Pope Francis meets with pilgrims from India

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday greeted pilgrims from India who came to Rome for the canonization of Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia Eluvathingal.

“Father Kuriakose Elias was a religious, both active and contemplative, who generously gave his life for the Syro-Malabar Church, putting into action the maxim ‘sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others’,”  Pope Francis said. “For her part, Sister Euphrasia lived in profound union with God so much so that her life of holiness was an example and an encouragement to the people, who called her ‘Praying Mother’.”

In his remarks, he made special mention of the Church in the Indian state of Kerala, thanking them for their “apostolic zeal”.

 

Here is the text of the Pope’s address to the pilgrims from India

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am pleased to join you in giving thanks to the Lord for the canonization of two new Indian saints, both from the State of Kerala.  And I take this opportunity to thank the Church in India, to thank the Church in Kerala, for all their apostolic zeal, for the witness of faith that you have! Thank you very much! Keep it up! Kerala is a very fertile land for religious vocations, and to the priesthood. Keep it up, by working with your witness.

Thanks to Cardinal George Alencherry, to the Bishops and priests, men and women religious, and to each of you, dear brothers and sisters of the Syro-Malabar Rite.  And thanks also for the presence of the Cardinal of the Syro-Malankara Rite, thank you! And also thank you for attending the Cardinal of Syro-Malankara rite, thanks! Did you know that your Syro-Malankara Cardinal is the youngest of the College of Cardinals?

You have come to Rome in great numbers on this very important occasion, and have been able to live days of faith and ecclesial communion, praying also at the tombs of the Apostles.  May this time of celebration and intense spirituality help you to contemplate the marvellous works accomplished by the Lord in the lives and deeds of these new saints.

Father Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia Eluvathingal, who was a member of the religious Institute founded by him, remind each of us that God’s love is the source, the support and the goal of all holiness, while love of neighbour is the clearest manifestation of love for God.  Father Kuriakose Elias was a religious, both active and contemplative, who generously gave his life for the Syro-Malabar Church, putting into action the maxim “sanctification of oneself and the salvation of others”.  For her part, Sister Euphrasia lived in profound union with God so much so that her life of holiness was an example and an encouragement to the people, who called her “Praying Mother”.

Dear brothers and sisters, may these new saints help you to treasure their lessons of  evangelical living.  Follow in their footsteps and imitate them, in a particular way, through love of Jesus in the Eucharist and love of the Church.  Thus you will advance along the path to holiness.  With this hope and the assurance of my prayers, I impart to each of you and to all your loved ones my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you!

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis remembers Cardinal Angelini

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the family of Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, who died on Saturday, November 22nd, at the age of 98. Cardinal Angelini was born in Rome in 1916 – the last native of the city to be made a Cardinal – and served the Church under seven different Popes.

In the telegram, the Holy Father remembers Cardinal Angelini as, “A dear and esteemed pastor,” who, “exercised his long and intense ministry to build up the Church in Rome, in Italy and in the world, first as part of Catholic Action, then with praiseworthy apostolic zeal in hospitals and nursing homes in Rome, [and] finally as President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers.”

Pope Francis goes on to promise prayers and spiritual closeness to Cardinal Angelini’s family, and imparts his Apostolic Benediction upon all those who mourn his passing.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to new movements: freedom, charism, communion

(Vatican Radio) Freedom, charism, communion: these were the three focal points of Pope Francis’ remarks to participants in  the III World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on Saturday morning in the Vatican. More than three hundred people from all around the world, representing the groups and communities founded in the wake of the II Vatican Council, have been gathered in Rome under the sponsorship of the Pontifical Council for the Laity to reflect on the joy of the Gospel as a specifically missionary joy.

Click below to hear our report

In remarks prepared for the occasion, Pope Francis called on participants and on all the members of new communities and movements to maintain the freshness of their charism, respect the freedom of each person, and always to strive for communion, telling them that their success in these regards will be the measure of their attainment of full ecclesial maturity.  “The Movements and New Communities that you represent,” the Holy Father told his guests, “are moving towards a deeper sense of belonging to the Church, a maturity that requires vigilance in the path of daily conversion.”

