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Pope Francis sends video message ahead of Colombia visit



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a video message to the people of Colombia ahead of his Apostolic Journey to the country on 6-11 September, inviting them to “take the first step” towards peace.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:



With just a handful of days to go before his Apostolic Journey, Pope Francis invited all Colombians to “take the first step” in reaching out to their neighbor in a sign of peace.

He thanked those “who welcome me to your land and into your heart” for their many efforts to prepare his visit.

“Let us take the first step” is the theme of his Apostolic Journey to Colombia, and the Holy Father said it “urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity.”

He said Colombia has long yearned and worked for peace, which, he said, should be “a stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies.”

“Peace,” he said, “reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us.”

Pope Francis went on to say he is “honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith.”

He called Colombia a land “of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend.”

Finally, the Holy Father said the Church is called “to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.”

Please find below a Vatican Radio English-language translation of the video:

Dear people of Colombia, in just a few days I will visit your country. I come as a pilgrim of hope and peace to celebrate with you the faith in our Lord and also to learn from your charity and perseverance in search of peace and harmony.

I cordially greet and thank the President of the Republic and the bishops of the Episcopal Conference for the invitation to visit Colombia. I also thank each of you, who welcome me to your land and into your heart. I know that you have worked so very hard to prepare this encounter. My appreciation goes to all who have collaborated – and continue to – so that it may become a reality.

“Let us take the first step” is the theme of this Journey. It reminds us that a first step is always required for any activity or project. It also urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity. Taking the first step encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, to extend a helping-hand, and to offer a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia has sought after for a long time, and she is working to achieve it: A stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies. Peace reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us. I am honored to visit this land so rich in history, culture, and faith. [It is a land] of men and women who have labored with tenacity and perseverance to make it a place where harmony and solidarity reign, where the Gospel is known and loved, and where saying ‘brother and sister’ seems not out of place but a true treasure to protect and defend. Today’s world needs specialists in peace and dialogue. The Church also is called to the task of promoting reconciliation, both with the Lord and between brothers, as well as reconciliation with the environment, which is God’s Creation and which we are savagely exploiting.

My dear Colombian brothers and sisters, I yearn to live these days with you with a joyous spirit and with gratitude to the Lord. I warmly embrace you and ask the Lord to bless you, to protect your country, and to give you peace. And I ask our Mother, the Holy Virgin, to watch over you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you and see you soon.

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: Joint message



(Vatican Radio) The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is being marked today September 1 and has special importance in this its third year.

It is a Joint Message which was released on Friday morning from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who for the first time are writing together on Themes of the Day, inviting all the faithful and men of good will to prayer and to reflect on how to live in a simple and solid manner, responsibly using earthly goods.

The Day of Prayer for the Creation of the Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015. The Orthodox Church has commemorated the Day since 1989. 

Below find the English Language translation of the Joint Message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

 

JOINT MESSAGE

of  Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

on the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.

However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.

The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.

Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1 September.  On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labour in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126-127), if prayer is not at the centre of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.

We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.

 

From the Vatican and from the Phanar, 1 September 2017

 

   Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis: video message to Jasna Gora pilgrims



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent a video message to pilgrims participating in celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa on Saturday at her shrine in the central Polish city.

300th anniversary celebrations

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the coronation of the Black Madonna, as the icon of our lady housed in the shrine in the monastery of Jasna Gora is also known.

Mary our tender Mother

In his remarks, the Holy Father says, “The sacred image, in fact, shows us that Mary is not a distant Queen, who sits on a throne, but the Mother who embraces the Son, and with Him, all of us, her children.” The Holy Father also says, “She is a true Mother, with her visage signed, a Mother who suffers because she truly takes to heart the problems of our lives. She is a Mother who is close by, who never lets us out of her sight – a tender Mother, who holds us by the hand on our daily journey.”

No one an orphan

Pope Francis goes on to say, “Let this be the propitious time, in which to feel that no one of us is an orphan.”



(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis: video message to Ezeiza student-inmates



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday sent a video message to the student-inmates of the Centro de estudiantes universitarios de Ezeiza, a higher education initiative attached to the Ezeiza prison complex.

