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Mercy and mission go hand-in-hand, Pope says

Vatican City, Jan 30, 2016 / 06:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Mercy and the Christian responsibility to be missionaries are closely connected, Pope Francis said Saturday, kicking off the first in a series of special audiences for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

“As Christians, we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel,” the Pope said during the Jan. 30 audience, which centered on the “close link between mercy and mission.”

The pontiff explained how mercy received from the Father is not meant as a “private consolation” for us, but a tool whereby “others can receive the same gift.”

“There is a wonderful interplay between mercy and mission. Living mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and being missionaries allows us to grow ever more in the mercy of God,” he said.

“Therefore, we take our Christian lives seriously, and we should strive to be faithful, for only in this way can the Gospel can touch the hearts of people and open them to receive the grace of love, to receive this great mercy of God which welcomes everyone.”

Saturday’s gathering in St. Peter’s Square was the first in a monthly series of audiences for the Holy Year of Mercy.

The Jubilee of Mercy is an Extraordinary Holy Year that officially commenced December 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. It will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Christ the King.

“We go every day to the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy,” and the Lord guides us through the Holy Door in order to be close to us, “despite our failings and our contradictions,” the Pope said.  

“Let us never tire of feeling the need of His forgiveness, because when we are weak, his closeness makes us strong and enables us to live with greater joy our faith.”

Pope Francis quoted the words of his predecessor, St. John Paul II, saying that the “Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy and when she brings people close to the sources of mercy.”

Speaking on the responsibility of Christians to be missionaries, the Pope said we tend to want to share the good things in our lives.

“When we receive good news, or when we live a good experience, it is natural that we feel the need to share it with others,” he said.

“We feel within us that we can not hold back the joy that was given to us and we want to expand it.”

It is this very joy which “drives us to communicate” what we have received, and the same applies when we encounter the Lord, the pontiff said: “the joy of this encounter, of his mercy, communicating the mercy of the Lord.”

“In fact, the concrete sign that we have really met Jesus is the joy we feel when conveying this to others,” he said.

This sharing of what is received is not “proselytizing,” the Pope stressed. Rather, it is giving a gift: “I give to you that which gives me joy.”   
 
The Pope reflected on the Gospel account of Andrew immediately sharing his experience encountering Jesus with his brother Peter, and likewise Philip with Nathanael.

“Meeting Jesus equals to meeting with his love,” the Pope said. “This love transforms us and enables us to pass on to others the strength that it gives to us.”

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In Mexico, millions of keys collected to make a Pope Francis statue

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jan 29, 2016 / 06:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Mexican artist Pedro Francisco Rodríguez is asking for the public’s help in making a larger-than-life sculpture of Pope Francis to commemorate his historic visit to Mexico next month.

How can the general population help? By donating millions of scraps of bronze, including old keys.

Fr. Hesiquio Trevizo, spokesman for the Diocese of Ciudad Juarez, said at a recent press conference that people can donate their scraps at ten stations located in public areas throughout the city, such as malls.

Any bronze still needed for the project will be donated by local businesses.

Rodríguez began work on the 16-foot statue in December and said he hopes to have it ready in April, just a few months after the Holy Father’s Feb. 12-18 visit. The sculptor described how the statue will depict a smiling Pope Francis releasing a white dove into flight.

 

Realizarán estatua de bronce al Papa Francisco, medirá cinco metros: Ciudad Juárez–> https://t.co/kHpKUz1luR pic.twitter.com/097oGWeVmQ

— RASAInforma.com (@rasainforma) January 25, 2016

 

Fr. Trevizo said that plans for the statue’s location have not been finalized, but they will be looking for a place where all the faithful and pilgrims can see and appreciate it.

The Holy Father’s visit will include the celebration of Mass at the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas. The Mass at the Mexico-U.S. border is expected to draw thousands of pilgrims from both countries.

Other highlights of the Pope’s trip to the country include the veneration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mass with the indigenous community of Chiapas, and a visit to a prison in Ciudad Juarez.

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Pope: Remember the spiritual as much as the corporal works of mercy

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2016 / 03:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Friday, Pope Francis spoke of the prime importance of all the works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual.

“We are in the Holy Year of Mercy. I hope that in this Jubilee all the members of the Church will renew their faith in Jesus Christ, the face of the Father’s mercy, the way who united God and man,” the Pope said Jan. 29 in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall. “Mercy, then, is the foundation of the life of the Church: the first truth of the Church, indeed, is Christ’s love.”

“How then can we not desire that all Christian people – pastors and faithful – rediscover and return to the center, during the Jubilee, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy?”

“When, in the evening of life, it shall be asked of us what we did to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, equally shall it be asked of us if we have helped people to set their doubts aside, if we have committed ourselves to welcoming sinners, admonishing them or correcting them, if we have been able to combat ignorance, especially in relation to the Christian faith and the good life.”

The works of mercy, he said, are how Christians are to concretely carry out “the spirit of mercy,” adding that they are important, and not merely a devotion.

The Pope lamented how few Catholics know what the works of mercy are. He recounted that during one of his crowded audiences in the Paul VI Hall, he mentioned the works of mercy.

“I stopped and I asked the question: ‘Which of you remember well what are the spiritual and corporal works of mercy? Those who remember, raise your hand.’ Not more than 20 in a hall of 7,000. We must continue to teach the faithful these things, which are so important.”

Pope Francis then reflected on how mercy relates to the tasks undertaken by the CDF, saying, “In faith and in charity a cognitive and unifying relationship is established with the mystery of Love, which is God himself. The effective mercy of God became, in Jesus, affective mercy, as he made himself man for the salvation of men.”

