Pope’s Address on Mission, Formation of Priests
“Let us consider these three moments: ‘taken from among men,’ ‘ordained for men,’ present ‘with other men’”
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address from Friday to participants in the Congress organized by the Congregation for the Clergy, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Conciliar Decrees Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordini
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Brothers and Sisters,
I give each of you my cordial greeting and express my sincere gratitude to you, Cardinal Stella, and to the Congregation for the Clergy, for inviting me to take part in this Congress, fifty years after the promulgation of the Conciliar Decrees Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis.
My apologies for having changed the first plan, which was that I should come to you, but you saw there was no time and I have also arrived here late!
This is not about a “historical recalling.” These two Decrees are a seed, which the Council sowed in the field of the life of the Church; in the course of these five decades they have grown, they have become a luxuriant plant, certainly with some dried leaves, but above all with so many flowers and fruits that embellish the Church today. Reviewing the path accomplished, this Congress has shown these fruits and has constituted an opportune ecclesial reflection on the work that remains to be done for the Church in this vital realm. There is still work to be done!
Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis were recalled together, as the two halves of a single reality: the formation of priests, which we distinguish as initial and permanent, but which constitutes for them a unique experience of discipleship. It is no accident that in January of 2013 (Motu proprio Ministrorum Institutio) Pope Benedict gave a concrete, juridical form to this reality, attributing also to the Congregation for the Clergy competence over seminarians. In this way the Dicastery itself was able to begin to be concerned with the life and the ministry of presbyters from the moment of their entrance in the Seminary, working so that vocations are promoted and looked after, and can flower in the life of holy priests. A priest’s path of holiness begins in the Seminary!
From the moment that a vocation to the priesthood is a gift that God makes to some for the good of all, I would like to share some thoughts with you, beginning in fact from the relation between priests and other persons, following n. 3 of Presbyterorum Ordinis, in which is found something like a small compendium of theology of the priesthood, addressed in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Priests who are taken from among men and ordained for men in the things that belong to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, nevertheless live on earth with other men as brothers.”
Let us consider these three moments: “taken from among men,” “ordained for men,” present “with other men.”
The priest is a man that is born in a certain human context. There he learns the first values, absorbs the spirituality of the people, gets used to relationships. Priests also have a history; they are not “mushrooms” that appear suddenly in the Cathedral on the day of their Ordination. It is important that formators and the priests themselves remember this and are able to take into account this personal history throughout the path of formation. On the day of Ordination I always say to priests, to new priests: remember from where you were taken, from the flock, do not forget your mother and your grandmother! Paul said this to Timothy, and I also say it today. This means that one cannot be a priest thinking that one was formed in a laboratory, no. It begins in the family with the “tradition” of the faith and with all the experience of the family. The latter must be personalized, because it is the concrete person that is called to discipleship and to the priesthood, taking into account in every case that Christ is the only Teacher to follow and to whom one should configure oneself.
In this regard, I like to recall the fundamental “center of vocational pastoral
In the family and in all other communitarian contexts – school, parish, associations, groups of friends – we learn to be in relation with concrete persons, we let ourselves be shaped by our relation with them, and we become what we are also thanks to them.
A good priest, therefore, is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his history, with its riches and its wounds, and who has learned to make peace with it, attaining in depth serenity, proper of a disciple of the Lord. Therefore, human formation is a necessity for priests, so that they learn not to let themselves be dominated by their limitations, but rather to put their talents to fruit.
A priest who is a tranquil man will be able to spread serenity around him, also in difficult moments, transmitting the beauty of the relation with the Lord. Instead, it is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous or hard of character, it is not good and does not do good, neither to the priest nor to his people. However, if you have an illness, if you are neurotic, go to the doctor! To the spiritual doctor and to the clinical doctor: they will give you pills that will do you good, both will! But please, let not the faithful pay for the neurosis of priests! Do not beat the faithful; have a heartfelt closeness to them.