The university centre, which began in 1994 in connection with a project of the University of Buenos Aires, teaches primarily sociology and applied sciences, including computer science and information technology.

Pope Francis has made regular phone calls to the inmates who study in the centre, which is beginning a new music programme.

Remarks to student-inmates

In his message, Pope Francis says, “The inmates are serving a penal sentence – a sentence for errors they have committed. Let us not forget, however, that, for punishment to be fruitful, it must have a horizon of hope, otherwise it remains locked in itself and is only an instrument of torture, it is not fruitful.”

The Holy Father goes on to say that what is needed is specifically the hope for social reintegration, for which social formation is a necessary ingredient.

Click below to hear our report



“That,” he says, addressing himself directly to the student-inmates, “is what you are doing,” i.e. looking to the future with hope.

“With this new music course you are looking toward social reintegration, [and] you are already reintegrating yourselves through your studies with the University of Buenos Aires.”

Punishment with a horizon of hope

“This,” he continues, “is a punishment with hope, a punishment with a horizon. Let me say once again: problems are there and will be there, but the horizon is bigger than the problems. Hope goes beyond all problems.”

The Holy Father also thanked the founders, directors, faculty and staff of the Ezeiza university centre, and asked the students to remember him in their prayers.

Below, the full video in the original Spanish

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope sends video message to Church in Peru



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to Catholics in Peru, ahead of his planned pastoral visit there next January. The short video message was published on the website of the archdiocese of Lima by Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne.

Listen to our report: 

In the message Pope Francis talks about the wealth of human resources that characterize the past and present of the Church in the South American nation. Peru has many great saints, he says, who have contributed to the building up of the Church, helping it to move from fragmentation to unity.

Saints work for unity

A saint, the pope continues, is someone who always work to create unity, just as Jesus did, and a saint must always follow in his footsteps.

In the video the pope invites all Peruvians to follow on this path and to work for unity, looking to the future with hope, rather than with bitterness or skepticism. A Christian always looks ahead with hope, he concludes, because he or she always hopes to see the realization of what the Lord has promised.

Pope to visit Chile and Peru

Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Chile and Peru from January 15th to 21st, visiting the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, as well as the capital Lima.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope’s Message to World Movement of Christian Workers



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the International Meeting of the World Movement of Christian Workers which has been taking place in Ávila, Spain, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

120 delegates representing the Movement, present today in 79 countries are attending the event. The theme of the meeting is, “Land, Home and Work for a Worthy Life”. The message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, stresses that “the dignity of the person is closely united to these three realities” that remind us that the fundamental experience of the human being “is to feel rooted in the world, in one Family, in a society. “

“Land, home, and work – continues the Message – means fighting because every person lives in a manner consistent with his dignity and nobody is discarded. To this we encourage our faith in God, who sent his Son into the world because, sharing the story of his people, living in a family and working with his hands, he could redeem and save the human person with his Death and resurrection “.

Finally, the Pope urges the Christian Workers Movement “to persevere with renewed impetus in the effort to bring the Gospel into the world of work”.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope Francis sends message to UN Food and Agriculture Organization: Full Text



(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday sent a message to participants in the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome.

The message was read out by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State.

At the end of the message, Cardinal Parolin officially announced that Pope Francis will visit the Rome headquarters of the FAO on World Food Day, 16 October 2017, at the invitiation of its Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

Please find below the official English translation of the message:

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Participants in the 40th General Conference of FAO

3 July 2017

Mr President,

I offer my respectful and cordial greetings to you, and to all the Representatives of the Member States of FAO, as you assemble for the Organization’s fortieth Conference.

My greeting also goes to the Director-General and to the leaders of the other International Organizations present at this meeting, which is called to provide appropriate responses to issues involving the agricultural and food production sector, on which the expectations of millions of people depend.

1. I regret that I cannot be present with you today, as has been an established tradition dating back to the beginning of FAO’s presence in Rome.  I have therefore asked Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, to convey to you my message of encouragement and support, as well as my respect and esteem for the demanding task that you must carry out.

