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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 18, 2015

Doors and Borders Are Not to Push People Away, Says Pope at Audience

Church Must Welcome All the Sheep the Good Shepherd Wants to Bring In

People must never be afraid to knock at the door of the Church or the door of our hearts because of having been made to feel unwelcome, says Pope Francis.

As we approach the Dec. 8 start-date of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of today’s Wednesday general audience to the meaning of the Holy Door, which he will open Dec. 8 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Beyond the physical holy doors found on cathedrals and basilicas, this great door is that of God’s mercy, the Pope said, which welcomes our repentance and offers us the grace of forgiveness; a door which is opened generously but whose threshold must be crossed with courage.

“We are all sinners! Let us take advantage of this moment that is coming and cross the threshold of this mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving, never tires of waiting for us! He looks at us, He is always beside us. Courage! Let us go in through this door,” the Pope invited.

He noted that in Revelation, the City of God is described with the door always open: “‘Its gates shall never be shut by day,’ which means forever because ‘there shall be no night there’ (21:25).”

God never forces himself into our hearts, the Holy Father reminded. “He even asks permission to come in.”

The managing of “doors”, the Pope said, “of the thresholds, of the passages, of the borders – has become crucial.”

“A door must protect, certainly, but not push away,” he said. “The door must not be forced, on the contrary, permission must be asked, because hospitality shines in the freedom of a welcome, and it is darkened in the arrogance of invasion.”

Courage

Pope Francis noted that people can be afraid to knock: “How many people have lost confidence, do not have the courage to knock on the door of our Christian heart, on the doors of our churches … [W]e have taken away their confidence: please, let this not happen any more.”

The Holy Father thanked those who are the custodians of doorways, be it of residences or offices. “Often the prudence and the kindness of the porter are capable of offering an image of humanity and welcome to the whole house, already from the entrance,” he said.

Always wear a smile, he told them, so that people feel welcome and happy.

Expanding the image, the Pope said that we are the custodians and servants of God’s door, which is Jesus.

In reference to John 10, he spoke of the responsibility of the Church to welcome all: “If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens and has all the sheep enter that the Shepherd brings, all, including those lost in the woods, which the Good Shepherd went to bring back. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, they are not chosen by the parish secretary or the parish’s secretariat; the sheep are all invited, they are chosen by the Good Shepherd. The guardian also obeys the voice of the Shepherd. See, we can well say that we must be like that guardian. The Church is the doorkeeper of the Lord’s House; she is not the proprietor of the Lord’s House.”

Finally, the Pope reflected on the scene which we are about to celebrate at Christmas: “The Holy Family of Nazareth knows well what it means to have an open or closed door, for one expecting a child, for one in need of shelter, for one who must escape from danger.”

“May Christian families make the threshold of their home a small great sign of the Word of God’s Mercy and His welcome,” the Pope said. “It is in fact thus that the Church must be recognized, in every corner of the earth: as the custodian of a God that knocks, as the welcome of a God that does not close the door in your face, with the excuse that you are not of the house. We approach the Jubilee with this spirit: There will be the Holy Door, but it will be the door of God’s great mercy! May it also be the door of our heart for us all to receive God’s forgiveness and for us in turn to forgive, welcoming all those that knock on our door.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/general-audience-on-the-door-of-mercy

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On the Door of Mercy

“There will be the Holy Door, but it will be the door of God’s great mercy! May it also be the door of our heart for us all to receive God’s forgiveness and for us in turn to forgive, welcoming all those that knock on our door”

Here is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ address at today’s general audience.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

With this reflection we have arrived at the threshold of the Jubilee, it is close. Before us is the door, but not only the Holy Door, the other – the great door of God’s Mercy, and it is a beautiful door! – which receives our repentance, offering the grace of His forgiveness. The door is generously open; a bit of courage is needed on our part to cross the threshold. Each one of us has within himself things that burden him. All of us. We are all sinners! Let us take advantage of this moment that is coming and cross the threshold of this mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving, never tires of waiting for us! He looks at us, He is always beside us. Courage! Let us go in through this door!