We priests are apostles of joy, we proclaim the Gospel, namely, the “Good News” par excellence. It is certainly not us who give force to the Gospel – some believe this – but we can favor or set obstacles to the encounter between the Gospel and persons. Our humanity is the “clay vessel” in which we guard God’s treasure, a vessel that we must look after, to transmit well its precious content.
A priest cannot lose his roots; he always remains a man of the people and of the culture that generated him. Our roots help us to remember who we are and where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from on high, but we are called, called by God, who takes us from “among men” to ordain us “for men.” Allow me an anecdote. In the diocese, years ago … Not in the diocese, no, in the Society, there was a good priest, good, young, a priest for two years. He became confused, spoke with the Spiritual Father, with his Superiors, with doctors and said: “I’m going, I can’t anymore, I’m going.” And thinking of these things – I knew his mother, humble people – I said to him: “Why don’t you go to your mother and speak to her about this?” He went, spent the whole day with his mother, and returned changed. His mother gave him two spiritual “slaps,” told him three or four truths, put him in his place, and he went forward. Why? –because he went to the root. Therefore, it is important not to remove the root from where we come. One must engage in mental prayer in the Seminary … Yes, certainly, this must be done, learn …. But first of all pray as your mother taught you, and then go ahead. But the root is always there, the root of the family, as you learned to pray as a child, also with the same words, begin to pray like that. Then you will go forward in prayer.
Here is the second passage: “for men.”
Here is a fundamental point of the life and ministry of presbyters. Responding to God’s vocation, we become priests to serve brothers and sisters. The images of Christ that we take as reference for the ministry of priests are clear: He is the “High Priest,” in the same way close to God and close to men. He is the “Servant” that washes the feet and makes himself close to the weakest. He is the “Good Shepherd” who always has as his end the care of the flock.
These are the three images we must look at, thinking of the ministry of priests, sent to serve men, to have them attain God’s mercy and to proclaim His Word of life. We are not priests for ourselves and our sanctification is closely connected to that of our people, our unction to their unction: you were anointed for your people. To know and to remember that you are “ordained for the people” – holy people, People of God — helps priests not to think of themselves, to be authoritative and not authoritarian, firm but not harsh, joyful but not superficial, in sum, Pastors not functionaries. Today in both Readings of the Mass one sees clearly the capacity to enjoy that the people have, when the Temple is repaired and purified and, instead, the incapacity for joy that the heads of the priests and the scribes have in face of the expulsion of the merchants from the Temple by Jesus. A priest must learn to rejoice, he must never lose, even better, the capacity for joy: if he loses it, there is something that is not right. And I tell you sincerely, I am afraid of stiffening, I am afraid. From rigid priests … stay far away! They bite you! And there comes to mind that expression of Saint Ambrose, 4th century: “Where there is mercy there is the spirit of the Lord, where there is rigidity, there are only His ministers.” Without the Lord the minister becomes rigid, and this is a danger for the People of God – be Pastors, not functionaries.
The People of God and the whole of humanity are the recipients of the mission of priests, to which the whole work of formation tends. The human formation, the intellectual and spiritual formation come together naturally in that pastoral care, to which they furnish instruments and personal virtues and dispositions. When all this is harmonized and amalgamated with genuine missionary zeal, throughout the whole of life, the priest can fulfill the mission entrusted to him by Christ to His Church.
In fine, what is born of the people, with the people must remain; the priest is always “with other men,” he is not a professional of pastoral care or of evangelization, who arrives and does what he must – perhaps well, but as if it were a profession – and then goes to live a separate life. One becomes a priest by being in the midst of the people: closeness. And permit me, Brother Bishops, also our closeness as Bishops with our priests. This is also true for us! How often do we hear the laments of priests: “But, I called the Bishop because I have a problem … The
The good that priests can do is born especially from their closeness and from a tender love for persons. They are not philanthropists or functionaries; priests are fathers and brothers. A priest’s paternity does so much good.
