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Today’s news dispatch: Dec. 13, 2015

FULL TEXT: Pope’s Homily at St. John Lateran

“We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy.”

Below is a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Francis’ homily  for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, at Rome’s  Basilica of St. John Lateran, where the Holy Father opened its Holy Door of Mercy this morning:

***

The invitation extended by the Prophet to the ancient city of Jerusalem is also addressed today to the whole Church and each one of us: “Rejoice … exault!” (Zephaniah 3:14). The reason for joy is expressed with words that inspire hope, and which can look to the future with serenity. The Lord has annulled every condemnation and chose to live among us.

This third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we have reason (for sadness), with many concerns and the many forms of violence which hurt our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy. The prophet Zephaniah, in whose very name is inscribed  the content of this announcement, opens our hearts to trust: “God protects” His people. In a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety. Today, we are asked not to let our “hands grow weak” because of doubt, impatience or suffering.

The Apostle Paul takes with force the teaching of the prophet Zephaniah and reiterates: “The Lord is near” (Phil 4,5). Because of this we should rejoice always, and with our affability give all witness of closeness and care that God has for each person.

We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too, like the crowds asked John, “What do we do?” (Lk 3:10). The response of the Baptist was immediate. He invites us to act justly and to look after the needs of those in need. What John demands of his representatives, however, it is what is reflected in the law. We, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door we are called to cross, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. He who is baptized knows he has a greater commitment. Faith in Christ leads to a journey that lasts for a lifetime: to be merciful, like the Father. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries. It is from this infinite love that we are responsible, in spite of our contradictions.

We pray for us and for all who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, recreates, transforms and reforms life.

[Original Text: Italian] [Translation by Vatican Radio]

FULL TEXT: Pope Francis’ Angelus Address

‘Whoever converts and approaches the Lord, feels joy’

Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus Address at noon today to St. Peter’s Square on the Third Sunday of Advent, referred to as Gaudete Sunday:
***
 
Before the Angelus:
 
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
 
In today’s Gospel, there is a question posed three times: “What should we do?” (Lk 3,10.12.14).  Three categories of people raise it to John the Baptist: first, the crowd in general; second, the publicans, or tax collectors; and, third, some soldiers. Each of these groups questions the prophet on what must be done to implement the conversion that he is preaching. John’s reply to the question of the crowd is sharing essential goods. He told the first group, the crowd, to share basic necessities, and therefore says: “Whoever has two cloaks, should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise” (v. 11 ). Then, he says to the second group, the tax collectors, stop collecting more than is prescribed. What does this mean? No ‘kickbacks,’ John the Baptist is clear. And to the third group, the soldiers, he says do not exhort anyone for anything, and be content with your pay (v. 14). There are the three answers to the three questions of these groups. Three answers to an identical path of conversion, which is manifested in concrete commitments to justice and solidarity. And ‘the road that Jesus shows in all his preaching: the active path of love for the neighbor.
 
From these warnings of John the Baptist, we understand what were the general trends of those who at that time held the power, in various forms. Things have not changed much. However, no group of people is excluded from the path of conversion for salvation, not even the tax collectors, considered sinners by definition: not even they are excluded from salvation. God does not exclude anyone from the chance to save themselves. He is – as it were – anxious to show mercy, to use it all, and welcome everyone into the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness.
 
This question – ‘What should we do?’ – We feel to be even ours. Today’s liturgy tells us, in the words of John, that is necessary to repent, we must change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity, sobriety: these are the essential values ​​of a life fully human and genuinely Christian. Repent! It sums up the message of John the Baptist. And the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent helps us to rediscover a special dimension of conversion: joy. Whoever converts and approaches the Lord, feels joy. The prophet Zephaniah tells us today: “Rejoice, daughter of Zion!” Turned to Jerusalem (Zeph 3:14); and the apostle Paul exhorted Christians in Philippi: “Rejoice always in the Lord” (Phil 4,4). Today, it takes courage to speak of joy, which, above all, requires faith! The world is beset by many problems, the future weighed down by uncertainties and fears. Yet, the Christian is a joyful person, and his joy is not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift from God that fills life. Our joy comes from knowing that “the Lord is near” (Phil 4.5), is close with His tenderness, His mercy, His forgiveness and His love.
 
