Pope: 'God is our caring Father who will never abandon us''

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday reminded the faithful that even the most sacred human constructions are "transitory" and warned them not to place their faith in them or in "false messiahs" who speculate on people's needs. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus, the Pope said that our only certainty is that our life is in the hands of the Lord, and that God will never abandon us. Nothing can be lost if we place our lives in the hands of the Lord – Pope Francis said – as he reflected on the Gospel reading of the day which tells of the destruction of the Temple and the signs of the end of times. And commenting on the many "false messiahs" that exist in the world today – people who speculate on the human need for security – Francis invited the faithful not to be terrified or disorientated by wars, revolutions and calamities "because they too are part of the reality of the world". He pointed out that the history of the Church is full of examples of people who have endured terrible suffering and tribulations with serenity because they placed themselves fully in God's hands. "He is a faithful Father, a caring Father, who never abandons his children" he said. "What really counts – he said – is to stand firm in the Lord, to walk in hope and to work to build a better world, despite the difficulties and the sad events that mark personal and collective existence." Pointing out that, on the day in which all the Holy Doors are closed signaling the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope said "on the one hand the Holy Year has urged us to keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate fulfillment of God's Kingdom, and on the other, to build a future on earth, working to evangelize the present, so as to make it a time of salvation for all." After the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Pope recalled the observance of the Italian Day of Thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and of human labor, and he expressed his hope for a sustainable cultivation of mother earth. "The Church is close and grateful towards the world of agriculture and exhorts all not to forget those who, in various parts of the world, are deprived of essential goods such as food and water" he said.

Pope Francis and Anglican Primate Archbishop Welby have signed a joint-declaration emphasizing

