Today's Catholic

Pope Francis tells how to bring about Christ’s kingdom

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on November 23, 2014

On the Feast of Christ the King, during the canonization Mass of six new saints, Pope Francis said that Jesus Christ’s kingdom comes through his works of mercy — works that Christians must imitate with tenderness.
“In the twilight of life we will be judged on our love for, closeness to and tenderness towards our brothers and sisters,” the Pope said Sunday to myriad people in St. Peter’s Square. “If we truly love them, we will be willing to share with them what is most precious to us, Jesus himself and his Gospel.”
“Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways,” the Holy Father said. Rather, “his 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 fulfillment.”
Salvation does not begin with confessing Christ’s sovereignty, the Pope said, but with “the imitation of Jesus’ works of mercy through which he brought about his kingdom.” In so doing one opens “his heart to God’s charity.”
Tens of thousands of people attended the Nov. 23 Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, which featured the canonizations of six men and women. Four of the new saints were from Italy: Giovanni Antonio Farina, Ludovico da Casoria, Nicola da Longobardi and Amato Ronconi. The other two were from India: Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Eufrasia Eluvathingal.
Pope Francis’ homily discussed the Mass readings. The first reading from Ezekiel presents God as Shepherd and his people as his sheep. The Pope said the reading reveals the shepherd’s “care and love” 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.”
The pope said Jesus “brought about his kingdom… through his closeness and tenderness towards us.”
Pope Francis then turned his reflection to the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew 25, where Jesus Christ commends those who have inherited the Kingdom: “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.”
This reading “reminds us that closeness and tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we will be judged,” the pope explained in a Catholic News Agency report.
Pope Francis spoke of the new saints canonized at the beginning of the Mass. He said each of them “served the kingdom of God, of which they became heirs, precisely through works of generous devotion to God and their brothers and sisters.”
These men and women, he said, “sought and discovered love in a strong and personal relationship with God,” which in turn led to their love of neighbor, especially the poor.
“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.”
Pope Francis then called on the faithful to imitate these new saints in “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,” he said, concluding his homily: “And may Mary, our Mother and Queen of all Saints, guide us on the way to the kingdom of heaven.”
Before bestowing the final blessing at the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis briefly welcomed the delegations from India and Italy who had come to Rome for the canonizations.
The four new Italian saints, he said, caring as they did for the people and working toward the common good, “trusted in the nearness of God who never abandons (us), even in difficult moments.”
Speaking of the two new saints from India, the Pope said through their intercession, “the Lord will grant a new missionary drive to the Church” in the country. He said India’s Christians can be “inspired by their example of harmony and reconciliation” and “continue along the path toward solidarity and fraternal coexistence.”
Pope Francis then led the recitation of the Angelus in Latin, after which he wished everyone a good Sunday, and asked them to remember him in their prayers.

