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Pope prays for Mexican earthquake victims

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday expressed his closeness to the people of Mexico after the country was hit Tuesday by a powerful earthquake.

"Here among you (in St Peter’s Square), the Pope said, there are many Mexicans; the earthquake has caused casualties and material damage and in this moment of pain I express my closeness to the whole Mexican population ".

He continued, “I ask Almighty God to welcome all those who lost their lives", and he also remembered the rescue workers involved in helping those affected.

Finally, the Holy Father, invoked the Our Lady of Guadalupe, so dear to the Mexican nation. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Audience: Never lose hope, never lose heart

(Vatican Radio) “Wherever the Lord has planted you, stand firm in hope; never lose heart”. Those were Pope Francis’ words at his General Audience on Wednesday as he continued his reflections on Christian hope. This week the Holy Father focused his attention on teaching the virtue of hope, offering his guidance and encouragement especially to young people.

Listen to our report:

Don't give in to negativity

He told those present in St Peter’s Square, “never to yield to the negativity that tears things and people down, but keep building, try to make this world conform ever more fully to God’s plan.”

Never despair, he added, build on who you are; if you're on the ground, get up. If you're sitting, get up and go. If boredom paralyzes you, fill your life with good works.”

The Pope continued by saying that, “God does not disappoint: if he has placed hope in our hearts, he does not want to frustrate it with continued frustration. Everything is born to bloom in an eternal spring.”

Be peace builders

Pope Francis invited Christians to use their “God-given gifts of mind and heart to help our human family to grow in freedom, justice and dignity.”  “Peace, the Pope said, is in the midst of men, do not listen to the voice of those who spread hate and divisions.”

Jesus, the Holy Father underlined, “gave us a shining light in the darkness: defend it, protect it.

Speaking to the pilgrims present, Pope Francis encouraged them to dream, and concluding his catechesis, he said, “live, love and believe!  And with God’s grace, be beacons of hope to all around you.”

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope sets up new Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has set up a new Pontifical institute for the study of marriage and the family, replacing the organisation set up by his predecessor in 1981.

In a Motu Proprio, published on Tuesday, the Vatican announced that the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences is being established to carry forward the work of the two recent Synods of Bishops and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

New pastoral challenges

Noting the important work that has been carried out by the original institute, founded in the wake of the 1980 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis says the Synods of 2014 and 2015 have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond”.

Contemporary anthropological and cultural changes, the pope says, require “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

Complex realities of family life

Instead, he says, we must be able to interpret our faith in a context in which individuals are less supported than before as they deal with the complex realities of family life. Faithful to the teachings of Christ, the pope says, we must explore these “lights and shadows of family life” with realism, wisdom and love.

Like its predecessor, the new institute will continue to work as part of the Pontifical Lateran University. It will also be closely connected to the Holy See through the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life and the new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

The institute, which comes into effect immediately, will offer students courses leading to a diploma, a license and a doctorate in marriage and family sciences.

Please find below the original Latin text of the new Motu Proprio

LITTERAE APOSTOLICAE MOTU PROPRIO DATAE SUMMA FAMILIAE CURA

Quibus Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia Sancto Ioanni Paulo II dicatum constituitur FRANCISCUS

          Summa familiae cura sanctus Ioannes Paulus II animatus, post Coetum Synodi Episcoporum anno MCMLXXX de familia celebratum necnon Adhortatione Apostolica Familiaris consortio anno MCMLXXXI exarata, Constitutione apostolica Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum iuridicam formam tribuit Pontificio Instituto Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae, apud Pontificiam Universitatem Lateranensem operanti. Ab illo tempore Institutum proficuum opus pervestigationis theologicae et formationis pastoralis tum in Sede praecipua Romae explevit tum in sedibus extra Urbem, adstantibus in omnibus continentibus.

