Reliquary of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in St. Peter’s for Jubilee Ash Wednesday

(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican announced on Monday that the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, better known as Padre Pio, will be exposed for veneration in St. Peter's Basilica during the Jubilee of Mercy from 8-14 February 2016. 

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Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, wrote in a letter to the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo it was Pope Francis who desired that Padre Pio's reliquary be present in the Vatican for Ash Wednesday of the Jubilee of Mercy.  

"The Holy Father has expressed his strong desire that the remains of St. Pio of Pietrelcina be exposed in St. Peter's Basilica for Ash Wednesday of the upcoming Extraordinary Holy Year, the day in which he will send 'Missionaries of Mercy' throughout the world, giving them a special mandate to preach and confess so that they may be a living sign of how the Father welcomes all who seek his pardon," Archbishop Fisichella wrote.

Continuing, he writes, "The presence of St. Pio's remains will be a precious sign for all missionaries and priests, who will find strength and support for their own mission in his admirable example of a untiring confessor, welcoming and patient, an authentic witness of the Mercy of the Father."

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope’s charity gathers pace in hot summer months

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ helping hands reach out to the poor throughout the year – especially in summer time when many volunteers may be away on holiday.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Pope Francis’ love for the poor sees no lull in the hot summer months, in fact – says Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the Pope’s Almoner – it actually gathers pace as more and more homeless people find themselves in need of cool showers, haircuts and a healthy meal.

And it is the Archbishop himself together with a bunch of volunteers, Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity and occasionally the Swiss Guards who make sure that every day the showers under St. Peter’s Colonnade stay open from 7 in the morning ‘til 6 in the evening, and that a personal hygiene kit is available to all.

Of course, in line with Papal Audiences and the Angelus Prayer, opening hours can undergo some variations.

Krajewski also reveals that together with his group of helpers, he goes out every evening with food packs and water bottles as many soup kitchens close down for the summer as well.

We are the Pope’s men on the front line – Krajewski says – we go where we are needed.

Meanwhile, the new dormitory for the homeless across the road from Via della Conciliazione is nearly ready and promises to offer charity in true “Pope Francis” style: warm, compassionate and full of love.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: St Theresa of Avila source of truth and values

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter of greeting and encouragement to participants of an Interuniversity Congress on Saint Theresa of Avila.

The letter, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Holy Father, expresses gratitude to the Academic world for highlighting the relevance of Saint Theresa’s teachings.

Organized by the Catholic University of “Santa Teresa de Jesus de Avila” in collaboration with other Catholic Universities, the 3-day Congress entitled “St. Teresa of Avila, Maestra de Vida” is taking place in Avila, the city where Theresa was born 500 years ago.    

The main purpose of the congress is to bring the figure of St. Teresa of Avila closer to those in academia and university circles by examining the figure of the great mystic from different perspectives, including, the impact St. Teresa and her writings have had and will continue to have on the New Evangelization, on our interior and daily lives and on modern society today. 

Organizers say that while examining the validity and scope of her teachings during this congress, “we hope to foster a deeper understanding of her spirituality and to discover her as an example for future generations”.

In his letter, Pope Francis also urges participants at the Congress to find in the contemplation and meditation pursued by Theresa - whom he describes as a “master of prayer” – the source of true science and authentic values that are at the basis of life.

Over 3.000 representatives of Universities all over the world have been invited to this congress where experts in the figure of St. Teresa as well as intellectuals from the five continents, philosophers and theologians will be lecturers.
  

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: "Jesus is the bread of life"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged the faithful to look beyond material needs and turn to Jesus who is “the bread of life”.

The Pope’s words came as he addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day which tells of the crowd that went looking for Jesus, not because they saw the signs but because they had eaten the loaves of bread and were filled, Pope Francis pointed out that those people gave more value to the bread than to He who gave them the bread.

He explained that before this spiritual blindness, Jesus highlights the need to look beyond the gift and discover the giver. God himself – the Pope said – is the gift and is also the giver. 

Jesus invites us – the Pope continued – to be open to a perspective which is not only that of daily preoccupation and material needs; Jesus speaks to us of a different kind of food, food which is not corruptible and that we must search for and welcome into our lives.

He exhorts us not to work for food that perishes but “for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give us” he said.

With these words – Pope Francis continued  – He wants us to understand that beyond a physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger – “we all have this hunger” – a more important kind of hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food.

“It is the hunger for life - the hunger for eternity - that only He can satisfy because He is the bread of life” he said.

And pointing out that the true meaning of our earthly existence is to be found at the end, in eternity, Pope Francis said that to be open to meeting Jesus every day of our lives will illuminate our lives and give meaning to small gifts, sufferings and preoccupations.
  
And quoting from the Gospel of John, the Pope said “Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”.

“This – he said – refers to the Eucharist, the greatest gift that fulfills body and soul”.

To meet and to welcome Jesus, “the bread of life” – Pope Francis concluded – gives meaning and hope to our lives that are sometimes tortuous; but this “bread of life” – he said - also gives us the duty to satisfy the spiritual and material needs of our brothers.

To do this – he said- we must announce the Gospel everywhere, and with the witness of a fraternal attitude of solidarity towards our neighbor, we can make Christ and his love present amongst men.

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to hold extra General Audiences during Year of Mercy

(Vatican Radio) The month of August promises to be a busy one for Pope Francis who is scheduled to be involved in a series of public events.