The Holy Father said that, without an authentic conversion of heart and mind, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed, while at the same time, if we are not open to mission, conversion is not possible and faith becomes sterile.  “Do not forget,” said Pope Francis, “that to reach this goal [of full ecclesial maturity], conversion must be missionary: the strength to overcome temptations and insufficiencies comes from the profound joy of proclaiming the Gospel, which is the foundation of your charisms.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: homily for Christ the King canonization Mass

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at the Mass celebrated in St Peter's Square on Christ the King Sunday, during the course of which he canonized six new saints: Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi, and Ludovico da Casoria.

Below, please find the full text of the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared homily.

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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

(23 November 2014)

 

Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe.  The beautiful prayer of the Preface reminds us that his kingdom is “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”.  The readings we have listened to show us how Jesus established his kingdom; how he brings it about in history; and what he now asks of us.

First, how Jesus brought about his kingdom:  he did so through his closeness and tenderness towards us.  He is the Shepherd, of whom the Prophet Ezekiel spoke in the First Reading (cf. 34:11-12, 15-17).  These verses are interwoven with verbs which show the care and love that the Shepherd has for his flock: to search, to look over, to gather the dispersed, to lead into pasture, to bring to rest, to seek the lost sheep, to lead back the confused, to bandage the wounded, to heal the sick, to take care of, to pasture.  All of these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ:  he is truly the “great Shepherd of the sheep and the protector of our souls” (cf. Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25).

Those of us who are called to be pastors in the Church cannot stray from this example, if we do not want to become hirelings.  In this regard the People of God have an unerring sense for recognizing good shepherds and in distinguishing them from hirelings.

After his victory, that is after his Resurrection, how has Jesus advanced his kingdom?  The Apostle Paul, in the First Letter to the Corinthians, says: “for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (15:25).  The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father.  Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfilment.  In this way there is full reciprocity between the Father and the Son.  The period of Christ’s reign is the long period of subjecting everything to the Son and consigning everything to the Father.  “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26).  And in the end, when all things will be under the sovereignty of Jesus, and everything, including Jesus himself, will be subjected to the Father, God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor 15:28).

The Gospel teaches what Jesus’ kingdom requires of us: it reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged.  This is the great parable of the final judgement in Matthew 25.  The King says: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (25:34-36).  The righteous will ask him: when did we do all this?  And he will answer them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

The starting point of salvation is not the confession of the sovereignty of Christ, but rather the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom.  The one who accomplishes these works shows that he has welcomed Christ’s sovereignty, because he has opened his heart to God’s charity.  In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters.  Upon this will depend our entry into, or exclusion from, the kingdom of God: our belonging to the one side or the other.  Through his victory, Jesus has opened to us his kingdom.  But it is for us to enter into it, beginning with our life now, by being close in concrete ways to our brothers and sisters who ask for bread, clothing, acceptance, solidarity.  If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.

Today the Church places before us the example of these new saints.  Each in his or her own way served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters.  They responded with extraordinary creativity to the commandment of love of God and neighbour.  They dedicated themselves, without holding back, to serving the least and assisting the destitute, sick, elderly and pilgrims.  Their preference for the smallest and poorest was the reflection and measure of their unconditional love of God.  In fact, they sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God, from whence springs forth true love for one’s neighbour.  In the hour of judgement, therefore, they heard that tender invitation: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34).

Through the rite of canonization, we have confessed once again the mystery of God’s kingdom and we have honoured Christ the King, the Shepherd full of love for his sheep.  May our new saints, through their witness and intercession, increase within us the joy of walking in the way of the Gospel and our resolve to embrace the Gospel as the compass of our lives.  Let us follow in their footsteps, imitating their faith and love, so that our hope too may be clothed in immortality.  May we not allow ourselves to be distracted by other earthly and fleeting interests.  And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.  Amen.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: Break down isolation, stigma of Autism

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says we need to “break down the isolation and stigma that burden” people living with autism spectrum disorders. The Pope was speaking to participants at a three-day conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care titled The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope.

