ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Fri, 14 Aug 2020 19:08:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 https://storage.googleapis.com/cdnmedia.zenit.org/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1-32x32.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 Archbishop Gregory to Succeed Cardinal Dolan as Catholic Co-Chair of Consultation with National Council of Synagogues https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/archbishop-gregory-to-succeed-cardinal-dolan-as-catholic-co-chair-of-consultation-with-national-council-of-synagogues/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 19:08:12 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201696 Selected at August 12 Dialogue Meeting

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Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington will succeed Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, as Catholic co-chair of the consultation with the National Council of Synagogues at the dialogue’s meeting today. Cardinal Dolan has completed ten years of service as Catholic co-chair of the dialogue.

Archbishop Gregory was installed on May 21, 2019, as the seventh archbishop of Washington. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1973 in the Archdiocese of Chicago and ordained as an auxiliary bishop for Chicago in 1983. He served as bishop of Belleville from 1994-2004 before being named as archbishop of Atlanta. He has previously served as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 2001-2004 and acted as Catholic co-chair of the National Council of Synagogues consultation during Cardinal Dolan’s tenure as president of the USCCB from 2010-2013.

“I am honored, once again, to represent the USCCB in the important dialogue between Catholics and Jews which involves a number of rabbis, leaders of Jewish organizations, and professors,” reflected Archbishop Gregory. “The friendships and the collaboration that these conversations generate are blessings for both of our communities.”

Rabbi Harold Berman, executive director of the National Council of Synagogues, added: “It has been a great honor for the National Council of Synagogues to be able to work with Cardinal Dolan, whose personal warmth, intellect and energy have inspired all of our encounters. We are thrilled to welcome Archbishop Gregory, already well-known to many members of our leadership and we look forward to a very productive dialogue under his leadership in the years ahead.”

The National Council of Synagogues includes a variety of Jewish organizations from Reconstructing Judaism and the Reform and Conservative movements. This dialogue began in 1987 as the successor to the dialogue with the Synagogue Council of America that began in 1977. It meets biannually to discuss theological and pastoral concepts and issues of common concern. Currently, Rabbi David Straus, chair of the National Council of Synagogues, serves as Jewish co-chair.

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Cardinal Bo’s Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of Assumption https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/cardinal-bos-homily-for-the-feast-of-our-lady-of-assumption/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 10:34:13 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201690 'Mary’s Magnificat – Her search for the vaccine of Justice'

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Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., SDB, is Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, and President Federation of the Asian Bishops Conference.


The Feast of Our Lady of Assumption

Mary’s Magnificat – Her search for the vaccine of Justice

Sermon Preached by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo., Archbishop of Yangon-Myanmar



1st Reading:     Revelation 12: 1-6

2nd Reading:   1 Corinthians 15: 20-26

Gospel: Luke    1: 39 – 56 (Magnificat)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Feast of Assumption

Today we gather to celebrate the greatness of our Lady.

Mary the maiden from Nazareth was raised to the pinnacle of glory today. The human family joins her in her blessings.   She is celebrated by the great English poet as ‘our tainted nature’s solitary boast;

Woman! above all women glorified,

Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;

Purer than foam on central ocean tost;

Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn

    The Virgin-

At the end of her earthly life, she was assumed body and soul into heaven. It was indeed fitting that no decay would touch her body because she had given birth to Jesus – the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow – and also because she was sinless. She was immaculately conceived and remained sinless throughout her life. Death is the result of sin as Scripture tells us (Rom 6:23) so therefore she was assumed body and soul to heaven at the end of her earthly life.

One of the titles we give to our Lady is Ark of the Covenant and our first reading opens with John’s vision of heaven in which he sees something which would startle his contemporaries – he sees the Ark of the Covenant and he sees:

“A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…” (Rev 12:1)

The woman in John’s vision was pregnant and giving birth to a male child and at the same time a dragon was waiting to harm the child but both the mother and child were spared by divine intervention.   We can understand this vision of John as Israel in the Old Testament giving birth to the Church in the New Testament and the dragon is the evil forces trying to destroy the Church.

This feast comes amidst the ravages of a pandemic.   The pandemic is the dragon waiting to destroy lives.   We stretch our hands to Our Mother today to save us.  As the COVID started its menacing dance of death, Pope Francis offered the human family to the protection of Our Mother.   Let our Mother whose body was taken without any damage totally to heaven, intercede with the Living God, to protect all of us.  Let all the bodies which are invaded by the virus be touched by the prayer of our Immaculate Mother.  Let the Mother who stood at the foot of the Cross, stand with our brothers and sisters, the front-line health workers and bless him.   The mother who urged her Son to change water into life-giving Wine in the marriage at Cana, made him touch the blood of millions of affected people, cleanse their blood

We are glad that as Catholics we have a Mother who intercedes for us.

We pity those non-Catholic Christians who chose to devalue Mary, who was extolled by Elizabeth as ‘mother of My Savior.’   Mary is humanity’s eternal interceder.

This feast reminds the world, the role played by the woman in salvation.   The Bible shows God works wonders through women:   the power of God is expressed through women, very special women, women who were neglected or ridiculed by the society, like old Sara and Hannah who could not have a child.  God intervenes in their life to continue the liberation of Israel.

In the Old Testament, barren women were blessed by God as a sign of his blessing of Israel.   In the New Testament, it is not the barren woman, but a virgin. In the life of the Virgin, Mary God intervenes to bring Savior to the world.  Mary is an integral part of Salvation history.  Denying Mary is denying the Bible, Denying Mary is denying the mission of Jesus.   Rejecting Mary is the rejection of the central message of the Bible.  It is rejecting the message of Yahweh who told the shepherd Moses: “I heard the cry of my suffering people, the slaves of Egypt.”