Pope Francis and Anglican Primate Archbishop Welby have signed a joint-declaration emphasizing that while topics such as homosexuality and the ordination of women still constitute points of division, they are committed to working together in their pursuit of full unity. "The declaration is a forward-looking commitment to doing everything we can together, and continuing to struggle without fear, but with determination for the things that divide us," Archbishop Welby told CNA Oct. 5. He said he doesn't know if Catholics and Anglicans are closer to full unity than they were 50 years ago, but stated simply that "we are where we are." One thing that is certain, he said, is that "we serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, which means we are always full of hope." The archbishop and Pope Francis met to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark encounter between Bl. Paul VI and Michael Ramsey, as well as the institution of the Anglican Center of Rome. In 1966 Bl. Pope Paul VI met with Dr. Michael Ramsey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Until 1960, when St. John XXIII met with Geoffrey Fisher in a private encounter, there had been no meeting between a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury since King Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534. The meeting between Paul VI and Ramsey, however, was the first public meeting that had taken place. This meeting and declaration led to the eventual creation of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), which was responsible for theological dialogue between the two churches. It also marked the opening of the Anglican Centre in Rome, which serves as not only the headquarters of Rome's Anglican community, but also as a center committed to advancing dialogue between the two Churches. The current director of the Anglican Center, Archbishop David Moxon, serves as Welby's personal Representative to the Holy See. Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby prayed First Vespers together in the historic Roman church of San Gregorio al Cielo Oct. 5, during which they signed their own joint-declaration and commissioned 19 pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops, who will symbolically serve together throughout the world. It was from San Gregorio that Pope Gregory the Great sent the monk Augustine with 40 companions to evangelize Britain in 597. Because of its historic roots, Anglicans widely consider the church to be their "motherhouse." In their joint-declaration, Welby and Pope Francis recognized that both Catholics and Anglicans "are heirs of the treasure of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the call to share that treasure with the whole world." They noted that since that first public meeting in 1966, "much progress" has been made in terms of overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of unity. However, the modern times have led to new hiccups in the process, particularly surrounding the topics of the ordination of women and "more recent questions regarding human sexuality." "Behind these differences lies a perennial question about how authority is exercised in the Christian community," the declaration read, recognizing that these concerns constitute "serious obstacles to our full unity." Yet while solutions to these questions remain in question, Francis and Welby said they are "undeterred" in their quest for unity. These differences "cannot prevent us from recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ by reason of our common baptism," nor should they "hold us back" from discovering the faith and holiness of each other's traditions, they said. Neither should differences get in the way of common prayer, the prelates cautioned, and urged their respective clergy and faithful "not to neglect or undervalue that certain yet imperfect communion that we already share." A shared faith and joy in the Gospel are stronger than the differences, they said, stressing that "the world must see us witnessing to this common faith in Jesus by acting together." Common points of collaboration mentioned include working together to protect creation and promote "a sustainable and integral development for the good of all, and to uphold the dignity of the human being in all states and stages of life. Centuries of painful separation have been "partially healed by 50 years of friendship," they said, adding that "we have become partners and companions on our pilgrim journey." As fellow Christians, the Churches are facing the same difficulties, while also strengthening each other "by learning to value the gifts which God has given to the other, and to receive them as our own in humility and gratitude." The two prelates made reference to the 19 pairs of Catholic and Anglican bishops commissioned during the Vespers ceremony, praying that their ecumenical mission would be "a witness to all of us." "Let the message go out from this holy place, as the Good News was sent out so many centuries ago, that Catholics and Anglicans will work together to give voice to our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring relief to the suffering, to bring peace where there is conflict, to bring dignity where it is denied and trampled upon." The two exchanged gifts at the close of the ceremony. Pope Francis gifted Archbishop Welby a replica of the hook-like head of the crozier of St. Gregory, while the archbishop in a strong show of unity took his pectoral cross made out of nails from the roof of the Anglican Coventry Cathedral and gave it as a gift to Pope Francis, who kissed it. Both Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby gave homilies during Vespers, which was prayed in Latin. The prelates both emphasized that while their traditions might be different, a shared baptism and commitment to spreading the Gospel unites them. Pope Francis in his homily prayed that the encounter would give rise to "a renewed impetus toward communion and mission," while Welby, for his part, noted that while it might be tempting to look back, the prophets "compel us to look forward...we cannot be bad shepherds." In a follow-up to Vespers and the signing of the declaration, two met privately at the Vatican Oct. 6. Archbishop Welby has already met with Pope Francis twice in the Vatican, the first time being June 14, 2013, and the second June 16, 2014. Welby was also a special guest at the World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi Sept. 18-20. In his brief speech during the meeting, Pope Francis focused on the importance of prayer, witness and mission between the two Churches. "Let us never grow tired of asking the Lord together and insistently for the gift of unity," he said, stressing that "ecumenism is never an impoverishment, but a richness." "Now is the time in which the Lord challenges us, in a particular way, to go out from ourselves and our own environs, in order to bring his merciful love to a world thirsting for peace," he said, and encouraged members of both confessions to help one another "to keep at the center the demands of the Gospel and to spend ourselves concretely in this mission." In his own speech, Welby thanked the Pope for his "leadership and example" given throughout the world, particularly when it comes to care for the poor, the enslaved, those suffering from human trafficking as well as care for the environment. However, despite the mutual concern for these and other threats to modern society, the lack of full unity between the Catholic and Anglican Churches "grieves" God and damages "every aspect of our lives in Christ." Yet it is Christ who "breaks down divisions," he said, and noted that despite the things that divide them, the Churches are "publicly determined to press forward where we may, together with all other Christians." "Jesus has gone before us. He calls us to be courageous. Let us walk closer together so the world sees new life and energy in the Church's worship, mission and witness." At the beginning of the meeting, Welby jested with the Pope, saying "What's the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist? You can dialogue with a terrorist," prompting boisterous laughter from both.

Catholic Bishops Challenge Donald Trump on Immigration

Two nights after Donald J. Trump won the presidential election, Archbishop José H. Gomez convened an interfaith prayer service at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Los Angeles and gave an emotional homilyvowing not to abandon children and parents who are living in fear that Mr. Trump will follow through on his promise to deport millions of immigrants. "This should not be happening in America," said Archbishop Gomez, who is himself an immigrant from Mexico and a naturalized United States citizen. "We are not this kind of people. We are better than this." Five days later, on Tuesday, Archbishop Gomez was elected by his brother bishops at their meeting in Baltimore to be vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. With nine candidates in the running— including some prominent prelates — it was the day's most closely watched vote, especially since the vice president is traditionally elevated to president in three years. Keeping to custom, the bishops voted to bump up Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, to president. The choice of Archbishop Gomez was only one sign that Catholic bishops are preparing to defend immigrants and refugees against a newly elected president who has threatened deportations and who critics say has uncorked an ugly backlash against immigrants and minorities. They opened their meeting by endorsing a strongly worded letter to Mr. Trump that extended congratulations but also put him on notice that the church was committed to resettling refugees and keeping immigrant families intact. "A lot of bishops told me they were surprised by the actual fear they were hearing on the ground," said Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Hope Border Institute, an advocacy group on United States-Mexico border issues. He formerly worked for the bishops' conference and attended the meeting in Baltimore. Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops during the group's meeting in Baltimore on Monday. CreditPatrick Semansky/Associated Press In the past week, Latino parishioners and students at Catholic colleges have been "turning to the church, calling their pastors, and pastors are calling their bishops and asking what to expect," Mr. Corbett said. "The bishops wanted to send a clear message of solidarity." On many other priorities, the bishops may find common cause with Mr. Trump. They are eager to see him follow through with campaign promises to end or limit abortion, reverse the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act and create exemptions for religious people and institutions objecting to same-sex marriage. However, the protection of immigrants is not only a biblical imperative for Catholic leaders but also a matter of pastoral care: More than one-third of American Catholics are now Latinos, and many others are immigrants from dozens of other countries. Latinos represent the future of the church: Sixty percent of Catholics in the United States younger than 18 are Latino, and 90 percent of them were born here.