          Recentius Ecclesia ulterius iter synodale effecit, in medium considerationis iterum matrimonium et familiam ponens, primum quidem in Coetu extraordinario Synodi Episcoporum anno MMXIV acto de “Provocationibus pastoralibus familiae in contextu evangelizationis”, et deinde in illo ordinario anno MMXV habito de “Vocatione et missione familiae in Ecclesia et in mundo”. Fructum istius intensi itineris constituit Adhortatio apostolica post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, die XIX mensis Martii anno MMXVI publici iuris facta.

          Hoc tempus synodale Ecclesiam adduxit ad renovatam Evangelii familiae conscientiam novarumque pastoralium provocationum quibus oportet christiana communitas respondeat. Praecipuum familiae locum in itineribus “conversionis pastoralis”[1] nostrarum communitatum nec non “commutationis missionalis Ecclesiae”[2] postulat ut – etiam in provincia formationis academicae – in consideratione de matrimonio familiaque numquam desint prospectus pastorales et sollicitudo de vulneribus humani generis. Si fructuosum altum studium theologiae pastoralis agi non potest neglecto peculiari aspectu ecclesiali familiae,[3] altera ex parte ipse sensus pastoralis Ecclesiae non parum curat pretiosum tributum cogitationis et investigationis quae perscrutantur admodum alte et accurate revelationis veritatem et  traditionis fidei sapientiam, ut aptius aetate nostra intellegantur. “Decretorium eventuro pro mundo Ecclesiaque est familiae bonum. […]  Salubre est certis rebus vacare, quandoquidem postulationes impulsionesque Spiritus in eventibus historiae animadvertuntur per quos Ecclesia altius perspicere valet inexhaustum mysterium matrimonii ac familiae”.[4]

          Mutatio anthropologica et culturalis, quae hodie omnes vitae provincias movet atque interpretationem postulat analyticam et multiplicem, nobis non consentit coërcere nos tantummodo operibus navitatis pastoralis et missionis quae formas et exempla temporis praeteriti referunt. Oportet interpretes simus conscii et ardentes  fidei sapientiae in rerum adiunctis in quibus singulae personae structuris socialibus minus quam praeterito tempore sustentantur, earum in affectuum et familiari vita. In claro proposito fidelitatis erga doctrinam Christi oportet igitur inspiciamus hodie familiam, cum intellectu amoris et cum sapienti rerum veritate, tota in eius varietate, in eius lucibus et umbris.[5]

Has ob rationes opportunum cogitavimus novam iuridicam rationem Instituto Ioannis Pauli II tribuere, ut “praevidens intuitio sancti Ioannis Pauli II, quae firmiter hanc academicam voluit institutionem, hodie adhuc melius agnosci et aestimari [possit] sua in fecunditate et actualitate”.[6] Deliberavimus igitur Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia instituere, augentes eius rationem inquisitionis, tum quod pertinet ad novas provincias navitatis pastoralis et missionis ecclesialis, tum quod pertinet ad progressiones scientiarum humanarum et culturae anthropologicae in provincia tam praecipua pro vitae cultura.

Art. 1

        His Litteris Apostolicis motu proprio datis instituimus Pontificium Institutum Theologicum pro Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia sancto Ioanni Paulo II dicatum, quod, cum Pontificia Universitate Lateranensi coniunctum, in locum subvenit Pontificii Instituti Ioannis Pauli II Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae, conditi per Constitutionem Apostolicam Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum, quod idcirco exstinguitur. Attamen necesse est ut primigenia inspiratio, quae exstinctum Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Matrimonii ac Familiae genuerat, novi Instituti Theologici operis ampliorem campum usque fecundet, efficaciter contribuens quo Ecclesiae pastoralis missionis hodiernis necessitatibus plene respondeat.

Art. 2

        Novum Institutum Theologicum, inter institutiones pontificias, ad servitium missionis Ecclesiae universalis, erit centrum academicum ad quod est referendum in provincia scientiarum quae pertinent ad matrimonium et familiam necnon quoad argumenta coniuncta cum fundamentali foedere viri et mulieris pro generationis et creati cura.