Closeness, depths of mercy, loving look: to make one experience the beauty of a life lived according to the Gospel and the love of God that makes itself concrete also through His ministers. God who never rejects. And here I think of the Confessional. Ways can always be found to give absolution. Receive well. However, sometimes one cannot absolve. There are priests that say: “No, I cannot absolve you of this, go away.” This is not the way. If you cannot give absolution, explain and say: “God loves you so much, God wishes you well. There are so many ways to come to God. I cannot give you absolution, I’ll give you a blessing. But come back, always come back here; every time you come back I will give you a blessing as a sign that God loves you.” And that man or that woman goes away full of joy because he/she has found the icon of the Father, who never rejects; in one way or another He has embraced him/her.
A good examination of conscience for a priest is also this: if the Lord returned today, where would He find me? “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). And, where is my heart? In the midst of the people, praying with and for the people, involved in their joys and sufferings, or instead in the midst of the things of the world, of earthly affairs, in my private “spaces”? A priest cannot have private spaces, because he is always either with the Lord or with the people. I think of those priests I have known in my city, when there was no telephone secretary, but they slept with the telephone on the night table, and at whatever time the people called, they got up to anoint: no one died without the Sacraments! Not even in rest did they have a private space. This is apostolic zeal. The answer to this question: where is my heart? This can help every priest to direct his life and ministry to the Lord.
The Council left “precious pearls” to the Church. As the merchant of Matthew’s Gospel (13:45), today we go in search of them, to bring new impetus and new instruments to the mission that the Lord entrusts to us.
One thing I would like to add to the text – forgive me! – is vocational discernment, admission to the Seminary. Look for the health of a boy, his spiritual health, material, physical and psychic health. Once, just appointed Novice Master, in the year ’72, I went to take to the psychologist the results of the personality tests, a simple test that was done as one of the elements of discernment. She was a good woman, and also a good doctor. She said to me: “This one has this problem but he can enter if he goes this way …” She was also a good Christian, but in some cases she was inflexible: “This one can’t” – “But, Doctor, this boy is so good.” “Now he is good, but know that there are youths that know unconsciously, they are not that aware of it, but feel unconsciously that they are psychically sick and they look in their life for strong structures that will defend them, so that they can go forward. And they do all right until the moment they feel well established and then the problems begin” – “It seems a bit strange to me …” And I shall never forget her answer, the same as that of the Lord to Ezekiel: “Father, have you never thought why there are so many police torturers? They enter young, seem to be healthy but when they feel secure, the illness begins to come out. These are the strong institutions that look for these unconscious sick: the police, the army, the clergy … And then so many illnesses we know come out.” It’s curious. When I realize that a youth is too rigid, too fundamentalist, I have no confidence; there is something behind that he himself does not know. But when he feels secure … Ezekiel 16, I don’t remember the verse but it is when the Lord says to His people all that He has done for it: found it when just born, and then clothed it, espoused it … “ And then, when you felt secure, you prostituted yourself.” It is a rule, a rule of life. Open eyes on the mission in Seminaries. Open eyes.
I hope that the fruit of the works of this Congress – with so many authoritative relators – from different regions and cultures – will be able to be offered to the Church as a useful updating of the teachings of the Council, bringing a contribution to the formation of priests, those that are and those that the Lord will give us, so that, ever more configured to Him, they are good priests according to the Lord’s heart, not functionaries! And thank you for your patience.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]
Pope’s Video Message to Kenya, Uganda
“I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace”
Here is the text of a video message Pope Francis sent today to Kenya and Uganda, in the lead-up to his trip to these two nations. The Pope leaves for Kenya on Wednesday.
* * *
As I prepare to visit Kenya and Uganda later this month, I send a word of greeting and friendship to you and your families. I look forward to this time we will have together.
I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and his message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. My visit is meant to confirm the Catholic community in its worship of God and its witness to the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and commands us to open our hearts to others, especially the poor and those in need.
At the same time I wish to encounter all the people of Kenya and Uganda, and to offer everyone a word of encouragement. We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect, and to support each other as members of our one human family. For all of us are God’s children. A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with young people, who are your greatest resource and our most promising hope for a future of solidarity, peace and progress.