Listen to Emer McCarthy's report:

650 experts from 57 countries were joined in the Paul VI hall Saturday by hundreds of parents and children affected by autism. Warmly thanking them for their ‘moving and meaningful testimonies’ on what it means to live with the condition, Pope Francis spoke of the fragility of children and families suffering from autism spectrum disorders, describing the stigma and isolation they feel as a Cross.

To meet their needs and break through their loneliness, the Pope spoke of creating a network of support and services on the ground that are comprehensive and accessible.  This is the responsibility of governments and intuitions he said but also of Christian communities, parishes and friends.  This continued the Pope would help families overcome the feelings, that can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration when faced with the daily realities of autism. 

Pope Francis concluded with words of encouragement for academics and researchers in the field that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible. While always safeguarding the inalienable dignity of every person.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for your welcome!
 
I am happy to welcome you at the end of your XXIX International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care, which I thank for wanting to realize such a commendable and relevant initiative, dedicated to the complex issue of autism spectrum disorders.

I warmly greet all of you who have come to take part in this meeting, which focused on prayer and testimony, together with people who are affected by autism spectrum disorders, their families and specialized associations.

These conditions constitute a fragility that affects numerous children and, consequently, their families. They represent an area that appeal to the direct responsibility of governments and institutions, without of course forgetting the responsibility of Christian communities.

Everyone should be committed to promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through concrete support and by encouraging renewed hope.  In this way we can contribute to breaking down the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma burdening people with autism spectrum disorders, and just as often their families.
This must not be an anonymous or impersonal accompaniment, but one of listening to the profound needs that arise from the depths of a pathology which, all too often, struggles to be properly  diagnosed and accepted without shame or withdrawing into solitude, especially for families. It is a Cross.

Assistance to people affected by autism spectrum disorders would benefit greatly from the creation of a network of support and services on the ground that are comprehensive and accessible.  These should involve, in addition to parents, grandparents, friends, therapists, educators and pastoral workers. These figures can help families overcome the feelings, that can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration.

For this very reason, I thank the families, parish groups and various associations present here today and from whom we heard these moving and meaningful testimonies, for the work they carry out every day. I extend to all of them my personal gratitude and that of the whole Church.

Moreover, I want to encourage the hard work of academics and researchers, so that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible. All of this while paying due attention to the rights of the patients, their needs and their potential, always safeguarding the dignity of every person.
Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust you all to the protection of the Virgin Mary, and I thank you for your prayers. Now, all together, let us pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary for all health care workers, for the sick, and then receive the blessing. Hail Mary ...

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: all Christians called to be missionaries, ‘not just the few’

(Vatican Radio) All Christians and “not just the few” are called to intensify their missionary spirit and go out to proclaim the joy of the Gospel, said Pope Francis.He issued the call on Saturday in speaking at the Vatican to a group of more than 700 participants in Italy’s National Missionary Congress, which was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Missio Foundation.

Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci:

“Every generation is called to be missionary,” he said. Reflecting on the theme of the congress, based on God’s call of the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and to call the people to conversion, the Pope said the Church is called to be outbound and to bring the Gospel to all nations, “without distinction.”

He urged Christians “to go out and not to remain indifferent to extreme poverty, war, violence in our cities, the abandonment of the elderly, the anonymity of so many people in need and the distance we keep from the least among us.”

Christians, he said, must “be workers for peace, that peace which the Lord gives us each day and of which the world is very much in need.”

Calling Christians to live in hope, he said: “Missionaries never renounce the dream of peace, even when they live difficulties and persecution, which today has returned to make itself felt strongly.”

Pope Francis said being an outbound Church it “means to overcome the temptation to speak among ourselves, forgetting the many who wait for a word of mercy from us, a word of comfort, of hope.”

He called Christians to go out to the periphery, like Jesus, who lived  “far from the centres of power of the Roman Empire…. He met the poor, the sick, the possessed, sinners, prostitutes, gathering around him a small number of disciples and some women who listened to him and served him.”

Jesus’ “word was the beginning of a turning point in history, the beginning of a spiritual and human revolution, the Good News of a Lord, who died and rose for us,” he said.

The mission of bringing the joy of the Gospel to the world “is accomplished by all Christians, not just the few,” the Pope affirmed. “Our Christian vocation asks us to be carriers of this missionary spirit so as to bring about a true ‘missionary conversion’ of the whole Church.”

