Today's Catholic

Pope Francis: kiss the crucifix, kiss the wounds of Jesus

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 16, 2014

In his general audience address Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of suffering and evil, explaining that it is a mystery which finds its answer in the passion and death of Jesus, who endured it for each of us.
“This week, it will do good for us all to look to the Crucifix, kissing the wounds of Jesus, kissing the Crucifix. He has taken upon himself the whole of human suffering,” the Pope expressed in his April 16 Wednesday general audience.
Speaking to the thousands gathered for his weekly address, the pontiff began by drawing attention to the day’s Gospel reading which recounts the betrayal of Judas, noting that this event marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion.
With his death on the Cross “Jesus reaches complete humiliation,” the pope observed, highlighting how “It involved the worst death; that which was reserved for slaves and criminals,” and that although “Jesus was considered a prophet,” he “died as a criminal.”
“Looking at Jesus in his passion, we see as in a mirror also the suffering of all humanity and find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of suffering, of death,” he continued, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
Noting that “Many times we experience horror in the face of the evil and suffering that surrounds us, and we ask: why does God permit it?” the Pope expressed that “It’s a deep wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent!”
This wound especially stings “when we see children suffering…it’s a wound in the heart. It’s the mystery of evil,” he lamented, “and Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering, upon himself.”
Often times we believe that “God in his omnipotence will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory,” the Bishop of Rome pointed out, however instead he shows us “a humble victory that seems like a human failure to us.”
“We can say: God wins precisely in failure. The Son of God, in fact, appears on the Cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is scorned and finally dies.”
Drawing attention to how “Jesus permits that evil crosses the line with him, and takes it upon himself to conquer it,” the pope emphasized that “his passion is not an accident; his death — that death — was ‘written.’”
Referring to “the mystery of the great humility of God,” Pope Francis observed that “Really, we don’t have many explanations; it’s a puzzling mystery. ‘For God has so loved the world that he gave his only son.’”
“This week we think so much of the pain of Jesus,” he stated, “and we tell ourselves: ‘this is for me. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He would have done it.’”
“’He did it for me.’ And we kiss the Crucifix and say: ‘For me. Thank you, Jesus. For me.’”
“And when all seems lost, when there is no one left because they will strike ‘the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” he concluded, “it is then that God intervenes with the power of the resurrection.”

