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Pope Francis: Whatever happens, 'hope does not disappoint!'

Camerino, Italy, Jun 16, 2019 / 06:09 am (CNA).- Hope, which is more than mere optimism, gives one a deep-rooted confidence in the love and care of God, no matter what has happened, Pope Francis said Sunday.

Hope “does not expire, because it is based on the fidelity of God. The hope of the Spirit is not even optimism. Born deeper, it rekindles at the bottom of the heart the certainty of being precious because loved,” the pope said June 16.

“It is a hope that leaves peace and joy inside, regardless of what happens outside. It is a hope that has strong roots, which no storm of life can uproot,” he added. “It is a hope that, says St. Paul, ‘does not disappoint’ – hope does not disappoint! – which gives the strength to overcome all tribulations.”

Pope Francis said Mass in Camerino, Italy during a day visit to the Archdiocese of Camerino-San Severino Marche. The area was one of those affected by the earthquakes which struck central Italy in 2016 and 2017. The Mass was said in the square outside the cathedral, which is still under reconstruction after being damaged in the earthquake.

In his homily, Francis spoke to those who suffered damage, injury, or loss due to the earthquakes.

“When we are troubled or wounded – and you know well what it means to be troubled, wounded – we are led to ‘nest’ around our sadness and our fears,” he said, noting that the Holy Spirit can free people from these “nests.”

“The Spirit feeds us with living hope. Invite him. Let us ask him to come to us and he will come near. Come, Comforter Spirit! Come give us some light, give us the sense of this tragedy, give us the hope that does not disappoint. Come, Holy Spirit!” he prayed.

The pope also reflected on a line from the day’s Responsorial Psalm: “What is man that you should be mindful of him...” This question, he said, could come also in the face of “collapsed houses and buildings reduced to rubble.”

“What is man ever? What is he, if what you raise can collapse in an instant? What is he if his hope can end in dust?”

The truth, Francis said, is that “God remembers us as we are, with our frailties.”

“No one is contemptible in his eyes, each has an infinite value for him: we are small under heaven and powerless when the earth trembles, but for God we are more precious than anything.”

Before praying the Angelus following Mass, Pope Francis told the people of the diocese he came in order to be near to them and to pray with them, saying, “I pray to the God of hope, so that what is unstable on earth does not shake the certainty we have inside.”

God remembers everyone and he can heal the memories of that difficult time, he said. “God helps us to be builders of good, consolers of hearts. Everyone can do a little good, without waiting for others to start.”

Entrusting the diocese to the Virgin Mary, he prayed: “May she who animated the first community of Jesus’ disciples with her motherly presence, also help the Church today to give good witness to the Gospel.”

Before returning to the Vatican in the afternoon, the pope met with around 200 children who had received their first Holy Communion and with their parents and catechists.

 

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican official.

According to a source, speaking to CNA on background, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is expected to publish in the coming months a more in-depth theological and anthropological text than the guide that was published by the Congregation for Catholic Education earlier this week.

With “Male and Female He Created Them,” issued June 10, the Congregation for Catholic Education did not intend to give a detailed treatment of the topic of gender in all areas, but to provide a guide for those in Catholic school and university environments on how to approach and engage with the advancement of gender theory in contemporary society, the source said.

The document focuses on the educational context because it is the congregation’s competency, according to the source, though experts and other Vatican departments were consulted as is ordinary practice.

The 31-page text, signed in February by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, was in production for three years, and came about largely due to the requests of bishops on ad limina visits.

The source told CNA that the education congregation has heard from a large number of bishops looking for support from the Vatican on the topic of so-called gender theory in the educational environment.

Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, stated last year that his department was preparing a document on gender theory.

At the time, Zani said the document was expected within one to two months. He spoke at a March 2018 study conference on education and teaching at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

Zani said on the same occasion that another “deeper” document on the same topic was in the works at the CDF.

Writing for L’Osservatore Romano this week, prefect Versaldi said the document from Catholic Education “traces history, focuses on reasonable meeting points and proposes the Christian anthropological vision.”

He criticized an ideology which “induces educational projects and legislative guidelines that promote a personal identity and an affective intimacy radically detached from the biological diversity between male and female.”

Vatican Secretary of State marks 25 years of diplomatic relations with Israel

Rome, Italy, Jun 14, 2019 / 06:56 am (CNA).- Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel Thursday by calling for a shared commitment to religious freedom and combatting anti-Semitism.

