Pope at General Audience: I Brought a Message of Hope to Africa
Speaking Off-the-Cuff, Encourages Young People to Consider Being Missionaries
‘We praise the Lord together for this pilgrimage in Africa, and let us be guided by its key words: ‘Be strong in faith, do not be afraid’; ‘You will be my witnesses’; ‘Let us cross to the other side.'”
The Holy Father made this exhortation to the faithful gathered at his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, as he discussed his recent Apostolic Visit to Africa, where he visited the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic, Nov. 25-30.
Saying he brought a message of hope to each of the nation’s he visited, Francis noted that each of his stops had a special place in his heart.
Kenya, as a country blessed with great human and natural resources, he said, makes us reflect on “the worldwide challenge of protecting the environment and creating equitable, inclusive and sustainable models of development” and “the need to form our young in the ways of peace and fraternity.”
“I had the joy of bringing the word of hope of the Risen Jesus: ‘Be strong in faith, not fear,'” he said, recalling this was the visit’s motto, and remembered the tragic and heroic witness of those killed at the University of Garissa, on April 2, for being Christians.
“Their blood is the seed of peace and brotherhood for Kenya, for Africa and for the whole world,” he said.
Turning to Uganda, which he referred to as the land of the martyrs, he expressed his hope that its Christian community perseveres in its witness of faith and charity, “and thus to be a leaven of hope for society as a whole.”
He also spoke about the Ugandan youth, who, despite difficulties, preserve the gift of hope and “try to live the Gospel and not according to the world, going against the current.” He also praised the example of the many priests, and consecrated men and women, who “renew daily their ‘yes’ to Christ and dedicate themselves with joy to the service of the holy people of God.” He also lauded the nation’s effective efforts to fight AIDS and welcome refugees.
Speaking on the final leg of his trip, the Pope reiterated that visiting the Central African Republic was the main point of his visit to the continent. With the country experiencing internal conflicts and great suffering, he reminded those present, that his opening of the first Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy is to be “as a sign of hope and strength for its people and for all our brothers and sisters in Africa.”
The Pope, off the cuff, spoke on missionaries who work and live in Africa and of their sacrifices. He also told the story of an 81-year-old Italian missionary who has been living there since about age 20, and invited young people to consider being missionaries, and to “never exclude” the possibility.
The Holy Father also asked those gathered to join him in commending Africans and their aspirations to Jesus, “our peace, who is himself the door which opens wide to the merciful love of our heavenly Father.”
Returning from Africa, Pope Stops at Santa Maria Maggiore
This Marks Francis’ 28th Visit to Rome’s Marian Basilica Since His Election
Moments after landing in Rome’s Ciampino Airport Monday evening, Pope Francis traveled to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to offer thanks for the success of his trip to Africa, which ended the same day. This visit marked the Holy Father’s 28th visit to the Marian Basilica since his election.
According to Vatican Radio, the Pope prayed before the ancient image of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, in silence for several minutes.
Before Monday’s stop, the Holy Father’s most recent visit to the Marian Basilica was on Nov. 24, the evening before departing for his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, which took him to the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic. (D.C.L)
Pope Francis Responds to Journalists on Return Flight from Africa
Touches on Various Themes, Including Upcoming Trip to Mexico, Vatileaks, and International Conflicts
As usual, Pope Francis has responded to a variety of questions during the in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome.
Returning from his first Apostolic visit to Africa, where he stopped in the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, and Central African Republic, journalists on the papal flight asked the Holy Father on a variety of topics, including his first visit to the continent, what struck him most, and where he will travel next. Francis didn’t shy away from any questions, including those related to Vatileaks, corruption, or the Church’s teaching on the use of condoms as a preventive method against HIV.
During the briefing, the Pontiff confirmed that his next Apostolic Trip is likely to be Mexico this February, though the trip’s specifics have not been released.
When speaking about his time in Africa, Francis reflected on the suffering he observed of the children in Bangui’s pediatric hospital, where he saw many malnourished, dying of Malaria, and inadequate resources, and went on to decry when systems idolize money, rather than help people.
“If mankind does not change,” he said, “we will continue to have more miseries, tragedies, wars, children who die of hunger, and injustice.”