Catholics on immigration order: more reform needed

Posted in Uncategorized by satodayscatholic on November 22, 2014

President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration was met with both praise and concern from Catholic groups, who emphasized that more must be done to find long-term solutions for a broken immigration system.
“I am happy that some temporary relief is being offered to help parents and children who right now are living in daily fear that their families will be broken up by arrests and deportations,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
However, he cautioned, “the relief is not permanent and the problems are still not fixed.”
On Thursday night, President Obama announced that he would stay the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant parents for up to three years, allowing them to work legally. Eligibility requirements include having lived in the U.S. for at least five years, having children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, passing a criminal background check and agreeing to pay taxes.
Roughly 4 million people will likely qualify for this measure, while thousands of others will benefit from other changes. The president extended benefits of temporary residence to more children of undocumented immigrants, expanding the eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and extending their temporary stay from two to three years.
In addition, the president said he would increase border security resources and deport those who had illegally crossed the border recently. He said he would focus government enforcement resources on criminals and those who threaten security.
Archbishop Gomez welcomed the actions as pro-family but emphasized that much more must be done for immigrant families.
Similarly, leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the deferred deportations while stressing the need for “a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law.”
“They [the bishops] welcome the executive action in the sense that it would ease some of the separation of families here,” Ashley Feasley, the bishops’ Migration & Refugee Services immigration policy advisor told CNA. She added that “the bishops are still advocating for working with Congress for a more permanent solution.”
In a statement responding to the president’s announcement, Archbishop Gomez insisted that “the President’s actions today are no substitute for the comprehensive immigration reform our nation needs.”
“Too many families are being torn apart by deportations, uncertainty about their status, and delays in our visa process that can take years, even decades. Too many men and women who are immigrants are being exploited in the workplace and forced to live in society’s shadows,” he stated.
The announcement of the executive order was met with criticism from members of the Republican Party, who said that it was an overstep of presidential authority that would encourage continued illegal immigration, with negative social consequences.
CatholicVote.org, a group that works to promote Catholic principles in public life, voiced wariness about the precedent that could be set by the executive order.
“We support immigration reform. But strongly oppose President Obama’s executive action announced last night,” the group said in an email to its members.
It warned that if a president “may selectively enforce laws based on his or her political preferences (even policies we agree with) – our nation is in trouble.”
Acknowledging the obligation for Catholics to respect the human dignity of each person, Catholic Vote said that the border situation illustrates a need for real reform.
“Children are being led by criminals across the border, families are being torn apart, and gang and drug violence is rampant. It’s disgusting and it’s unsustainable,” the group said, arguing that if the GOP attempts to stall the executive order through a funding decision, they should also offer “reform proposals of their own.”
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., also pushed for a long-term solution to keep families together.
“The administration’s decision will improve the lives of millions of immigrants who are already here, building communities and supporting families,” said executive director Jeanne M. Atkinson.
“However, administrative relief is no substitute for legislative reform. We need a permanent fix to the immigration system that can only be achieved through bipartisan Congressional action.”

U.S. cardinal to the undocumented: you can ‘come out of the shadows’

Posted in USCCB by satodayscatholic on November 22, 2014

The vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has said that charitable immigration reform must address the needs of both legal and illegal immigrants, encouraging the latter to come forward and receive help.
“Immigration (reform) should be more comprehensive, that is, we cover all immigrants, even the undocumented. We give people a chance to get their green card, a chance to come out of the shadows, so that when they work the money they get for themselves helps the culture too,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo told CNA on Nov. 19.
“From my point of view, it’s important that immigrants come out of the shadows, particularly the undocumented ones. In my mind it’s one of the most important things we could do.”
Present in Rome for a Nov. 17-21 congress on the Pastoral Care for Migrants, Cardinal DiNardo, who is archbishop of Galveston-Houston, offered his comments just one day before U.S. President Barack Obama revealed a major immigration reform package, issued by executive order.
In what is seen as a highly-contentious move, the president announced that he would stay the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant parents for up to three years, allowing them to work legally. Eligibility requirements include having lived in the U.S. for at least five years, having children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, passing a criminal background check and agreeing to pay taxes.
Roughly 4 million people will likely qualify for this measure, while thousands of others will benefit from other changes. The president extended benefits of temporary residence to more children of undocumented immigrants, expanding the eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and extending their temporary stay from two to three years.
In addition, the president said he would increase border security resources and deport those who had illegally crossed the border recently. He said he would focus government enforcement resources on criminals and those who threaten security.
The executive order will mark the biggest change in immigration policy in three decades.
In his televised address, President Obama echoed Cardinal DiNardo’s sentiments in telling immigrants to “Come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”
The president insisted that his proposals did not amount to amnesty or straight-shot path to citizenship, although it will offer Social Security cards to those who qualify for the deferred deportation.
“What I’m describing is accountability – a common-sense, middle ground approach,” the president said.
“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” he stated. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”
Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, issued a Nov. 20 statement welcoming the announcement of deferred deportations, saying that the United States has “a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant and the disadvantaged.”
Each day in the Church’s social service projects, hospitals, schools and parishes, the devastating consequences of the separation of families due to the deportation of parents or spouses can be seen, he said.
The bishop noted that the episcopal conference had asked the Obama administration to “do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters,” adding that as pastors, “we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children.”
He urged President Obama and members of Congress to work together in pursuing permanent reforms to the U.S. immigration system that seek the best interests of both the nation and the persons who migrate to the country in search of refuge.
“We will continue to work with both parties to enact legislation that welcomes and protects immigrants and promotes a just and fair immigration policy,” the bishop said.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, issued a Nov. 20 statement, saying, “There is an urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law.”
“As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said so eloquently: ‘Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved,’” the archbishop said.
On the topic of improving the pastoral care of immigrants, Cardinal DiNardo explained that the church already offers a lot of help. However, he said that a legal reform would help “lighten-up” the church’s burden and allow greater focus on pastoral assistance.
“The church always emphasizes the human person, so when we talk about the human person, we don’t ask if you’re an immigrant or whether you were born in the country,” the cardinal observed.
“You are a human person that has aptitudes, has a singularity, has an excellence and a dignity that we want to draw on,” he said, stressing that this vision is important to keep in mind when welcoming immigrants and helping them integrate into society.