May the Virgin Mary help us to strengthen our faith, because we welcome the God of joy, the God of mercy, who always wants to live in the midst of her chilldren. And our Mother teaches us to share tears with those who weep, but also to be able to share a smile.
 
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]
 
After the Angelus:
 
The climate conference has just ended in Paris with the adoption of an agreement, being called historic by many. Its implementation will require a concerted commitment and generous dedication byall. Hoping that it gives special attention to the most vulnerable populations, we urge the international community to continue the path taken promptly, in a sign of solidarity that will become more and more active.
 
Next Tuesday, December 15, the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade will begin in Nairobi. I turn to the countries that will participate, so that the decisions that will be taken into account the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable, as well as the legitimate aspirations of the least developed countries and the common good of the entire human family.
 
In all the cathedrals of the world, the Holy Doors are opened, because the Jubilee of mercy can be fully lived in the particular churches. I hope that this time offers many strong incentives to become instruments of God’s tenderness. As an expression of the works of mercy, “Doors of Mercy” are beiong opened in places of discomfort and alienation. In this regard, I greet the inmates of prisons around the world, especially those of the Padua prison, which today are spiritually united with us, at this time, to pray, and I thank them for the gift.
 
I greet all of you, pilgrims who have come from Rome, Italy, from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet those from Warsaw and from Madrid. A special thought goes to the Foundation Dispensary Santa Marta in the Vatican: parents with their children, the volunteers and to the Daughters of Charity; thank you for your witness of solidarity and welcome! And I also greet the members of the Focolare Movement together with friends from some Islamic communities. Go on! Go forward with courage in your path of dialogue and fraternity, because we are all children of God!
 
To all, I send cordial wishes for good Sunday and a good lunch. Do not forget, please, to pray for me. See you soon!
 
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

44 Legionary Priests Ordained This Weekend in Rome

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Stella, Calls on New Priests to Be Witnesses of Mercy

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, ordained 44 Legionaries of Christ priests in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. There were close to 3,000 persons present, including friends and family of the newly ordained priests. In his homily, Cardinal Stella said the 44 new Legionary priests are “a gift for the Church and humanity,” and therefore there are “many reasons to rejoice today.”

The words of the Cardinal focused on three characteristics of a priest: “chosen from among men,” “constituted in the things which refer to God,” and “sent into the world.”

The Cardinal reminded the new priests that the priesthood is not a career, in which man is the protagonist, but is rather an initiative of God to which a man responds with love. “It is good for a priest to maintain, for his whole life, the awareness of having been chosen…of the grace of that ‘first love’ from which is born a desire to do great things.”

He invited the new priests to foster a relationship of love with Christ and to give witness of the Gospel through service to others. He reminded them that today the Church has entrusted them with a mission in which “God’s pedagogical itinerary has come to completion. Christ consecrates you to Himself in order to give you as a gift to everyone.”

“To celebrate this priestly ordination at the beginning of the Year of Mercy helps us to experience the love of God which knows no limits. Each one of these new priests is called to be a living image of the merciful Father whom Jesus has revealed to us, by reaching out to those persons most in need, to those who suffer, to bring them the light of faith and the witness of love,” commented Father Ignacio Sarre, L.C., rector of one of the houses of formation of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome.

“We are very thankful to the Lord for these new priests,” said the General Director of the Legionaries, Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, L.C. “We have great hope in these young priests as we continue our path of renovation and service to others. It gives us great joy to see larger groups of men from countries such as Brazil and Colombia arrive to the priesthood, as they have much to offer our Congregation.”

The 44 new priests come from 11 different countries: Germany (2), Brazil (8), Canada (2), Colombia (6), Chile (2), Spain (2), United States (1), France (1), Italy (3), Mexico (16), Poland (1). They have obtained their philosophy and theology degrees from the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum, and their period of study and preparation – about 12 years – also included 3 years of pastoral work in different countries around the world.

Each one of the 44 priests has published their vocation story on the website: http://www.regnumchristi.org/sites/ordenaciones2015/en/

The newly ordained priests are already exercising their ministry around the world.

The Legion of Christ, a religious congregation within the Catholic Church, has a presence in 22 countries. It currently has 4 bishops, 954 priests, and 836 religious in formation, according to data from December 31, 2014.

