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Pope Francis will name Charles de Foucauld a saint. Who was he?

Vatican City, May 27, 2020 / 08:30 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood causes of 14 men and women, including Bl. Charles de Foucauld, a French missionary killed in Algeria in 1916.

De Foucauld, also known as Brother Charles of Jesus, was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916.

De Foucauld was born in Strasbourg in 1858. He was raised by his wealthy and aristocratic grandfather after being orphaned at the age of six.

He joined the French military, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Having already lost his faith, as a young man he lived a life of indulgence and was known to have an immature sense of humor.

De Foucauld resigned from the military at age 23, and set off on a dangerous exploration of Morocco. Contact with strong Muslim believers there challenged him, and he began to repeat to himself: “My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.”

He returned to France and, with the guidance of a priest, came back to his Catholic faith in 1886, at the age of 28.

The following saying is attributed to him: “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.”

De Foucauld realized a vocation to “follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth” during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was a Trappist monk in France and Syria for seven years. He also lived as a hermit for a period near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.

He was ordained a priest in 1901 at age 43 and left for northern Africa to serve among the Tuareg people, a nomadic ethnic group, saying he wanted to live among “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.”

In the Sahara he welcomed anyone who passed by, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or pagan. 

He was deeply respectful of the faiths and cultures he lived among. During his 13 years in the Saraha he learned about Tuareg culture and language, compiling a Tuareg-French dictionary, and being a “brother” to the people.

The priest said he wanted to “shout the Gospel with his life” and to conduct his life so that people would ask, “if such is the servant, what must the Master be like?”

De Foucauld was the inspiration for the founding of several lay associations, religious communities, and secular institutes of laity and priests, known collectively as “the spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld.”

At his beatification in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said as a priest, de Foucauld “put the Eucharist and the Gospel at the center of his life.”

“He discovered that Jesus -- who came to unite Himself to us in our humanity -- invites us to that universal brotherhood which he later experienced in the Sahara, and to that love of which Christ set us the example,” he said.

After meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the congregation for saints’ causes May 26, the pope approved a second miracle attributed to de Foucauld’s intercession, paving the way for his canonization.

On May 27, Pope Francis also advanced the cause of Bl. César de Bus, a French priest who lived from 1544 to 1607, and founded two religious congregations.

He also advanced the cause of Italian Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, who died in 1934.

The pope also approved the first miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Michael McGivney, a 19th-century American priest who founded the Knights of Columbus. He may now be beatified. 

French laywoman Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, who lived from 1799 to 1862 in Lyon, may also now be beatified.

She founded the Living Rosary Association and the Society of the Propagation of the Faith -- which later became the first of the four pontifical mission societies.

Jaricot, a member of the lay Dominicans, was devoted to promoting support of the Church’s missionary efforts around the world. 

She was the youngest of seven children. After losing her mother when she was 17, Jaricot took a vow of perpetual virginity and devoted herself to prayer. For many years, St. John Vianney was her spiritual director.

She was declared Venerable in 1963 by St. Pope John XXIII.

In 2013, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, then head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said “Jaricot’s heroic virtues do not consist in a series of miraculous events, but in that fruitful fidelity to Christ, to whom she devoted herself both in good times and in those difficult and tormented moments, as well as in the long-term vision of a commitment to evangelization, so that all people get to know Christ and of the merciful love of God.”

Pope Francis also confirmed May 27 the martyrdom of six Cistercians, the Servant of God Simeon Cardon and his five companions, who were killed in 1799 in Casamari, Italy. 

He also confirmed the martyrdom of Cosma Spessotto, a priest and Franciscan from northern Italy who was killed in El Salvador in 1980.

Servant of God Bishop Melchior de Marion Bresillac, who was apostolic vicar to Sierra Leone and the founder of the Society of Africa Missions, was also advanced on the path to sainthood. A Frenchman, he died in 1859 in the West African country.

Pope Francis says prayer is a refuge against evil

Vatican City, May 27, 2020 / 06:15 am (CNA).- Prayer is a refuge and protection against the evil of the world, Pope Francis said in his general audience address Wednesday.

Speaking via livestream from his library in the apostolic palace, the pope illustrated this point with several stories from Genesis, including those of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Noah. 