I know that many people are working hard to prepare for my visit, and I thank them. I ask everyone to pray that my stay in Kenya and Uganda will be a source of hope and encouragement to all. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Pope’s Q-and-A on the Challenges of Education
“To rethink the works of mercy, the 14 works of mercy; to rethink how to do them, but in education”
On Saturday, the Holy Father received in audience participants in the World Congress “Education Today and Tomorrow: A Passion that Is Renewed” (Rome, November 18-21, 2015), organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education (of the Institutes of Studies) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration of Vatican Council II on Christian Education) and the 25th of Ex Corde Ecclesiae (Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities).
Several testimonies were given during the course of the meeting by representatives of Catholic schools and universities of the world. Then the Holy Father answered off-the-cuff three questions addressed to him by a school Director, by a University Religious docent and by a woman Religious President of a Faculty.
Here is a translation of the transcription of the questions and of Pope Francis’ answers.
* * *
Professor Roberto Zappala, School Director of the Gonzaga Institute of Milan.
Catholic educational institutions are present in a great diversity of nations and contexts: richer nations, developing nations, in cities, in rural areas, in nations of a Catholic majority and in countries in which Catholics are a minority. In this great variety of situations, what, in your opinion, makes an institution truly Christian?
We Christians are also a minority. And there comes to mind what a great thinker said: “To educate is to introduce in the totality of the truth.” One cannot speak of Catholic education without speaking of humanity, because, precisely, the Catholic identity is God who became man. To go forward in attitudes, in full human values, opens the door to the Christian seed. Then faith comes. To educate in a Christian way is not only to engage in catechesis: this is one part. It is not only engaging in proselytism – never proselytize in schools! Never! To educate in a Christian way is to lead young people, children, in human values in the whole of reality, and one of these realities is transcendence. Today there is the tendency to neo-positivism, that is, to educate in immanent things, to the value of immanent things, and this happens in countries of Christian tradition and in countries of pagan tradition. And this is not to introduce youngsters and children in the total reality: transcendence is lacking. For me, the greatest crisis of education, in the Christian perspective, is being closed to transcendence. We are closed to transcendence. It is necessary to prepare hearts for the Lord to manifest Himself, but totally, namely, in the totality of humanity, which also has this dimension of transcendence. To educate humanly but with open horizons. Any sort of closure is no good for education.
Father Juan Antonio Ojeda, Docent at the University of Malaga
[Question in Spanish]
Holy Father, in your addresses you refer to the break of the links between the school and the family and the other institutions of society. Moreover you, Your Holiness, often invite us to promote and live personally a culture of encounter. What does this mean for all individuals committed in the promotion of education?
It is true that not only the educational links have been broken but education has become too selective and elitist. It seems that only people or persons who have
The testimony of Senegal, of Father … [he turns to him] you, who spoke: try to do what Don Bosco did. At the time of the worst Masonry in Northern Italy, Don Bosco sought an “emergency education.” And today we have an “educational emergency,” we must push for “informal education,” because formal education has been impoverished by the legacy of positivism. It only conceives an intellectual technicality and the language of the head. Hence, it has been impoverished. This scheme must be broken. And there are experiences with art, with sport … Art and sport educate! We must open ourselves to new horizons, create new models … There are so many experiences: you know the one that was presented by you, Scholas occurrentes, which in fact seeks to open, to open the horizon to an education that is not only concepts in the head. There are three languages: the language of the head, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. Education must move in these three ways. To teach to think, to help to feel well and to accompany in doing, so that the three languages are in harmony; that the child, the youngster think about what he feels and does, feel what he thinks and does, and that he does what he thinks and feels. And thus education becomes inclusive, because everyone has a place – inclusive also humanly. The educational pact was broken by the phenomenon of exclusion. We find the best, the most selective – those that are the most intelligent, or those with the most money to pay the best school or university – and the others are left to one side. The world cannot go forward with a selective education, because there is no social pact that unites everyone. And this is a challenge: to seek ways of informal education – of art, of sport, so many, so many. A great Brazilian educator – are there Brazilians here? –, one of yours said that in the school – in the formal school – one must avoid falling solely into teaching concepts. A true school must teach concepts, habits and values, and when a school is incapable of doing this at the same time, that school is selective and exclusive and for a few.
