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Today’s news dispatch: Dec. 6, 2015

ANGELUS ADDRESS: On My Own Need for Conversion

“None of us can say, ‘I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.’ No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that’s what the Year of Mercy is for”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy places us in the school of John the Baptist, who preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And perhaps we ask ourselves, “Why do we have to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer or a sinner who becomes just. But we don’t need it. We are already Christian.”

We can ask ourselves this and in this regard say, “we’re ok.” But that’s not true. Thinking like this, we don’t realize that it is precisely because of this presumption — that we are Christians, good in every way, that we’re doing the right thing — precisely because of this presumption we must convert: from the supposition that, overall, things are going well like they are and we don’t need any conversion.

But let us ask: Is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have in us the same sentiments that Jesus had? Is it true that we feel as Christ felt? For example, when we suffer some evil or some affront, can we react without animosity and forgive from the heart those who ask us for forgiveness? How difficult it is to forgive, eh? How difficult! “You’re going to pay for this” — that phrase comes spontaneously, yes? Or when we are called to share joys and sadnesses, do we know how to truly cry with the one who cries and rejoice with the one who rejoices? Or when we should share our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel? And in this way, we can ask ourselves so many questions. We’re not alright. We should always convert, to have the sentiments that Jesus had.

The voice of the Baptist still cries in humanity’s deserts of today, which are — what are the deserts of today? — they are the closed minds and the hardened hearts. And [his voice] calls us so that we ask ourselves if we actually are following the right path, living a life according to the Gospel. Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” It is a pressing invitation to open the heart and receive the salvation that God incessantly offers, almost stubbornly, because he wants us all to be free of the slavery of sin. But the text of the prophet amplifies this voice, pre-announcing that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And salvation is offered to every man, and every people, without excluding anyone, to each one of us. None of us can say, “I’m a saint; I’m perfect; I’m already saved.” No. We should always accept this offer of salvation, and that’s what the Year of Mercy is for: to advance farther in this journey of salvation, this path that Jesus has taught us. God wants all mankind to be saved through the mediation of Jesus, the only mediator. 

Therefore, each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who still do not know him. But this is not to proselytize. No. It is to open a door. “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” St. Paul declared. If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we draw close to him, how can we not feel a passion to make him known to those we find at work, at school, in our communities, in the hospital, in meeting places? If we look around us, we find people who would be disposed to beginning — or beginning again — a journey of faith if they were to find Christians who are in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we be and couldn’t we be these Christians? 

I leave you with this question: Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation? And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we should be courageous: make low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the valleys dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the pathways of our laziness and our comforts.

May we be aided in this by Our Lady — who is Mother and who knows how to do it — to bring down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone. Only Jesus can fulfill all the hopes of man!

[Angelus]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am following with close attention the work of the conference on climate underway in Paris. And a question I asked in Laudato Si’ comes again to my mind: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” For the good of our common home, of all of us and of the future generations, in Paris every effort should be directed toward mitigating the impact of climate change and, at the same time, to curb poverty and to bring human dignity to flourish. The two choices go together. Stop climate change and curb poverty so that human dignity flourishes. Let us pray so that the Holy Spirit enlightens all those who are called to make such important decisions and gives them the courage to always have the greater good of the human family as the criteria to guide their decisions. 

Tomorrow, we mark the 50th anniversary of a memorable event between Catholics and Orthodox. On Dec. 7, 1965, in the vigil of the conclusion of Vatican II, with a common declaration from Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, the sentences of excommunication exchanged between the Church of Rome and Constantinople in 1054 were eliminated. It is truly providential that this historic gesture of reconciliation, which created the conditions for a new dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics in love and truth, would be marked precisely at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy. There is no authentic path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, to God and between us, for the sin of division. Let us recall in our prayer the dear Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches and let us ask the Lord that relations between Catholics and Orthodox be always inspired by fraternal love. 

Yesterday in Chimbote, Peru, Conventual Franciscans Michael Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzałkowski were beatified. and Alessandro Dordi, a fidei donum priest assassinated in hatred of the faith in 1991. May these martyrs’ fidelity in following Jesus give all of us, especially Christians persecuted in different parts of the world, the strength to give testimony to the Gospel with courage.

