Posts Tagged ‘vatican’

A sign of hope; Christmas tree illuminates St. Peter’s Square

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2014 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The 83-foot Italian tree in St. Peter’s Square was lit for the first time this season at the unveiling of the Vatican’s nativity scene, which Pope Francis called a sign of “light, hope and love” for the world.

The nativity scene and the Christmas tree “are an invitation to unity, harmony and peace; an invitation to make room, in our personal and social life, for God,” the Pope said in a Dec. 19 audience with delegates of the Italian regions who donated the decorations.

In the birth of Jesus we see that God “does not come with arrogance, imposing His power, but instead offers His omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child. The creche and the tree therefore bring a message of light, hope and love,” he said.

Donated to the Vatican by the southern Italian region of Calabria, where Pope Francis visited in June, this year’s tree is 70 years old, stands 83.6 feet tall and weighs 8 tons.

It was lit for the first time this season during a special “Lighting Ceremony” held in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 19.

A unique characteristic of the tree is the fact that it has what is called a “twin trunk,” in which two separate trunks have been fused together into one. It is a symbolic feature, and is often used to show that man is never alone on his journey, but is always accompanied by the Lord.

The scene, entitled “The Nativity scene in Opera,” contains figures that were donated by the “Verona for the Arena” foundation, and draw their inspiration from famous opera productions staged in the Verona Opera Arena, particularly Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera “The Elixir of Love.”

With the emphasis on opera, the Nativity’s title and design are meant to be a play on the two meanings of the Italian word “opera,” which can refer to either a theater production or the verb “to work.”

Given this background, the “Nativity scene in Opera” is also meant to emphasize the work that God did through the birth of his son, Jesus Christ.

In his audience with representatives of the regions who donated the Nativity and the tree, Pope Francis praised them for “enriching” their culture with literature, art and music, saying that they are a valuable heritage for future generations.

“The Nativity and the Christmas tree are evocative festive symbols very dear to our Christian families,” he said, noting how they remind us of Christ’s incarnation, who was made flesh in order to save us, as well as the light Jesus brings to the world through his birth.

They are symbols that touch the hearts of all, he said, through their message of fraternity, intimacy and friendship.

But they also serve as a calling “(for the) people of our time to rediscover the beauty of simplicity, sharing and solidarity,” the Roman Pontiff observed, saying that the tree and the Nativity are an invitation to create peace and harmony by allowing God to enter into our lives.

He recalled how Jesus, as the Messiah, became man and lived among us in order to cast out the darkness of sin and error, and to bring his own divine light to humanity.

“Jesus Himself says of Himself: ‘I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life,’” the pontiff said, and encouraged all to follow him, and to bring his light to others.

“Let us follow Him, the true light, so as not to lose our way and in turn to reflect light and warmth on those who go through moments of difficulty and inner darkness.”

Pope warns against sterile egoism rooted in a desire for power

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2014 / 09:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis cautioned Christians against an egoism that excludes the need for God in his homily at Mass on Friday, saying this attitude renders our lives sterile and prevents the Church from bear…

Vatican communications committee advances path of reforms

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2014 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s committee on communications has finished its third round of visits to Vatican media branches, and will likely discuss the outcomes of the visits in their next meeting, due to take place in January.

The committee has completed its rounds of visits to Vatican media branches, and also started collecting opinions and suggestions from journalists and Catholic agencies who deal often with Vatican news.

With the wish to improve the system of the delivery of news and to rationalize expenses, the members of the committe made an on-site visit to the Holy See press office Dec. 17.

According to a source who took part in the meetings, “the committee proved to be very attentive to the needs of the Holy See press office, and tried to understand how the work of the Holy See press office may be enhanced.”

“Unlike the members of the Pontifical Commission of Reference for the Economic and Administrative Structure of the Holy See/Vatican City State (known with the Italian acronym of COSEA), the committee showed that cutting expenses is not their sole desire, but that that before all else they want to find an effective way of sharing information from the Vatican,” the source maintained.

During the next meeting, in January, the members of the committee will likely discuss the outcomes of their visit, and will start analyzing in-depth the responses of communication experts and journalists on their desk.

In the offing, there is the need for a comprehensive reform of  Vatican media, with a possible unification of the three major Vatican media outlets – Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, and L’Osservatore Romano – under a single digital platform.

