Tag - Christians

Pope to ROACO recalls suffering of Eastern-rite Christians



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with members of ROACO, (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches) who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week.

The meeting brings Church leaders from countries across the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe together with donor organisations which raise funds for Christians in the Eastern-rite Churches.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report:



The four day meeting has been focused on the difficult situation of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Holy Land, as well as reflecting on the training of priests and seminarians in all the Eastern-rite Churches.

In his message to participants, Pope Francis thanked them for their constant work of charity and solidarity over the past half century in support of Latin and Eastern-rite communities under the care of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches.

Persecution and emigration

These Churches of the Middle East, as well as in Eastern Europe, he said, have often suffered from “terrible waves of persecution and pain”. Emigration has also significantly weakened the presence of these Churches in places where they flourished for centuries.

Freedom has now returned to some of those regions, the Pope said, but others, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, are still devastated by “wars and absurd violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.” These experiences are a source of both suffering and salvation, he said, as we experience the Cross of Christ.

Temptations of social status

Speaking about the formation of priests and seminarians, Pope Francis noted the dedication and heroic witness of so many prelates. But he also warned about the temptations of seeking social status that is associated with the priesthood in some parts of the world.

The Congregation for Oriental Churches and donor agencies must continue to support projects and initiatives which build up the Church in an authentic way, the Pope said. We must remember we are living stones, built around Christ as our corner stone, he added.

Witness to the Gospel

Finally, the Pope remembered all those Christians – Catholics, Orthodox or Protestant – whose blood continues to be spilled because of their witness to the Gospel. When Eastern-rite Christians are forced to emigrate, he said, they must be welcomed in their new countries and allowed to continue their worship according to their own traditions

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope: Christians are always on the go in their journey to meet the Lord



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said the life of every Christian is a journey and a process during which to deepen the faith.

Speaking during the homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope reflected on the liturgical reading of the day in which St. Paul tells the story of Salvation leading up to Jesus.

During the course of history, Pope Francis said, many of our conceptions have changed. Slavery, for example, was a practice that was accepted; in time we have come to understand that it is a mortal sin.

God has made himself known throughout history” he said, “His salvation” goes back a long way in time. And he referred to Paul’s preaching in the Acts of the Apostles when he tells the God-fearing children of Israel about the journey of their ancestors from the Exodus from Egypt until the coming of the savior, Jesus.

The Pope said salvation has a great and a long history during which the Lord “guided his people in good and in bad moments, in times of freedom and of slavery:  in a journey populated by “saints and by sinners” on the road towards fullness, “towards the encounter with the Lord”.

At the end of the journey there is Jesus, he said, however: “it doesn’t end there”.

In fact, Francis continued, Jesus gave us the Spirit who allows to “remember and to understand Jesus’ message, and thus, a second journey begins.

Slavery and the death penalty were once accepted; today they are considered mortal sins

This journey undertaken “to understand, to deepen our understanding of Jesus and to deepen our faith” serves also, Francis explained, “to understand moral teaching, the Commandments.”

He pointed out that some things that “once seemed normal and not sinful, are today conceived as mortal sins:

“Think of slavery: at school they told us what they did with the slaves taking them from one place and selling them in another…. That is a mortal sin” he said.

But that, he said, is what we believe today. Back then it was deemed acceptable because people believed that some did not have a soul.

It was necessary, the Pope said, to move on to better understand the faith and to better understand morality. 

And reflecting bitterly on the fact that today “there are no slaves”, Pope Francis pointed out there are in fact many more of them…. but at least, he said, we know that to enslave someone is to commit a mortal sin.

The same goes for the death penalty: “once it was considered normality; today we say that it is inadmissible” he said.

The people of God are always on a journey to deepen their faith

The same concept, he added, can be applied to “wars of religion”: as we go ahead deepening our faith and clarifying the dictates of morality “there are saints, the saints we all know, as well as the hidden saints.” 