“Reading these stories, one gets the impression that prayer is both the embankment and the refuge of man before the flood of evil that grows in the world,” he said May 27. “On closer inspection, we also pray to be saved from ourselves.”

“God’s plan for humanity is good, but in our daily life we ​​experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience.”

Continuing his cycle of catechesis on prayer, Francis noted that the righteous person’s prayer turns them away from, not toward, violence. “In fact, prayer, when it is authentic, is free from instincts of violence and is a gaze turned toward God,” he said.

He quoted from paragraph 2569 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says “this quality of prayer is lived by a multitude of righteous in all religions.”

“Prayer,” he argued, “cultivates flowerbeds of rebirth in places where man’s hatred has only been able to enlarge the desert.”

In his address, Pope Francis also reflected on the lessons humanity can take from the stories in Genesis, starting with Adam and Eve.

“The first chapters of the Book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human affairs,” he said.

Adam and Eve, yielding to the devil’s temptation, begin to doubt the benevolent intentions of God. They have delusions of omnipotence, the pope said. But what happens instead is their eyes are opened and they discover they are naked, they have nothing. The tempter “pays badly,” he underlined.

Turning to Cain and Abel, Francis asserted that with the next human generation, “evil becomes even more disruptive.”

Cain becomes infested with the “worm of envy” toward his brother Abel. Cain does not get command of the evil which grows in his heart, “and so, the story of the first brotherhood ends with a murder,” the pope said.

“I think, today, about human fraternity,” he added. “Wars everywhere.”

Pope Francis described what followed Cain’s evil action, explaining that from his lineage, “evil spreads like wildfire, until it occupies the whole picture.”

There is the need for a new beginning, a new creation, which will have its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, he noted. “Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is written, less conspicuous, much more humble and devoted, which represents the redemption of hope.”

“Even if almost everyone behaves in a brutal way, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people capable of praying to God with sincerity, capable of writing man’s destiny in a different way,” he said.

He pointed to the birth of Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, who later had his own son, named Enos, meaning “mortal.”

In Genesis, it is written that from the birth of Enos, “people began to invoke the name of the Lord.” Enos also had a cousin, Enoch, who is a person who “walks with God,” according to Scripture.

“And finally there is the story of Noah, a righteous man who ‘walked with God,’ before whom God holds back his purpose of erasing humanity,” Francis said.

“And prayer is powerful,” he underlined, “because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always.”

“This is why the lordship of God passes through the chain of these men and women, often misunderstood or marginalized in the world,” he said.

These men and women are not headline-makers, according to the pope, “but the world lives and grows thanks to the strength of God that these servants of his draw with their prayer.”

“The path of God in the history of God passed through them: it passed through a ‘remnant’ of humanity that did not conform to the law of the fittest, but asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to transform our heart of stone in the heart of flesh,” he concluded.

At the end of the general audience, in his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, Pope Francis recalled that May 29 is the memorial of St. Pope Paul VI, who was canonized in 2018.

“May the example of this Bishop of Rome, who has reached the heights of holiness, encourage each one of us to embrace the Gospel ideals,” he urged.

American priest heading for beatification died amid a global pandemic

Vatican City, May 27, 2020 / 05:40 am (CNA).- Fr. Michael McGivney, an American priest soon to be beatified, died amid a 19th-century pandemic which may have been caused by a coronavirus. 

Fr. McGivney founded the largest world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus, in 1882. Today the order formed in his parish basement in New Haven, Connecticut, has grown to more than two million members donating millions to charity each year.

McGivney was serving as a parish priest amid the pandemic of 1889-1890, according to a press release issued by the Knights of Columbus May 27. 

Biologists using gene-sequencing methods have attributed the pandemic to a type of coronavirus, according to a Bloomberg report. This virus, which first appeared in Russia, killed a total of 1 million people worldwide, including 13,000 in the United States.

McGivney became seriously ill with pneumonia and died on Aug. 14, 1890, at age 38.

Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to McGivney’s intercession on May 26, paving the way for the American priest’s beatification.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1852, McGivney was the first of 13 children born to Irish immigrants Patrick and Mary McGivney. Six of his siblings died in infancy or early childhood. His father was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where the young McGivney himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he sensed a calling to the priesthood (two of his brothers also became priests). He was ordained in Baltimore’s Cathedral of the Assumption by Cardinal James Gibbons on Dec. 22, 1877, and took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, the city’s first parish.