 

Below are excerpts from the Pope’s message, translated by Vatican Radio:

Dear brothers and sisters,

 … The program for your conference takes inspiration from when the Lord said to the prophet Jonah: “Go to the great city of Nineveh.” Jonah, however, initially runs away. … But then he goes, and in Nineveh, everything changes: God shows his mercy and the city is converted. Mercy changes the story of individuals and even of peoples. … The invitation extended to Jonah is today extended to you. And this is important. Every generation is called to be missionary.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I spoke of an outbound Church. A missionary Church cannot but be outbound, unafraid of encountering, of discovering newness, of speaking of the joy of the Gospel. To all, without distinction. The diverse realities that you represent in the Church in Italy indicate that the spirit missio ad gentes must become the mission of the Church in the world: going out, listening to the cry of the poor and of those further afield, encountering all and proclaiming the joy of the Gospel.

I thank you for what you do in your various roles: as part of the offices of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as directors of diocesan offices, consecrated and lay people together. I ask you to commit yourselves with passion to keep this spirit alive. I see with joy many lay people together with bishops and priests. The mission is accomplished by all Christians, not just the few. Our Christian vocation asks us to be carriers of this missionary spirit so as to bring about a true “missionary conversion” of the whole Church, as I hoped for in Evangelii Gaudium.

The Church in Italy has given numerous priests and lay people fidei donum, who chose to spend their lives building the Church in the peripheries of the world, among the poor and the distant. This is a gift for the universal Church and for all peoples. I exhort you not to let yourselves be robbed of the hope and the dream of changing the world with the Gospel, starting with the human and existential peripheries. To go out means to overcome the temptation to speak among ourselves, forgetting the many who wait for a word of mercy from us, a word of comfort, of hope. The Gospel of Jesus is realized in history. Jesus himself was a man in the periphery, from Galilee, far from the centres of power of the Roman Empire and from Jerusalem. He met the poor, the sick, the possessed, sinners, prostitutes, gathering around him a small number of disciples and some women who listened to him and served him. And yet, his word was the beginning of a turning point in history, the beginning of a spiritual and human revolution, the Good News of a Lord, who died and rose for us.

Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to intensify the missionary spirit and enthusiasm for the mission and to hold high your commitment—in the dioceses, missionary institutes, communities, movements and associations—the spirit of Evangelii gaudium, without being discouraged by the difficulties, which are never lacking. Sometimes, even in the Church, we get caught by pessimism, which risks depriving many men and women of the proclamation of the Gospel. Let us go forward with hope! The many missionary martyrs of the faith and of charity show us that victory is only in love and in a life spent for the Lord and for neighbour, starting with the poor. The poor are the travel companions of an outbound Church because they are the first that we encounter. The poor are also your evangelizers because they indicate to you the peripheries where the Gospel is yet to be proclaimed and lived. To go out and not to remain indifferent to extreme poverty, war, violence in our cities, the abandonment of the elderly, the anonymity of so many people in need and the distance we keep from the least among us. To go out and to be workers for peace, that “peace” which the Lord gives us each day and of which the world is very much in need. Missionaries never renounce the dream of peace, even when they live difficulties and persecution, which today has returned to make itself felt strongly.

May the Lord make the passion for the mission grow within you and render you wherever witnesses of his love and mercy. And may the Holy Virgin, the Star of the New Evangelization, protect you and render you strong in the task that has been entrusted to you. I ask you to pray for me and I bless you from the heart. 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: speech to New Movements conference participants

(Radio Vaticana) Pope Francis received the participants in the III World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on Saturday morning in the Vatican. With the guidance of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, over three hundred people from all around the world, representing the groups and communities founded in the wake of the II Vatican Council, have been gathered in Rome to reflect on the joy of the Gospel as a specifically missionary joy. Below, please find the official translation of Pope Francis' prepared remarks, in English.