The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition.  All of us realize that the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough.  Rather, there is a need to recognize that all have a right to it and they must therefore benefit from it.  If the goals we continue to propose still remain distant, that is largely dependent on the lack of a culture of solidarity, which fails to make headway amid other international activities, which often remain bound only to the pragmatism of statistics or the desire for efficiency that lacks the idea of sharing.

The commitment of each country to increase its own level of nutrition, to improve agricultural activity and the living conditions of the rural population, is embodied in the encouragement of the agricultural sector, in increased production or in the promotion of an effective distribution of food supplies.  Yet this is not enough.  In effect, what those goals demand is a constant acknowledgment that the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need.

Hence, when a country is incapable of offering adequate responses because its degree of development, conditions of poverty, climate changes or situations of insecurity do not permit this, FAO and the other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action.  Since the goods that God the Creator has entrusted to us are meant for all, there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations.

2. A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture.  Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned.  This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.  The wars, acts of terrorism and forced displacements that increasingly hinder or at least strongly condition even cooperative efforts are not inevitable, but rather the consequence of concrete decisions.  We are dealing with a complex mechanism that mainly burdens the most vulnerable, who are not only excluded from the processes of production, but frequently obliged to leave their lands in search of refuge and hope.  Likewise, decisions taken in full freedom and conscience determine the data relative to assistance given to poor countries.  This continues to decrease daily, in spite of reiterated appeals in the face of ever more devastating crisis situations emerging in different areas of the planet.

We need to be aware that in these cases the freedom of choice of each must take into account solidarity towards all, in relation to actual needs, and the fulfilment in good faith of commitments undertaken or proclaimed.  In this regard, inspired also by the desire to encourage governments, I would like to make a symbolic contribution to the FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought.  This gesture is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf.

This commitment is asked of us today by the 2030 Development Agenda, when it restates the idea that food security is a goal that can no longer be put off.  Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life.  This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community.  It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines.

It is my hope that the sessions of this Conference can give renewed impulse to the work of the Organization and provide the practical responses needed and desired by millions of our brothers and sisters.  For they see in the activity of FAO not only a technical contribution to increase resources and to distribute the fruits of production, but also a concrete and even unique sign of a fraternity that helps them to look to the future with confidence.

May Almighty God, who is rich in mercy, bless you and your service, and grant you the strength needed to contribute to the authentic progress of our human family.

From the Vatican, 3 July 2017

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope’s message of thanks to Tawadros II following Egypt visit



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II thanking him for his hospitality and for their “moving meeting and common prayer as brothers in Christ”, during his recent visit to Egypt.

Please find below the Holy Father’s message

To His Holiness Tawadros II

Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

 

Dear Brother,

After my visit to Egypt and the blessed encounter with Your Holiness in Cairo, and recalling the fourth anniversary of our fraternal meeting in Rome on 10 May 2013, I take this opportunity to offer my prayerful best wishes for your peace and health, as well as my joy and gratitude for the spiritual bonds uniting the See of Peter and the See of Mark.

I once more express my profound appreciation for your hospitality and for our moving meeting and common prayer as brothers in Christ.  I am especially grateful that we have strengthened our baptismal unity in the body of Christ by declaring together “that we, with one mind and heart, will seek sincerely not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our Churches for any person who wishes to join the other”.  Our bonds of fraternity “challenge us to intensify our common efforts to persevere in the search for visible unity in diversity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”.

Along this path we are sustained by the powerful intercession and example of the martyrs.  May we continue to advance together on our journey towards the same Eucharistic table, and grow in love and reconciliation.

I assure Your Holiness of my continued prayers for you, and for peace in Egypt and the Middle East.  In this Easter season I pray that the Holy Spirit, the strength and tenderness of God, may fill our hearts with his grace and kindle in them the fire of his love.  May the Spirit of peace bestow on us an increase of hope, friendship and harmony.

With these sentiments, on this special occasion which has rightly become known as the day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal embrace of peace in Christ our Lord.

From the Vatican, 10 May 2017

(from Vatican Radio)



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