Today’s Gospel tells us the great mission proclamation by Mary through her Magnificat.  Today’s feast reminds us of those who struggle for the salvation of the world ‘never die’ but become part of God’s family.  Mary lives today.  When Jesus offered Mary to John as ‘Behold your mother,’ he offered to humanity for its salvific work, which continues today.

The Bible is a glorious story of God as Justice, God who takes sides with the suffering people, the God who hears the cry of his people (Exodus 3).

This God will establish his Kingdom through the lives of two sterile women in the Old Testament:  Sarah and Hannah.    After four centuries of spiritual darkness and moral decadence that had left the social fabric of Israel torn to shreds, Israel had become a nation in desperate need of change. The surprising instrument of change was Hannah, whose barrenness was symbolic of the nation’s spiritual state.

The Old Testament God is a God of Justice.  God who takes side with the suffering people.  This message of salvation comes through the barren women like Hannah. She articulates this message through her Song:

The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.  (1 Samuel 2: 1-10)

Hannah for the Old Testament, but for the New Testament, it is Mary. Mary’s Magnificat sounds like the Magna Carta of human liberation

He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1: 46-55)

Two women, two different contexts, Hannah of the old testament was old and sterile, Mary was a virgin and pure.   God chose these ‘lowly’ to be vessels of salvation.  And both understood the mission well.

Because they did God’s mission, both could say ‘My Soul Glorifies the Lord,’

That is the reason they found favor with God.   Mary who was instrumental in the incarnation of Son Jesus has been a co redemptory.  Participated in the salvific mission of Jesus Christ.

Because of her participation not only in the ‘flesh of Jesus’ but also in the ‘mission of Jesus’ she became holy, worthy to be of immaculate conception and assumption into heaven.

We need to understand this feast today in that sense.  We need to understand Mary and her Mission well.

Mary, in our tradition, was a vehicle for Jesus: a holy womb, a good and compliant and obedient girl.  But when we read the Magnificat we are shocked to discover that Mary wasn’t quiet, nor was she what we would call meek and mild.  Her language was fiery and non-compromising.

She looks like a revolutionary with a blazing fire of zeal for God’s justice.

Throughout history, we would learn, poor and oppressed people had often identified with this song — the longest set of words spoken by a woman in the New Testament (and a poor, young, Jewish woman!)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis, called the Magnificat “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.

Some countries — such as India, Guatemala, and Argentina — have outright banned the Magnificat from being recited in liturgy or public.

And evangelicals — in particular, white evangelicals — have devalued the role of Mary, and her song, to the point that she has almost been forgotten as anything other than a silent figure in a nativity scene. The song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn. It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung. This is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Mary whom we sometimes see in paintings.

Most of the non-Catholic Christians, especially those from rich countries, the evangelical, the prosperity Gospel Pharisees, have a hidden agenda of blunting the message of hope to the poor, by relegating Mary’s role in redemption.

Window shopping Pentecostals, cherry-picking biblical words to sustain their vulgar display of wealth have hidden Mary, abused her and buried her revolutionary song of the Magnificat.  The song doesn’t sound like good news if you are well-fed, or rich, or in a position of power and might — or if you benefit from systems that oppression.  Mary becomes a thorn in the flesh of many rich Christians, who blissfully forget the poor and part of systems that commit economic and environmental injustice.

How can they accept Mary?   When they preach their Gospel flying across in the custom-made private planes, their heart will sink if they hear her words:

He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1: 46-55)

Which her son Jesus would castigate later saying:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”  (Mt: 19:24).

Mary was a prophetess in the mode of Isiah, Amos and other great prophets who castigated the powerful and the privileges who forgot the poor of Yahweh.  Like the prophets, she would seek justice, ask for justice and righteousness to flow like a river.

Her Magnificat would be   articulated later    by her son in his Galilean manifesto:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor  (Lk 4: 18-19)

Theologian Warren Carter writes that in the time of Jesus, 2 to 3 per cent of the population was rich, while the majority lived a subsistence-level existence.  Mary was born into an unjust structure.  She was poor.  When she was pregnant, Rome wished to test their citizen, made her walk nearly 70 Kms, as some of the arrogant government made the migrants walk thousands of Kms during this Pandemic.

Mary echoes the dream of God, a world without want, where everybody can pray “Our Father who art in heaven.’ Christ did not come to take people to heaven only.  He came so that ‘Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”

A heaven on earth. That was the dream of Mary.  The dream of the Bible. A world of justice.   Those who domesticated bible, smothered its defiant fiery rage against injustice and subjugation, have manipulated to bury Mary in their miserable grave of amnesia. It is similar to the efforts to hide the Sun with the palm of our hands.  Failure is destiny. The economic and political worldview of many non-Catholic Christians has led to a silencing of Mary and God’s dream for the world.  Nothing to do with Bible or theology.

Very often a prayer said: “Blessed is the womb of Jesus” Yes, she is the Ark of the Covenant but she was NOT only the womb of Jesus, but she was also the VOICE of Jesus.  The Voice that articulated his Mission.  The fist that rose against the Roman occupation and the looting of Israel by the cronies, that left nearly 97 per cent of its people in utter poverty.