From the Synod of Bishops, which we held in the course of the month of October, all families and the entire Church received great encouragement to meet one another on the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go out with the Lord to encounter sons and daughters on the way, sometimes uncertain, sometimes lost, in these difficult times. Christian families in particular were encouraged to open the door to the Lord who waits to come in, bringing His blessing and His friendship. And if the door of God’s mercy is always open, the doors of our churches, of our communities, of our parishes, of our institutions, of our dioceses, must also be open, so that we can all go out to bring God’s mercy. The Jubilee signifies the great door of God’s mercy but also the small doors of our churches open to let the Lord come in – or many times to let the Lord go out – prisoner of our structures, of our egoism and of so many things.

The Lord never forces the door: He even asks permission to come in. The Book of Revelation says: ”Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20). But let us imagine the Lord who knocks on the door of our heart! And, in the last great vision of this Book of Revelation, the City of God is prophesied thus: “its gates shall never be shut by day,” which means forever because “there shall be no night there” (21:25). There are places in the world where the doors are not locked, they still exist; but there are so many where armour-plated doors have become normal. We must not yield to the idea of having to apply this system to our whole life, to the life of the family, of the city, of the society, and even less so to the life of the Church. It would be terrible! An inhospitable Church, just as a family shut-in on itself, mortifies the Gospel and hardens the world. No armour-plated doors in the Church, none! Everything open!

The symbolic management of the “doors” – of the thresholds, of the passages, of the borders – has become crucial. A door must protect, certainly, but not push away. The door must not be forced, on the contrary, permission must be asked, because hospitality shines in the freedom of a welcome, and it is darkened in the arrogance of invasion. A door is often opened to see if someone is outside who is waiting, and perhaps does not have the courage — perhaps not even the courage — to knock. How many people have lost confidence, do not have the courage to knock on the door of our Christian heart, on the doors of our churches … And they are there, they do not have the courage, we have taken away their confidence: please, let this not happen any more. The door says many things about a house, and also about the Church. The management of the door requires careful discernment and, at the same time, it must inspire great confidence. I would like to say a word of gratitude to all custodians of doors: of our condominiums, of civic institutions, of the churches themselves. Often the prudence and the kindness of the porter are capable of offering an image of humanity and welcome to the whole house, already from the entrance. We must learn from these men and women, who are custodians of places of encounter and welcome of the city of man! To all of you custodians of so many doors, be it doors of habitations, be it doors of churches, thank you so much! But always with a smile, always showing the hospitality of that house, of that church, thus the people feel happy and welcome in that place.

In truth, we know well that we ourselves are the custodians and servants of God’s Door, and how is God’s Door called? Jesus! He illumines us on all the doors of life, including those of our birth and of our death. He himself affirmed it: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Jesus is the door that makes us go in and out. Because God’s sheepfold is a shelter, it is not a prison! The House of God is a shelter, it is not a prison, and the door is called Jesus! And if the door is closed, we say: “Lord, open the door!” Jesus is the door and He makes us come in and go out. They are thieves who seek to avoid the door. It is curious, thieves always seek to enter another way, by the window, by the roof, but they avoid the door, because they have evil intentions, and they sneak into the sheepfold to deceive the sheep and to take advantage of them. We must pass through the door and listen to Jesus’ voice: if we hear His tone of voice, we are safe; we are saved. We can enter without fear and go out without danger. In this very beautiful discourse of Jesus, there is also talk of the guardian, who has the task to open to the Good Shepherd (cf. John 10:2). If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens and has all the sheep enter that the Shepherd brings, all, including those lost in the woods, which the Good Shepherd went to bring back. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, they are not chosen by the parish secretary or the parish’s secretariat; the sheep are all invited, they are chosen by the Good Shepherd. The guardian also obeys the voice of the Shepherd. See, we can well say that we must be like that guardian. The Church is the doorkeeper of the Lord’s House; she is not the proprietor of the Lord’s House.