I greet all of the pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. There are a lot of banners, eh? In particular, I greet the liturgical choir of Milherós de Poiares and the faithful of Casal de Cambra, Portugal. I greet the participants in the congress of the Movement of Educational Commitment of Catholic Action, the faithful of Biella, Milán, Cusano Milanino, Neptuno, Rocca di Papa and Foggia, those being confirmed from Roncone and Settimello, the band of Calangianus and the choir of Taio.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good preparation for the beginning of the Year of Mercy. Please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and see you soon!

[Transcription and translation by ZENIT]

 

 

God Is Stubbornly Offering Salvation, Says Pope

And We All Need Conversion to Accept His Offer

God wants to free us from the slavery of sin so badly that he’s downright stubborn in offering salvation, Pope Francis says.

The Pope proposed this reflection today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Coupled with God’s desire to free us from sin is our own persistence in it, the Holy Father explained, saying that we are all in need of the conversion John the Baptist preaches in today’s Gospel.

Thinking we don’t need conversion is precisely the presumption that shows we do, the Pope said.

“Let us ask,” he invited: “Is it true that in the various situations and circumstances of life, we have in us the same sentiments that Jesus had? Is it true that we feel as Christ felt? For example, when we suffer some evil or some affront, can we react without animosity and forgive from the heart those who ask us for forgiveness? How difficult it is to forgive, eh? How difficult! ‘You’re going to pay for this’ — that phrase comes spontaneously, yes? Or when we are called to share joys and sadnesses, do we know how to truly cry with the one who cries and rejoice with the one who rejoices? Or when we should share our faith, do we know how to do it with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed of the Gospel?”

The Pope explained that these are just some of many questions we should ask, with the answers pointing us to our need for conversion, as John the Baptist preached.

“Today, as then, he admonishes us with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’ It is a pressing invitation to open the heart and receive the salvation that God incessantly offers, almost stubbornly, because he wants us all to be free of the slavery of sin.”

Sharing our joy

The Pope spelled out a basic tenet of the faith, that “God wants all mankind to be saved through the mediation of Jesus, the only mediator,” saying this has to lead us to evangelization.

“Each one of us is called to make Jesus known to those who still do not know him,” the Holy Father said. “But this is not to proselytize. No. It is to open a door.”

“If Our Lord Jesus has changed our lives, and he changes it every time we draw close to him, how can we not feel a passion to make him known,” the Pope asked. “[…] If we look around us, we find people who would be disposed to beginning — or beginning again — a journey of faith if they were to find Christians who are in love with Jesus. Shouldn’t we be and couldn’t we be these Christians?”

Francis invited the faithful to really ask: “Am I truly in love with Jesus? Am I convinced that Jesus offers me and gives me salvation? And, if I am in love, I have to make him known! But we should be courageous: make low the mountains of pride and rivalry; fill in the valleys dug by indifference and apathy; make straight the pathways of our laziness and our comforts.

“May we be aided in this by Our Lady — who is Mother and who knows how to do it — to bring down the walls and the obstacles that impede our conversion, that is, our journey toward the encounter with the Lord. He alone. Only Jesus can fulfill all the hopes of man!”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-my-own-need-for-conversion

 

 

ANALYSIS: Pope Francis in Africa

What Were Some of the Common Themes of the Trip?

With his trip to Africa, Pope Francis touched upon many themes, but there were some important central messages running through his speeches.

One of these regarded cooperation between different groups of believers. On speaking to the diplomatic corps in Kenya shortly after his arrival, Pope Francis spoke of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation in a multiethnic society. The pursuit of the common good must be a goal for all, the Pontiff stressed.

It was a theme repeated in his address to the diplomatic corps in Bangui, in the Central African Republic. Unity in the midst of diversity and not fearing the views of others are vital, Pope Francis said.

He expressed the willingness of the Church to promote the common good, particularly by working for peace and reconciliation.

The theme of mutual respect was also a topic in the Pope’s address to the evangelical community in Bangui. He started by noting the common baptism that unites Christians. He also referred to another uniting factor – the ecumenism of blood.

“All our communities suffer indiscriminately as a result of injustice and the blind hatred unleashed by the devil,” he commented.

The shared suffering and shared mission unites all Christians, he insisted. He urged greater efforts to achieve unity, observing that the lack of unity among Christians is a scandal and contrary to God’s will.

It was a point he had already made in his speech to ecumenical and interreligious leaders in Nairobi. Dialogue is not optional or a luxury, but something essential, he affirmed.