COVID has exposed the injustices in the world.  We pray to Mary to protect us from the COVID pandemic.  But the Pope has pointed out poor people have been inflicted with another virus:  The Pandemic of Hunger, the Pandemic of abuse, the Pandemic of no human dignity.  Nearly 122 million people have lost their livelihoods and hunger stares at their face.  Another month of COVID the death rates due to hunger pandemic will overtake the death toll due to COVID virus.

This world, blessed and given to our first parents has become the looting ground for the rich and powerful.    One per cent of the rich control more than 60 per cent of the wealth and the small percentage of people are looting the natural resources.

And now the greatest threat comes from authoritarian leaders.  Unjust rulers.  Injustice is the biggest virus that will see millions dying during this Pandemic.

And what is the vaccine?

It is already invented in the Bible: Justice. God as Justice.   This is what the humble virgin from Nazareth would proclaim in her encounter with Elizabeth, the mother of the prophet John the Baptist.

Assumption day is the day our Lady is calling us to read the Bible to understand God as God who takes side with the poor and the oppressed.  Those who see God in the liberation of human suffering are already creating heaven on earth.   Let us pray to Mary our mother to give us the courage to see the assumption in our lifetime.

God bless us all and heal the World.

+Cardinal Charles Maung Bo

[Text of Homily Provided to ZENIT Sr. Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Lubov]

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August 15: the 100th Anniversary of the “Miracle on the Vistula”   https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/august-15-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-miracle-on-the-vistula/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 10:27:57 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201686 The victorious Moment of the Battle of Warsaw

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In Poland, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is connected with the “Miracle on the Vistula”, the victorious moment of the Battle of Warsaw. This year marks the 100th anniversary of this battle, which is considered by international historians as the 18th decisive battle in world history.

Between August 12 and 15, 1920, one of the most significant battles in the history of Europe took place on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland.

Nearby Warsaw, the Polish army not only defended the independence of the Polish State, reborn after 123 years of captivity, but also stopped the march of Bolshevik hordes on Europe. Saint John Paul II in 1999 during his visit at the Cemetery of War Victims of 1920 in Radzymin said: “You know that I was born in 1920, in May, at the time when the Bolsheviks were heading for Warsaw. And that’s why I have carried in me since my birth a great debt to those who then took up the fight against the invader and won, paying for it with their lives”.

The “Miracle on the Vistula” was an answer for the prayers of the whole of Warsaw and Poland. In the churches the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, people came in crowds to pray day and night: children, women, men, young and old. The Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop Achille Ratti, stayed with desperate people in the capital in order to comfort them and pray with them.

Now, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw and the “Miracle on the Vistula”, Poles will thank God for the gift of saving the capital, Poland and Europe. The main ceremonies with the participation of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and Apostolic Nuncio to Poland will take place from 13th to 17th August in Warsaw and on the outskirts of the capital, including Radzymin and Ossów, where 27-year-old Fr. Ignacy Skorupka, chaplain of the Polish Army, was killed by Bolsheviks. And also, in Wólka Radzymińska next to the monument at the site of the battle and the appearance of Our Lady – the event which decided the result of the battle.

During General Audience last Wednesday, Pope Francis addressed the Poles reminding this anniversary and blessing Polish nation: “August 15 marks the centenary of the historical victory of the Polish army called the +Miracle on the Vistula+, which your ancestors attributed to Mary’s intervention. May Our Lady grant you, your families and the entire Polish nation an abundance of graces”.

Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference


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M&R Section Releases Fourth, Newly Released Video – ‘Forced Like Jesus Christ to Flee’ https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/mr-section-releases-fourth-newly-released-video-forced-like-jesus-christ-to-flee/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 10:13:33 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201682 In a New Video, Pope Francis Invites Us to Share in Order to Grow

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The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be celebrated on Sunday 27th September 2020.

With the title “Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee”, Pope Francis urges us this year to discover the reality of internally displaced people more deeply. Every month, a new video of Pope Francis and other multimedia materials delve into the sub-themes present in the Message of the Holy Father. The past sub-themes were “To know in order to understand”, “To be close in order serve”, “To listen in order to be reconciled”.

One could watch the fourth, newly released video, in which the Holy Father explores the sub-theme “To share in order to grow”. It offers the real-life testimony of an internally displaced person who describes how sharing makes us more human, makes us believe more in God and feel that we are His children.

In the video, the Holy Father urges us to share in order to grow together, without leaving anyone out.

About the Migrants and Refugees Section
The Migrants & Refugees Section is a small pastoral office of the Holy See, personally directed by Pope Francis, working to help the Church worldwide to accompany vulnerable people on the move, including those who are forcibly displaced by conflict, natural disaster, persecution or extreme poverty, refugees and victims of human trafficking. More information at: https://migrants-refugees.va/

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Pope Greets Pilgrims of Our Lady of Czestokowa https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/pope-greets-pilgrims-of-our-lady-of-czestokowa/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 10:06:19 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201680 And Hails the 100 Years of the “Miracle of the Vistula”

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Pope Francis expressed good wishes to the pilgrims of Our Lady of Czestochowa, famous icon of the Black Polish Madonna, converging on the national shrine of Jasna Gora.

“May this pilgrimage, organized with prudence because of the pandemic, be for all a time of reflection, prayer and fraternity in faith and in love,” he said at the General Audience on August 12, 2020.

The Pontiff also recalled the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw (August 1920) – “Miracle of the Vistula” (Cud nad Wisla) –, the Polish army’s victory over the Russian Bolshevik army on August 15. The people attributed this miracle “to Mary’s intervention,” he said.

“Today the Mother of God is helping humanity to overcome the coronavirus, and She assures abundant graces to you, to your families and to the Polish people,” he   added.