What fuels migration? For Pope Francis, a strong ‘aspiration to hope’

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on November 21, 2014

Pope Francis said on Friday that the desire to migrate from one’s homeland is inspired by the search for hope, and encouraged the Church throughout the world to welcome migrants, whose presence helps build up society.
“Notwithstanding new developments and the emergence of situations which are at times painful and even tragic, migration is still an aspiration to hope,” the Pope told participants in the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants on Nov. 21.
In his speech for the Nov. 17-21 congress, which focused on the dynamics of cooperation and development in the pastoral care of migrants, the Pope noted how many persons who live in troubled areas leave in search of a better life for their families at the risk of disappointment and failure.
This is caused in large part by the economic crisis currently effecting every country, he said, which includes factors such as “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.”
Despite the challenges involved in migration, the phenomenon has the capacity to improve both the migrant’s native country as well as the one they traveled to from an economic standpoint, the Roman pontiff noted.
“In effect, receiving nations draw advantages from employing immigrants for production needs and national prosperity, not infrequently filling gaps created by the demographic crisis,” he said.
At the same time, 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.”
Among the challenges that migrant families face are the effects on children who have grown up without one or both of their parents, the tension on marriages due to long absences of spouses, as well as the difficulty of integrating into a new society, the pope observed.
He noted how pastoral work in these situations plays a key role in helping cultural dialogue and as well as with legal issues on the part of the migrant, and helps lessen the repercussions on families living without a spouse or parent in the country of origin.
Pope Francis explained that “sadly migrants often experience disappointment, distress, loneliness and marginalization” due to the fact that they are both uprooted from their home and need to integrate.
The church, he said, is a community that seeks to engage and welcome migrants, and encouraged parishes to promote pastoral plans that both evangelize and support migrants throughout their journey from their country of origin to the receiving country.
“The church also seeks to be a source of hope,” the bishop of Rome explained, noting how she develops programs of education, defends migrants’ rights and “offers assistance, including material assistance to everyone, without exception, so that all may be treated as children of God.”
He spoke of the need to adopt an “integrated perspective” when encountering migrants, which is capable of seeing and valuing their potential, rather that viewing them “as a problem to be confronted and resolved.”
In order to fully develop each person must be assured of their ability to participate in the life of a community, Pope Francis observed, adding that this is even more important in a Christian community, where strangers do not exist.
“Beyond being a community of the faithful that sees the face of Jesus Christ in its neighbor, (the Church) is a Mother without limits and without frontiers,” he said, noting how she constantly strives to build a culture of solidarity “where no one is considered useless, out of place or disposable.”
While migrants are capable of expanding the bounds of fraternity, their presence is also a reminder of the ongoing need to fight inequality, injustice and various abuses, the Roman pontiff continued.
He concluded his speech by praying for the protection of the Holy Family, “who themselves experienced the difficulty of exile in Egypt.”

CRS welcomes president’s announcement to halt deportations, calls it a short-term fix

Posted in Uncategorized by satodayscatholic on November 21, 2014

If conditions in countries of origin don’t change, children and families will continue to flee