Other questions touched on how politics should deal with the international threat of fundamentalism, and on international conflicts, such as Turkey’s having shot down a Russian aircraft recently.
ZENIT has provided a full translation of the in-flight press conference, which can be found below.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Bishop Named for Hoima, Uganda</h2>
Fr. Vincent Kirabo Studied Education at University of Portland, Oregon
Pope Francis has named Fr. Vincent Kirabo as bishop of Hoima, Uganda.
Vincent Kirabo was born in Kyanaisoke, Uganda, in 1955 and was ordained a priest in 1979.
He holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Portland in the United States, and a licentiate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Urbanian University, Rome. He has served in a number of roles in the Diocese of Hoima, including teacher and rector of the minor seminary, director of the diocesan commission for vocations, parish vicar, diocesan administrator for finance, parish priest, and teacher and bursar at the Uganda Martyrs National Minor Seminary Alokolum, Gulu. He is currently a teacher at the St. Mary’s National Major Seminary Ggaba, Kampala.
The Diocese of Hoima has a popultion of just over 2 million with about half of them (1.1 million) being Catholic. They are served by just around 130 priests and that same number of religious.
The diocese has been without an ordinary since early 2014, when Bishop Deogratias Dr. Muganwa Byabazaire passed away.
In 2009, Bishop Byabazaire was diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes and a brain tumor and in the same year, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Lambert Bainomugisha, the auxiliary Bishop of Mbarara, as the Apostolic Administrator of Hoima Diocese.
GENERAL AUDIENCE: On Apostolic Visit to Africa
‘Please don’t exclude this possibility of becoming a missionary, to bring love, humanity and faith to other countries’
Here is a ZENIT translation of the Holy Father’s address during his Wednesday General Audience today in St. Peter’s Square.
* * *
THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In the past days, I undertook my first Apostolic Visit to Africa. Africa is beautiful! I thank the Lord for this great gift of His, which enabled me to visit three countries: first Kenya, then Uganda and finally the Central African Republic. I express again my gratitude to the civil authorities and to bishops of these nations for having received me, and I thank all those who collaborated in so many ways. I send you my heartfelt thank you!
Kenya is a country that represents well the global challenge of our time: to protect Creation by reforming the development model, so that it is fair, inclusive and sustainable. All this finds confirmation in Nairobi, the largest city of East Africa: [It also finds confirmation] here and everywhere. The coexistence between wealth and misery is a scandal; it is an embarrassment for humanity. In Nairobi, in fact, there is the headquarters of the United Nations Office for the Environment, which I visited. In Kenya, I met the authorities and diplomats, and also the inhabitants of a populous district. I met with leaders of the different Christian denominations and of other religions, priests and consecrated persons, and also with young people. So many young people! In every occasion I encouraged them to treasure the great richness of the country: natural and spiritual richness, constituted by resources of the earth, by the new generations and by the values that make up the wisdom of the people. In this context, so dramatically important today, I had the joy of bringing Jesus’ word of hope: “Be strong in the faith, be not afraid.” This was the motto of the visit. A word that is lived every day by so many humble and simple persons, with noble dignity; a word witnessed tragically and heroically by the young people of the University of Garissa, killed last April 2nd because they were Christians. Their blood is the seed of peace and fraternity for Kenya, for Africa and for the whole world.
Then, in Uganda my visit happened in the sign of the martyrs of that country, 50 years after their historic canonization by Blessed Paul VI. Therefore, the motto was: “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). A motto that presupposes the immediately preceding words: “You will have the strength of the Holy Spirit,” because it is the Spirit that animates the heart and hands of missionary disciples. And the whole visit in Uganda unfolded in the fervor of the witness animated by the Holy Spirit. Witness, in an explicit sense, is the service of catechists, whom I thanked and encouraged in their commitment, which often involves their families, too. A witness of charity, which touched me in the House of Nalukilongo, but which many communities and associations give, too, as they serve the poorest, disabled and sick. The witness of young people who, despite the difficulties, guard the gift of hope and seek to live according to the Gospel, not according to the world, but going against the current. Witnesses are the priests, the consecrated men and women who renew day after day their total “yes” to Christ and dedicate themselves joyfully to the service of the Holy People of God. And there is another group of witnesses, but I will speak about them later. All this manifold witness, animated by the Holy Spirit Himself, is leaven for the whole society, as the effective work carried out in Uganda demonstrates in the fight against AIDS and the reception of refugees.