Housed in the Polish Shrine, in the province of Silesia, the Black Virgin of Czestochowa, with the Child Jesus in her arms, is of Medieval Byzantine tradition. According to the legend, it is a copy of an image painted by Saint Luke. It was Prince Ladislaw d’Opole who, in 1382, brought it from Russia to Czestochowa.

Inside the Shrine there is also a Renaissance Library with over 40,000 manuscripts carefully preserved. Close to four million pilgrims visit it every year. The Holy Father Francis visited the monastery of Jasna Gora on July 28, 2016, and placed a golden rose at the feet of the Black Virgin.

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Archbishop Follo: Faith Must be Tenacious and Perseverant https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/archbishop-follo-faith-must-be-tenacious-and-perseverant/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 07:51:43 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201619 XX Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Roman Rite – XX Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – August 16, 2020

Is 56, 1.6-7; Ps 67; Rm 11, 13-15.29-32; Mt 15, 21-28


Ambrosian Rite – X Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 8.15 to 30; Ps 47; 1 Cor 3.10 to 17; Mk 12.41-44


1) Faith cancels distances.

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption in which the protagonist is the Virgin Mary, this Sunday’s liturgy presents to our meditation the figure of another woman as the protagonist along with Christ of a miracle. She is a native of Canaan therefore for the Jews including Jesus, a foreigner.

The distance between Christ and the woman of Canaan was only an exterior one. She had to go a long way to overcome the centuries of paganism that separated her from salvation. Between us baptized and the Lord instead there is often an inner distance due to the barrier of our spiritual laziness and mediocrity that prevent any contact. If only we could not isolate ourselves in the difficult moments of our life, but instead continue to ask, seek and beg God, we would have the chance to see our questions answered and get what we need for our good and the good of those we love.

In the same way, it happened to the Canaanite woman. The signs that had accompanied Jesus pushed her to him. She knew about Jesus, heard the announcement that gives faith because faith comes “from what is heard” (Romans 10:17), felt her heart struck, and raced to the source of Life. A pagan woman embarks on a journey of salvation moved by listening to an announcement and driven by the desire to give health to her daughter. It is the beginning of the transition from slavery to freedom. The situation has made her bold. The love for her daughter, hitherto powerless, met the Love that is Life, Health, and Salvation. This mother has come a long way, humbling herself in contempt of the “children” of Israel and of the shameful illness of her daughter. She saw that her mother’s love is unable to help and to give meaning to existence. There is no suffering greater than a mother’s love strangled by the inability to be salvation for her children.

This woman, who asked the miracle of healing for her daughter, had enormous courage because she knew that the fact of being a woman and a foreign was a big obstacle to the acceptance of her request for grace.

She was a woman, and to the ancients but not for the Bible that was a “necessary evil’, she was not Jewish but even worse she was a Canaanite woman, a descendant of Ham, the son who had an attitude of contempt towards his father Noah and therefore was cursed by him[1].

For Jesus, the fact that she was a Canaanite woman was not an objection, but a blessing. As it was in the beginning and continues to be today, a woman is a divine blessing as described in Gal 4, 4 where He” is born of woman”. The second objection has been dissolved by Christ-like snow in the sun in a unique way: He asks, then and today, to believe.

It is not by chance that in the New Testament faith comes first of all, from women: the Virgin Mary -that is the “kind”[2] of faith par excellence-, her cousin Elizabeth, the prophetess Anna, the disciples – in particular, Mary Magdalene – who follow Jesus wherever he goes, the women encountered by St. Paul (cf. Rom 16), Lydia in Philippi, to whom the Lord opened the heart to the Gospel (cf. Acts 16:14), the “many women and not a few men” (Acts 17: , 12) of Thessalonica, as well as Damaris, the Athenian woman who believed after the speech of Paul at the Areopagus (Acts 17: 34) and Priscilla and her husband Aquila in Corinth (Acts 18: 2).

This “blessed woman” from Canaan goes to meet Jesus and cries out to Him “Have mercy on me” (Mt 15, 22). Literarily translated this prayer reads: “Take pity on me, Lord, Son of David.” However, it seems that the Messiah does not let himself be moved by this cry and gives apparently a tough response, comparing this woman and her possessed daughter to “little dogs.” The Canaanite woman recognizes her situation of misery and alienation, but a motherly love pushes her and she dares a response intelligent and full of faith, which can be translated as: “Yes, Lord. In fact, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ tables “. Even those who are considered as dogs have a” right “to the” bread of the masters. ”

The Canaanite woman has passed the test, offering to Christ the confession that was born from her mother’s heart. The heart of Jesus was expecting just that, and then He speaks to the Canaanite using the noble title of “Woman (= Lady)”.

With her faith, this woman has recovered her dignity as a daughter of God in the Son of God, and in virtue of her faith, this dignity was communicated to the fruit of her womb. Her daughter was released from the demon that marred the image.

Let us ask the Lord this same faith and remember that the Lord places women as a blessing. To support this sentence, I quote what Saint John Paul II wrote in his Letter to the Women:

” As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatemthe Church “desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the ‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman-for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the ‘great works of God’, which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her” (No. 31)… This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world is at the same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman, for all that they represent in the life of humanity.

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.

Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.

Thank you, women who are daughters and women who are sisters! Into the heart of the family, and then of all society, you bring the richness of your sensitivity, your intuitiveness, your generosity and fidelity.

Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic, and political. In this way, you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.