John Paul II: a man indispensable to the fall of the Soviet Union

Posted in Uncategorized by satodayscatholic on April 16, 2014

Blessed John Paul II’s key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact can be attributed to his vision of the human being, informed by personalism and the Catholic faith.
The foundations for his role as Vicar of Christ in the fall of Soviet communism were laid by his predecessors, particularly Blessed John XXIII; the two will both be canonized April 27.
The first exchanges between the Vatican and Moscow since 1917 were made on the occasion of Good Pope John’s 80th birthday, and a now opened line of communication allowed Paul VI to pursue a policy of Ostpolitik, dialoguing with officials behind the Iron Curtain to improve the conditions for Christians there.
Crucial in John Paul II’s policy toward the Warsaw Pact was Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, his secretary of state from 1979 until 1990. Cardinal Casaroli had represented the Holy See in negotiations with the communist governments of Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.
Blessed John Paul II was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1946, shortly after a Soviet-backed communist government had come to power in Poland. Fr. Wojtyla was non-confrontational, but did promote religious liberty and Christianity.
As Archbishop of Krakow he participated in Vatican II and effectively led the Polish bishops’ role in the revision of what became the council’s declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae — a matter of great concern to the shepherds living under communist governments.
“It is beyond question,” wrote Father Andrzej Dobrzynski, director of the Center for Documentation and Research of the Pontificate of John Paul II, in an article in a 2013 issue of Communio, that Dignitatis humanae “provided the Church behind the Iron Curtain with a powerful resource for operating in a complex political situation — and Karol Wojtyla took full advantage of it.”
He largely avoided direct criticism of the communist Polish government, but did work to create new parishes in his archdiocese and to processions.
In 1977, after 20 years of effort, he was able to consecrate a new parish in Nowa Huta, a suburb of Krakow meant to be a “workers’ paradise.”
In his homily at the consecration, as translated by Father Dobrzynski, he said: “When Nowa Huta was built with the intention that this would be a city without God, without a church, then Christ came here together with the people and through their lips spoke the fundamental truth about man. Man and his history cannot be reckoned by economic principles along, even according to the most exact rules of production and consumption. Man is greater than this. He is the image and likeness of God himself.”
Shortly after his election as bishop of Rome, Bl. John Paul II returned to Poland for an eight-day trip in June 1979, which his biographer George Weigel has said “began to dismantle” the Soviet Union.
“I earnestly hope that my present journey in Poland may serve the great cause of rapprochement and of collaboration among nations,” he said June 2 on arriving in Warsaw, and “that it may be useful for reciprocal understanding, for reconciliation, and for peace in the contemporary world. I desire finally that the fruit of this visit may be the internal unity of my fellow-countrymen and also a further favourable development of the relations between the State and the Church in my beloved motherland.”
He reminded the civil authorities of the nation that “peace and the drawing together of the peoples can be achieved only on the principle of respect for the objective rights of the nation, such as: the right to existence, to freedom, to be a social and political subject, and also to the formation of its own culture and civilization.”
Consecrating his homeland to Our Lady at her shine at Czestochowa June 4, he entrusted to her “all the difficult problems of the societies, systems and states — problems that cannot be solved with hatred, war and self-destruction but only by peace, justice and respect for the rights of people and of nations.”
And when leaving Poland on June 10, he said, “Our times have great need of an act of witness openly expressing the desire to bring nations and regimes closer together, as an indispensable condition for peace in the world. Our times demand that we should not lock ourselves into the rigid boundaries of systems, but seek all that is necessary for the good of man, who must find everywhere the awareness and certainty of his authentic citizenship. I would have liked to say the awareness and certainty of his pre-eminence in whatever system of relations and powers.”
“Thank you, then, for this visit, and I hope that it will prove useful and that in the future it will serve the aims and values that it had intended to accomplish.”
Blessed John Paul II’s example inspired Lech Walesa, an electrician who founded the Solidarity trade union the following year. Solidarity was an anti-Soviet social movement which the pope subsequently supported and protected.
The Soviet-backed government was eventually forced to negotiate with Solidarity, and Poland held semi-free elections in 1989, which led to a coalition government.
That year, a series of revolutions led to the fall of communism in Europe, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet head of state, visited John Paul II at the Vatican Dec. 1, 1989, in what was considered Christianity’s triumph over Soviet communism.

Pope Francis will give Gospels to the imprisoned for Holy Week

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 15, 2014

The Holy See announced earlier today that those incarcerated at the Roman prison “Regina Coeli” will receive a pocket-sized copy of the Gospels as a gift from Pope Francis for Easter.
According to the Vatican’s announcement, 1,200 copies of the small Gospels will be delivered to the “Regina Coeli” prison on Wednesday of Holy Week, the day before the Easter Triduum begins.
It is the same copy that the pope handed out to the participants of his April 6 Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, and to the faithful who attended Mass celebrated by the Pope in the Church of St. Gregory the Great the same day.
Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness, will be responsible for the distribution of the Gospels, which also contain the Acts of the Apostles, during a visit to the prison.
On April 17, Holy Thursday, Archbishop Krajewski will celebrated Mass “In Cena Domini” at the “Isola dell’Amore Fraterno,” which is a voluntary association that was founded in 1996 and that works to provide preventative measures, solidarity and assistance for detainees, ex-convicts as well as the socially marginalized or those who are estranged from their families.
Pope Francis’ activities for Holy Thursday include presiding over a Chrisim Mass inside of St. Peter’s Basilica at 10:30 a.m., as well as a visit to the St. Mary of Providence Centre later that evening, where he will also celebrate Mass with the center’s patients.
As a residential rehabilitation site for disabled persons in Rome, the center contains 150 beds for patients who require rehabilitation because of neuro-motor impairment and which is operated by the Don Carlo Gnocchi Foundation.
Saturday, April 19, the pope will preside over the Easter Vigil at 8:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, and on Easter Sunday he will hold a public Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10:15 a.m.
Following the Mass, the Roman Pontiff will give the traditional “Urbi et Orbi,” which is a special blessing given “to the city and to the world,” from the Basilica’s central balcony.
For the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, which takes place on April 27, Pope Francis will preside over a public Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m., during which he will canonize both Bl. John Paul II and John XXIII.