The Holy Family of Nazareth knows well what it means to have an open or closed door, for one expecting a child, for one in need of shelter, for one who must escape from danger. May Christian families make the threshold of their home a small great sign of the Word of God’s Mercy and His welcome. It is in fact thus that the Church must be recognized, in every corner of the earth: as the custodian of a God that knocks, as the welcome of a God that does not close the door in your face, with the excuse that you are not of the house. We approach the Jubilee with this spirit: There will be the Holy Door, but it will be the door of God’s great mercy! May it also be the door of our heart for us all to receive God’s forgiveness and for us in turn to forgive, welcoming all those that knock on our door.

* * *

[Appeals]

Observed day-after-tomorrow will be the World Day of Children’s Rights. It is a duty of everyone to protect children and to put their good before any other criteria, so that they are no longer subjected to forms of slavery and mistreatment and also forms of exploitation. I hope that the International Community will carefully look after the life conditions of children, especially where they are exposed to recruitment by armed groups; and that it may also help families and guarantee every boy and girl the right to school and education.

* * *

On November 21, then, the Church recalls the Presentation of Mary Most Holy in the Temple. In this context, we thank the Lord for the gift of the vocation of men and women who, in monasteries and hermitages, have dedicated their lives to God. Let us not be lacking in spiritual and material closeness, so that cloistered communities can carry out their important mission in prayer and in active silence.

* * *

[Summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters: As the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy approaches, today we consider the great open door of God’s mercy, symbolized by the Holy Doors which will open in Churches throughout the world. The recent Synod of Bishops on the Family encouraged families in a particular way to enter this door of mercy and to open the doors of their hearts to others. Jesus tells us that he stands knocking at our door, asking that we open it to him (Rev 3:20). How important it is for us to be good doorkeepers, capable of opening our doors and making our homes places of encounter and welcome, especially to our brothers and sisters in need! Jesus also tells us that he himself is the door (Jn 10:9) which leads to salvation; if we pass through him, we will find lasting security and freedom. As guardians of that door, we in the Church are called to be welcoming to all who seek to enter the fold of the Good Shepherd. May the doors of our Christian homes be signs and symbols of the door of God’s mercy, a door ever open to all who knock and desire to meet Jesus.

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the El Shaddai prayer fellowship and the orthopaedic surgeons of the Ivins Society. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all!

[Greeting in Italian:]

A cordial welcome goes to Italian-speaking pilgrims.

I am happy to receive the priests of Gubbio, accompanied by their Bishop, Monsignor Ceccobelli.

I greet the Italian Thalidomide Association, the participants in the National Congress organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi; the Association Love Bridges of Churches and the Saint Mary of the Road Association of Messina.

On this day, in which we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, I hope that the visit to the tombs of the Apostles will reinforce in all the joy of the faith.

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people and students, in particular of Afragola and of Rome, may the testimony of the Apostles, who left everything to follow Jesus, enkindle in you the desire to love Him with all your strength and to follow Him; dear sick, may the glorious sufferings of Saints Peter and Paul give comfort and hope to your offering; dear newlyweds, may your homes be temples of that Love from whom no one will be able to separate you.

[Translation by ZENIT]

St. Peter’s Holy Door Prepared for Dec. 8

In ceremony, wall unsealed and documents of the Jubilee 2000 opened

As the Jubilee of Mercy nears, the Holy Door of St. Peter’s is being prepared.

Tuesday afternoon at 6.30 p.m. the ceremony was held for the “Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. After a prayer by the cardinal archpriest Angelo Comastri, who led the procession of the Basilica Chapter, and the admonition of the Master of Ceremonies, four workers broke down the wall sealing the Holy Door inside the Basilica, extracting the metal chest held since the moment of closing the door during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and containing the “documents” of the last Holy Year, including the key to the Holy Door, the handles, the parchments, the paving stones and commemorative medals.