The third stage of the trip was in the Central African Republic, in the geographic heart of the Continent; it is, in fact, the heart of Africa. This visit was truly my first intention, because that country is attempting to come out of a very difficult period of violent conflicts and much suffering in the population. Therefore, I wished to open precisely there, at Bangui, a week ahead of time, the first Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy, as a sign of faith and hope for those people, and, symbolically, for all the African populations, most in need of liberation and comfort. Jesus’ invitation to the disciples: “Let us go across to the other side” (Luke 8:22) was the motto for Central Africa. “To go to the other side” means, in the civil sense, to leave behind war, divisions, and misery and to choose peace, reconciliation and development. However, this presupposes a “passage” that happens in the consciences, in the attitudes and in the intentions of persons. And, decisive at this level is the contribution of the religious communities. Therefore, I met with the Evangelical and Muslim Communities, sharing prayer and the commitment to peace. With priests and consecrated persons, but also with young people, we shared the joy of feeling that the Risen Lord is with us ‘in the boat,’ and it is He who guides it to the other side. And finally, in the last Mass at the Bangui Stadium, on the feast of the Apostle Andrew, we renewed our commitment to follow Jesus, our hope, our peace, and Face of Divine Mercy. That last Mass was wonderful: it was full of young people, a stadium of young people! However, more than half of the population of the Central African Republic are minors. They are less than 18 years old: a promise to go forward!
I would like to say a word about the missionaries. Men and women who have left their homeland, everything … They went there as youths, leading a life of so much, so much work, sometimes sleeping on the ground. At a certain moment, I met a Sister at Bangui who was Italian. One could see she was elderly: “How old are you?” I asked. “81” – “But not so much, two [years] older than me.” This sister was there since she was 23-24 years old: her whole life! And, like her, so many others. She was with a little girl. And the girl said to her in Italian: “Grandmother.” And the sister said to me: “But I, in fact, am not from here, but from the neighboring country, Congo, but I came in a canoe with this girl.” So the missionaries are courageous. “And what do you do, Sister?” “I am a nurse, but then I studied a bit here and became an obstetrician and I made 3,280 children be born,” she said to me. A whole life for life, for the life of others. And there are so many, so many like this sister: so many sisters, so many priests, so many religious who consume their life to proclaim Jesus Christ. It’s beautiful to see this; it’s beautiful.
I would like to say a word to young people. But, there are few, because birth seems to be a luxury in Europe: zero birth rate, 1% birth rate. But I address young people: think what you are doing with your life. Think of this sister and so many like her, who have given their life, and so many have died there. Missionary work is not to engage in proselyticism: this sister said to me that Muslim women go to them because they know that the sisters are good nurses and that they look after one well, and they do not engage in catechesis to convert them! They give witness then, they catechize anyone who so wishes. But witness: this is the great heroic missionary work of the Church. To proclaim Jesus Christ with one’s life! I turn to young people: think of what you want to do with your life. It is the moment to think and to ask the Lord to make you hear His will. However, please don’t exclude this possibility of becoming a missionary, to bring love, humanity and faith to other countries. Do not engage in proselytism: no. Those who seek something else do so. The faith is preached first with witness and then with the word, slowly.
Let us praise the Lord together for this pilgrimage in the land of Africa and let us allow ourselves to be guided by his key-words: “Be strong in the faith, be not afraid”; “You will be my witnesses”; Let us go across to the other side.”[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
Greeting in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: My recent Apostolic Journey to Africa brought me to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic with a message of hope in the Risen Jesus. In Kenya, a country blessed with great human and natural resources, I spoke of the worldwide challenge of protecting the environment and creating equitable, inclusive and sustainable models of development, and the need to form our young in the ways of peace and fraternity. In Uganda, the land of the Martyrs, I encouraged the Christian community to persevere in its witness of faith and charity, and thus to be a leaven of hope for society as a whole. In the Central African Republic, a country experiencing internal conflicts and great suffering, I opened the first Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy as a sign of hope and strength for its people and for all our brothers and sisters in Africa. I ask you to join me in commending them and all their aspirations to Jesus, our peace, who is himself the door which opens wide to the merciful love of our heavenly Father.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Australia, Korea and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the group “Up with People” for sharing with us their music. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all![Original text: English]
Greeting in Italian:
I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I greet the International Union of General Superiors, which is starting the Migranti Sicilia Project; the personnel of the Government’s Commissioner for the coordination of the anti-racket and anti-usury initiatives; the “Robert Schuman” European Institute of Cultural Integration and the Long Live the People Association on the 50th anniversary of its foundation.