I think the situation of a broken educational pact, such as that of today, is grave, it is grave, because it leads to the selection of “super-men,” but only with the criteria of the head and only with the criteria of interest. Behind this there is always the ghost of money – always! – which ruins true humanity. One thing that helps is a sure and healthy respectful informality; and this is good in education, because formality is confused with rigidity. And a go back to the first question: where there is rigidity there is no humanism, and where there is no humanism, Christ cannot enter! The doors are closed! The drama of closure begins in the roots of rigidity. And peoples want something else, and when I say “peoples” I mean people, all of us, families … They want coexistence, they want dialogue – Cardinal Versaldi stressed this: they want dialogue. However, when the educational pact is broken and there is rigidity, there is no place for dialogue: I think my way, you think your way and there is no place for universality and for fraternity. In the two experiences I have had here, in the Vatican, speaking, connecting with students of five continents – which was organized by Scholas occurrents – I have seen the need for unity and today, the project that is offered is precisely the plan of separation, not of unity – also of selectivity.
What does this mean for individuals committed to the promotion of education? — the question ended. It means to risk. An educator who is unable to risk is no good for education. A father or a mother who are unable to risk, do not educate their child well — to risk in a reasonable way. What does this mean? To teach how to walk. When you teach a child to walk, you teach him that one leg must stay put, on the pavement he knows, and with the other, he must try to go forward so that if he slips, he can defend himself. This is to educate. You are certain on this point, but this is not definitive. You must take another step. Perhaps you will slip. But you get up and go forward … The true educator must be a teacher of risk, but of reasonable risk, one understands, as I have now tried to explain. I don’t know. I think I’ve answered the question …
Sister Pina Del Core, President of the Faculty of Sciences of the Auxilium Education of Rome
Holy Father, what challenges open for educators at the time of the “third world war fought piecemeal,” to not close oneself in oneself but to be, and to become, patient peacemakers? What encouragement do you wish to give all educators who dedicate themselves passionately to such a delicate mission?
First of all, I would like to give a testimony in the discussions of what the Mother General of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary just said. When I was Rector of the University, my secretary was a Sister of that Congregation – she is still alive, Mother Asuncion, quite elderly – but this Sister did the work of a secretary at the University and then, in the afternoon, she ate a bun, got the car and went to the periphery, to be Director of a school for the poor. The secretary of a University, of the Faculty of Theology, went to the poor. So many Congregations, like this one, have never lost this idea. Perhaps at times they have stressed more work among the elite of the city, but they have the vocation to go to the periphery, from where they were born … And how many Founders, how many Founders of Religious Congregations were born to help girls, or how many Founders were born to help street children, poor youngsters! I spoke of Don Bosco … The coincidence so happens that the Mother is here, and I would like to thank her Congregation publicly and all Congregations, male and female, which have never forgotten the streets of the periphery.
Someone might say: “But we, we must form leaders! We must form people that think, that do …” This is true, it must be done. However, when I went to Paraguay, a meeting of a few days was planned, I wouldn’t say of the street youths but youths of the periphery, poor, without the essentials, and these youths, boys and girls between 14 and 16 years old, chose to talk about some subjects, some strong subjects. And I heard the discussion among themselves, and the conclusions on one of the subjects: adolescent pregnancy. I thought: how ever are these youths — who live like this, who live on the bank of a river that comes and goes [often flooded], who have little to eat — capable of thinking this way? — because they had a method, a man or woman educator that took them by the hand. No one, no one can be excluded from the possibility of receiving values, no one! Hence, here is the first challenge I tell you: leave places where there are so many educators and go to the peripheries. Seek there, or at least leave half of them! Seek there the needy, the poor. And they have something that young people of the richer neighborhoods don’t have – not because of their fault, but it is a sociological reality: they have the experience of surviving, also of cruelty, also of hunger, also of injustices. They have a wounded humanity. And I think that our salvation comes from the wounds of a man wounded on the cross. Those, of those wounds, bring wisdom, if there is a good educator that leads them forward. It is not about going there to engage in charity, to teach to read, to give to eat …, no! This is necessary, but it’s provisional. It’s the first step. The challenge – and I encourage you – is to go there to make them grow in humanity, in intelligence, in values, in habits, so that they can go forward and bring to others experiences that they don’t know.