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Address of the Holy Father to Participants of the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities

22 November 2014

Dear brothers and sisters,

            I offer cordial greetings to all of you taking part in this Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.  I thank Cardinal Ryłko for his words, as well as Archbishop Clemens.  At the heart of your deliberations in these days are two elements which are essential for Christian life: conversion and mission.  These are intimately connected.  In fact, without an authentic conversion of heart and mind, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed; at the same time, if we are not open to mission, conversion is not possible and faith becomes sterile.  The Movements and New Communities that you represent are moving towards a deeper sense of belonging to the Church, a maturity that requires vigilance in the path of daily conversion.  This will enable an ever more dynamic and fruitful evangelization.  I would like, therefore, to offer you a few suggestions for your journey of faith and ecclesial life.

1.  First, it is necessary to preserve the freshness of your charism, always renewing the “first love” (cf. Rev 2:4).  As time goes by, there is a greater temptation to become comfortable, to become hardened in set ways of doing things, which, while reassuring, are nonetheless sterile.  However, “realities are more important than ideas” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 231-233); even if a certain institutionalization of the charism is necessary for its survival, we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that external structures can guarantee the working of the Holy Spirit.  The newness of your experiences does not consist in methods or forms, which are important, but rather in your willingness to respond with renewed enthusiasm to the Lord’s call.  Such evangelical courage has allowed for the growth of your Movements and New Communities.  If forms and methods become ends in themselves, they become ideological, removed from reality which is constantly developing; closed to the newness of the Spirit, such rigid forms and methods will eventually stifle the very charism which gave them life.  We need always to return to the sources of our charism, and thus to rediscover the driving force needed to respond to today’s challenges.

2.  A further issue concerns the way of welcoming and accompanying men and women of today, in particular, the youth (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 105-106).  We are part of a wounded humanity in which all of the educational institutions, especially the most important one – the family – are experiencing grave difficulties almost everywhere in the world.  Men and women today experience serious identity problems and have difficulty making proper choices; as a result, they tend to be conditioned and to delegate important decisions about their own lives to others.  We need to resist the temptation of usurping individual freedom, of directing them without allowing for their growth in genuine maturity.  Moral or spiritual progress which manipulates a person’s immaturity is only an apparent success, and one destined to fail.  Christian education instead requires a patient accompaniment which is capable of waiting for the right moment for each person, as the Lord does with each one of us.  Patience is the only way to love truly and to lead others into a sincere relationship with the Lord.

3.  One other consideration we must never forget is that the most precious good, the seal of the Holy Spirit, is communion.  This is the supreme blessing that Jesus won for us on the Cross, the grace which the Risen Christ continually implores for us as he reveals to the Father his glorious wounds, “As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (Jn 17:21).  For the world to believe that Jesus is Lord, it needs to see communion among Christians.  If, on the other hand, the world sees divisions, rivalries and backbiting, regardless of the cause, how can we evangelize?  Remember this further principle: “Unity prevails over conflict” (Evangelii Gaudium, 226-230), because our brothers and sisters are always of greater value than our personal attitudes; indeed, it is for our brothers and sisters that Christ has shed his blood (1 Pet 1:18-19).  In addition, real communion cannot exist in Movements or in New Communities unless these are integrated within the greater communion of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church.  “The whole is greater than the part” (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 234-237), and the part only has meaning in relation to the whole.  Communion also consists in confronting together and in a united fashion the most pressing questions of our day, such as life, the family, peace, the fight against poverty in all its forms, religious freedom and education.  In particular, New Movements and Communities are called to coordinate their efforts in caring for those wounded by a globalized mentality which places consumption at the centre, neglecting God and those values which are essential for life.

            In order to attain ecclesial maturity, therefore, maintain the freshness of your charism, respect the freedom of each person, and always strive for communion.  Do not forget, however, that to reach this goal, conversion must be missionary: the strength to overcome temptations and insufficiencies comes from the profound joy of proclaiming the Gospel, which is the foundation of your charisms.  In fact, “when the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment” (Evangelii Gaudium, 10), the true motivation for renewal of one’s own life, since all mission is a sharing in the mission of Christ who precedes and accompanies us in the work of evangelization.