Prophets of peace

Pope Francis also deplored the fact that young people are sometimes radicalized in the name of religion.

“How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!,” he said.

He returned to this theme at his meeting with the Muslim community at the Grand Mosque in Bangui. Pope Francis insisted that Muslims and Christians are brothers and sisters. “Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace,” he said, referring to recent acts of violence.

“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” the Pontiff added.

Understanding why violence and other problems exist was a main theme of the spontaneous address Pope Francis gave to a gathering of young people in Kenya. The spirit of evil, he explained, “leads us to disunion, to tribalism, to corruption, to dependence on drugs.”

Life is full of difficulties and temptations to follow the path of evil, but he commented that we all have the possibility to choose. He urged them to reject both tribalism and corruption. “Corruption is not a way of life but a way of death,” he warned them.

The alternative is to build lives firmly based on faith and family life, a theme Pope Francis dealt with in his homily at the Mass held at the University of Nairobi. He mentioned the Gospel parable about building a house on rock, rather than sand.

God, “wants all of us to build our lives on the firm foundation of his word,” he explained and asks each one of his to go out and be his missionaries to convey the truth, beauty and power of the Gospel.

Rejecting materialism and indifference

Pope Francis also spoke of the importance of strong family life and the need to care for the elderly and the unborn, thus avoiding the errors of “a culture of materialism selfishness and indifference to others.”

Communicating the Gospel message was something the Pope spoke about in his speech to catechists and teachers in Uganda. Their work is a holy work, he said, and in the midst of obstacles and limited resources they should not forget that the Holy Spirit is present to give them light and strength.

He also reminded them that the Church in Uganda grew strong thanks to the testimony of martyrs, who gave witness to the truth that sets us free.

Pope Francis referred to the Catholic and Anglican martyrs again in his speech to Ugandan authorities. The celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the canonization of the martyrs reminds, he said, “of the importance that faith, moral rectitude and commitment to the common good have played, and continue to play, in the cultural, economic and political life of this country.”

This, his visit to Africa, the Pope said, was meant to draw attention to Africa as a whole, as a continent of hope, with abundant natural resources, and blessed in its people.

“I pray that you, and all the beloved Ugandan people, will always prove worthy of the values which have shaped the soul of your nation,” he concluded. A prayer that could be applied to the entire continent.

 

 

Pope: Anniversary of End of Orthodox-Catholic Excommunications a Fitting Beginning to Year of Mercy

Francis Notes Paul VI’s and Athenagoras’ Declaration of Dec. 7, 1965

There can be no path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, says Pope Francis, which means that the anniversary of the removal of the mutual Catholic-Orthodox excommunications is a providential beginning to the Year of Mercy.

The Holy Father made this observation today after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

On Dec. 7, 1965, on the eve of the end of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras made a common declaration to remove the excommunications mutually leveled in 1054 at the beginning of the Great Schism.

“It is truly providential that this historic gesture of reconciliation, which created the conditions for a new dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics in love and truth, would be marked precisely at the beginning of the Jubilee of Mercy,” Pope Francis said today. 

“There is no authentic path toward unity without a petition for forgiveness, to God and between us, for the sin of division,” he added. 

The Holy Father invited the faithful to pray for “the dear Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the other leaders of the Orthodox Churches and let us ask the Lord that relations between Catholics and Orthodox be always inspired by fraternal love.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-my-own-need-for-conversion

 

 

Pope Prays for COP21 Saying Fighting Poverty and Curbing Climate Change Go Together

At Angelus Address, Asks What Kind of World We Want to Leave Our Children

Pope Francis today prayed for the success of the Climate Change Conference underway in Paris, saying that the event has brought to mind a question he asked in his encyclical Laudato Si’: “What kind of world do we want to pass on to those who come after us?”

“For the sake of our common home and for future generations, every effort should be made in Paris to mitigate the impact of climate change and, at the same time, to tackle poverty and to let human dignity flourish,” the Pope said.

“The two choices go together. Stop climate change and curb poverty so that human dignity flourishes,” Francis affirmed.

He asked for prayer that the Holy Spirit will enlighten all who are called to make these important decisions and give them “the courage to always use as their criterion of choice the greater good of the human family.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/angelus-address-on-my-own-need-for-conversion

 

 

 

 

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