Until now, the Vatican outlets have depended directly on the Vatican State Secretariat, but some of the proposals for Curia reform on the desk of the members of the Council of Cardinals suggest the creation of an ‘ad hoc’ Secretariat for Communications within the Roman Curia.

The notion of the establishment of a third Secretariat has however been seemingly discarded, while the idea of putting all communications under the Pontifical Council for Social Communications remains on the table.

Cuba, US: how the Holy See was behind the scene for 50 years

Vatican City, Dec 18, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The announcement that the US and Cuba will enjoy warmer relations follows more than 50 years of Vatican diplomacy, which was ramped up by St. John Paul II during his 1984 visit to nearby Puerto Rico.

The Church’s commitment for Cuba has a twofold path: on one side, the relations that bishops, especially from the US, had with Cuba, thus ‘de facto’ creating a bridge between two worlds divided by the embargo; and on the other side, the Holy See’s diplomatic effort, backed by St. John Paul II.

Cuba is the only communist nation with which the Holy See never broke off diplomatic relations. The US broke off its ties with the island in 1961, and during the October 1962 missile crisis St. John XXIII wrote to both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khruschev to avert a war.

And the American ecclesiastical hierarchy had always been in touch with the Cuban bishops: In 1972, the US bishops’ conference backed the 1969 request by Cuban bishops to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and in 1985, American and Cuban bishops conference exchanged a visit.

During the 1980s, the Archdiocese of Boston became one of the most prominent actors in the scene of U.S.-Cuba relations.

Cardinal Bernard Law, then Archbishop of Boston, strongly supported the opportunity of a new diplomatic tie between Cuba and the U.S., and advocated against the embargo.

Cardinal Law visited Cuba in 1985 and 1989, and on both occasions he met Fidel Castro. Under Cardinal Law’s administration, the Boston Archdiocese started its own aid-plan to Cuba.

On the Vatican side, the main actor of the reapprochment between the Holy See and Cuba was Cardinal Roger Etchegaray.

Then president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Etchegaray made his first trip to Cuba in 1989, and spent nine days there, between Christmas and the New Year’s Day.

Cardinal Etchegaray’s Cuban tour was capped by an intimate meeting with Castro during Christmas week. The meeting underscored an easing of tensions between Church and state in the officially atheist country, where practicing Christians and Jews have been objects of government repression for almost 30 years.

During the meeting, Castro made no secret of his eagerness to welcome the Pope, partly because a visit would burnish his fading international image and partly because he believed John Paul II saw eye to eye with him on many of the world’s secular problems, such as disarmament, Third World debt, and poverty.

Cardinal Etchegaray met Fidel Castro once again, in December 1993.

In the meantime, the Cuban bishops had released the message “Love endures all things”, which marked a turnabout on the Church’s approach to the regime. The Cuban bishops substantially proposed to Castro and to his opponents – included the political refugees exiled in the U.S. – to open a political dialogue for a peaceful national reconciliation.

The message was one of the hot issues of the dialogue between Cardinal Etchegaray and Fidel Castro. They both stressed they backed peace, reconciliation and the end of the U.S. embargo.

It was probably after that visit that Fidel Castro changed his attitude toward the Catholic Church.

Castro seemed to accept the role of the Holy See as a credible partner for dialogue about the future of Cuba. At the same time, the regime abated restrictions on the Church.

St. John Paul II backed an active, although secret, diplomatic process toward Cuba, and this process had been put into effect at the beginning of the 1990s and developed through a series of high level meetings between the Holy See and Cuban administration officials.

On July 12, 1994, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, then Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for the Central America, had a private meeting with Fidel Castro in the Holy See Nunciature in Cuba.

After the meeting, Castro spent two hours at the nunciature, chatting with Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, created cardinal by St. John Paul II in October 1994, and the first Cuban cardinal created after the revolution.

Back in Rome, Cardinal Gantin reported to St. John Paul II about the improvement of the religious atmosphere in Cuba, and he also recounted that Castro would more than properly welcome a papal visit.

Cardinal Gantin told the Pope that “generally, the country urges big transformations, and these latter seem to have begum, albeit on a smaller scale”, and that “the acceptance of the Church, with its features of service to Truth and Peace, can already be a meaningful change for the Cuban government.”