            Dear brothers and sisters, you have already borne much fruit for the Church and the world.  You will bear even greater fruit with the help of the Holy Spirit, who raises up and renews his gifts and charisms, and through the intercession of Mary, who never ceases to assist and accompany her children.  I assure you of my prayers and I ask you to pray for me.  I cordially impart to each of you my blessing.

(from Vatican Radio)

Migration congress calls for just policies, better conditions for migrants

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People issued a message on Friday at the end of their Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, held at the Vatican, from 17 to 21 November.

The final message says congress participants “encourage all actors, including civil society and governments, to work towards more comprehensive and just immigration policies, fully implementing international conventions to guarantee job opportunities and better living conditions, to prevent exploitation and/or trafficking of migrant workers.”

Read the complete message below:

The 7th World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Vatican City, from Monday, November 17th to Friday, November 21st, 2014. The proceedings focused on the phenomenon of migration and migrants, in the light of the theme: “Cooperation and Development in the Pastoral Care of Migrations”.

Gathering together nearly 300 participants, which include delegates from Bishops' Conferences, commissions and Church structures and partners from over 90 countries, the objective of the Congress was to reflect upon the current migration situation that so strongly marks modern-day society, and to seek and propose a renewed Catholic pastoral approach to the phenomenon within the Church at international, regional and local levels.

The pastoral care of the Catholic Church, expressed in specific programs and plans of action, takes into consideration the particular situation of economic migrants, who live between the realities of uprooting and that of integration. Pastoral programs concern the spiritual search of the sense of life, experiences of welcome, sharing and reconciliation, the proclamation of the Gospel, the Liturgy, the celebration of the Sacraments. At the same time, the pastoral solicitude also cares towards basic needs of migrant workers such as legal assistance in the regularization process of their status, the defense and the promotion of their dignity, decent jobs and housing. Christian communities continue to be spaces of hope and action, advocating on behalf of migrants (particularly children, unaccompanied minors, women and persons with disabilities), that raise awareness, protect and extend the necessary assistance, whatever their status.

Presentations, discussions and sharing of experiences helped to address the issue of the migrants’ family with all positive aspects that contribute to strengthen and promote fruitful human relationships, which are the basis and the core of all societies. Emphasis has been given on family separation, caused by the lack of adequate migration policies, which is especially challenging in countries with a large diaspora.

Furthermore, the feminization of migration is a new characteristic. Migrant women are no longer moving within processes of family reunification mainly, but also as bread-winners. Migration, therefore, can be an instrument of empowerment for women but also a threat when criminal nets take advantage of their vulnerability and force them into smuggling, trafficking, and even prostitution and labor exploitation.

Similarly, young migrants carry a great potential in building bridges of cooperation between societies towards development. The pastoral care of young migrants concentrates on their religious and integral formation, assisting them to be active bridges between cultures, both for the benefit of society and Christian communities.

Migration continues to be a sign of modern times, deeply marked by growing fear and lack of hospitality. In this regard, the centrality of the human person and the respect for his/her dignity are of even greater importance, preceding any religious, ethnic, social or cultural differences.

The participants of the Meeting encourage all actors, including civil society and governments, to work towards more comprehensive and just immigration policies, fully implementing international conventions to guarantee job opportunities and better living conditions, to prevent exploitation and/or trafficking of migrant workers.

The participants appeal to the responsibility of the whole international Community to contribute to the common good and to the universality of human rights, underlining the need for a positive change in attitude towards migrants.

Finally, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and the participants recommend collaborative action amongst all Church structures in the countries of origin, transit and destination to implement the considerations and conclusions of the Congress, which will be published.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

The Virgin Mary, protagonist of the 19th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies

Vatican City, 21 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a message to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Council for Coordination between the Pontifical Academies, on the occasion of the 19th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, devoted to the theme “Mary, icon of the infinite beauty of Dios Marialis cultus and the Marian teaching of Blessed Paul VI”, organised by the Pontifical International Marian Academy.

In his message, the Pope spoke about Blessed Paul VI's great love for the Virgin Mary, which he expressed on many occasions during his papacy, as well as in several documents, including his two encyclicals, Mense Maio and Christi Matri, dedicated to the Mother of God and the worship of her as Mater Ecclesiae. He also devoted three apostolic exhortations to Mary: Signum Magnum, Recurrens Mensis October and, finally, Marialis Cultus, published forty years ago this year.