In this same Hall, 15 days ago – I believe – we received, as today, 7,000 gypsies of the whole of Europe. Rom, and the presentation was made by one who had grown up in a Rom neighborhood and is now a Slovakian parliamentarian. And this can offer a different experience to those that do not know the peripheries. And the realities are understood better from the peripheries than from the center, because you are always covered by the center, you are always defended in the center …
Broken educational pact, selectivity, exclusion, legacy of a selective positivism: these things must be resolved. And then go forward; go forward with this challenge. To a Congregation of Sisters, which has a special vocation in Argentina, in the South of Argentina, in Patagonia, I said: “Please, close half of the schools of the capital of Buenos Aires and send the Sisters
Something else, because in the question the Sister asked, “what challenges are opening to educators at the time of the ‘third world war fought piecemeal.’” What is the greatest temptation of wars at this moment? The walls, to defend oneself with walls. The greatest failure an educator can have is to educate “within walls.” To educate within walls: the walls of a selective culture, the walls of a culture of security, the walls of a social sector that is well-off and does not go further.
I would like to end, in fact, on this question, inviting men and women educators to rethink – it is a task to be done at home! – but to be done in community! – to rethink the works of mercy, the 14 works of mercy; to rethink how to do them, but in education. I won’t ask you to raise your hands – those who know them well, by heart, no. I did it once in this Hall: it was full …. And only some twenty raised their hand … But think, in this Year of Mercy, is mercy only to give alms? –or, in education, how can I do the works of mercy? They are, namely, the works of the Love of the Father, the first word said by Cardinal Versaldi: the works of Love. How can I have this Love of the Father, which is especially stressed in this Year of Mercy, come to our educational endeavors?
And I thank you so much, men and women educators – badly paid — I thank you for what you do. We must re-educate so many civilizations. We must re-educate Europe. A Jesuit Rector of a college was telling me how hard it is for him to change his mentality, to re-educate on the path that the Church wants today. And thus one can also reach those who don’t believe. And I also want to thank an educator who became an educator through the path of Canon Law – I don’t know how it can be done, but he has become so: Cardinal Grocholewski. He is present here. And he is an example that answers the first question: he has made agreements with universities around world, Catholic and non-Catholic. Why? Because the passion for education leads to this: to “humanize” people. And to him I also say publicly: thank you, Eminence.
I don’t know how the program continues … Is it finished? Thank you so much for your work. And I hope you have a good lunch.
And now we pray together to Our Lady: Hail Mary.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Pope’s Message to Central African Republic
“I will have at heart to support interreligious dialogue and to encourage peaceful coexistence in your country. I know that this is possible, because we are all brothers”
Here is a translation of the French-language message Pope Francis sent by video to the Central African Republic.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Central African Republic,
A few days before the voyage that will bring me among you, I wish to tell you the joy that dwells in me, and already to greet each one of you with the greatest affection, regardless of your ethnic group or religion. It is the first time in my life that I will come to the African Continent, so lovely and rich in its nature, its populations and its cultures, and I expect beautiful discoveries and enriching meetings. For too long your dear country has experienced a situation of violence and insecurity, of which many of you have been innocent victims. The purpose of my visit is, first of all, to bring you, in the name of Jesus, the comfort of consolation and of hope. I hope with all my heart that my visit can contribute, in one way or another, to soothe your wounds and to open a more serene future for Central Africa and all its inhabitants.
The theme of this voyage will be: let us pass to the other shore. It is a theme that invites your Christian communities to look ahead resolutely, and to encourage each one to renew his/her relation with God and with brothers and sisters to build a more just and more fraternal world. I will have the joy, notably, of opening for you – somewhat ahead of time – the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will be for each one, I hope, the providential occasion of genuine forgiveness, to receive and to give, and of renewal in love.