After praying at the Altar of Confession, the procession reached the chapter house where the metal chest extracted from the door was opened using a blowtorch, in the presence of the Master of liturgical ceremonies of His Holiness, Msgr. Guido Marini, who took delivery of the documents and the objects of the “Recognitio”, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

On Monday 16 November the same ceremony was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and it will take place tomorrow in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and on Monday 23 November in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

“Bridge of Spies” and the Path to Virtue

The best way to understand virtue is not through abstract study but rather by watching the virtuous man in action

My great mentor Msgr. Robert Sokolowski told a class of eager philosophy students many years ago that we should read Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics every year of our lives. As we grew older, he explained, new dimensions of the book would continually present themselves. I can’t say that I’ve followed Sokolowski’s advice perfectly, but I have indeed returned often to Aristotle’s great text for inspiration and clarification. One of the Philosopher’s principal insights is that the best way to understand virtue is not through abstract study but rather by watching the virtuous man in action. Learning the moral life is, for Aristotle, something like acquiring artistic skill through apprenticeship or like becoming an actor through understudying to an established thespian. Finding a master and striving to imitate him is the key. It seems only fitting, by the way, that I learned the craft of philosophizing largely by watching Sokolowski in action. 

I thought of all of this as I watched Steven Spielberg’s latest film Bridge of Spies. Especially in recent years, Spielberg has emerged as a latter-day Frank Capra, a celebrator of core values and the courage required to defend them. In this most recent movie, Tom Hanks (the Jimmy Stewart of our time) plays James B. Donovan, a New York insurance lawyer who is pressed into service to provide a defense for Rudolf Abel, a man very credibly accused of spying for the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Donovan does this, not because he’s convinced Abel is innocent, but because he believes in the moral principal that, in a free society, everyone deserves a fair trial. In so doing, he exemplifies the most fundamental of the classical virtues, namely, justice. Plato famously defined justice as “rendering to each his due,” and Thomas Aquinas refined that definition as “a constant will to render to another his right.” To state it as simply as possible, it is doing the upright thing. So Donovan defends Abel because Abel is owed this privilege; to give him legal counsel is due to him. There is a bracing objectivity to this characterization of justice, especially important in our time when so much of the moral life is construed as a form of subjective expressivism: to be righteous is to be true to oneself. Quietly going about his defense of Abel, Donovan demonstrates what being true to another looks like.

Now justice remains an abstraction unless the virtuous person has the canniness to do the just thing in the right way and the right time. The tradition refers to this moral know-how as prudence – and Donovan has it in spades. In the courtroom, he uses his knowledge of the law to make the most persuasive case for his client, and in the judge’s chambers, he employs his understanding of human nature to finesse the morally compromised judge himself. Watching Donovan in action helps us to appreciate how prudence is not mere practicality, still less a compromise of moral purity, but an indispensable feature of the moral project, indeed the “queen of the cardinal virtues” according to Aquinas.

Justice is typically threatened by counter-forces that come from both within and without. To withstand the first, we require the virtue of temperance and to withstand the second, we need the virtue of courage. So my desire for food, drink, sex, or physical comfort can sometimes prove so powerful that it compromises my capacity to do the right thing. Think of someone caught in an addictive pattern. He knows that his compulsive need for alcohol will result in his neglect of basic family responsibilities, but he drinks anyway; or he realizes that breaking his marriage vows will destroy his relationship with his wife, but he nevertheless commits adultery. What is needed in both cases is the ordering of sensual desire to justice, which is called temperance. It is regrettable that the term has a fussy, Victorian overtone, signaling a puritanical disdain for pleasure. Authentic temperance doesn’t suppress pleasure, but it subordinates it to a higher moral end. Jim Donovan displays this virtue when he finds himself in massively uncomfortable surroundings while on a mission to free American prisoners in Berlin. As he waits to engage his interlocutors, he endures bad food, extreme cold, terrible accommodations, and the constant threat of arrest. Were his inner feelings not under control, he would never have been able to do the right thing at the right time. 