Below is a list of the new priests and their country of origin. 

***

On the NET:

Photos of the Ordinations: https://goo.gl/a2P7CY

Text of the homily of Cardenal Stella (original in Italian, translations in Spanish, English, and Portuguese):http://goo.gl/RdkAO5

 

Names and Country of origin of the 44 Legionaries of Christ

ordained priests the 12th of December, 2015 in Rome

United States

Brian D. HOELZEN, L.C. (Seattle)

Canada

  1. Matthew WHALEN, L.C.
  2. Sameer Vikram ADVANI, L.C.

Germany

     1. Daniel Egervári, L.C. (Schwabach, Alemania)

     2. Vincenz Heereman, L.C. (Meerbusch, Alemania)

Brazil

  1. Cleverson BUFFON, L.C. (Paraná)
  2. Paulo Cesar VALENTINI, L.C. (Santa Catarina)
  3. Anderson PITZ, L.C. (Santa Catarina)
  4. João Francisco Borin PETROSKI, L.C. (Paraná)
  5. Fernando DE SOUZA VICENTE, L.C. (Paraná)
  6. Daniel Mauricio FILHO, L.C. (Santa Catarina)
  7. Danilo Renato STRADIOTO, L.C. (São Paulo)
  8. Felipe Necco Ramos, L.C. (Rio de Janeiro)

Chile

  1. Alexis GATICA, L.C. (Santiago de Chile)
  2. Víctor Felipe RIVAS FRITZ, L.C. (Santiago de Chile)

Colombia

  1. Juan Carlos QUINTERO, L.C. (Antioquia)
  2. Abel RANGEL CRUZ, L.C. (Bogotá)
  3. Miller MAZENETT HURTADO, L.C. (Bogotá)
  4. Rogelio VILLEGAS PATIÑO, L.C. (Antioquia)
  5. Néstor FONSECA FIGAREDO, L.C. (Boyacá)
  6. William BÁEZ SAAVEDRA, L.C. (Santander)

France

            Jean-Christophe PONCET, L.C. (Versalles)

Italy

  1. Lorenzo CAMPANELLA, L.C. (Brescia)
  2. Stefano LOZZA, L.C. (Bergamo)
  3. Federico MACCHI, L.C. (Ponsacco, Provincia di Pisa)

Mexico

  1. Alejandro MIJANGOS HERRERA, L.C. (Villahermosa, Tabasco)
  2. Jorge Alberto REYES CRUZ, L.C. (Ocotlán, Jalisco)
  3. Jorge Enrique MÚJICA VILLEGAS, L.C. (Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato)
  4. Carlos Oldaid GALLEGOS ROCHIN, L.C. (Villarhermosa, Tabasco)
  5. Luis Miguel VARGAS MONTAÑEZ, L.C. (Aguascalientes, Ags.)
  6. Álvaro AGUILAR ÁLVAREZ MIER Y TERÁN, L.C. (Ciudad de México)
  7. Víctor ZAMORA LEÓN, L.C. (Ciudad de México)
  8. Roberto JUÁREZ ÁLVAREZ, L.C. (Ciudad de México)
  9. Arturo GUZMÁN VELÁZQUEZ, L.C. (Guadalajara,eJalisco)
  10. Luis Manuel GUTIÉRREZ ROJAS, L.C. (Guadalajara, Jalisco)
  11. Julio CASTRO BAEZA, L.C.(San José de Gracia, Mich.)
  12. Daniel ZORRILLA GARZA, L.C. (Monterrey, N.L.)
  13. Jorge ORTIZ CASTELLANOS, L.C. (Ciudad de México)
  14. Gabriel ARENAS RAMÍREZ, L.C. (León, Guanajuato)
  15. Pablo Yeudiel GONZÁLEZ CUÉLLAR, L.C. (Saltillo, Coah.)
  16. Luis RAMÍREZ ALMANZA, L.C. 

Poland

            Wawrzyniec Piotr PRYCZKOWSKI, L.C.

Spain

  1. Alberto PUÉRTOLAS GIL, L.C. (Barcelona)
  2. Julio MUÑOZ LÓPEZ DE CARRIZOSA, L.C. (Madrid)

ANALYSIS: Religion and Violence

Rabbi Sacks Confronts Religious Extremism

The fight against religiously motivated violence will be one of the defining battles of the twenty-first century, wrote Rabbi Jonathan Sacks at the start of his new book, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” (Schocken Books).