It is as a messenger of peace that I come to you. I will have at heart to support interreligious dialogue and to encourage peaceful coexistence in your country. I know that this is possible, because we are all brothers.
I ask you to pray for me. I implore the help of the Virgin Mary and I say to you see you soon.[Translation by ZENIT]
Pope Francis in Uganda: Honoring Martyrs, Firing Up the Faith
Young Church Is Vibrant But Experiences ‘Pangs of Birth’
This report is contributed by Claire Creegan of Aid to the Church in Need.
* * *
Pope Francis’ scheduled Mass in Uganda in observance of the 50thanniversary of the canonization of the Ugandan Martyrs will help revitalize the faith of one of Africa’s youngest Churches, a local Church official said.
In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Msgr. John Baptist Kauta, secretary general of the bishops’ conference of Uganda, described how the country’s violent past has sown the seeds for the rise of a hopeful, vital Church to emerge.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Uganda on Nov. 27 and is due to celebrate the special Mass the following day in the city of Namugongo. Also on the agenda is a meeting with catechists and teachers in Munyonyo.
Father Kauta said more than 2 million faithful are expected to join the Holy Father in honoring the 22 Catholics who died for their faith in the 19th century. The prelate also stressed that the theme of the Pope’s visit to Uganda–‘You Will Be My Witnesses’–is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 1:8, which deals with the subject of martyrdom.
The priest added: “We too are called to witness in one way or another. Our faith must be alive and shown through our good work.” He added that “the Pope’s simple life is a beautiful example. He revitalizes the people’s faith and reminds us there is always room for improvement.”
Father Kauta said the visit was an excellent reminder of the universality of the Church, which is particularly important for Uganda, where the Church is relatively new in some of the nation’s states. Pilgrims from Kenya, Tanzania, Australia and the United States are expected to make the journey to see the Pope.
The spotlight on Uganda prompted by the papal visit will be a boost to the tourism industry, while Father Kauta hopes the visit will also encourage interreligious dialogue; he noted that Uganda’s Muslim community has passed on warm wishes for a successful papal sojourn in Uganda.
The Pope is also scheduled to meet a number of married couples and more than 100,000 young people, an occasion the priest hopes will strengthen the faith of the youth. He said: “It is like he is saying: ‘We appreciate what you are doing, keep up the good work.’ It gives faith to all of us. We are flourishing, though we are experiencing the pangs of birth as a new Church in a new age.”
The Church in Uganda relies on significant outside support, including aid from ACN in the form of means of transportation for many of the country’s 14,000 catechists who are responsible for ministry in enormous parishes in the countryside.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)
Pope’s Morning Homily: Widows Are an Image of the Church Seeking to Stay Faithful
At Casa Santa Marta, Reflects on the 2 Coins Given With Generosity
The Church remains faithful if she keeps her eyes fixed on Jesus, but she becomes lukewarm and mediocre if she seeks comfort in worldly things. That was Pope Francis’ message today as he reflected on the Gospel reading at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta.
Pope Francis noted that the reading from St Luke’s Gospel tells the story of the widow who puts her two coins in the temple treasury box, while other wealthy worshippers make a great show of the money they’re putting in. Jesus says that “this poor widow put in more than all the rest” because the others were giving away money from their surplus wealth, while she, in her poverty, “has offered her whole livelihood.”
In the Bible, Pope Francis said, the widow is the woman who is alone, who has no husband to look after her, who has to manage on her own, who survives on charity. The widow in this Gospel passage, he said, was “a widow who had placed her trust only in the Lord.” I like to look at the widows in the Gospel, he said, as an image of the “widowed” Church who is waiting for Jesus to return.
The Church is the bride of Christ, Pope Francis said, but her Lord has gone and her only treasure is in her Lord. If the Church remains faithful, then she leaves everything while waiting for her Lord to return. If she does not have so much faith in the love of her Lord, then she tries to get by in other ways, seeking security in things that are more of this world than of God.
