Archive for the ‘Catholic World News’ Category

Pope Francis’ Address to Vatican Employees

Shortly before noon today, Pope Francis met with employees of the Holy See and of Vatican City State, with their families, for the exchange of Christmas greetings. Here is a translation of his address.

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It was pride that transformed ange…

A Christmas message from Aleppo’s bishop: hope for joy, peace

Aleppo, Syria, Dec 22, 2014 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As Christmas approaches, the Melkite Catholic bishop of Aleppo has written a letter to his diocese looking forward to the feast of hope, urging his people to practice charity to the less fortunate, much like in diocese around the world.

But Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart’s letter also voices profound hope that peace will return to their country in the next year.

“Christians all over the world are preparing the beautiful feast of Christmas with its humble and heavenly scenes bringing joy, warmth and hope to the hearts of young and old, everywhere in our disenchanted and sad world! We also in Syria are wishing for a Christmas of joy and consolation in the midst of this shameful war which has ravaged our country for almost four years now,” the head of the Melkite Greek Archdiocese of Aleppo wrote.

In the midst of mothers mourning their children killed and widows their lost husbands, Archbishop Jeanbart remembered that Christmas “is the feast of welcome and of Hope. This feast cannot be celebrated without joy in the hearts and smiles on the lips, this is why I have asked the priests of the diocese to organize, each one in his parish, the festive celebrations thanks to a grant coming from the diocesan fund of social works: Cribs and Christmas trees for the children, parties, raffles and Christmas plays for the youth and friendly gatherings for the adults.”

Aleppo is a hotly-contested city in Syria’s north: with a pre-war population of 2.3 million, it was Syria’s largest, but the population has now dwindled to around 1 million. The Syrian civil war, which began in the spring of 2011, spread to Aleppo in July 2012.

“Many families had been losing everything, they are in need and suffer hunger and cold, shells and bombs destroyed their homes and demolished their business leaving them without any penny in hand,” Archbishop Jeanbart wrote in the message, which was obtained by Aid to the Church in Need.

“Truly, we are suffering greatly because of what is happening to us but with the humblest and the poorest, we wait anxiously but with patience and great hope for the Lord to bring us this year the gift of PEACE for the happiness of our people and for all the nations suffering in the world.”

He said, “I do not want to dwell on this note of sadness during this blessed season. I know that the Lord can bring consolation, comfort and especially joy to those who trust in Him in their distress! The greatest tribulations, war and the wickedness of those who have not known God, cannot hinder the flow of tenderness and mercy which Jesus pours generously on his own!”

“We will do everything in our power so that Christmas this year may be a real Feast for our faithful in Aleppo, a Christmas generous in celebrations and festivities,” the shepherd wrote.

The Syrian regime is closing in on rebel positions in Aleppo, in particular a hill which controls rebel supply lines; the BBC reports that there are 18 different rebel groups fighting in the city.

It is against this backdrop that European government and the UN are backing a plan for a “freeze zone” around the city – a local ceasefire – in a bid to decrease the violence of the civil war.

Archbishop Jeanbart called the plan “heartening news,” saying it is “sparking within us hope for better days for our country! Evidently this is a cause for rejoicing for Christians as we approach Christmas.”

“If my clergy and I are applying ourselves in preparing carefully the religious ceremonies for the Nativity of our Savior, we are at the same time preparing carefully our social and charitable activities to reassure our people and better serve them.”

Through the generosity of his people, he noted, the diocese has been able to support a growing number of families, paying school fees for children, offering food baskets monthly, and maintaining an emergency fund for the unemployed.

“We will take care of their medical needs and sometimes even find lodgings when they have to move.  Over and above these services, we have decided this year to help more than a thousand families by supplying them with heating fuel which has become very expensive and is essential here in Aleppo where the winters are freezing.”

“In a word we will do all we can to comfort the faithful who remain in the city, to lighten their load and to reassure them in this time of great desolation.”

Archbishop Jeanbart also noted that his 10-year old tradition, of receiving mothers at his home “to congratulate them and to thank them for their devotedness,” like that of Mary, will continue.

“With my gratitude and all my thanksgiving for all you are doing to help us through these times of trial, and with my benediction, I offer you my best wishes for the New Year, for good health, joy and happiness.”