By deferring the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, President Obama has provided much-needed humanitarian relief to families; yet it is only a short-term solution.
“The President’s announcement is a temporary solution to problems in our outdated and unjust immigration system; and a ray of hope to the hopelessness in much of Mexico and Central America,” said Bill O’Keefe, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations for Catholic Relief Services. “Ultimately, however, unless the conditions in migrants’ countries of origin are addressed on a larger scale, children and families will continue to leave.”
Catholic Relief Services echoes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in strongly urging Congress and the President to work together to enact permanent reforms to the nation’s broken immigration system and fund efforts that will help ease the poverty, violence and lack of opportunity that compel people to leave their home countries.
As insecurity in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — known as the Northern Triangle — is exacerbated by increasingly violent gangs and their collusion with narco-traffickers, many undocumented immigrants’ children, nieces and nephews now see no alternatives but to make the trek to join their families; a trek that has become only more dangerous. Migrants and refugees navigating through Mexico today often suffer extortion, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, and some are caught up in trafficking.
“People often ask why families would permit children to make the dangerous trek through Mexico; for us, that simply demonstrates the hopelessness of their situations at home,” stated O’Keefe.
In the long-term, the United States must deepen its investments in the countries of origin. As more than 60,000 children and more than 60,000 vulnerable families in fiscal year 2014 demonstrated, the poverty and insecurity in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala make life for many nearly impossible. Some children in need of protection come to the United States to reunite with undocumented parents or other relatives.
“The Administration’s investment in employment generation, education, and the revitalization of rural economies of the Northern Triangle, as announced last week before the Inter-American Development Bank, begins to scratch the surface of the problems in the region,” O’Keefe said. “These efforts must be scaled up significantly to provide the opportunity and security in the home countries of the migrants and refugees who now seek them in the United States.”

Few topics are more manipulated than hunger, pope tells UN

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on November 21, 2014

Pope Francis on Thursday condemned the excessive consumption and misuse of food, saying that often the statistics surrounding the topic of hunger are twisted for the sake of national security.
“There are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger; few topics as likely to be manipulated by data, statistics, the demands of national security, corruption, or futile lamentation about the economic crisis,” the pope said Nov. 20.
It is “painful,” he said, to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition “is hindered by ‘market priorities,’ the ‘primacy of profit,’ which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature.”
Pope Francis offered his comments during a speech given to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at their headquarters in Rome. The organization is currently holding their Second International Conference on Nutrition, which began on Nov. 19, and closes Nov. 21.
The pontiff condemned what St. Pope John Paul II also spoke of at the First Conference on Nutrition in 1992, when he warned the international community against the risk of the “paradox of plenty.”
This paradox in which there is enough food for everyone — and yet not everyone can eat — still exists, the Pope observed, saying that “waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes.”
In today’s world relations between nations are often damaged by a “mutual suspicion” which at times leads to military and economic aggression, he said, noting how this aggression damages friendships and leads to the rejection and discarding of those who are already excluded.
“This is a picture of today’s world, in which it is necessary to recognize the limits of approaches based on the sovereignty of each state, intended as absolute, and national interest, frequently conditioned by small power groups,” he said.
However, the pope also underscored the importance of taking the discussion on hunger to a human level, in which conversation goes beyond rights and duties, and looks at those who are hungry themselves.
“While we speak of new rights, the hungry remain at the street corner, and ask to be recognized as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity,” the Roman pontiff voiced, saying that helpful theories can’t remain “in limbo,” but must be put into practice.
Only when development plans and the work of international organizations respect the fundamental human rights, including the “rights of the hungry,” will relief efforts and humanitarian intervention gain momentum and yield greater results, he explained.
Pope Francis also spoke of the need to grow in solidarity, saying that it is a virtue most societies lack due to the growing presence of individualism and division.
“When there is a lack of solidarity in a country, the effects are felt throughout the world,” he said, noting how it is an attitude which enables people to go beyond differences and reach out to others in an effort to seek the common good.
States too, the pontiff observed, should be able to work together and help each other through the just principles and norms of international law. This law, he said, should be based on the natural law which fosters love, justice and peace.
“Like people, States and international institutions are called to welcome and nurture these values, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual listening. In this way, the aim of feeding the human family becomes feasible.”
It is the duty of every state, the pope added, to care for the well-being of its citizens — a duty that requires perseverance and support.
He reinforced the efforts of the church in fighting hunger and caring for the dignity of the poor throughout the world, pointing to how the Holy See has spoken out in numerous documents and statements, and is involved in various international organizations.
By doing these things the church “contributes to identifying and assuming the criteria to be met in order to develop an equitable international system,” the Pope continued, saying that these criterion ought to be based on pillars of truth, freedom and solidarity.
The same goes for those in the legal field, he observed, saying that the same criteria should be used in defining the relationship between rights and food, the right to be protected by law, and the “obligation” of sharing economic wealth with the world.
“No form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable (and) no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger,” he said in a Catholic News Agency report.
Pope Francis concluded his speech by urging everyone involved to place themselves at the service of those who suffer due to hunger, assisting them through close proximity and concrete action.
“I also pray that the international community might hear the call of this Conference and consider it an expression of the common conscience of humanity: feed the hungry, save life on the planet.”