In New Haven, McGivney faced anti-Catholic prejudice. A New York Times headline in 1879 -- “How an Aristocratic Avenue was Blemished by a Roman Church Edifice” -- deplored the construction of a new stone church after the original building was destroyed by fire.

In addition to his parish duties, he ministered to a 21-year-old man who was on death row for killing a police officer while drunk, visiting him daily up until his execution. On the day he was due to be hanged, James Smith comforted the priest, saying: “Father, your saintly ministrations have enabled me to meet death without a tremor. Do not fear for me. I must not break down now.”

McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s in 1882 as a way to provide financial protection to families who suffered the death of a breadwinner -- a challenge McGivney himself faced in his youth when his father died in 1873. The priest also hoped the organization would dissuade Catholics from turning to secret societies in times of need.

The Knights were named after the explorer Christopher Columbus. The order’s original principles were “unity” and “charity,” with “fraternity” and “patriotism” added later.

Fr. O’Donnell, a contemporary in Waterbury, remembered McGivney as “genial, approachable, of kindly disposition, cheerful under reverses, profoundly sympathetic with those upon whom had fallen the heavy hand of affliction, a man of strict probity and sterling integrity in his business transactions.”

“He was charitable to a fault, if I may so speak. The poor found in him a Good Samaritan,” O’Donnell said in 1900.

Another contemporary, Fr. Slocum, said: “Fr. McGivney, though a man of unassuming character, was possessed of an indomitable will, by which, aided by the grace of God, he was able to face unkind and unjust criticism from all directions in his great effort to found a society for the benefit of young men and the glory of the Church.”

Knights of Columbus founder Fr. Michael McGivney to be beatified

Vatican City, May 27, 2020 / 04:55 am (CNA).- Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Fr. Michael J. McGivney Wednesday, paving the way for the beatification of the founder of the Knights of Columbus.

During a May 26 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope authorized the congregation to issue a decree recognizing the miracle.

McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Today it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with nearly two million members in more than a dozen countries.

Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1852, McGivney played a critical role in the growth of the Church in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century. After his ordination in Baltimore in 1877, he served a largely Irish-American and immigrant community in New Haven. 

Amid an anti-Catholic climate, he established the Knights to provide spiritual aid to Catholic men and financial help for families that had lost their breadwinner.

A press release from the Knights of Columbus May 27 said the miracle recognized by Pope Francis involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to McGivney.

It added that a date would be set soon for the beatification Mass, which will take place in Connecticut.

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said: “Fr. McGivney has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action. He was decades ahead of his time in giving the laity an important role within the Church.”

“Today, his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they continue to serve those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s.” 

“Fr. McGivney also remains an important role model for parish priests around the world and left us a transformative legacy of effective cooperation between the laity and clergy.”

McGivney’s sainthood cause officially opened in 1997 in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared the American-born priest a Venerable Servant of God in recognition of his life of heroic virtue.

In 2000, an investigation into a miracle attributed to McGivney’s intercession was completed. But in 2011, the Vatican ruled that the event was not miraculous in nature.

In 2012, another possible miracle was reported and placed under investigation.

Following his beatification, McGivney’s cause will require one more authenticated miracle before he can be considered for canonization.

He would not be the first member of the Knights of Columbus to be canonized. A group of six Mexican members of the organization were martyred during the Cristero War of 1926-29 and its aftermath. 

The six are St. Luis Batis, St. Rodrigo Aguilar, St. Miguel de la Mora, St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado, St. José María Robles, and St. Mateo Correa.

UN chief says pandemic should inspire ‘new unity and solidarity’

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday that the world needs a response to the coronavirus pandemic based on the protection of human dignity and human rights.

“The pandemic should be a wake-up call,” Guterres said in a May 26 interview with Vatican News. “Deadly global threats require a new unity and solidarity.”

“From the very beginning of this crisis, I have been advocating for solidarity within societies and among countries. Our response must be based on human rights and human dignity,” the UN leader said.

Guterres has led the international organization since 2017. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002 and as U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015. 