“The peace process and the future of the region are in the heart of the pope and the Holy See,” Parolin said June 13 at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary in the Great Synagogue of Rome.

“The Holy See and the State of Israel are called to join forces to promote religious freedom -- of religion and of conscience -- as an indispensable condition to protect the dignity of every human being, and to work together to combat anti-Semitism,” he said.

Parolin said that the special nature of the relationship between Israel and the Holy See emerges from the unique character of the Holy Land.

“Jerusalem, the city of peace, is at its heart, the common heritage for all the faithful of the three great monotheistic religions and of the whole world,” he said.

“Our religious and political commitment favors the city's vocation to be a place of reconciliation and encounter between religions, as well as a symbol of respect and peaceful cohabitation,” the Secretary of State continued.

To mark the anniversary, Pope Francis invited all believers and non-believers to dedicate “a minute of peace,” a minute of prayer and reflection for “a more fraternal world,” Parolin said.

The Holy See established full diplomatic relations with Israel with the Fundamental Agreement signed in December 1993, which set forth a common commitment to cooperate in combaing anti-Semitism, the promotion of academic exchanges, and cooperation in encouring Christian pilgrimages.

Diplomatic missions in Tel Aviv and the Vatican opened on June 15, 1994. Each of the following popes visited Israel since the signing of the agreement. Saint Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Pope Francis in 2014.

In his speech to the Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See Oren David and the Israeli diplomatic corp, Cardinal Parolin highlighted the prayer meeting between Israeli and Palestinian presidents hosted by the Vatican in June 2014 and Pope Francis’ address to international conference on combatting anti-Semintism in 2018.

“The Church wishes to extend its hand. We want to remember and walk together … mindful of the heritage shared in common with the Jewish people, driven not by political reasons, but by religious evangelical charity, we deplore the hatred, persecution and all manifestations of anti-Stemitism directed against the Jewish people at any time and from anyone,” Pope Francis said.

Christians must sow hope among the poor, pope says

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis challenged Catholics to be a source of hope for those in poverty, especially in the face of divisions in wealth and a throw-away culture.

The Pope released Thursday his message for the third annual World Day of the Poor, which will take place Nov. 17.

In the June 13 text, he drew a comparison between the financial disparities of people the Old Testament and current social injustices. As present-day people are trapped in new forms of slavery, he said, it is the Catholic’s obligation not only to provide the poor with relief services, but with spiritual hope.

“‘The hope of the poor will not perish forever’ These words of the Psalm remain timely. They express a profound truth that faith impresses above all on the hearts of the poor, restoring lost hope in the face of injustice, sufferings and the uncertainties of life,” the pope said.

“I ask all Christian communities, and all those who feel impelled to offer hope and consolation to the poor, to help ensure that this World Day of the Poor will encourage more and more people to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity,” he added.

As during the time of the Psalms' development, there is now economic prosperity, he said. But he added that financial success has also led to an inequitable distribution of wealth. There are a privileged few, he said, but there are also millions of people who are exploited.

He said this exploitation is a type of bondage and enforces new forms of slavery. He said this abuse can be recognized in the displaced immigrants compelled to leave their homes, orphans and women forced into human trafficking, and young adults barred from employment.

“As in a hunt, the poor are trapped, captured and enslaved. As a result, many of them become disheartened, hardened and anxious only to drop out of sight,” he said. “They become for all effects invisible and their voice is no longer heard or heeded in society. Men and women who are increasingly strangers amid our houses and outcasts in our neighborhoods.”

These struggles may seem hopeless, he said, but it is the vulnerable and poor who will bear witness to God’s faithfulness. He said, even if the poor are dismissed and turned away, it will not be like that forever.

“Scripture constantly speaks of God acting on behalf of the poor. He is the one who ‘hears their cry’ and ‘comes to their aid’; he ‘protects’ and ‘defends’ them; he ‘rescues’ and ‘saves’ them... Indeed, the poor will never find God indifferent or silent in the face of their plea.”

He said it is the obligation of the Christian to care for those who are vulnerable, because Christ identifies with those in poverty. He gave the example of Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic humanitarian who died last month. Vanier founded L’Arche, an international organization of communities dedicated to people with disabilities.

“God gave Jean Vanier the gift of devoting his entire life to our brothers and sisters with grave disabilities, people whom society often tends to exclude. He was one of those saints ‘next door’” he said.

“His witness changed the life of countless persons and helped the world to look differently at those less fortunate than ourselves. The cry of the poor was heard and produced an unwavering hope, creating visible and tangible signs of a concrete love that even today we can touch with our hands.”