USCCB Migration chairman welcomes Obama Administration announcement of relief for immigrant families

Posted in USCCB by satodayscatholic on November 21, 2014

President cites urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants
Action keeps families together and protects children
Migrants are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved
Congress and President must work together for permanent reforms

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news today that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.
“We have a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged. Each day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the separation of families, when parents are deported from their children or spouses from each other. We’ve been on record asking the Administration to do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters. As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children,” said Bishop Elizondo.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville, Ken., and president of the USCCB said, “There is an urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law. As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said so eloquently: ‘Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved.’”
Bishop Elizondo added, “I strongly urge Congress and the President to work together to enact permanent reforms to the nation’s immigration system for the best interests of the nation and the migrants who seek refuge here. We will continue to work with both parties to enact legislation that welcomes and protects immigrants and promotes a just and fair immigration policy.”

USCCB Secretariat on Cultural Diversity in the Church to assess the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics in the United States

Posted in USCCB by satodayscatholic on November 20, 2014

In the coming months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs and the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church will conduct a nationwide assessment of the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics. Findings from this project will be used to formulate a broader National Pastoral Plan.
“Building upon the USCCB’s mission of evangelization, and desiring to minister in the best possible way to all Catholics, the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church has determined the need for a National Pastoral Plan for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics,” said Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nevada, chairman of the Subcommittee for Asian and Pacific Islands Affairs. “This plan aims to identify current conditions and needs, revealing how faith is lived and expressed in culturally-specific contexts.”
The assessment will be conducted by a team of social scientists, led by Tricia Bruce, Ph.D. of Maryville College in Tennessee and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), and will include the participation of pastoral leaders such as bishops and diocesan directors, pastors and pastoral teams,volunteers and parishioners. The survey (http://bit.ly/NSAPICUS) will include questions related to liturgy, formation, leadership, identity, integration, as well as family and community among Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.
The study will also convene focus groups at large gatherings, such as the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and the Mid-Atlantic Congress in Baltimore, and will conduct extensive interviews with influential leaders who minister to these communities.
Participation in these efforts is essential to help the Catholic Church develop a better understanding of the contributions and needs of such a diverse community, Bishop Calvo said.
“Today, the church continues to be enriched by the presence and growth of people of Asian and Pacific Island descent who now constitute six percent of the overall United States population. They represent a wide diversity of groups and cultures,” Bishop Calvo said. “Some are new immigrants, others are well-established, and an increasing number are U.S. born. Some come from distant lands and others, such as Hawaiians or Guamanians, are native to the U.S.”
The project’s findings will be summarized in a report and will inform the development of a National Pastoral Plan for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics.
More information on the USCCB Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs can be found online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/asian-pacific-islander/index.cfm