The widows of the Gospels, the Pope continued, speak beautifully to us about Jesus and His Church. There is the widow of Nain who was crying as she accompanied her son to be buried outside the city gates. There is the widow who goes to the unjust judge in order to defend her sons, knocking on his door every day and bothering him continuously until he delivers a just sentence for her. This is the widowed Church who prays and intercedes for her children, Pope Francis explained. But the heart of the Church is always with Jesus, the Bridegroom in heaven.
According to the desert fathers, the Pope said, our souls also resemble the Church, and the closer our souls, our lives, are to Jesus, the more we are able to avoid worldly, useless things that lead us away from Christ. While the ‘widowed’ Church waits for Jesus, he said, she can be faithful, trusting that her husband will return, or she can be unfaithful to her widowhood, a lukewarm, mediocre, worldly Church seeking comfort in other things.
In these last days of the liturgical year, Pope Francis concluded, we would do well to ask ourselves if our souls are searching for the Lord, or if they’re looking for comfort in things which do not please the Lord. Let our souls say “Come Lord Jesus! Come!” And may we leave behind all those useless things which stop us from staying faithful.
Report by Vatican Radio
Readings provided by the US bishops’ conference:
Monday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.
The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king’s palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years’ training they were to enter the king’s service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.
But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king’s food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
“I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king.”
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
“Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see.”
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king’s service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever.”
R. Glory and praise for ever!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Leader of Antigua and Barbuda Visits Pope
Migrants and climate change among discussion topics
Today Pope Francis received in audience the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, and the two discussed migrants and climate change, among other topics.
Williams subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
According to a statement from the Vatican, “During the cordial discussions, emphasis was placed on the good bilateral relations, strengthened during recent years by the appointment of an Ambassador to the Holy See. Attention then turned to the contribution offered by the Catholic Church to the promotion of the protection of the human person, as well as in the sectors of education and assistance to those most in need, and the hope of a fruitful mutual collaboration was expressed.
“Finally, the parties considered some themes of regional and global relevance, with particular reference to migratory flows and climate change.”
5 Charged in Case of Leaked Vatican Documents
Hearing set for Tuesday
The Vatican formally charged five people in connection with the unauthorized and illicit sharing of sensitive and privileged documents and information, including a pair of journalists who have written recently published books detailing alleged mismanagement in the Vatican, two officials, and a secretary to one of the officials.
A statement from the Press Office of the Holy See on Friday included the detailed charge sheet, which named the journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, as well as the former Vatican officials, Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, along with Msgr. Vallejo’s secretary, Nicola Maio.
Vallejo, Chaouqui, and Maio, are charged with criminal conspiracy “to divulge information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the [Vatican City] State”, while all five defendants are charged with criminal misappropriation and misuse of Vatican documents.
A hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, November 24th, 2015, at 10:30 AM, in the Vatican criminal court.
Report from Vatican Radio
Pope Assures Prayers for Victims of Mali Attacks
Asking God for ‘Conversion of Hearts and Gift of Peace’
Pope Francis sent his prayers and condolences to the victims of a terrorist attack in a Mali hotel on Friday morning that left 19 people dead.
A terrorist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda operating in the West African country claimed responsibility for the attack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the nation’s capital.
The attack occurred on the eve of peace talks between the Malian government and a coalition of northern Mali separatists.
In a telegram to the archbishop of Bamako, the Pope’s secretary of state says that Francis “implores God for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace.”
Here is a translation of the message, sent to the Archbishop of the Capital of Mali, by the Pope’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
* * *
His Excellency Monsignor Jean Zerbo
Archbishop of Bamako
On learning of the tragic attack that occurred at Bamako, His Holiness Pope Francis associates himself through prayer to the sorrow of the mourning families and to the sadness of Malians. He entrusts all the victims to the mercy of God, praying that He will receive them in His light. He expresses his profound sympathy to the wounded persons and to their families, asking the Lord to comfort and console them in their trial. Consternated by this blind violence, which he firmly condemns, the Holy Father implores God for the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace, and he invokes an abundance of divine blessings on all those persons touched by this tragedy.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State of His Holiness[Original text: French] [Translation by ZENIT]