Thank you, consecrated women! Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God’s love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a “spousal” relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures. (With regard to this subject it is important for the Consecrated Virgins in the world to meditate continuously on the answers that they gave at their consecration: Are you resolved to persevere to the end of your days in the holy state of virginity and in the service of God and his Church? I am.
Are you so resolved to follow Christ in the spirit of the Gospel that your whole life may be a faithful witness to God’s love and a convincing sign of the kingdom of heaven?  I am.
Are you resolved to accept solemn consecration as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? I am. Bishop and all present: Thanks be to God.  (RITE OF CONSECRATION TO A LIFE OF VIRGINITY FOR WOMEN LIVING IN THE WORLD)

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic. (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women, 1995)


Patristic Reading

Saint John Chrysostom

Homily 52 on Matthew Chapter 12: 21-22

“And Jesus went thence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts and cried unto Him,1 saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.”

But Mark saith, that “He could not be hid,”2 though He had entered into the house. And why did He go at all into these parts? When He had set them free from the observance of meats, then to the Gentiles also He goes on to open a door, proceeding in due course; even as Peter, having been first directed to annul this law, is sent to Cornelius.3

But if anyone should say, “How then, while saying to His disciples, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles,”4 doth He Himself admit her?” first, this would be our reply, that what He enjoined upon His disciples, He was not Himself also tied to; secondly, that not in order to preach did He depart; which indeed Mark likewise intimating said, He even hid Himself, yet was not concealed.

For as His not hastening to them first was a part of the regular course of His proceedings, so to drive them away when coming to Him was unworthy of His love to man. For if the flying ought to be pursued, much more ought the pursuing not to be avoided.

See at any rate how worthy this woman is of every benefit. For she durst not even come to Jerusalem, fearing, and accounting herself unworthy. For were it not for this, she would have come there, as is evident both from her present earnestness, and from her coming out of her own coasts.

And some also taking it as an allegory say, that when Christ came out of Judea, then the church ventured to approach Him, coming out herself also from her own coasts. For it is said, “Forget thine own people and thy father’s house.”5 For both Christ went out of His borders, and the woman out of her borders, and so it became possible for them to fall in with each other: thus He saith, “Behold a woman of Canaan coming out of her own coasts.”

The evangelist speaks against the woman, that he may show forth her marvellous act, and celebrate her praise the more. For when thou hearest of a Canaanitish woman, thou shouldest call to mind those wicked nations, who overset from their foundations the very laws of nature. And being reminded of these, consider also the power of Christ’s advent. For they who were cast out, that they might not pervert any Jews, these appeared so much better disposed than the Jews, as even to come out of their coasts, and approach Christ; while those were driving Him away, even on His coming unto them.

  1. Having then come unto Him, she saith nothing else, but “Have mercy on me,” and by her cry brings about them many spectators. For indeed it was a pitiful spectacle to see a woman crying aloud in so great affliction, and that woman a mother, and entreating for a daughter, and for a daughter in such evil case: she not even venturing to bring into the Master’s sight her that was possessed, but leaving her to lie at home, and herself making the entreaty.

And she tells her affliction only, and adds nothing more; neither doth she drag the physician to her house, like that nobleman, saying, “Come and lay thy hand upon her,” and, “Come down ere my child die.”6

But having described both her calamity, and the intensity of the disease, she pleads the Lord’s mercy, and cries aloud; and she saith not, “Have mercy on my daughter,” but, “Have mercy on me.” For she indeed is insensible of her disease, but it is I that suffer her innumerable woes; my disease is with consciousness, my madness with perception of itself.

“But He answered her not a word.”7

What is this new and strange thing? the Jews in their perverseness He leads on, and blaspheming He entreats them, and tempting Him He dismisses them not; but to her, running unto Him, and entreating, and beseeching Him, to her who had been educated neither in the law, nor in the prophets, and was exhibiting so great reverence; to her He doth not vouchsafe so much as an answer.

Whom would not this have offended, seeing the facts so opposite to the report? For whereas they had heard, that He went about the villages healing, her, when she had come to Him, He utterly repels. And who would not have been moved by her affliction, and by the supplication she made for her daughter in such evil case? For not as one worthy, nor as demanding a due, not so did she approach Him, but she entreated that she might find mercy, and merely gave a lamentable account of her own affliction; yet is she not counted worthy of so much as an answer.

Perhaps many of the hearers were offended, but she was not offended. And why say I, of the hearers? For I suppose that even the very disciples must have been in some degree affected at the woman’s affliction, and have been greatly troubled, and out of heart.

Nevertheless, not even in this trouble did they venture to say, “Grant her this favor,” but, “His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away, for she crieth after us.” For we too, when we wish to persuade any one, oftentimes say the contrary.

1 [R. V., “And Jesus went out thence and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried”. But Chrysostom agrees with the rec. text, in adding “unto Him.” There is some doubt as to the correct form of the Greek verb rendered “cried,” both in the New Testament and in Chrysostom’s text. —R.]

2 Mc 7,24.

3 Ac 10,15 Ac 10,20.

4 Mt 10,5. [R. T. “anyway.”]

5 Ps 45,10.

6 See Jn 4,49, and comp. Mt 9,18.

7 Mt 15,23.

[1]Cursed be Caanan! He lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers. He also said:” Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! Let Canaan be his slave. May God expand Japheth and may he dwell among the tents of Shem and let the Canaan be his slave” (Genesis 9, 25-27). In this curse Ham is also Canaan, and that was confirmed for a long time, as for example in (Deuteronomy 7, 2, where it is said not to grace the Canaanites.