“On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of Vatican Council II, established by Paul VI – not by chance – on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 1965, it is beautiful that you wish to make his voice through the recording of the homily in which he entrusts the fate of the Church, radically renewed through the Council assize, to Mary. On that solemn and historical occasion, Paul VI wished to commend the entire Church to Mary as the Mother of God and our spiritual Mother”.

Similarly, Francis recalled that in crucial and difficult moments for the Church and for humanity, Paul VI always turned to Mary, exhorting the people of God to pray for her intercession and protection, and invoking the gift of peace. “In the wake of the Synod of Bishops on new evangelisation, in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I too entrusted the way of the Church to Mary's maternal and caring intercession, reminding all believers that there is a Marian style to the evangelising activity of the Church, as every time we look to Mary we believe again in the revolutionary power of tenderness and affection. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but rather of the strong, who do not need to mistreat others to feel important”.

The Holy Father continued, “Let us not tire of learning from Mary, of admiring and contemplating her beauty, of letting ourselves be guided by her, she who leads us always to the original source and fullness of authenticity: infinite beauty, that of God, revealed to us in Christ, Son of the Father and Son of Mary”. The Pontiff concluded by awarding the Pontifical Academies Prize to the Italian Interdisciplinary Mariological Association, above all for more than twenty years of publishing the journal Theotokos, and the Pontifical Medal to the “Centro mariano de difusion cultural” of the Order of the Servants of Mary, in Mexico.

Pope Francis: Migration an aspiration to hope

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday addressed participants at the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants. In his remarks, the Holy Father said, “Today, notwithstanding new developments and the emergence of situations which are at times painful and even tragic, migration is still an aspiration to hope.”

Listen to Christopher Wells' report: 

After remarking on the causes of migration – including inequality, poverty, disasters caused by climate change, and wars and persecution – the Pope noted that migration offers benefits both to the receiving nations and to the nations from which migrants come. But, he said, “we know that some problems also accompany these benefits.” Some of those problems include “brain drain” in developing countries and the breakup of families in countries of origin; and difficulties of integration in receiving countries.

“In this regard,” he said, “pastoral workers play an important role through initiating dialogue, welcoming and assisting with legal issues, mediating with the local population.  In the countries of origin, on the other hand, the closeness of pastoral workers to the families and children of migrant parents can lessen the negative repercussions of the parents’ absence.”

However, he continued, the Congress for the Pastoral Care of workers attempts to go further, “to grasp the implications of the Church’s pastoral concern in the overall context of cooperation, development, and migration.” He went on to say that the Christian community “is continuously engaged in welcoming migrants and sharing with them God’s gifts, in particular the gift of faith.”

More than this, the Church is a “source of hope” for migrants, who often experience “disappointment, distress, and loneliness.” The question of migration must always be approached from “an integrated perspective capable of valuing their potential rather than seeing them only as a problem to be confronted and resolved.” This is especially true of “the Christian community, where no one is a stranger, and therefore, everyone is worthy of being welcomed and supported.”

Below the video, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ address:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
to Participants of the Seventh World Congress
for the Pastoral Care of Migrants

(21 November 2014)

 

Your Eminences,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to be with you at the conclusion of the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants. I greet the President of the Pontifical Council, Cardinal Vegliò, thanking him for his kind words of introduction, and I also extend a fraternal welcome to the delegates from other Churches and Communities. To all of you I express my sincere appreciation for your commitment to and solicitude for the men and women who even today are undertaking the “journey of hope” on the path of migration. I thank you for all that you are doing. I assure you, and all those whom you seek to help, of my spiritual closeness.

2. The final Document from your last meeting five years ago affirmed that “migration is… an invitation to imagine a different future, which seeks the development of the whole human race; this includes then every human being with his or her spiritual and cultural potential and contribution to a more equitable world marked by global solidarity and by full respect for human dignity and life” (n. 3). Today, notwithstanding new developments and the emergence of situations which are at times painful and even tragic, migration is still an aspiration to hope. Above all in areas of the world in difficulty, where the lack of work prevents individuals and their families from achieving a dignified life, there is a strong drive to seek a better future wherever that may be, even at the risk of disappointment and failure. This is caused in great part by the economic crisis which, to different degrees, is affecting every country in the world.