In December, Guterres, a Catholic, recorded a video message with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The two leaders urged the importance of religious freedom, human dignity, and environmental protection.

At the end of March, the secretary-general called for a global ceasefire so that countries could focus on combating the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

He said his ceasefire message was simple: “fighting needs to stop so that we can focus on our shared enemy – COVID-19.”

In his interview, Guterres noted his appreciation of Pope Francis for his support for the global ceasefire appeal and the work of the UN.

“His global engagement, compassion and calls for unity reaffirm the core values that guide our work: to reduce human suffering and promote human dignity,” he said.

Guterres explained that 115 governments and more than 200 civil society groups have endorsed the appeal, and 16 armed groups have pledged to end violence, but “mistrust remains high, and it is difficult to turn these commitments into actions that make a difference in the lives of those impacted by conflict.”

The organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said last week that Yemen, in the midst of a civil war, is also on the brink of a coronavirus “catastrophe.” 

“What we are seeing in our treatment centre is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of people infected and dying in [Aden],” according to Caroline Seguin, MSF’s operations manager for Yemen.

“The United Nations and donor states need to do more and do it urgently, not just for Aden but for the whole of Yemen,” Seguin said.

The secretary-general said he was also concerned about “peace in the home.”

“Across the globe, as the pandemic spreads, we are also witnessing an alarming increase in violence against women and girls,” he pointed out.

Guterres said he had launched an appeal to mobilize better protection for women and asked religious leaders “to unequivocally condemn all acts of violence against women and girls and to uphold the bedrock principles of equality.”

The coronavirus pandemic is also exposing inequalities everywhere, he underlined, including economic disparity and unequal access to health care. 

“Poverty could rise by 500 million people -- the first increase in three decades,” he stated, adding that this is why he is advocating for a global relief package amounting to at least 10% of the global economy.

Guterres also said that it is important that any COVID-19 treatments found or developed -- including a vaccine -- be safe and available to everyone.

“In an interconnected world, none of us is safe until all of us are safe,” he said. “This vaccine needs to be the people’s vaccine.”

In the interview, the secretary general also said religious leaders have a “crucial role to play” during the pandemic in promoting mutual respect within their communities.

“They are well-positioned to challenge inaccurate and harmful messages, and encourage all communities to promote non-violence and reject xenophobia, racism and all forms of intolerance,” he said.

Religious leaders can leverage their networks “to support governments in promoting public health measures recommended by the World Health Organization,” he said, and “to dispel false information and rumors.”

Pope Francis to return to window overlooking St. Peter’s Square for Sunday prayer

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 09:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will deliver his Regina Coeli address from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square this Sunday for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed in March.

In a statement Tuesday, the Holy See press office said that on May 31 the pope would recite the Regina Coeli with pilgrims gathered in the square below.

“The police will guarantee safe access to the square and will ensure that the faithful present can respect the necessary interpersonal distance,” the statement said May 26.

Traditionally, the pope leads the Sunday Angelus -- and the Regina Coeli, between Easter Sunday and Pentecost -- from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

But from March 8 onwards, Pope Francis delivered his address via videolink from the library of the Apostolic Palace, and offered a blessing from the window above an empty St. Peter’s Square.

People were allowed in St. Peter’s Square for the pope’s Sunday blessing for the first time in more than 10 weeks May 24 after Italy significantly loosened its coronavirus restrictions. 

Each person who entered the square was required to wear a face mask and security enforced social distancing for the people gathered outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, which reopened to the public May 18.

 

For the first time in over 10 weeks, Catholics were able to be present in St. Peter’s Square to receive a blessing from Pope Francis. ???

And they were pretty excited about it! pic.twitter.com/dQx7yGk5p8

— Courtney Mares (@catholicourtney) May 24, 2020  

The Holy See press office said that before this Sunday’s Regina Coeli the pope would celebrate a Pentecost Mass, without the presence of the people, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The pope is scheduled to deliver his general audience address this Wednesday from the Apostolic Palace library. It will be livestreamed on the Vatican News website.
 

In letter, Pope Francis asks for prayers for mothers facing the post-pandemic world

Vatican City, May 26, 2020 / 08:45 am (CNA).- In a letter to an Italian journalist Monday, Pope Francis said we should pray for mothers to have courage as they face the challenges of the post-coronavirus world.