Sacks, who was Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, deplored how only too often “people have killed in the name of the God of life.”

When religion is used for political ends it is not righteousness but idolatry and to invoke God to justify violence is not an act of sanctity, but a kind of blasphemy, Sacks argued in the book’s opening chapter.

Radical political Islam has grown steadily stronger since September 11, 2001, Sacks commented, and episodes of violence committed against Christians, Muslims, and Jews have become more frequent.

He pointed out that many of the terrorists come from European homes, have had a university education and were regarded as likeable people before their radicalisation. This transformation from ordinary people into murderers was called by Sacks altruistic evil, that is, evil carried out in the name of high ideals.

Turning to the relationship between religion and violence much of what has been written has centered on three ideas, according to Sacks.

First, religion is the major source of violence, therefore if we want a more peaceful world we should abolish religion. Second, religion is not a source of violence, rather people are made violent either by the desire for power or because they are manipulated by others. Third, our religion is for peace, but other religions are violent.

None of these explanations is true, Sacks argued. In relation to the first, one survey found that of 1,800 conflicts in the Encyclopedia of War less than 10% involved religion. As for the second, when people define their violence as based on religious motives to deny this is simply wrong. And the third explanation is simply a reflection of how people tend to regard their group as superior to others.

The connection

Summarizing the argument of his book Sacks explained that there is a connection between religion and violence, but it is oblique, not direct.

Religion, he said, is the most powerful force to create and maintain large-scale groups as it solves the problem of trust between strangers. Most conflicts and wars are about secular matters, but sometimes religion is enlisted in the support of aggression.

What makes today’s situation especially dangerous is that we are living at a time when the West is vulnerable to religious extremism. Sacks attributed this in part to the trend in past decades to moral relativism. If everything is relative then nothing is absolutely wrong, including violence.

Then, there is the possibility of widely disseminating ideas through the Internet, a disruptive force that Sacks likened to the effect that the invention of the printing press had at the time of the Reformation.

“Weapons win wars, but it takes ideas to win the peace,” said Sacks. In this context he argued that the twenty-first century will be a time of desecularization. One of the reasons why this will be the case is that religion addresses one of the great omissions of Western society, which is the need for identity.

The quest for personal autonomy, individual rights, and spirituality instead of religion has led to a situation where: “We no longer know who we are or why,” Sacks observed.

Jihadists and suicide bombers join radical movements “to alleviate the isolation of the lonely crowd and become, however briefly, part of an intense community engaged in the pursuit of something larger than the self,” Sacks commented.

No truth by force

After a number of chapters examining various aspects of Biblical spirituality and the monotheistic religions Sacks concluded that: “Religion is at its best when it relies on strength of argument and example. It is at its worst when it seeks to impose truth by force.”

In his concluding chapter Sacks returns to the book of Genesis and the story of Cain and Abel, which he maintains, reveals the fundamental conflict within the human condition: “the struggle between the will to power and the will to life.”

What drives ISIS and other extremist groups is the desire for power and conquest, political goals that, Sacks said, is the way of Cain, not that of God.

To confront this challenge the West must recover its ideals, Sacks urged. Moreover, he affirmed that the world can be changed, citing as proof of this the change in relations between Jews and Christians since World War II.

This holds out the hope that Jews, Christians, and Muslims can stand together to defend humanity, life, religious freedom and God.

“The real clash of the twenty-first century will not be between civilisations or religions, but within them,” Sacks argued. The clash will be between those who accept and those who reject the separation of religion and power.

The crimes of religion, Sacks warned “involve making God in our image instead of letting him remake us in his.” God is calling us, he concluded to let go of hate and to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith.

Gospel Reading for 3rd Sunday of Advent

LK 3:10-18

Third Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 9

Reading 1

ZEP 3:14-18A

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Reading 2

PHIL 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice! The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel

LK 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none. 
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them, 
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion, 
do not falsely accuse anyone, 
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation, 
and all were asking in their hearts 
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying, 
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn, 
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways, 
he preached good news to the people.

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