When menaces to justice come from the outside, they have to be met by courage. So a soldier knows that engaging the enemy is what is called for, but he is gripped by fear of injury or death. Fortitude is the virtue that empowers him. After taking on the responsibility of defending Abel, Donovan is met by pointed opposition from friends, family, co-workers, and even an agent of the CIA. As the trial comes to its climax, unseen enemies pepper his home with gunfire while his children are watching television. The overwhelming majority of people would have backed away from their moral responsibility at this point, preferring safety to integrity. That Donovan presses on witnesses to his rather extraordinary courage. 

Just after the conclusion of his trial, Abel turned to Donovan and muttered a phrase in Russian. When his lawyer asked what this means, Abel looked at Donovan with admiration and said, “It means ‘the standing man.'” The person of virtue is the one who stands for something and who has the capacity to stand firm in the face of threats. To understand the nature of virtue, we should, as Aristotle suggested, watch the virtuous man in action. We could do a lot worse than to study Spielberg’s latest film.

 
Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

Pope Calls on Church to Support Cloistered Nuns

“Let Us Not Be Lacking in Spiritual and Material Closeness”

At the end of the general audience today, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to be close to cloistered communities, materially and spiritually.

Noting that Nov. 21 is the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple, and thus a day the Church is mindful of consecrated life, the Pope said we should be grateful for those who have given their lives to God.

We thank the Lord for the gift of the vocation of men and women who, in monasteries and hermitages, have dedicated their lives to God,” he said.

“Let us not be lacking in spiritual and material closeness,” the Pontiff added, “so that cloistered communities can carry out their important mission in prayer and in active silence.”

Pope: It’s Everyone’s Duty to Protect Children

At Today’s General Audience, Notes That Friday Is World Day for the Rights of the Child 

“It is everyone’s duty to protect children,” Pope Francis said today at the end of the general audience, noting that this Friday, Nov. 20, is the United Nation’s World Day for the Rights of the Child.

All children must be protected, he said, especially from abuse in all its forms, particularly the shackles of slavery and the brutality of forced military service.

“I hope the international community shall be vigilant over the living conditions of children, especially where they are exposed to recruitment by armed groups; I also hope the international community will help families ensure every child the right to schooling and a wholesome upbringing.”

Pope’s Advent, Christmas and New Year Schedule

List of liturgical celebrations at which Pope Francis will preside this season

The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside in the months of December 2015 and January 2016: 

DECEMBER

Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate.

Saturday 12: Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 9.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 10.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door, presided by Cardinal James Harvey.

Thursday 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At 9.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12 p.m., “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

Sunday 27: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for Families.

Thursday 31: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and Te Deum, in Thanksgiving for the past year.

JANUARY

Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. 49th World Peace Day. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Sunday 10: Sunday after the Epiphany: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel. Holy Mass and baptism of babies.

Catholic Jubilees Date Back to Year 1300

From the archives, an explanation of the special year that starts Dec. 8

In St. Peter’s Basilica during the Communal Penance Service Pope Francis announced last Friday, March 13, the celebration of an “extraordinary Holy Year”. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 2015, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. At the start of the new year, the Holy Father had stated: “This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!”

The Jubilee announcement had been made on the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, during his homily for the penitential liturgy with which the Holy Father opened the “24 Hours for the Lord”. This initiative, proposed by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, promotes throughout the world the opening of churches for an extendedperiod of time for the purpose of inviting people to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The theme for this year has been taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, “God rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4).

The opening of this next Jubilee will take place on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. This is of great significance, for it impels the Church to continue the work begun at Vatican II.

During the Jubilee, the Sunday readings for Ordinary Time will be taken from the Gospel of Luke, the one referred to as “the evangelist of mercy”. Dante Alighieri describes him as “scriba mansuetudinis Christi”, “narrator of the meekness of Christ”. There are many well- known parables of mercy presented in the Gospel of Luke: the lost sheep, the lost coin,the merciful father.