John XXIII and the beginning of the fall of the Iron Curtain

Posted in vatican by satodayscatholic on April 15, 2014

While pope, Blessed John XXIII began a dialogue with the Soviet Union that led to the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain during the pontificate of his successor John Paul II, both of whom will be canonized April 27.
In 1961, the birthday of “Good Pope John” became the occasion for the first communication between the Soviet Union and the Vatican since the October Revolution of 1917.
Semen Kozyrev, the Soviet ambassador to Italy, sent birthday greetings to the Pope which read: “On behalf of Khrushchev, I have been entrusted with the task of communicating to His Holiness, Pope John XXIII, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, my congratulations and sincerest wishes for good health and success in the continuation of the noble aspiration of contributing to the strengthening and consolidation of peace on earth and the solution of international problems through candid pronouncements.”
John XXIII wrote a reply by hand, on paper headed with his coat of arms; the reply was returned to Kozyrev through Archbishop Carlo Grano, who was apostolic nuncio to Italy.
“His Holiness Pope John XXIII,” his reply read, “extends his thanks for the wishes and expresses for your behalf and for the entire Russian people also, his cordial wishes for the growth and consolidation of universal peace, through the mutual understanding of human fraternity: for this he fervently prays.”
This exchange opened a channel of communication between the states, and when the Cuban missile crisis emerged the following year, John XXIII used it to send a message to the Soviet Union, as well as to the U.S.
The message, according to a Catholic News Agency report, concluded by begging “all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity. That they do all that is in their power to save peace. They will thus spare the world from the horrors of a war whose terrifying consequences no one can predict. That they continue discussions, as this loyal and open behaviour has great value as a witness of everyone’s conscience and before history. Promoting, favouring, accepting conversations, at all levels and in any time, is a rule of wisdom and prudence which attracts the blessings of heaven and earth.”
The message was delivered to both the American and Soviet embassies, was broadcast on Vatican Radio, and was also published on the front page of Pravda, the official voice of the Soviet communist party.
Blessed John XXIII’s diplomacy also resulted in the release of Cardinal Josyf Slipyj, Ukrainian Archbishop of Lviv, from a gulag Jan. 25, 1963.
Cardinal Slipyj had been arrested by the Soviets in 1945, and spent much of his time since then in Siberian gulags.
The Holy See had long advocated for his release, but it was not until into John XXIII’s pontificate that the cardinal was released by Khrushchev.
A month later, Alexei Adzhubei, editor of the Soviet government’s newspaper Izvestia and Khrushchev’s son-in-law, was visiting Rome and wished to meet the Pope.
Even though many Vatican prelates were against the meeting, on the advice of Cardinal Siri of Genoa, Blessed John XXIII chose to meet Adzhubei and his wife, Rada, March 7, 1963.
This series of events paved the way for Paul VI’s policy of Ostpolitik, by which he engaged in dialogue with officials from the Warsaw Pact to improve conditions for Christians in those nations.

Pope expresses solidarity, comfort for fire victims in Chile

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 15, 2014

Pope Francis voiced his spiritual closeness to all those affected by the fire in Valparaíso, Chile, that so far has left 12 dead and has destroyed some 2,000 homes.
A telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso explained that the Pope is “offering prayers for the deceased in this grave disaster, and at the same time share the anguish of those who lost their homes and property.”
Through the telegram, the Holy Father also supported “with his prayers the efforts of the rescue team” and prayed “for the authorities and all of the city that their mind does not falter in the face of adversity, so that with the spirit of solidarity and fraternal charity bring to all the affected the needed help.”
In addition, he transmitted to the families of the deceased his deepest condolences and expressed his “paternal solicitude to the wounded and injured.”
Pope Francis concluded his letter by imparting a special apostolic blessing, “as a sign of affection to all Chileans.”
Beginning in a forested area just above hillside housing outside of the city, the blaze has already killed 12 people, and has left 10,000 evacuated due to the fact that the fire has destroyed some 2,000 homes.
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet said Sunday that the fire is the worst in the history of the country, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
United Nations expert Rodrigo Reveco told the press that “it’s impossible to put out the fire in less than 20 days, because the same internal combustion of the trees makes it very slow” to suffocate the fire.
Until now, the government has had to mobilize 11 helicopters, six planes and 2,000 military personnel and police to put out the fire and assist the general public.