Pope reminds Catholics to practice what they preach

The spiritual works of mercy – especially teaching the faith and putting up with the annoyances of others – are very important, Pope Francis said Wednesday, but first we must examine our own conscience to see if we are practicing the things we preach. "The need to advise, admonish and teach should not make us feel superior to others, but first of all obliges us to return to ourselves to see if we are consistent with what we ask of others," he said Nov. 16. "Do not forget the words of Jesus" from Luke chapter six, he said: "Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?" The Pope's catechesis for the general audience in St. Peter's Square focused on several of the spiritual works of mercy, specifically counseling the doubtful, admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, and bearing the wrongs of others patiently. "To accompany the search for the essential is beautiful and important," he said, because it helps us to share the joy found in knowing the true meaning of life. Often we come across people who focus on the superficial because they have not met anyone who helped them to see the truly important things in life, Francis said. To teach someone "to look to the essentials" is important, he said, especially in a time like now, where the world seems to have "lost its bearings," and is always chasing "short-sighted satisfaction." To help people "find out what the Lord wants from us and how we can respond to it means putting (people) on the path to grow in their vocation, the path of true joy." Pope Francis praised catechists, who he said go to a "great effort" to help people grow in their faith, particularly mothers and religious, who "give their time to teach children." "How much effort" they go through, he acknowledged. "Especially when the boys prefer to play rather than listen to the catechism!" But this mission, he emphasized, can only be carried out when we assume responsibility for our own actions, as well. Particularly when we are tempted to be annoyed by the people around us, or when we complain about the shortcomings of others, such as gossiping. In these situations, he said, the first step must be to examine our own consciences "to see if we, at times, can be annoying to others." "It's easy to point fingers at the flaws and failings" of others, he said, "but we should learn to put ourselves in others' shoes." Jesus is an excellent example of bearing wrongs patiently, the Pope noted. "How much patience he had to have in the three years of his public life!" God is also merciful in bearing with our complaints. In the Book of Exodus, for example, the Israelites "are really unbearable," Francis stated. First they cry because they are slaves in Egypt, then God delivers them and they complain that there is no food in the desert. Even after God sends quail and manna to them, they continued to complain, but he was patient with them and therefore teaches Moses, the Israelites, and all of us that an "essential dimension of faith" is to bear wrongs patiently. "We are all very good at identifying a presence that is annoying," Pope Francis said. Frequently, it is the people closest to us such as our relatives and coworkers. "What should we do?" he asked. We should pray and examine our conscience, and "the Holy Spirit will help us to be patient in enduring and humble and simple in advising."

Confession reforms the Church's life, says Pope

On 15th November, Pope Francis greeted a large group of Dutch Pilgrims in St Peters Basilica. The group was made up of representatives of the Dutch Association of Catholic Organisations, who had come to Rome to take part in the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The group was accompanied by the Archbishop of Utrecht, Cardinal Wilem Eijk. The Cardinal had originally asked for Pope to be the celebrant of a Mass for the group. Although that wasn't possible, the Pope joined the group at the end of the ceremony and greeted them. Cardinal Eijk also took the opportunity to present the Pope with a new book entitled "A Welcoming Netherlands." The book describes the works undertaken by many Catholic projects in the Netherlands, in response to the Pope calling the Year of Mercy. The Dutch Bishops Conference will also be distributing copies of the book to all Dutch parishes, as a witness and encouragement to mercy. In his address, Pope Francis described the Year of Mercy as an opportunity to "enter even further into relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the face of the merciful Father." Speaking of the need to experience the Father's mercy in Confession, the Pope reminded the group that "We never get used to this great mystery of God's love. It is the source of our salvation. We all need divine mercy; it saves us, gives us life, and recreates us as true sons and daughters of God. And we experience the saving goodness of God in a special way in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Confession is where you receive the gift of forgiveness and mercy of God. Here begins the transformation of each of us and the reform of the Church's life." After calling on the group to be channels of mercy, in order to help quench mankind's thirst for God, the Pope asked them all to pray for him.

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