“The question of every mother resounds in the heart: ‘What world will my child live in?’” the pope wrote.

“Let us pray for them, so that the Lord may give them the courage to accompany their children with the trust that it will certainly be a different world, but it will always be a world loved very much by the Lord.”

Pope Francis spoke about mothers in a letter sent May 25 to journalist Nina Fabrizio, author of the book “Francesco, il Papa delle Donne” (Francis: the Pope of Women).

The book describes Pope Francis’ connections with women from German chancellor Angela Merkel to women living on the streets, as well as his various writings and speeches to women and about issues related to womanhood.

The author gave Pope Francis a copy of the book, together with a letter and some reporting she did on the fears and challenges facing pregnant mothers during the coronavirus crisis.

Pope Francis thanked Fabrizio for the book and articles and noted that they had helped him to better understand “the feeling of women awaiting childbirth” during the pandemic.

He said that “today, motherhood is demeaned, because the only growth which interests us is economic growth.”

“There are mothers who risk arduous journeys to desperately try to give a better future to their offspring,” the pope said, noting that mothers are often judged by people “with full stomachs” but “hearts empty of love.”

Fabrizio told CNA she was pleased Pope Francis brought up the issue of motherhood being demeaned, since it was not something she addressed in the book. His message is “somewhat strong,” she said.

Pope Francis, Catholic shrines to offer rosary for Mary’s help during pandemic

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 10:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will pray the rosary in the Vatican Gardens’ Lourdes grotto on Saturday, as Catholic shrines from around the world join via video streaming.

The intention of the worldwide rosary is for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s help and solace during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter sent to shrine rectors by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the livestreamed prayer will take place at 5:30 p.m. Rome time on May 30.

Catholic shrines have been asked to participate by holding their own recitation of the rosary, in accordance with local health measures, at the same time as the Rome event and to promote the initiative.

They have also been asked, if possible, to provide satellite or streaming connections with the Vatican’s television center so that video footage of the rosary at the different shrines can be shared during Pope Francis’ livestream.

During the coronavirus emergency, many Catholic shrines have had to close to the public, including the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, which only partially reopened to pilgrims May 16.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal has also been closed and the May 13 anniversary of the 1917 Marian apparitions were celebrated without the presence of the public for the first time in its history due to the pandemic.

The rosary with Pope Francis is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which in its letter to rectors paraphrased the Acts of the Apostles 1:14: “All joined together constantly in prayer, along [with] Mary.”

“In light of the emergency situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic that has caused the stoppage of the normal activity of all Shrines and the interruption of all pilgrimages, Pope Francis wishes to express a gesture of closeness to each of you with the recitation of the Holy Rosary,” Archbishop Fisichella wrote.

Shrines which will participate in the rosary May 30 include the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and the shrines of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquira, Our Lady of Lujan, and the Virgin of Milagro.

From Europe, there will be the Shrines of Our Lady of Częstochowa, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, San Giovanni Rotondo, and Our Lady of Pompei.

The National Pilgrimage Centre of Elele in Nigeria and the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace in Ivory Coast will join from Africa.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization has been responsible for Catholic shrines since 2017.

Globally, there have been more than 5.4 million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, with more than 340,000 recorded deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
 
 

This story was updated with participating shrines at 2:24 am MT May 26, 2020.

Archbishop Ganswein: ‘Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies’

CNA Staff, May 25, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein has spent most of the last two decades standing next to the person with the microphone, in his service as an aide to both Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. But a new book collects the wisdom of Ganswein himself, and aims to call Catholics to evangelization, and to joy.

“If you would like to have three key words, here they are: Evangelization. Testimony. Joy,” Ganswein said of the book, “How the Catholic Church Can Restore Our Culture.”

The book is a collection of interviews, homilies, and essays written and delivered by Ganswein. It was published in English April 15 by EWTN Publishing. 

“The Gospel does not change according to the times, it is revealed by Christ if we seek to proclaim and live according to Him ‘in season and out of season,’ in the words of St. Paul,” Ganswein explained in an interview with ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language news partner.