Greatest fruit of WYD has been vocations, organizer says

Posted in Uncategorized by satodayscatholic on April 14, 2014

At a recent gathering discussing preparations for World Youth Day in Krakow, a coordinator for the event emphasized how each year many youths receive the courage to answer their vocational call.
“Year after year, the first thing we’ve seen is vocations. There are a lot of people who feel the call to serve the Church at this gathering,” Paul Jarzembowski expressed during an April 10 interview with CNA.
“Perhaps it’s the call of the Holy Father, perhaps it’s that community of seeing the larger Church but it definitely gives people strength to move into a life of service either as a priest or religious or a lay minister, or simply as just an active, engaged Catholic in the world.”
Paul Jarzembowski, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops, was invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to come to Rome and participate in the April 10–13 meeting discussing the upcoming World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016.
Composed of those in charge of the pastoral care of youth from around the world, the gathering marked the first international meeting to the Krakow encounter, and drew 250 delegates from the Episcopal conferences of around 90 countries and 45 Catholic communities, associations and youth movements, as well as all the local organizational committees for Rio de Janeiro 2013 and Krakow 2016.
Going on, Jarzembowski expressed that among other fruits of World Youth Day in the U.S. is an “increased ministry to young people.”
“I hope that,” he continued, “especially with the pontificate of Pope Francis, an increased attention to the unchurched, to the inactive, to the disenfranchised from our faith” is given, and that the experience also provides “the active Catholics the skills to be new evangelists, and gives the young people that are more distant from the Church a reason for hope.”
Jarzembowski, who spoke during the conference on the impact of World Youth Day in the U.S., highlighted in his talk three key areas of impact which are already bearing fruit in the lives of the youth.
These are the areas of evangelization, social media and “Papal ‘Fever,’” he noted, lauding the impact the international gathering has had on the collage-aged youth, as well as how the event has seen an increased attendance from Hispanic youth, which has enabled dioceses to broaden their outreach to their Hispanic populations.
Social media, the youth coordinator explained, allowed many who were unable to go WYD in Rio the opportunity to participate from home, observing that technology “allows live dialogue between those groups, making WYD an even more universal or ‘catholic’ in its approach and ministry to young people.”
The pope’s famous words to the youth in Rio to “Go make a mess, go make some noise” and his call to “be revolutionaries and swim against the tide” and to “not water down the faith” have sparked interest all across the world, Jarzembowski stated, as well as his visit to the favela, poor town, during the visit.
Following the Rio gathering many have followed the Bishop of Rome more closely, the youth coordinator highlighted, pointing out how since then Pope Francis has been on the cover of both Time magazine as their “Person of the Year,” as well as Rolling Stone.
Many, he added, are now paying more attention to the faith because in Pope Francis’ actions they “feel a sense of love, compassion, and forgiveness exuding from the Church, led by the Holy Father.”
Expressing his expectations for the international event in Krakow, Jarzembowski expressed that “We hope to bring about 30,000 young people from the United States,” and “more are welcome.”
“We also hope that when the pilgrims do come to Krakow that they have an opportunity to meet one anther from across the country, across the English speaking world, and of course we want them to meet people from all over the world.”
Emphasizing the importance of being well-prepared for the event, Jarzembowski stated that “work is already starting to ramp up,” and that “Part of the work that we’re doing is to help the pilgrims not only learn how to prepare for this event,” but also how “they follow up from it.”
“So, we have to help our pilgrims not only prepare for the journey but to come off the journey in a way that points that toward something.”
Announced by the Holy See in November, the 2016 WYD encounter, slated to occur July 25–Aug. 1, will center it’s theme on the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Leading up to gathering in Poland, the 2014 WYD will focus on the theme “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” which will be followed in 2015 by the theme “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Pope: Meditate on Christ’s passion during Holy Week