The official and solemn announcement of the Holy Year will take place with the public proclamation of the Bollain front of the Holy Door on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast instituted by Saint John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom. In addition, the Jubilee Year was a reminder to the rich that a time would come when their Israelite slaves would once again become their equals and would be able to reclaim their rights. “Justice, according to the Law of Israel, consisted above all in the protection of the weak” (St. John Paul II, Tertio millenio adveniente 13).

The Catholic tradition of the Holy Year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Boniface VIII had envisioned a Jubilee every century. From 1475 onwards – in order to allow each generation to experience at least one Holy Year – the ordinary Jubilee was to be celebrated every 25 years. However, an extraordinary Jubilee may be announced on the occasion of an event of particular importance.

Until present, there have been 26 ordinary Holy Year celebrations, the last of which was the Jubilee of 2000. The custom of calling extraordinary Jubilees dates back to the XVI century. The last extraordinary Holy Years, which were celebrated during the previous century, were those in 1933, proclaimed by Pius XI to celebrate XIX hundred years of Redemption and in 1983, proclaimed by John Paul II on the occasion of the 1950 years of Redemption.

The Catholic Church has given to the Hebrew Jubilee a more spiritual significance. It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor. Thus, the Holy Year is always an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.

With the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis focuses attention upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him. The encounter with God inspires in one the virtue of mercy.

The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door. This door is one which is only opened during the Holy Year and which remains closed during all other years. Each of the four major basilicas of Rome has a Holy Door: Saint Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. This rite of the opening of the Holy Door illustrates symbolically the idea that, during the Jubilee, the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” towards salvation.

The Holy Doors of the other Basilicas will be opened after the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Mercy is a theme very dear to Pope Francis, as is expressed in the episcopal motto he had chosen: “miserando atque eligendo”. This citation is taken from the homily of Saint Bede the Venerable during which he commented on the Gospel passage of the calling of Saint Matthew: “Vidit ergo lesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere me” (Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me’). This homily is a tribute to divine mercy. One possible translation of this motto is “With eyes of mercy”.

During the first Angelus after his elections, the Holy Father stated: “Feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient” (Angelus, March 17, 2013).

In his Angelus on January 11, 2015, he stated: “There is so much need of mercy today, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth! We are living in the age of mercy, this is the age of mercy”. Then, in his 2015 Lenten Message, the Holy Father expressed:“How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”

In the English edition of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium the term mercy appears 32 times.

Pope Francis has entrusted the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangeliza- tion with the organization of the Jubilee of Mercy.

List of jubilee years and their Popes:

1300: Boniface VIII 

1350: Clement VI 

1390: proclaimed by Urban VI, presided over by Boniface IX 

1400: Boniface IX 

1423: Martin V 

1450: Nicholas V 

1475: proclaimed by Paul II, presided over by Sixtus IV 

1500: Alexander VI 

1525: Clement VII 

1550: proclaimed by Paul III, presided over by Julius III 

1575: Gregory XIII 

1600: Clement VIII 

1625: Urban VIII 

1650: Innocent X 

1675: Clement X 

1700: opened by Innocent XII, closed by Clement XI 

1725: Benedict XIII 

1750: Benedict XIV 

1775: proclaimed by Clement XIV, presided over by Pius VI 

1825: Leo XII 

1875: Pius IX 

1900: Leo XIII 

1925: Pius XI 

1933: Pius XI

1950: Pius XII 

1975: Paul VI 

1983: John Paul II 

2000: John Paul II 

2015: Francis

In the years 1800 and 1850, due to the political circumstances of the times, there were no jubilees.

Leader of Irish Bishops Hosts Meeting in Lead-up to Paris Climate Summit

“For too many people in developed societies like ours, this is still not a priority issue”

At a joint meeting of environment ministers ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Archbishop Eamon Martin  of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, has welcomed the cross-border dialogue and collaboration on this issue as an important example of leadership on one of the most urgent global justice issues of our time. 