[2] The Virgin Mary is the kind of faith because she is the kind of human encounter with God and represents from the very moment of the annunciation the basic situation of man before God. The Virgin Mary is the kind of faith and humility that should characterize our approach to the Mystery of the Incarnation.

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Archbishop Follo: In the Assumption we see that in God There is Place for Man and that in Man There is Place for God https://zenit.org/2020/08/14/archbishop-follo-in-the-assumption-we-see-that-in-god-there-is-place-for-man-and-that-in-man-there-is-place-for-god/ Fri, 14 Aug 2020 07:09:08 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201622 With the invitation to pray more and more intensely to Our Lady, who gave Christ our human body: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, Mother of Christ and our mother

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Solemnity of the Assumption – August 15, 2020

Rev 11:19 a; 12:1-6a .10 ab; Ps 45; 1 Cor 15:20-27a; Lk 1: 39-56

1) The goal of the pilgrimage of Heaven
The gift with which God has given us His Son could not be corrupted. The living temple which first hosted the Body of Christ could not have gone to dust. The Assumption[1] of the Virgin clarifies in a beautiful way the sentence that is often repeated starting from St. Irenaeus (second century): “God became man so that man might become God.” What does it mean “to become God?” It means: to become a living being whose life has no limits, because it is free forever from sin and death.
Before reflecting on the today’s Gospel’s image, that represents the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth whose son rejoices in the womb sensing the presence of the Son of God, I will ponder on the image (icon in Greek) of the Virgin Mother with the divine Child in her arms, whom she holds and protects. Mary, on behalf of all humanity, receives God in a tender and familiar way by touching with her face the face of the little Jesus. Jesus, at the end of his mother’s earthly life, does something similar. If we contemplate the icon of the Dormition (it is with this name that the Eastern Church celebrated the Assumption) of Mary, we see that in this case it is He who welcomes the Mother: God welcomes humanity.

Let’s look at the painting:

The Virgin Mother is dead. Christ, his Risen Son approaches her body covered in a black dress, black chrysalis, and takes in his arms the soul of His Mother, represented as a little girl who completes her birth in the Kingdom. In some icons, Jesus brings close to his face the face of this woman-child. Let’s contemplate this assumption, in which the divine welcomes the human. And it’s a great feast. In this regard, Saint Anselm of Aosta states that the Redeemer wanted to ascend into heaven before his mother not only to prepare a throne worthy of her in his palace but also to make triumphant and glorious her entrance into heaven, going himself to receive her with all the Angels and the Blessed of Heaven.

The feast of the Assumption reminds us of our destiny of fullness of life in communion with God.  Mary assumed into heaven in body and soul is the mystery of our faith that shows us that we too, like Mary, are “destined” one day to rise in body and soul. Our whole being, our history, our relationships of love experienced through the heart, and the actions of our body, will find their fullness and their fulfillment in the love of God! Nothing in our history will be lost, nothing of all those acts of faith, love, humility, and justice made ​​with the soul and the body will have been in vain.

2) The Road.
The feast of the Assumption of Mary speaks to us not only of the goal but also of the journey for us pilgrims, following the example of our heavenly Mother, who was a pilgrim of heaven all the days of her life on earth.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the entry into heaven of the one who believed, next to her Son, in anticipation of the goal that awaits every man. Mary goes before us in welcoming the Word that begets the Son in us, but she goes ahead of us also in the hope of the resurrection and in the assumption of all humanity in the life of God.
To understand this mystery, today’s liturgy takes us at the beginning of the story in which the sky came to earth and became a little germ of life in the womb of a simple village woman, and offers us the Gospel passage which recounts the visit of the Mother of the Messiah to her cousin Elizabeth. The Mother of God after receiving the announcement of her motherhood by the angel, went in haste and with love to her elderly relative Elizabeth, to share her joy with someone who was going through a very similar situation. The reason for the feast, then, is the joy of being loved by a fruitful Love.
Let us imagine the scene in the house of Zechariah. You could say that the protagonists are two women who meet, two pregnant women, one old, ten centuries of waiting old, – the Baptist represents more than 2000 years of waiting; he represents the whole humanity waiting for the Savior promised at the beginning of time- a woman who bears within herself the ancient expectation of humanity. The other, a young girl who bears within herself the Expected by humanity, who carries in herself the good news, the new life. The old one carries the desire, the young one the Wanted One. One woman carries the hunger, the other the food. And the encounter happens.
I think that it is fair to say that this meeting does not take place between Mary and Elizabeth, but between the two children who are in the womb of their mothers who rejoice. Then Mary burst forth in the Magnificat, her canticle of joy: all ages will call her blessed; in body and soul she will forever be with the Lord because she collaborated with him in the work of redemption.
Mary is the Mother of God because she believed his word and accepted his proposal. Her joy is true for each of us who act like her, whom we celebrate today recovering the deep sense of gratitude to the Lord for His presence and for his visit to us.