I greet the Confraternity of the Sacred Stigmata of Saint Francis of Macerata; the youngsters of the Institute of Minors of Casal del Marmo and of the “Borgo Amigo” Community; the faithful of Bibbiano and the “Integration” Social Cooperative of Casoria.
Last Sunday we began the Season of Advent. I exhort all to live this time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, face of the merciful Father, in the extraordinary context of the Jubilee, with a spirit of charity, with greater attention to those in need, and with moments of personal and community prayer.
I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the God of peace stimulate you, young people, to be promoters of dialogue and understanding; may He help you, dear sick, to look at the Cross to learn to face suffering with serenity; and may He foster in you, dear newlyweds, the growth of peace and love in your new family.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
FORUM: ‘Celebrating St. Andrew, Scotland in Rome’
Rector of Pontifical Scots College in Rome Speaks on a Highlight of College’s Year
Below are the reflections of Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick, Rector of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome on ‘ Celebrating St. Andrew, Scotland in Rome.’
Fr. Fitzpatrick is guest blogger for Ambassador Nigel Baker. This reflection published Nov. 30 is found on Ambassador Baker’s blog available on the British Embassy to the Holy See Website.
The celebration of the Feast Day of the apostle St Andrew, brother of St Peter, is one of the high points in the Scots College year. It is an opportunity to invite many friends in the city, as well as some from home, to join the community in celebrating both the College and Scotland.
The Pontifical Scots College in Rome was founded in Jubilee year of 1600 by Pope Clement VIII three years before the Scottish King James VI succeeded to the throne of England. Its original purpose was to secure an education for Scottish boys and young men in piety and in the Christian religion. Some sixteen years later, on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the John Ogilvie, it became wholly dedicated to the education of priests when all its students took the Mission Oath.
The establishment of the College represented another stage in a long history that linked Scotland, Rome and the Holy See. Part of that history is told in the mosaics and stained glass of the current College building. St Ninian the first Christian missionary to Scotland and founder of the first Church at Whithorn was, tradition tells us, educated in Rome, just like our students today. In the midst of the struggles between England and Scotland, the Scottish king, bishops and nobles appealed to Pope John XXII to recognise their independence in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. Pope Alexander VI and Julius II gifted the sceptre and sword of the Honours of Scotland, the oldest regalia in the British Isles, in 1494 and 1507, respectively. These symbolic acts represented the religious and political bonds that had grown over the years and the presence in the city of Scottish pilgrims who were given shelter in the Scots Hospice in Rome.
In the course of the history of the college, it has witnessed, and at times been part of, the changing relationships between the Holy See and Scotland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Perhaps its most obvious significance was in its role during the Stuart exile in Rome. King James III and Pope Clement XI visited the College on the Feast of St Margaret in June 1717. Some former students of the College accompanied his son Charles Edward Stuart during the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. Charles’ brother Cardinal Henry Benedict was the Cardinal Protector and had a long association with the College.
The eventual repeal of the Penal Laws and the restoration of the Scottish Catholic Hierarchy 1878 led to a period of new relationships and the role of the College Rector as an agent for the Scottish Church in Rome with the Holy See. During that time some of the Rectors had very close contact with the Holy Father. As communication and travel improved this role diminished, but the number of seminarians and visitors increased.
Today, the College continues to be a little bit of Scotland in Rome. As we approach the beginning of a new Holy Year and the 400th anniversary of the Mission Oath, the College looks forward to continuing its role as both a place of welcome for Scots in Rome and a reminder to the Church in Rome of the Church in Scotland founded by St Ninian and dedicated to St Andrew all those centuries ago.
On the NET:
Link to the original piece on the blog of Ambassador Nigel Baker:http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/nigelbaker/2015/11/30/celebrating-st-andrew-scotland-in-rome/