In 1996, Fidel Castro was received by St. John Paul II in the Vatican, a signal that the dialogue was  strengthened.

This was the climate that led to St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Cuba in 1998. The first Pope ever to step foot in Cuba, St. John Paul II said in Havana that “Cuba needs to open herself to the world, and the world needs to draw close to Cuba.”

During the trip, St. John Paul II spoke about family and youth, and criticized both socialist society as well as the neo-liberal capitalism.

A new way was open in Holy See – Cuba relations.

Ten years later, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, visited Cuba to celebrate the 10th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s visit, and he met with Raul Castro, who in the mean time had replaced his brother Fidel at the helm of the country.

During a meeting with journalists, Cardinal Bertone stressed, “there is seemingly the opportunity to open doors: Raul knows well the people’s difficulties, what they miss, their aspirations.”

Benedict XVI’s trip in 2012 marked a step toward a new opening of Cuba to the world. Raul Castro was often at the Pope’s side, showing his desire to update Cuba and to give importance to the visit.

Cuba needs the Church to find a way out of history, and to continue to strenghthen relations with the United States. The diplomatic work is also favored by the fact that Archbishop Angelo Becciu, deputy to the Secretariat of State, has been apostolic nuncio to Cuba, and he helped organize Benedict XVI’s trip.

This is the path that brought to historic choice of re-opening US-Cuba relations. Pope Francis has become a main actor in this story, and his final commitment was decisive. But he also, in the end, harvested the fruits of a diplomatic work that went on throughout 50 years.

Pope Francis strengthens commission for the protection of minors

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2014 / 02:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis appointed eight new members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors on Wednesday, completing the ranks of the commission with a balanced geographical representation in doing so.

“The commission was enlarged with the purpose of having an interdisciplinary view, with different perspectives coming from several part of the world,” Msgr. Robert W. Oliver, secretary of the Pontifical Commission, commented to CNA Dec. 17.

The eight new members come from Africa, Oceania, Asia, and South America.

Fr. Luis Manuel Ali Herrera comes from Colombia, where he serves as a professor of pastoral psychology and director of the psychology department in the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogotá.

Gabriel Dy-Liacco hails from the Philippines, and is an adult and adolescent psychotherapist and pastoral counselor for various mental health concerns, and has also worked with victims and perpetrators of abuse.

Oceania has two representative: Bill Kilgallon works in New Zealand, where he directs the Church’s National Office for Professional Standards; and Kathleen McCormack hails from Australia, where she served as Director of Welfare of CatholicCare in the Diocese of Wollongong for 29 years and held leadership roles in Family Services, Child Protection, Out Of Home Care and Ageing and Disability Services.

Africa also has two representatives, both of whom are nuns.

Sr. Kayula Gertrude Lesa from Zambia is a development professional, trainer, and author on child protection, human trafficking, refugee rights and the right to information; Sr. Hermenegild Makoro works as a high school teacher and for several years as a trainer in pastoral work in her diocese.

Krysten Winter-Green is a New Zealander based in the United States. She earned post-graduate degrees in theology, human development, social work, religion and pastoral psychology, and she has served in dioceses around the world with homeless persons and those living with AIDS. Winter-Green has performed forensics, assessment, and treatment of clerical offenders with regard to child abuse.

Abused throughout his childhood, Peter Saunders set up the National Association for people abused in childhood, in order to support all all survivors and for developing greater resources for responding to child abuse. Now, he has been appointed a member of the Pontifical Commission, and he will raise the issue of the victims, together with fellow member, and victim, Mary Collins.

The members of the commission will “now divide into working groups, so that we can have experts from multiple locales who are able to work on the issue and make proposals, promoting initiatives to the commission,” explained Msgr. Oliver.

At the moment, there are “12 working groups within the commission,” and the members can “look for experts on the topics under discussion.”

With the rank finally completed, the members of the Pontifical Commission will gather in Rome Feb. 6 – 8, and will hopefully approve the draft of the statutes.

“Our aim is to finish the draft three weeks before the plenary,” Msgr. Oliver said.

Msgr. Oliver added that “among the projects, there is that of assisting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its effort for new guidelines for the response to abuse.”