3) The visitation of the Mother of Life.
The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth allowed the visit of Jesus to John the Baptist.
It was thus not a courtesy visit or a visit to give humanitarian aid to an elderly woman. It was a humble gesture of charity. She showed that God had really come down to visit and redeem the entire humanity.
At the beginning of the story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, there is a word to which it is not given sufficient importance: “in a hurry”. “In those days (after the Annunciation) Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah” (Lk 1: 39). Why, instead of staying in meditation of the words of the Angel Gabriel and wait for the fulfillment of the announcement in her house, the Madonna “in haste” went to her old cousin who had been finally pregnant? Because she was driven by the charity of Christ. Her “haste” does not mean that she ran on the road to Ain Karim, a village near Jerusalem where Elizabeth lived. It means that there is not and there must be no delay between the conception of Jesus in Her and the presence of Jesus among men.
We must do the same thing. If we have to give birth to Jesus in us and by us as eminently did Mary, we must let the Spirit flourish in us, leaving … without delay. Every grace is a mission. Every vocation is the mission to bring “in haste” the presence of Christ in the world.
This vocation is lived by the consecrated Virgins in the world starting from their total commitment to Christ and their spousal communion with Him (“Are you resolved to accept solemn consecration as a bride of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I am. Rite consecration of Virgins).  That implies that the fullness of virginity is given by the sense of motherhood. They are really virgins and wives when they begin to feel mothers, when their zeal to save souls and bring them to God, pushes them “in haste” to make available to the Church and to humanity all their resources and their existence for life. Then they really give life, serving the Life as in the prayer of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins: “Let us pray to God the almighty Father through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ that he will pour out the Holy Spirit of his love on these servants of his whom he has chosen to be consecrated to his service.


Patristic Reading

St. John Damascene  (A.D. 676 – 754/787)

Sermon II on the Dormition of Mary

There is no one in existence who is able to praise worthily the holy death of God’s Mother, even if he should have a thousand tongues and a thousand mouths. Not if all the most eloquent tongues could be united would their praises be sufficient. She is greater than all praise. Since, however, God is pleased with the efforts of a loving zeal, and the Mother of God with what concerns the service of her Son, suffer me now to revert again to her praises. This is in obedience to your orders, most excellent pastors, so dear to God, and we call upon the Word made flesh of her to come to our assistance. He gives speech to every mouth which is opened for Him. He is her sole pleasure and adornment. We know that in celebrating her praises we pay off our debt, and that in so doing we are again debtors, so that the debt is ever beginning afresh. It is fitting that we should exalt her who is above all created things, governing them as Mother of the God who is their Creator, Lord, and Master. Bear with me you who hang upon the divine words, and receive my good will. Strengthen my desire, and be patient with the weakness of my words. It is as if a man were to bring a violet of royal purple out of season, or a fragrant rose with buds of different hues, or some rich fruit of autumn to a mighty potentate who is divinely appointed to rule over men. Every day he sits at a table laden with every conceivable dish in the perfumed courts of his palace. He does not look at the smallness of the offering, or at its novelty so much as he admires the good intention, and with reason. This he would reward with an abundance of GIFTS and favours. So we, in our winter of poverty, bring garlands to our Queen, and prepare a flower of oratory for the feast of praise. We break our mind’s stony desire with iron, pressing, as it were, the unripe grapes. And may you receive with more and more favour the words which fall upon your eager and listening ears. 

What shall we offer the Mother of the Word if not our words? Like rejoices in like and in what it loves. Thus, then, making a start and loosening the reins of my discourse, I may send it forth as a charger ready equipped for the race. But do Thou, O Word of God, be my helper and auxiliary, and speak wisdom to my unwisdom. By Thy word make my path clear, and direct my course according to Thy good pleasure, which is the end of all wisdom and discernment.

Today the Holy Virgin of Virgins is presented in the heavenly temple. Virginity in her was so strong as to be a consuming fire. It is forfeited in every case by child-birth. But she is ever a virgin, before the event, in the birth itself, and afterwards. To-day the sacred and living ark of the living God, who conceived her Creator Himself, takes up her abode in the temple of God, not made by hands. David, her forefather, rejoices. Angels and Archangels are in jubilation, Powers exult, Principalities and Dominations, Virtues and Thrones are in gladness: Cherubim and Seraphim magnify God. Not the least of their Praise is it to refer praise to the Mother of glory. To-day the holy dove, the pure and guileless soul, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, putting off the ark of her body, the life-giving receptacle of Our Lord, found rest to the soles of her feet, taking her flight to the spiritual world, and dwelling securely in the sinless country above. To-day the Eden of the new Adam receives the true paradise, in which sin is remitted and the tree of life growl, and our nakedness is covered. For we are no longer naked and uncovered, and unable to bear the splendour of the divine likeness. Strengthened with the abundant grace of the Spirit, we shall no longer betray our nakedness in the words: “I have Put off my garment, how shall I put it on?” The serpent, by whose deceitful promise we were likened to brute beasts, did not enter into this paradise. He, the only begotten Son of God, God himself, of the same substance as the Father, took His ] human nature of the pure Virgin. Being constituted a man, He made mortality immortal, and was clothed as a man. Putting aside corruption, He was indued with the incorruptibility of the Godhead.

Today the spotless Virgin, untouched by earthly affections, and all heavenly in her thoughts, was not dissolved in earth, but truly entering heaven, dwells in the heavenly tabernacles. Who would be wrong to call her heaven, unless indeed he truly said that she is greater than heaven in surpassing dignity? The Lord and Creator of heaven, the Architect of all things beneath the earth and above, of creation, visible and invisible, Who is not circumvented by place (if that which surrounds things is rightly termed place), created Himself, without human co-operation, an Infant in her. He made her a rich treasure-house of His all-pervading and alone uncircumscribed Godhead, subsisting entirely in her without passion, remaining entire in His universality and Himself uncircumscribed. To-day the life-giving treasury and abyss of charity (I know not how to trust my lips to speak of it) is hidden in immortal death. She meets it without fear, who conceived death’s destroyer, if indeed we may call her holy and vivifying departure by the name of death. For how could she, who brought life to all, be under the dominion of death? But she obeys the law of her own Son, and inherits this chastisement as a daughter of the first Adam, since her Son, who is the life, did not refuse it. As the Mother of the living God, she goes through death to Him. For if God said: “Unless the first man put out his hand to take and taste of the tree of life, he shall live for ever, how shall she, who received the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or finite vicissitudes, not live for ever”.