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 14, 2014

In his Palm Sunday homily, Pope Francis urged the congregation to consider how their actions and attitudes reflected the various characters in the story of Jesus’ passion and death.
“We have heard the (Gospel reading of the) Passion of the Lord. Only, it does us good to ask a question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus who enters festively into Jerusalem?” the pope said on April 13, according to a Catholic News Agency reporrt.
“This week moves towards the mystery of the death of Jesus and of his resurrection,” noted the pontiff. “Where is my heart and which of these persons am I most like? It is this question that accompanies us throughout the week.”
The crowds filled a sunny St. Peter’s Square to attend the papal liturgy, clutching olive branches and woven palms as they listened to Pope Francis reflect on the different persons in the Gospel.
Departing entirely from his prepared remarks, the Holy Father considered each figure in the story, followed by questions about their relation to Jesus.
First, the Gospel recounts Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where he is welcomed by adoring crowds. “Do I have the capacity to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I move away? Who am I, before Jesus who suffers?” queried the pontiff.
Then, there are several groups of leaders, priests, pharisees, and teachers of law who decide to kill Jesus. “Am I like one of them?”
“Am I like Judas, who pretends to love and kisses the master to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor?” he reflected.
“Or am I like the disciples who did not understand what it was to betray Jesus?” The pope continued. They “did not understand anything…they fell asleep while the Lord suffered. Is my life asleep?”
The pontiff went on to several other figures, including Pontius Pilate, who saw that “the situation was difficult” and decided to “wash his hands of it,” refusing to “assume responsibility.”
The crowd who had once welcomed Jesus so joyfully turned on him, finding it “more amusing” to “humiliate Jesus,” while the soldiers “spit on him, insulted him.”
When Jesus takes up his cross, more compassionate figures emerge. “Am I like Simon of Cyrene who was returning from work, tired, but had the good will to to help the Lord carry the cross?” asked the Holy Father.
“Am I like to courageous women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, suffering in silence?”
“Am I like the two Marys who remained in front of the tomb, weeping, praying?”
After his homily, the pope continued the Mass but concluded with a special welcome to those gathered in Rome to plan the next World Youth Day.
At the close of the liturgy, several Brazilian youth handed off the large wooden cross used at World Youth Day to young people from Poland. The 2013 event had been held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while the next gathering in 2016 will be in Krakow, Poland.
Pope Francis noted that Blessed John Paul II had entrusted the cross to youth 30 years ago. “He asked them to carry it in all the world as a sign of the love of Christ for humanity.”
The pontiff then announced that he hopes to meet with the youth of Asia during his trip to Korea on August 15 of this year.
“Let us ask the Lord that the Cross, together with the icon of Mary ‘Salus Populi Romani’ (Protectress of the Roman People), will be a sign of hope for all, revealing to the world the invincible love of Christ,” said the Holy Father.
He went on to lead the crowds in the Angelus prayer at the conclusion of the Mass.