The Church, he commented, “is full of hidden saints”, and it is their holiness that will lead us to the “second fullness” when “the Lord will ultimately come to be all in all”.

Thus, Pope Francis said “The people of God are always on their way”. 

When the people of God stop, he said, “they become like prisoners in a stable, like donkeys”. In that situation they are unable to understand, to go forward, to deepen their faith – and love and faith do not purify their souls.

And, he said, there is a third “fullness of the times: ours”.

Each of us, the Pope explained, “is on the way to the fullness of our own time. Each of us will reach the moment in which life ends and there we must find the Lord. Each of us is on the go.”

“Jesus, he noted, has sent the Holy Spirit to guide us on our way” and he pointed out that the Church today is also on the go.

Confession is a step in our journey on the way to meet the Lord

Pope Francis invited the faithful to ask themselves whether during confession there is not only the shame for having sinned, but also the understanding that in that moment they are taking a “step forward on the way to the fullness of times”.

“To ask God for forgiveness is not something automatic” he said.

“It means that I understand that I am on a journey, part of a people that is on a journey” and sooner or later “I will find myself face-to-face with God, who never leaves us alone, but always accompanies us” he said. 

And this, the Pope concluded, is the great work of God’s mercy.

(from Vatican Radio)



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Pope tells Christians to be witnesses of life and hope



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday told the faithful not to remain trapped in the rubble of life, but to rise from the rubble and rebuild their lives with the help of God.

The Pope’s words came during the homily as he celebrated Mass for about 70 thousand people gathered in the central square of Italy’s northern town of Carpi.

His one-day visit to the Emilia Romagna region comes after a pair of deadly earthquakes five years ago and where extensive restoration efforts have been cited as exemplary.

Reaching out to those who lost loved ones and livelihoods during the 2012 quake, Pope Francis said God does not magically make bad things vanish, but He is close to those who suffer and faith has the power to transform that suffering.

Reflecting on the Gospel reading that tells of the resurrection of Lazarus, the Pope recalled that Jesus himself wept for the death of Lazarus, but “within the mystery of suffering in which rationality is shattered and crushed like flies against a glass pane” he said, “Jesus does not allow himself to be imprisoned by pessimism”.   

Before that sepulcher, he said, on the one hand there is sorrow, delusion, precariousness; on the other there is hope “that conquers death and evil”. “Jesus, he continued, did not offer a remedy to lengthen life, but proclaimed: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live’”.

Pope Francis said that we are called to decide on what side to stand, and either close ourselves in sadness or be open to hope.   

“There are those who remain buried in the rubble of life, and there are those, like you, who with the help of God rise from the rubble to rebuild” he said.

Francis invited the faithful to avoid the temptation to be imprisoned in hopelessness and self-commiseration, to not yield to the useless and inconclusive logic of fear and resignation.

“Jesus’ words to Lazarus are also meant for us: leave sadness and hopelessness behind; with Jesus hope is reborn and pain is transformed into peace. He is always there to help us rise” he said.

“Let us ask for the grace, the Pope concluded, to be witnesses of life and hope in a world that is thirsting for it.”

Before celebrating Mass the Pope visited the quake-damaged Duomo cathedral of Carpi, where he laid a bouquet of white flowers at the foot of a statue of the Madonna inside. After years of restoration, the cathedral reopened just last weekend.

During his daylong visit, Pope Francis is also scheduled to meet with families who lost loved ones in the quake, lunch with clergy and meet privately with priests, nuns and seminarians for an open discussion. 

The Emilia Romagna model of rebuilding after the magnitude 6.1 and 5.8 quakes that killed 28 people in 2012 has often been cited as exemplary. It included bringing together politicians, entrepreneurs and bishops to decide common priorities.

The papal visit is seen as a sign of gratitude for the rebuilding and as a sign of hope that rebuilding is possible for the people of central Italy, who suffered an earthquake in 2016 that killed nearly 300 people, displaced tens of thousands and wreaked extensive damage to homes, businesses, Churches and infrastructure.

 

(from Vatican Radio)



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