3. Your meeting has highlighted the dynamics of cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrants. First and foremost you have analyzed the factors which cause migration, in particular: inequality, poverty, overpopulation, the growing need for employment in some sectors of the global job market, disasters caused by climate change, wars and persecution, and the desire of younger people to relocate as they seek new opportunities. Moreover, the link between cooperation and development shows, on the one hand, the difference of interests between states and migrants, and, on the other hand, the opportunities which derive for both. In effect, receiving nations draw advantages from employing immigrants for production needs and national prosperity, not infrequently filling gaps created by the demographic crisis. In turn, the nations which migrants leave show a certain reduction in unemployment and, above all, benefit from earnings which are then sent back to meet the needs of families which remain in the country. Emigrants, in the end, are able to fulfil the desire for a better future for themselves and their families. Yet we know that some problems also accompany these benefits. We find in the countries of origin, among other things, an impoverishment due to the so-called “brain drain”, the effects on infants and young people who grow up without one or both parents, and the risk of marriages failing due to prolonged absences. In the receiving nations, we also see difficulties associated with migrants settling in urban neighbourhoods which are already problematic, as well as their difficulties in integrating and learning to respect the social and cultural conventions which they find. In this regard, pastoral workers play an important role through initiating dialogue, welcoming and assisting with legal issues, mediating with the local population. In the countries of origin, on the other hand, the closeness of pastoral workers to the families and children of migrant parents can lessen the negative repercussions of the parents’ absence.  

4. Your reflections, however, have wanted to go even further, to grasp the implications of the Church’s pastoral concern in the overall context of cooperation, development and migration. It is here that the Church has much to say. The Christian community, in fact, is continuously engaged in welcoming migrants and sharing with them God’s gifts, in particular the gift of faith. The Church promotes pastoral plans for the evangelization and support of migrants throughout their journey from their country of origin, through countries of transit, to the receiving countries. She gives particular attention to meeting the spiritual needs of migrants through catechesis, liturgy and the celebration of the Sacraments.

5. Sadly, migrants often experience disappointment, distress and loneliness. In effect, the migrant worker has to deal with the problem both of being uprooted and needing to integrate. Here the Church also seeks to be a source of hope: she develops programs of education and orientation; she raises her voice in defence of migrants’ rights; she offers assistance, including material assistance to everyone, without exception, so that all may be treated as children of God. When encountering migrants, it is important to adopt an integrated perspective, capable of valuing their potential rather than seeing them only as a problem to be confronted and resolved. The authentic right to development regards every person and all people, viewed integrally. This demands that all people be guaranteed a minimal level of participation in the life of the human community. How much more necessary must this be in the case of the Christian community, where no one is a stranger and, therefore, everyone is worthy of being welcomed and supported.

6. The Church, beyond being a community of the faithful that sees the face of Jesus Christ in its neighbour, is a Mother without limits and without frontiers. She is the Mother of all and so she strives to foster the culture of welcome and solidarity, where no one is considered useless, out of place or disposable. I wrote of this in my Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year: “It is less the criteria of efficiency, productivity, social class, or ethnic or religious belonging which ground that personal dignity, so much as the fact of being created in God’s own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26-27) and, even more so, being children of God. Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ!” Migrants, therefore, by virtue of their very humanity, even prior to their cultural values, widen the sense of human fraternity. At the same time, their presence is a reminder of the need to eradicate inequality, injustice and abuses. In that way, migrants will be able to become partners in constructing a richer identity for the communities which provide them hospitality, as well as the people who welcome them, prompting the development of a society which is inclusive, creative and respectful of the dignity of all.

Dear brothers and sisters, I wish to renew my gratitude for the service which you give to the Church and to the communities and societies to which you belong. I invoke upon you the protection of Mary, the Mother of God, and Saint Joseph, who themselves experienced the difficulty of exile in Egypt. I assure you of my prayers and I ask you to pray for me. To all of you I willingly impart my blessing.

(from Vatican Radio)