Art. 3

        Peculiaris nexus novi Instituti Theologici cum ministerio et magisterio Sanctae Sedis deinde firmabitur peculiari relatione, quam illud statuet, in modis qui vicissim concordabuntur, cum Congregatione de Institutione Catholica, cum Dicasterio pro Laicis, Familia et Vita atque cum Pontificia Academia pro Vita.

Art. 4

        § 1. Pontificium Institutum Theologicum, ita renovatum, aptabit suas structuras instrumentaque necessaria disponet – cathedras, docentes, rationes, ministros administrationis – ad perficiendam missionem scientificam et ecclesialem sibi assignatam.

        § 2. Auctoritates academicae Instituti Theologici sunt Magnus Cancellarius, Praeses et Consilium Instituti.

        § 3. Institutum Theologicum pollet facultate conferendi iure proprio suis studentibus sequentes gradus: Doctoratum in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia; Licentiam in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia; Diploma in Scientiis de Matrimonio et Familia.

Art. 5

        Quae praesentis Litteris sunt statuta, pressius explicabuntur et definientur propriis Statutis, a Sancta Sede approbatis. Praesertim providebitur ut aptiores modi inveniantur qui cooperationi et comparationi faveant, in provincia didacticae et inquisitionis, inter auctoritates Instituti Theologici atque Pontificiae Universitatis Lateranensis.

Art. 6

        Donec nova Statuta approbentur, Institutum Theologicum pro tempore regetur normis hucusque vigentibus Statutorum Pontificii Instituti Ioannis Pauli II Studiorum  Matrimonii et Familiae, inclusis ibi structuratione in Sectiones et normis ad eandem pertinentibus, dummodo praesentibus Litteris non obsistant.

          Omnia quae his Litteris Apostolicis motu proprio datis consideravimus, iubemus ut cunctis suis in partibus observentur, contrariis rebus quibuslibet non obstantibus, etiamsi peculiari mentione dignis, atque statuimus ut promulgentur per publicationem in actis diurnis L’Osservatore Romano, die ipso promulgationis in vigorem intrando, proindeque Actis Apostolicae Sedis inserantur.

 Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die VIII mensis Septembris, in Festo Nativitatis Beatae Mariae Virginis, anno Domini MMXVII, Pontificatus Nostri quinto.

                                         FRANCISCUS PP.

 [1] Cfr Adhort. ap. Evangelii gaudium, 26-32.

[2] Cfr ibid., cap. I.

[3] Cfr Conc. Oecum. Vat. II, Const. dogm. Lumen gentium, 11.

[4] Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, 31; cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Familiaris consortio, 4.

[5] Cfr Adhort. ap. post-synodalis Amoris laetitia, 32.

[6] Sermo ad communitatem academicam Pontificii Instituti  Studiorum Matrimonii et Familiae (27  Octobris 2016): L’Osservatore Romano, 28 Octobris 2016, p. 8.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Mass: ‘Pray for leaders despite their mistakes’

(Vatican Radio) As Christians we must pray for our elected leaders, even if we don’t agree with their politics. That was Pope Francis’ message during Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Monday, as he reflected on the readings for the day.

Listen to Devin Watkins' report:

Pope Francis took as his starting point the First Reading from St Paul’s Letter to Timothy, where he asks that “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings” be offered “for kings and for all in authority”. In the day’s Gospel, a Roman leader, the centurion, prays that his servant be healed.

Recognize one’s subordinate position

“This man felt the need to pray,” the Pope noted, because “he was aware that he did not have everything under his control”. He knew that above him was another who was really in charge. The centurion had soldiers as subordinates but he was also aware of being a subordinate. This awareness led him to pray.

“If leaders do not pray, they close themselves off in a self-referential circle or in that of their party, a circle from which they cannot escape”, said Pope Francis. It is important to be aware that we are all subordinate to someone more powerful. And those who are more powerful than political leaders, he suggested, are both the people who gave those leaders their power, “and God from whom their power comes through the people”. Political leaders pray, said the Pope, when they are aware of being a subordinate.