In this culture of waste, he said it is difficult to spread Christian hope. Francis said charity must go beyond the distribution of physical necessities and it must become an authentic concern for the person, inspiring that individual to hope and compassion.

“The poor acquire genuine hope, not from seeing us gratified by giving them a few moments of our time, but from recognizing in our sacrifice an act of gratuitous love that seeks no reward,” he said.

This act of kindness requires consistent commitment and a joyful individual who will listen and identify the true needs of each person, he said. It may seem illogical to the world, but charity extends beyond statistics, he further added.

“I encourage you to seek, in every poor person whom you encounter, his or her true needs, not to stop at their most obvious material needs, but to discover their inner goodness, paying heed to their background and their way of expressing themselves, and in this way to initiate a true fraternal dialogue,” said Pope Francis.

“For once, let us set statistics aside: the poor are not statistics to cite when boasting of our works and projects. The poor are persons to be encountered; they are lonely, young and old, to be invited to our homes to share a meal; men women and children who look for a friendly word. The poor save us because they enable us to encounter the face of Jesus Christ.”

Francis tells his ambassadors not to criticize him behind his back

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2019 / 02:04 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis sent a message to apostolic nuncios Thursday informing his ambassadors that they have a responsibility as papal representatives not to criticize the pope or to join groups hostile to the Roman curia.

“It is therefore irreconcilable to be a pontifical representative criticizing the pope behind his back, having blogs or even joining groups hostile to him, to the curia and to the Church of Rome,” Pope Francis said June 13 in remarks distributed to more than 100 nuncios meeting in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Pope Francis said that he desired to share some simple precepts to help the papal diplomats live out their mission, calling the 4,000 word document a “Ten Commandments” of sorts for nuncios and their co-workers throughout the world.

One of the ten precepts outlined in the document is titled, “The Nuncio is a man of the Pope.” The section states that “certainly every person could have reservations, likes and dislikes, but a good nuncio cannot be hypocritical.”

“As a Pontifical Representative, the nuncio does not represent himself but the Successor of Peter and acts on his behalf at the Church … the Representative is a link, or better, a bridge of connection between the Vicar of Christ and the people to whom he was sent, in a certain area, for which he was appointed and sent by the Roman Pontiff himself,” Pope Francis said.

Other exhortations included in the document are to be merciful, obiendent, prayerful, charitable, humble, and to have initiative and apostolic zeal.

“The man of God does not deceive nor deceive his neighbor; he does not let himself go into gossip and slander; it preserves the pure mind and heart, preserving eyes and ears from the filth of the world. He does not let himself be deceived by worldly values, but looks to the Word of God to judge what is wise and good,” he said.

“The Nuncio who forgets that he is a man of God ruins himself and others; he goes off the track and also damages the Church, to which he has dedicated his life,” Francis warned.

Current papal nuncios have been caught in scandal. The apostolic nuncio to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura has been accused of sexual misconduct against an adult male while he was nuncio in Canada. The Vatican diplomat is already under investigation for alleged sexual assault in Paris.

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan has recently been accused of financial and personal misconduct during his time of service as the Vatican’s chief diplomat at the United Nations.

Some have pointed to Pope Francis’ comments about “having a blog” as alluding to the apostolic nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, because he has a blog, which was linked to a Twitter account in which he shared articles critical of some of Pope Francis’ comments.

In 2015, the nuncio tweeted a National Review article entitled, “The Pope Got It Completely and Utterly Wrong,” which called Pope Francis’ comments in an in-flight press conference “imprecise, poorly judged.” The nuncio’s Twitter account has since been deleted.

Former nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, set off a flurry of debate last August by penning a public letter alleging that some Vatican officials knew of Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct for years yet restored McCarrick’s place as a papal advisor to Pope Francis.

The former nuncio issued additional letters calling for Pope Francis to resign and gave an extended interview to the Washington Post published this week.

Francis' document to nuncios quotes Saints Maximilian Kolbe, Paul, Augustine, and Paul VI on living the Christian life. It concludes with the “Litany of Humility” written by Servant of God Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, Vatican Secretary of State from 1903-1914.

“The nuncio - and all of us - without a life of prayer, risks failing to meet all the aforementioned requirements. Without prayer we become mere officials, always unhappy and frustrated. The life of prayer is that light that illuminates everything else and all the work of the nuncio and his mission,” Pope Francis said.