Pope Francis’ Address to Pope John XXIII Community Association

Here below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Pope John XXIII Community Association in Paul VI Hall in the Vatican Saturday at noon: * * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I receive you with joy and thank you for your warm welcome. I thank the director, Giovanni Paolo Ramonda, for the words he address…

Cardinal Tauran Named New Camerlengo

Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Giampiero Gloder as the Roman Catholic Church’s Camerlengo and Vice-Camerlengo, respectively. The Vatican announced the appointments Saturday.
While Cardinal Tauran serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Msg…

Pope Gives 9 Tips to Vatican Employees

Pope Francis is calling on Vatican employees to examine which areas of their lives need healing. Expressing his heartfelt thanks to each and best wishes for Christmas, the Pope addressed the employees today.
He encouraged them to do an  examination of conscience, in preparation for Christmas and the New Year, a…

Pope Francis: ‘Faith Moves Mountains’

As Christmas Day is right around the corner, Pope Francis is affirming that faith can truly “move mountains.” Speaking to nearly 8,000 members and associates of the Pope Saint John XXIII Community on Saturday in the Vatican, the Pope reminded them t…

Papuan bishop makes emergency appeal amid severe food shortage

Alotau, Papua New Guinea, Dec 21, 2014 / 01:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic bishop of Alotau, Papua New Guinea, has launched an appeal during a severe food shortage following a cyclone engulfing the Catholic diocese.

The Papua New Guinean islands…

UK youth create Advent video calendar

London, England, Dec 21, 2014 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This Advent, young Catholics in the UK are using video media to challenge their peers to “engage in the life and rhythm of the Church” and seek a deeper relationship with Christ.

Made for Glory, a by-the-youth, for-the-youth faith initiative in the UK, has been releasing a video for every day of Advent. Each video features a reflection from one of several young people based upon that day’s Gospel reading. So far, they’ve produced 25 videos for their virtual Advent calendar. 

“We’re all thirsting for more of the truth!” said John Withers, team member of Made for Glory, the group spearheading the project. “Advent is packed full of themes that speak right to the hearts of young people: longing, expectance, repentance, joy,” he told CNA in a Dec. 19 e-mail interview.  

“What we’re doing with Made for Glory is nothing revolutionary,” Made for Glory team member Patrick Morton told CNA. “We’re simply trying to help people move from that initial encounter with Christ, into a deeper personal relationship with him.”

The aim of this year’s Advent reflections, Morton explained, is to help “young people engage more with the life and rhythm of the Church by taking Christ’s message in the daily Gospels and bringing it into our everyday life, helping us to live the Gospel more actively in the build up to Christmas.”

“At the heart of Advent is the anticipation of Christmas itself… a call to take our faith seriously,” Morton said. “It’s a call to struggle, and work hard, and strive towards holiness; towards Christ. That’s why, in each video, we worked in this practical, apostolic element.”

Withers added that repentance seems to be an Advent theme that resonates strongly with many young people. 

“The message of John the Baptist, which we hear again and again, is repent and believe,” he said. “I have always enjoyed reading about the struggles of the saints because it fills me with such hope; God can transform our lives.”

Many young people in the UK cite Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 visit to the country as a significant moment in their faith, Withers said. The visit “fanned a flame from the spark of faith we had been given.”

Withers himself was present when the now Emeritus Pope addressed 3,000 young Catholics outside Westminster Cathedral in London. A young Catholic from a fairly small parish, Withers remembers being “blown away by the sudden reality of the universality of the Catholic Church.” 

Pope Francis, too, is fanning the flame of faith that Benedict started, Morton said. 

“If Pope Benedict built bridges for Catholics in Britain, then we can firmly say that Pope Francis has single handedly managed to make being Catholic cool.” 

“He’s an out-and-out evangelist, who builds bridges for Christ on foundations of friendship and trust,” he said. “He’s encouraging young Catholics to step up and be counted, to not be afraid, because when we say yes to Christ the joy of the Christian life overwhelms any doubts or fears.” 

Morton added that many young people are done with what the world offers them and are seeking real answers to their deepest questions.

“I think that as society becomes more secular, more relativised, more seemingly absent of definitive truth, then the more passionately young people will seek the truth,” Morton continued. “Young people aren’t satisfied with the soft answer, they want the real thing, they want the truth, however challenging it may be.”

In addition to being contributors to this project, Morton and Withers are also part of the team at the Vocations Centre for the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. The entire Advent video calendar can be viewed on the Made for Glory Youtube channel:

Pope Francis: Christ Is Knocking at Our Door; We’re Too Busy to Notice

Pope Francis today assured that Christ is coming into our lives this Christmas and is asking for a response like Mary’s, but warned that we might be too busy to pay attention. The Pope made this reflection today during his address before praying the…

Europe Is No Longer Christian (Video)

Europe is no longer Christian: Observatory on  Christian intolerance In 2013, it reported 133 violent attacks against Christian sites of worship in Europe. To view the video click here–en

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