Leaders must pray

Pope Francis went on to talk about the importance of prayer for a leader. “It is the prayer for the common good of the people with whom they have been entrusted.”

He then recalled a conversation with a political leader who spent two hours before God every day, despite being tremendously busy. A leader must ask God, said the Pope, for the grace to govern well like Solomon, who asked not for riches and gold but for the wisdom to govern.

The Holy Father said political leaders must ask the Lord for the same wisdom. “It is very important for leaders to pray, asking the Lord not to take away the awareness of being subordinate and not to find strength in a little group or in myself.”

To those who would object on grounds of agnosticism or atheism, Pope Francis said: “If you cannot pray, confront yourself with your conscience, with the wisdom of your people, but do not remain isolated with the small group of your political party.” This is what leads to becoming self-referential.

Prayer for leaders

In the First Reading, St Paul invites us to pray for kings, “so that we can live a calm and peaceful life,” the Pope said. He pointed out that when political leaders do something we don’t approve of, they are either criticized or praised, but often we simply claim we didn’t vote for them and pretend we don’t really care what they do. But Pope Francis said we must not leave abandon our leaders.

“We need to accompany them with our prayer”, he said. “Christians must pray for their leaders”, even if they do “bad things”. In this case, the Pope continued, they need prayer even more: “Pray, and do penance for leaders. Intercessory prayer is such a wonderful thing, as Paul says. It is to be done for all kings, for all persons in positions of power. Why? ‘So that we can live a calm and peaceful life.’ When a leader is free and can govern in peace, the whole population benefits.”

Examination of conscience

Pope Francis concluded by asking those present to make an examination of conscience regarding their prayer for leaders.

“I ask you this favor: every one of you take five minutes, no more. If you are a leader, ask yourself: ‘Do I pray to the One who gave me power through the people?’ If you are not a leader, ‘Do I pray for my leaders? Yes, for this one and that one, yes, because I like them; but for that one, no.’ They need it so much more for this reason! ‘Do I pray for all leaders?’ And if you find in your examination of conscience before Confession that you have not prayed for your leaders, bring it to Confession. Because not to pray for leaders is a sin.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Angelus: ‘open your hearts to forgiveness'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged all Christians to open their hearts to forgiveness.

Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the Pope said that to be able to build peace one must be able to forgive.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

“Forgiveness does not deny the injustice one has been subjected to, but it acknowledges the fact that the human being, created in the image of God, is always superior to the wrong that is committed” he said.

The Pope was reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day which narrates the “Parable of the unforgiving servant.”

Commenting on Jesus’ invitation to forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times,” Francis said this means that Christians are called always to show forgiveness.

God wants to forgive us

“From the day of our Baptism, he said, God has forgiven us, remitting a terrible debt: the original sin. And then, with infinite mercy, he forgives all of our sins as soon as we show the smallest sign of repentance.”

Anyone – the Pope continued – who has experienced the joy of peace and interior freedom that comes from having been forgiven, can open himself to the possibility of forgiving.

And he pointed out that this teaching is also contained in “The Lord’s Prayer” which says:  ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’

God’s infinite love for us

God’s forgiveness, Francis said, is a sign of “His overflowing love for each of us”:  that love that gives us the freedom to stray – like the prodigal son – but that every day awaits our return with open arms; it is the love of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep; it is the tenderness with which each sinner is welcomed when he knocks at His door.

“The Lord is full of love and He wants to offer it to us, but he cannot do so if we close our hearts to loving others” he said.  

A special greeting for participants in a ‘Run for Peace’

Following the Angelus prayer Pope Francis had special greetings for participants of a just-ended “Run for Peace” with an itinerary that touched symbolic venues for the different religious confessions present in Rome.

“My hope is that this initiative of culture and sport may favour dialogue, cohabitation and peace” he concluded.    

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis to the Missionaries of Sacred Heart: “Return to your first and only love”

(Vatican Radio)  “Show by your lives and by your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and those whom our world has discarded.”  This was Pope Francis’ exhortation to the  General Chapter delegates of the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on Saturday here in the Vatican. 