Archbishop Martin, who hosted today’s meeting in Armagh, stated:

“Pope Francis has appealed for a strong international commitment to the care of the earth – our common home – in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable populations throughout the world.  For too many people in developed societies like ours, this is still not a priority issue, but climate change affects everyone and will have a critical impact on the life chances of future generations.  The meeting of environment ministers and their teams today sends an important message to society that this is an urgent justice issue.

“At our meeting today in Armagh we drew the ministers’ attention to the work of Trócaire in supporting some of the worst affected communities.  This underlines the urgency of the proposed actions that will be before world leaders in Paris at the end of this month.  This is most evident in the case of those who risk losing their homes and their capacity to produce food.  The summit provides a historic opportunity to re-balance the equation towards more just and sustainable development.  The changes required of developed nations are significant and there is a real risk that the major economic powers will dominate, eclipsing the human rights of the poor.  What is needed is a robust international legal instrument, with ambitious targets and adequate mechanisms for enforcement and holding countries to account.

“We encourage the delegations from both jurisdictions on this island to use the opportunity of the forthcoming summit to be a voice for the poor.  Moving to a more just and sustainable model of development will require all of us to re-think our lifestyles and how the choices we make in our consumption of goods and energy impact on the global poor and the generations to come.  Taking up the challenges outlined by Pope Francis in his recent Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, we are ready to play our part, supporting our political leaders by promoting reflection on the care of creation and taking action – in our homes, schools and local parish communities.”

Minister Alan Kelly added, “Ireland strongly supports an ambitious, legally-binding global agreement with broad participation as a core outcome of COP 21 in Paris.  The agreement will, I hope, enhance collective action towards a global transformation to a low-carbon climate resilient society while reassuring poor and vulnerable countries that they will be supported in their transition.  We are fully committed here in Ireland to playing our part in reaching this historic agreement and indeed are only weeks away from passing into law Ireland’s first ever climate change legislation which will underpin on a statutory basis our collective Government response to how we achieve an effective low carbon transition while building climate resilience”.   

Minister Mark H Durkan responded, “I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups and regions from the dangers of climate change and that it is critical that we take action now.  When I am at the annual Conference of Parties in Paris I will make it clear that we should be striving to secure an ambitious international agreement, and that the North of Ireland will play its full part in contributing to the agreed emission reduction targets.  I am committed to the introduction of Climate Change Legislation in the North.  I intend to issue, in the near future, a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking their views on proposals for a NI Climate Change Act.”

US Bishops Approve Formal Statement on Pornography

Says ‘virtually everyone is affected by pornography in some way’

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a formal statement, “Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography,” at their annual Fall General Assembly in Baltimore on Tuesday.

The statement was approved by the full body of bishops, with 230 votes in favor, 4 against and 1 abstaining. 

“My brother bishops’ approval of this statement shows our collective concern for the widespread problem of pornography in our culture today,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth (LMFLY), which led the statement’s development. “As the statement says, virtually everyone is affected by pornography in some way. So many people –including within the Church– are in need of Christ’s abundant mercy and healing. My hope is that the statement can serve as a foundation and catalyst for increased pastoral attention to this challenge at the national and local level.”

The formal statement provides a basic catechesis on human sexuality and chastity, an explanation of why the production and use of pornography is a sin, an overview of its effects in our society, a closer look at its effects on men, women, children, young people, marriages and families, and a word of hope and encouragement to those who have been harmed by pornography use or in its production. The statement’s main audiences are Catholic leaders and parents, but it is also intended to be helpful for those who struggle with pornography use and all people of goodwill who want to work together for a culture of purity and respect for all women and men.

The full text of “Create in Me a Clean Heart” will be available online at www.usccb.org/cleanheart, along with other USCCB resources on pornography. A printed version in English and Spanish will be available in early 2016. The LMFLY Committee plans to develop supplementary material in 2016, including an abridged version of the statement and targeted resources for priests, parents and young people among others.

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