Medical care must consider the whole person, pope urges surgeons

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 14, 2014

In his audience with surgeons who treat cancer patients, Pope Francis encouraged the physicians to view the person as an integral whole of body and soul.
On April 12, the Holy Father spoke of the need for “comprehensive care that considers the whole person and unites also human, psychological and social support, spiritual accompaniment, and support for the family of the sick person to medical care.”
His audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace with participants in a conference of the Society of Italian Oncology Surgeons focused on the importance of integral care.
While “scientific research has multiplied the possibilities of prevention and healing,” it is important to speak of “full health” which includes a vision of the “human person, created in the image of God, and who is unity of body and spirit,” explained the pontiff, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
He went on to note that “these two elements cannot be separated, because the person is one.”
When a man or woman undergoes suffering, it “not only affects the bodily dimension” of the person, but the person “in his totality,” and therefore he or she must receive care in an integrated manner.
Doctors commit to a “high value” in searching for cures, “in order to respond to the expectations and hopes of many patients around the world,” the pope acknowledged.
Yet it is a “fraternal sharing with the sick” that “opens us to the true beauty of human life, which includes even its fragility, so that we can recognize the dignity and worth of every human being, in whatever condition he is found, from conception to death.”
Moreover, as the Church begins to celebrate Holy Week, the recollection of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ reminds us that “the suffering of humanity is taken up all the way and redeemed by God. By God-Love,” said the pontiff.
He then referenced the famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “anguished query,” that is, “why do children suffer?”
“Only Christ can give meaning to this ‘scandal,’” the Holy Father insisted. “Only Christ gives meaning to the scandal of innocent suffering.”
“You too can look to Him, crucified and resurrected, in your daily work.”
Pope Francis had begun his brief address by welcoming the surgeons and praying for the men and women under their care. He concluded by asking that Mary help sustain the doctors in “their work of research and action.”
“At the feet of Jesus’s Cross we also meet Our Lady of Sorrows. She is the Mother of all humanity, and she is always close to her sick and suffering children. If our faith wavers, hers does not,” he explained. “I pray the Lord to bless you all.”

Human life sacred and inviolable, Pope Francis affirms

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 14, 2014

At a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement, Pope Francis thanked members for their work to defend the right to life and promote the dignity of all human beings, from conception to natural death.
“Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative nor economic, much less ideological,” the Roman Pontiff said March 11.
“Thank you for your witness of promoting and defending human life from the moment of conception!”
The Holy Father’s words came in a meeting with Movimento per la Vita, an association of more than 600 local Italian movements. He greeted in particular the movement’s president, Carlo Casini, who is also a member of the European Parliament, where he represents the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats party.
Pope Francis thanked the organization particularly for two of its initiatives. The first is the Gemma Project, which “through a particular form of practical solidarity” – the adoption of children while still in the womb — has made possible “the birth of many babies who would otherwise have not seen the light.”
The second is “One of Us,” a European Union citizens’ initiative to ban the funding of policies that destroy human embryos.
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of opposing an “economy of exclusion,” saying “the divorce between economics and morality” is “one of the most grave risks facing our age.”
This divorce, he explained in a Catholic News Agency report, leads to “a market which gives us every technological innovation” but renders the “elementary ethical norms of human nature … always more neglected.”
“It is therefore necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the womb is the archetype (antonomasia) of innocence.”
He quoted Vatican II’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, “Gaudium et spes,” which said that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”
“This is always part of a Christian’s competence in bearing witness to the gospel: to protect life with courage and love in all its phases.”
“I encourage you to act always with a style of nearness, of closeness: that every woman feels regarded as a person, who is heard, accepted, accompanied,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded by entrusting the movement’s members to the intercession of Mary and giving them his blessing.
“Remember to pray also for me!” he said.

Pope apologizes for priests’ sexual abuse, promises strong response

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on April 11, 2014

Pope Francis called April 11 for an “even stronger” Catholic Church response to combat sexual abuse, saying he felt compelled to “personally ask forgiveness” for priests who have sexually abused children.
“The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed,” the Pope told the International Child Bureau in an April 11 audience at the Vatican, according to Vatican Radio.
He said the response to sex abuse has to be “even stronger” because “you cannot interfere with children.”
The International Catholic Child Bureau is a Catholic NGO dedicated to global work on behalf of children.
The pope also discussed other issues affecting children. He stressed the importance of fighting slave labor, recruitment of children as soldiers, and “all forms of violence against children.”
“On a positive note, we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” he said.
The pope voiced support for parents to decide their children’s moral and religious education, while he rejected “any kind of educational experimentation with children.”
“The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of ‘only one form of thought’,” he warned.
Pope Francis also reflected on the need for sound formation of human rights advocates.
He said that work for human rights presupposes a good understanding of the human person and “knowing how to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media.”
He urged the children’s rights advocates to propose the “positive values of the human person.”


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