Pope: Jesus weeps for those who prefer comfort over conversion

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on November 20, 2014

In his homily on Thursday Pope Francis said that the Gospel scene in which Jesus wept for Jerusalem’s closed heart is repeated today with those in the Church who are afraid to let him work in their lives.
“Jerusalem was afraid of this: of being saved by the surprises of the Lord. The (people) were afraid of the Lord, their Bridegroom, their Beloved. And so Jesus wept,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse on Nov. 20.
In the Gospel “Jesus weeps” over Jerusalem in the same way that as he “weeps over his church, over us today,” he said.
The Roman pontiff centered his reflections on the day’s Gospel reading from Luke Chapter 19, in which Jesus travels close to Jerusalem and weeps, saying “If this day you only knew what makes for peace.”
In this passage Jesus weeps for the holy city because its people didn’t recognize the one who brings true peace because their hearts were closed inside their own comfort zones, the Pope observed.
“The people of Jerusalem were content with their way of life and did not need the Lord: they failed to realize that they needed salvation. This is why they had closed their heart before the Lord,” he explained in a Catholic News Agency report.
Pope Francis noted that the people of Jerusalem didn’t make any time to open the doors of their hearts because they were too busy and “self-satisfied,” and didn’t want anything to interfere with comfortable lives they were living.
They didn’t recognize what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel when he said that “if you only knew, on this day, what brings you peace. You did not recognize the time of your visitation,” the pope explained.
He continued, saying that Jerusalem’s citizens were unable recognize this peace because of their fear of being visited by the Lord, and of the gratuity that his visit would bring.
“The city felt safe in the knowledge of what it could handle. We all feel safe in the things that we can handle … But the visit of the Lord, its surprises, those we cannot handle.”
Pope Francis said that the people of Jerusalem were also afraid of “being saved by the surprises” of the Lord, their bridegroom. This also made Jesus weep, he observed, because when the Lord comes he always brings joy and leads us to conversion.
“We all fear happiness — that joy that the Lord brings, because we cannot control it. We are afraid of conversion because conversion means allowing the Lord to lead us,” the bishop of Rome said.
He reiterated how Jerusalem had been content and happy with how things were going because its temple worked, the priests made their sacrifices, people were coming on pilgrimages and the teachers and scholars had everything perfectly arranged.
“Everything was clear! All the commandments were clear…And with all of this Jerusalem had closed the door,” the pope noted, saying that the cross, which was the price of the people’s refusal to listen to him, shows us the love of Jesus that still leads him to “weep — often — for his church.”
Pope Francis encouraged the Christians of today who know the faith, go to Mass and are even pastors of the church, to ask themselves if they have become content with themselves and their lives.
“Are we content with ourselves? Because we have organized everything and do not need new visits from the Lord?” he asked, saying that the Lord continues to knock on the door of each person, including the church and its pastors.
Many times, he lamented, “the door of our hearts, of the heart of the church, of her pastors will not open: and the Lord weeps, even today.”
He concluded by encouraging people to examine their consciences, and asked those present to reflect on themselves as they are before God in that moment.

Turkey’s 53,000 Catholics happily awaiting Pope Francis

Posted in Pope Francis by satodayscatholic on November 20, 2014

Turkey’s small community of 53,000 Catholics — amid a population of 76 million — is anticipating Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the country with joyful hearts, says Istanbul’s apostolic vicariate.
The vicariate voiced gratitude for the Pope’s visit, which will coincide with the feast of the Apostle Andrew, the patron saint of the Orthodox Church.
In response to an invitation sent by Patriarch Bartolomeo I of Constantinople, Pope Francis will make a three-day trip to Turkey, during which he will visit the cities of Ankara and Istanbul.
Announced in September following the reception of an official letter of invitation signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the trip will take place Nov. 28-30, and falls just days after Pope Francis’ Nov. 25 address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
In stark contrast with his previous trips, usually packed with various liturgies, audiences and meetings with diverse groups of people, Pope Francis is keeping his schedule light, and will only give three public speeches, one being a homily for Mass on the second day of his trip.
On Nov. 28, the pope will fly directly to the Turkish capital of Ankara, where he will meet with political authorities. The following day, he will travel by plane to Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, where he will visit the historic Hagia Sophia museum, which is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica that was later transformed into an imperial mosque.
He will then visit the historic Sultan Ahmet Mosque, also known as the “Blue Mosque” due to the blue tiles covering the inside.
After his visit to these two historically significant sites, the Pope will celebrate Mass in Istanbul’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. He will then participate in an ecumenical prayer at the Patriarchal church of St. George, after which he will have a private encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew I.
On his final day in Turkey Pope Francis will hold a private Mass in the morning before praying the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal church of St. George and signing a joint declaration with Bartolomeo I.
In its statement, the vicaiate says that the upcoming papal trip continues the journey begun by Blessed Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras towards Christian unity in 1964 in Jerusalem.
“The visit by Pope Francis is in the framework of this venerable tradition because, in the words of Patriarch Bartholomew I, ‘We want to work intensely and together for the holy cause of full communion in Jesus Christ.’”
Turkey awaits Pope Francis “with joyful and thankful hearts,” the vicariate said, voicing hope that “his presence and words will confirm us in the faith and strengthen our hope in Jesus Christ, the Lord of history and the Savior of the world.”

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