In his remarks to the participants of the three week General Chapter who are  exploring the theme, “you have kept the good wine until now,” Pope Francis encouraged to return to their first and only love. The Holy Father went on to say,  “Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor.”

The Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) is an international community of religious priests and brothers who work to share the message of God’s love in the ever-changing social climate of our world. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart minister in more than 50 countries worldwide, with over 1,700 MSCs carrying on the legacy of their founder, Fr Jules Chevalier.

The full text of Pope Francis’ address to the General Chapter members is here below:

Dear Brothers,

          I offer you a warm welcome on the occasion of your General Chapter, and I thank the Superior General for his kind words.  You have met to reflect on the life of your Congregation, and to pray and to discern together the paths that the Lord is pointing out to you.  In this way you will be able to give renewed fruitfulness and effective expression to the charism that the Holy Spirit bestowed on the Church through your founder, Father Jean Jules Chevalier.

          The motto you chose to guide the entire Institute in preparing for this Chapter is particularly significant: “You have kept the good wine until now” (Jn 2:10).  You have looked back with gratitude on the cherished legacy of projects and apostolic works that your charism has brought forth in the Institute’s life in these past one hundred and fifty years, thanks to the fidelity of your confreres who preceded you.  At the same time, you are fully aware of its continuing potential to benefit the Church and the world.  By listening to what the Spirit says to the Church today, and by your openness to the questions and concerns of our fellow men and women, you will be able to discover in your authentic charism the wellspring of renewed strength, courageous decisions and creative expressions of the mission you have received.  The changed situation of our world with respect to the past, and the new challenges it presents to the Church’s mission of evangelization, demand and give rise to new ways of offering the “good wine” of the Gospel to many people as a source of joy and hope.

          The original inspiration of your founder was that of spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Today you strive to foster this devotion and to make it bear fruit through a variety of works and activities that witness to the tender and merciful love of Jesus for all, especially those in greatest need.  For this reason, I encourage you, as I do so often with consecrated persons – “to return to your first and only love”.  Keep your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ and learn from him how to love with a truly human heart, to care for the lost and hurting members of his flock, to work for justice and show solidarity with the weak and the poor.  Learn from him to give hope and dignity to the destitute, and to go forth to all those places where people are in need of acceptance and assistance.  This is the first Gospel that the Church entrusts to you by sending you out as missionaries to the world: to show by your lives and by your works the passionate and tender love of God for the little ones, the underprivileged, the vulnerable and those whom our world has discarded. 

          Although your Institute, like many others, has seen a decrease in numbers in these past decades, the growth of vocations in South America, Oceania and Asia has proved comforting and offers hope for the present and the future.  So too the Christian formation of young people, yet another expression of your charism, will be ensured and increased by the works of the Institute.  How urgent it is today to educate and assist new generations to appropriate authentic human values and to cultivate an evangelical vision of life and history!  Many people consider this a true “educational emergency”; surely, it is one of the frontiers of the Church’s mission of evangelization, towards which the entire Christian community is invited to set out.  In continuity with the achievements and undertakings of those who have gone before you, I encourage you to undertake new initiatives also in this specific area of your apostolate.

          The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart continues to count among its many members a good number of religious brothers.  In a Congregation religious brothers are a grace from the Lord.  I ask you not to yield to the temptation of clericalism that, as I have often remarked, alienates people, especially the young, from the Church.  May your common life be marked by true fraternity, which welcomes diversity and values the gifts of all.  Do not hesitate to continue and expand your communion with the laypersons who participate in your apostolate.  Let them share in your ideals and projects, and in the rich spirituality arising from your Institute’s charism.  With them, and with the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, you will form an ever greater and stronger “charismatic family”, one that will better demonstrate the vitality and relevance of your founder’s charism.

          May the Virgin Mary, whom you invoke under the title of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, keep you ever close to her Son, ready to do whatever he tells you, and may she protect you with her maternal intercession.  I accompany you, and all your communities with my blessing, and I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me.  Thank you.

(from Vatican Radio)