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household, told Vatican Radio that the Pope will meet publically with the faithful in numerous occasions during the summer month and that preparations are underway to organize an extra General Audience each month (possibly on a Saturday) during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Monsignor Gaenswein said that next Tuesday afternoon, August 4, Pope Francis will meet with some 12,000 German speaking participants of the International Pilgrimage of Altar Servers.

On Wednesday, August 5, the Pope will resume his weekly General Audiences which see the participation of thousands of pilgrims from across the world. Archbishop Gaenswein pointed out that the General Audience on August 26 will mark the 100th such occasion for Pope Francis. Due to the heat, the August General Audiences will take place inside the Paul VIth Hall.

On Friday, August 7, the Pope will receive in audience members of the Eucharistic Youth Movement.

Archbishop Gaenswein also revealed that since the beginning of Pope Francis’ Pontificate in March 2013, fifteen million people have been present for his General Audiences, Angelus’ and special audiences in the Vatican.

(from Vatican Radio)

First funerals of Mexico truck tragedy take place

(Vatican Radio) The first funerals of Mexico's truck tragedy which killed 27 pilgrims, have been taking place.  

Pope Francis has sent his condolences after the tragedy on Wednesday in the town of Mazapil.

In a telegram to the Bishop of Zacatecas, Sigifredo Noriega Barceló, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Pope Francis was “greatly saddened” when he learned the news of the tragic accident, and “offers prayers for the eternal repose of those who died.”

43 people remain hospitalized. Ten of these are in serious condition while one is critical. 

Listen to the report by James Blears
 
The accident happened on Wednesday in the town of Mazapil in the Northern State of Zacatecas, and already some of its victims have been buried, following harrowing funerals.  

Authorities say that the brakes of a truck carrying building materials failed and it ploughed into a procession of pilgrims. 

They were celebrating the day of their patrón saint Jesús of Nazarath.  

The out of control truck crushed scores of devout people, and hit the Wall of a building ripping and scoring its plaster and brickwork, ending up on its side.

The driver fled the scene of horror and carnage and is still being sought.  Only when he's found, arrested and questioned can the full extent of what's happened... and why become plain. 

The injured are being treated in hospitals in the cities of Saltillo and Concepción de Oro. 

State and Federal Authories are combining to help as well as try to confort the families of the dead and the injured.  

An investigation is underway into what led up to this unprecidented tragedy which will forever overshadow Mazapil's most cherished and devout day of the year. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Cardinal William Levada on upcoming Papal Visit to United States

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will be visiting Cuba and the United States from September 19th to the 28th. The final stop of his trip will be the World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Philadelphia.

Cardinal William Levada is the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and served as the Archbishop of San Francisco, California, from  1995 to 2005.

He spoke to Vatican Radio about the upcoming papal visit.

Listen: 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis offers condolences after Mexico tragedy

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his condolences after the tragedy on Wednesday in the town of Mazapil, Mexico, where a truck with defective brakes hit a religious procession, killing 27 people, and injuring hundreds of others.

In a telegram to the Bishop of Zacatecas, Sigifredo Noriega Barceló, the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Pope Francis was “greatly saddened” when he learned the news of the tragic accident, and “offers prayers for the eternal repose of those who died.”

“In addition,” the telegram continues, “The Holy Father offers his own condolences to the families of the deceased, along with words of comfort, closeness, and wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured, and, at the same time, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a sign of hope in the Risen Lord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

U.S. Church calls on Congress to ensure fair minimum wage

(Vatican Radio) U.S. Catholic leaders have called on Congress to ensure that the federal minimum wage is raised to “improve the financial security of millions of American families”. In a letter, dated July 28th, Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Sr Donna Markham, President of Catholic Charities USA, note that a full-time worker, currently earning the federal minimum wage, “does not make enough to raise a child free from poverty”.

As pastors and service providers, they say they see how each year “it becomes more difficult for low-wage workers to make ends meet”.  Quoting from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus, they stress that society and the State must guarantee wage levels “adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family”, as well as ensuring “adequate legislative measures” to stop exploitation of the most vulnerable. Protecting low-wage workers and promoting their ability to form and nurture families, the two Catholic leaders insist, are shared responsibilities and critical to building a more equitable society

Please find below the full text of the letter from Sr Donna Markham and Bishop Thomas Wenski

July 28, 2015

Dear Representative/Senator:

On behalf of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA, we write to lift up the struggles of low-wage workers and their families. We urge you to advance legislation and policies that would ensure fair and just wages for all workers, and in doing so improve the financial security of millions of American families.

An economy thrives only when it is centered on the dignity and well-being of the workers and families in it. As pastors and service providers, we see every day the consequences when society fails to honor this priority. A full-year, full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage does not make enough to raise a child free from poverty. Because the federal minimum wage is a static number and does not change, each year it becomes more difficult for low-wage workers to make ends meet. This leads to increased demand for Charities’ services and reliance on the social safety net to make ends meet. Indeed, recent research suggests that about three-fourths (73 percent) of those who receive public benefits come from working families, meaning they or a family member is employed.

Saint John Paul II pointed out, “society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers' training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers. . . (Centesimus Annus, no. 15).

Protecting low-wage workers and promoting their ability to form and nurture families are shared responsibilities and critical to building a more equitable society. One way Congress can contribute to this shared work of promoting the common good is by ensuring the federal minimum wage promotes family formation and stability.

Sincerely,

Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski

Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development

Sister Donna Markham, OP, Ph.D.

President of  Catholic Charities USA

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for August

Vatican City, 31 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for August is: “That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society”.