may seem eclipsed by the dazzling brightness of the eternal God, into which they have entered, like those who have vanished into the distance of lost centuries. God, however, is not a God of the dead, but of the living. He is the God of those who live forever in heaven, where they reap the fruits of their life on earth, the life that only seems to be past, over and done with forever. Their earthly life bore eternal fruit, and they have planted that fruit in the true soil of life, out of which all generations live.

And so Joseph lives. He is our patron. We, however, will experience the blessing of his protection if we, with God’s grace, open our heart and our life to his spirit and the quiet power of his intercession.

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