“The task entrusted to your dicastery here finds its ultimate foundation and adequate justification. Christian faith, indeed, is not only knowledge to be committed to memory, but also truth to live in love. Therefore, along with the doctrine of the faith, it is also necessary to safeguard the integrity of customs, particularly in the most delicate areas of life. Adhering to faith in the person of Christ implies both an act of reason and a moral response to his gift. In this respect, I thank you for all your commitment and the responsibility you exercise in treating cases of abuse of minors by clerics.”

He added that “care for the integrity of faith and customs is a delicate task” and that this requires a “collegial commitment.” He commended those who work with the CDF for their exercise of collegiality, mentioning in particular a meeting between the congregation and the Doctrinal Commissions of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe.

That meeting, the Pope said, contributed to “stirring up in the faithful a new missionary impulse and greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe runs the risk of losing that humanist spirit which it nevertheless loves and defends.”

“I invite you to continue and to intensify your collaboration with these advisory bodies that assist episcopal conferences and individual bishops in their solicitude for sound doctrine, in a time of rapid change and growing complexity of problems.”

Pope Francis also indicated that an important contribution of the CDF is in studying “the complementarity between the hierarchical and charismatic gifts.”

“According to the logic of unity in legitimate difference – the logic which characterizes every authentic form of communion among the People of God – the hierarchical and charismatic gifts are called to collaborate for the good of the Church and of the world. The testimony of this complementarity is now more urgent than ever, and represents an eloquent expression of that ordered plurality which connotes every ecclesial community, as a reflection of the harmonious communion which lives in the heart of the Triune God.”

The relations between hierarchical and charismatic gifts springs from a “Trinitarian root,” he said, “in the bond that unites the divine Logos incarnate and the Holy Spirit, who is always a gift of the Father and the Son. It is precisely this root, if acknowledged and listened to humbly, that permits the Church to let herself be renewed.”

“Unity and plurality are the seal of a Church that, moved by the Spirit, knows how to walk with a sure and faithful step towards the purpose that the Risen Lord has indicated to them throughout history. Here we see clearly how the synodal dynamic, if correctly understood, is born from communion and leads towards an increasingly implemented, deepened and extended, in the service of the life and the mission of the People of God.”

Pope Francis concluded assuring them of his thoughts and prayers.

Catholic World News

Pope Francis likely to visit Auschwitz during World Youth Day

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2016 / 10:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his July visit to Poland for World Youth Day, it’s probable that Pope Francis will follow in the steps of his two immediate predecessors by traveling to the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, the Vatican spokesman has said.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, told journalists at the Jan. 27 presentation of the book “We were Jews” by 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Alberto Mieli that a summer visit to Auschwitz for the Pope is “highly probable.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to be in Poland for the July 25-31 World Youth Day – the first since the canonization of St. John Paul II in 2014.

Auschwitz, the German name for the Polish town Oswiecim where the camp is located, sits roughly 40 miles from Krakow. At least 1.1 million people died in the camp during its years of operation, 1940-1945.

The vast majority of prisoners – about 90 percent – who lost their lives at Auschwitz were Jewish men, women, and children. Other groups imprisoned and killed were Soviet POWs, gypsies, disabled persons, homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, met with Pope Francis in November 2015. According to Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media network, Duda said that during their encounter the Pope “asked to visit Auschwitz and to pray there for the memory of the victims.”

Should Francis go to Auschwitz, he would follow in the steps of the Polish Pope, as John Paul II was often referred to as, in 1979, as well as Benedict XVI, a German, who made his landmark visit in 2006.

Pope Francis has already imitated another great gesture of his two predecessors in visiting Rome’s major synagogue, where on Jan. 17 he called on Jews and Christians to counter the conflict, war, violence, and injustice that open deep wounds in humanity.

“The violence of man toward man is in contradiction with every religion worthy of this name, and in particular with the great monotheistic religions,” he said. “The past must serve as a lesson for us in the present and into the future,” he added, recalling the tragedy of the Shoah, or Holocaust.

St. John Paul II was the first Pope to ever cross the threshold of the synagogue. In 1986 he made history when he embraced Rome’s chief rabbi, Elio Toaf, at the synagogue’s entrance.

In an almost ironic coincidence his successor, Bavarian-born Benedict XVI, made a similar gesture, embracing Rome’s current Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, in 2010.

While Francis’ own visit to Auschwitz hasn’t been confirmed as anything more than probable, he has already proven that ecumenism and interreligious dialogue are key priorities in his pontificate.

With the Church having just observed the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, 2015 proved to be a year in which Francis made a great push in furthering Catholic-Jewish relations.

One example of a recent landmark in Jewish-Catholic relations is the Dec. 10, 2015, publication of a Vatican document that discusses the means of salvation for the Jewish people.

Another move reflecting Pope Francis’ desire to strengthen interreligious dialogue was an Oct. 26-28, 2015, conference hosted by the Vatican in honor of Nostra aetate‘s anniversary. Representatives of religions from around the world, including Judaism, were invited to participate.

If Pope Francis does go to Auschwitz, we can probably expect him to say something reminiscent of his frequent pleas for unity and an end to violence.

As he said in his speech at the synagogue, recalling the thousands of Roman Jews who were deported to Auschwitz in October, 1943: “their sufferings, their anguish, their tears, must never be forgotten.”

“The past must serve as a lesson for us in the present and into the future. The Shoah teaches us to always have the highest vigilance, in order to be able to intervene forcefully in defense of human dignity and peace.”

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