Ganswein, 63, has had a front row seat to the leadership of the universal Church since 2005. In that year, his boss, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI.

Ganswein was then serving as Ratzinger’s private secretary, and continued in that role as Benedict took up the papacy. He was Benedict’s closest aide, and in 2012 became prefect of the pontifical household, overseeing the clergy and staff closest to the pope. When Francis was elected pope in 2013, Ganswein kept that role, while also continuing to serve as private secretary to the former pope.

But Ganswein’s book does not focus on his Vatican service. Instead, it focuses on a call for Catholics to live faithfully and joyfully in the communion of the Church.

“I wanted to convey that a mere intellectual knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures or the Catholic faith does not bring any fruit. It remains a fruitless knowledge if it is not ‘incarnated’ in our personal life,” the archbishop told ACI Stampa.
 
“We learn our faith like we learn to swim: not reading a manual, but actually swimming. So the faith becomes flesh, becomes a concrete reality by living it. Once upon a time there was a catechumenate, that is, a time in which people were introduced in a concrete way to the Christian life and doctrine. They would move forward step by step, gradually growing, becoming stronger, and thus, by living the faith, they would discover the beauty of the Christian message. Either faith is lived or is dead.”

The book, the archbishop explained, began with “an invitation from a German publisher to publish some texts of my ‘pastoral’ activity in the last years. I happily accepted and sent the publisher, as you have observed, a collection of conferences, homilies and interviews. From this collection, the expert eye of the editor has chosen the writings published in the present book.”

“Our times require courageous and convincing testimonies. Testimonies are a source of joy, great and strong joy. This is how the Church will have a future! I wanted to remind readers not to forget this simple but fundamental fact,” the archbishop added.

Pope Francis remembers 25 years of 'Ut unum sint,' John Paul II's letter on ecumenism

Vatican City, May 25, 2020 / 05:48 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday remembered Ut unum sint, St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism, on the 25th anniversary of its publication.

Ut unum sint “confirmed ‘irrevocably’ the ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church,” the pope said May 25.

In a letter to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Francis said St. John Paul II “desired that the Church, on her journey towards the third millennium, should be ever mindful of the heartfelt prayer of her Teacher and Lord ‘that all may be one.’”

The encyclical Ut unum sint was published on the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 25, 1995, “placing it under the sign of the Holy Spirit, the creator of unity in diversity,” Pope Francis noted.

“In that same liturgical and spiritual context, we now commemorate it, and propose it once more to the People of God,” he added.

In his letter, the pope quoted Ut unum sint, saying it reaffirmed that “legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church’s unity, but rather enhances her splendor and contributes greatly to the fulfilment of her mission.”

“Indeed, ‘only the Holy Spirit is able to kindle diversity, multiplicity and, at the same time, bring about unity… It is he who brings harmony to the Church,’” he continued quoting.

Pope Francis said, “one thing is certain: unity is not chiefly the result of our activity, but a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“On this anniversary, I give thanks to the Lord for the journey he has allowed us to travel as Christians in quest of full communion.”

“I too share the healthy impatience of those who sometimes think that we can and should do more,” he stated. “Yet we should not be lacking in faith and gratitude: many steps have been taken in these decades to heal the wounds of centuries and millennia.”

He explained that in this time mutual knowledge and esteem have grown, helping to overcome prejudice, and that theological dialogue has developed.

Speaking about the leaders of the different Christian churches and communities, he prayed that “like the disciples of Emmaus, may we experience the presence of the risen Christ who walks at our side and explains the Scriptures to us. May we recognize him in the breaking of the bread, as we await the day when we shall share the Eucharistic table together.”

In his letter, the pope also expressed his gratitude for those working in the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity who keep the “awareness of this irrevocable goal alive in the Church.”

He also highlighted two new initiatives of the office: the Acta Œcumenica journal and an ecumenical vademecum for bishops, to be published in the fall “as an encouragement and guide for the exercise of their ecumenical responsibilities.”

“With confidence, then, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and to enable everyone to hear the call to work for the cause of ecumenism with renewed vigor,” he urged.

“May the Spirit inspire new prophetic gestures and strengthen fraternal charity among all Christ’s disciples, ‘that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21), to the ever greater praise of our Father in heaven.”