Of old the Lord God banished from the garden of Eden our first parents after their disobedience, when they had dulled the eye of their heart through their sin, and weakened their mind’s discernment, and had fallen into death-like apathy. But, now, shall not paradise receive her, who broke the bondage of all passion, sowed the seed of obedience to God and the Father, and was the beginning of life to the whole human race? Will not heaven open its gates to her with rejoicing? Yes, indeed. Eve listened to the serpent, adopted his suggestion, was caught by the lure of false and deceptive pleasure, and was condemned to pain and sorrow, and to bear children in suffering. With Adam she received the sentence of death, and was placed in the recesses of Limbo. How can death claim as its prey this truly blessed one, who listened to God’s word in humility, and was filled with the Spirit, conceiving the Father’s gift through the archangel, bearing without concupiscence or the co-operation of man the Person of the Divine Word, who fills all things, bringing Him forth, without the pains of childbirth, being wholly united to God? How could Limbo open its gates to her? How could corruption touch the life-giving body? These are things quite foreign to the soul and body of God’s Mother. Death trembled before her. In approaching her Son, death had learnt experience from His sufferings, and had grown wiser. The gloomy descent to hell was not for her, but a joyous, easy, and sweet passage to heaven. If, as Christ, the Life and the Truth says: “Wherever I am, there is also my minister,” how much more shall not His mother be with Him? She brought Him forth without pain, and her death, also, was painless. The death of sinners is terrible, for in it, sin, the cause of death, is sacrificed. What shall we say of her if not that she is the beginning of perpetual life. Precious indeed is the death of His saints to the Lord God of powers. More than precious is the passing away of God’s Mother. Now let the heavens and the angels rejoice: let the earth and men be full of gladness. Let the air resound with song and canticle, and dark night put off its gloom, and emulate the brightness of day through the scintillating stars. The living city of the Lord God is assumed from God’s temple, the visible Sion, and kings bring forth His most precious gift, their mother, to the heavenly JERUSALEM, that is to say, the apostles constituted princes by Christ, over all the earth, accompany the ever virginal Mother of God.

The complete text is at: http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost6.html

[1] The dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1 of the Holy Year 1950, through the Apostolic Constitution Deus Munificentissimus. But what it described was already present in the faith of the church (“sensus fidelium”), and in particular in the popular one, since the 4th century AD when a Church Father, Epiphanius of Salamis, tried to answer the question about the ultimate fate of Mary. The question was if Mary, being completely free from sin – and one of the effects of original sin is death – had to succumb to the latter as all human beings. So in the 6th century, the Bishop of Livias (near Jericho) said in a sermon: “It was fitting that the body that had carried and kept the Son of God, after being on the Earth, would have welcomed gloriously in heaven together with the soul. ”
Meanwhile, the Church began to celebrate the Marian feasts. The first one was indeed the one that is at the origin of the Feast of the Assumption. On August 15, 453 in Jerusalem a church called with the evocative term of “Dormition” because Mary at the end of her earthly journey was not really dead, but asleep, was dedicated to the death of Mary. In the Eastern tradition the death of Mary is called “dormitio” (= fall asleep) or even “transitus” (= pass).
Later, in the 7th century Modestus, Bishop Ordinary of Jerusalem, announced in his homily that “Mary was taken by the Lord of Lords into Glory,” and praised the passing of the glorious Mother of God, “taken from the tomb and called to Himself by her Son in a way known only to Him.”

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NOTICE: Informative Message About Interruption of August Newsletter https://zenit.org/2020/08/13/notice-informative-message-about-interruption-of-august-newsletter/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 13:11:59 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201671 Will Resume Upon Completion of Improvements to the Site This Month

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Dear Readers: As we make improvements to our website this August, the daily and weekly newsletters are not being sent until the necessary operations have concluded.
Once done, both daily and weekly dispatches will resume.
We apologize for this interruption. However, we continue to update the website every day and all our articles can be consulted on it.
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Pope Francis Praises ‘Luminous Example’ of Saint Clare https://zenit.org/2020/08/13/pope-francis-praises-luminous-example-of-saint-clare/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 13:03:43 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201665 Remembers Foundress of the 'Poor Clares' as Generously Adhering to Christ

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“A luminous example of generously adhering to Christ….”

This is how Pope Francis remembered Saint Clare of Assisi a day after her Aug. 11 Feast Day.

During his privately streamed General Audience from his Apostolic Library, the Argentine Pontiff recalled the saint of great charity, and good friend of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived from 1194-1253.

Founded in the 13th Century by Saint Clare under the inspiration and guidance of Saint Francis of Assisi, the ‘Poor Clares’ constitute the second branch of the Franciscan Order,.

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Pope Francis Visited by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights https://zenit.org/2020/08/13/pope-francis-visted-by-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 12:14:42 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=201657 In the Past, Michelle Bachelet Was Also Received By Benedict XVI

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Pope Francis has received United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The visit to the Pope in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Aug. 12, 2020, was confirmed in a Holy See Press Office bulletin.

The UN Official had served two non-consecutive terms as President of Chile. During her 2006-2010 term, she met Pope Benedict XVI.

In January 2018, toward the end of her second term as acting president, Bachelet welcomed Pope Francis during his Apostolic Trip to Chile. In that visit, Francis also visited Peru.

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