“Three years ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began to work with local bishops conferences and religious congregations, and asked them for guidelines for the response to abuse: we can help them in developing this effort.”

A former Vatican ‘public prosecutor’ in the ranks of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Msgr. Oliver said “we had talked at length about best practices we have been able to observe; we can further discuss about how the response to abuse is managed in Africa and Asia, and we finally should network all of these best practices, in order to improve the general response.”

Msgr. Oliver also stressed that “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be handling the cases, while the Pontifical Commission will be working on the protection of children.”

Pope Francis’ creation of the commission follows upon the works of his predecessors St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Under St. John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger — who was then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — established a strong response to allegations of sexual abuse, which he later continued as Pope.

His efforts began with a 1988 letter in which he shed light on how the procedures laid out in canon law made it difficult for bishops to laicize abusive priests.

In Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, a 2001 motu proprio, St. John Paul II transferred authority for investigating abuse cases from the Congregation for Clergy to Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, so that they could be dealt with more speedily.

Finally, in July 2010, under Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented modifications to canon law that detailed how the dicastery would examine and punish instances of clerical abuse.

Tea and cake for Pope Francis as he celebrates 78th birthday

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2014 / 09:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Shouts of “Tanti auguri” – or, “Happy Birthday!” – filled St. Peter’s Square Wednesday morning as Pope Francis circled around throngs of pilgrims on his popemobile during the weekly general audience.

The Holy Father, who turned 78 on Dec. 17, stopped to blow out the candles on a cake given to him by group of Legionaries of Christ seminarians. He also took a sip of mate tea – a traditional South American drink popular in Argentina – offered to him by pilgrims.

One of the lucky little pilgrims to receive a kiss from the Pope on his birthday was a small baby girl named Gaia who has been in Rome receiving medical treatment at the nearby Bambino Gesu’ hospital.

Gaia’s mother, Daniella from Cortona, Italy, has tried to come every week for the Wednesday General audience since arriving in Rome several months ago – in fact, she told CNA  this is the second time her baby has been kissed by Pope Francis.

Daniella added that she hopes Pope Francis will “inspect the Church,” because she believes “he has the capacity.”

“I like this Pope very much. For this reason I come to see him.”

Standing nearby was Richard Tirocke from Maryland in the United States. He told CNA that even though he did not practice his Catholic faith as seriously as he used to, it was nonetheless “incredible” to have had such a close encounter with Pope Francis. “I watched him kiss that baby,” he said. “I got to touch the baby’s head!”

Alex and Flora Apulsen from Florida arranged their vacation in Rome to ensure that they could be in the Square with the Pope.  “We wish all his wishes will come true” on his birthday, Alex said. “This is truly a Pope for the people. It’s a very specially experience to be here.”

“He is a very great Pope,” said Flora. “We wish him happy birthday and all good things happen to him.”

Joe Pender from Sydney Australia told CNA he came to the Audience in the hopes of getting close to Pope Francis, and to receive a blessing.

“I wish him a good day, first of all, but most of all that he’s filled by the Holy Spirit today, and really blesses everyone as he continues to do every day.”

An Advent gift: God’s mercy in the confessional, cardinal says

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2014 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As Christmas approaches, priests and penitents should remind themselves of the “miracle” of confession and how we should approach the sacrament with “full freedom,” a Vatican cardinal says.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza called the season of Advent is a time of “particularly attentive waiting,” a time both of men awaiting God and of God awaiting men, “whom he loves.”

“The Lord sets himself to search for man,” the cardinal said in a Dec. 14 letter to confessors.

Jesus Christ “continually calls men to conversion and, in these days of vigil, draws hearts with a unique tenderness towards the crib: ‘Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.’”

The cardinal is prefect of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the tribunal of the Roman Curia whose responsibilities include the internal forum – matters of confession and spiritual direction.

The free act of confession, Cardinal Piacenza said, is “a miracle that has the assistance of God himself” and is “sustained by God’s grace.”

The cardinal said that confession is also a “gift” for the priest-confessor, who “always receives a light and special confirmation in the apostolate from contemplating this mystery.”

He added that through the “ineffable gift” of their ordination, priests “participate intimately in the work of salvation” and share more closely in “the immense joy of the soul’s encounter with Him.”

“Even as Mary Most Holy brought him forth to the world in the manger of Bethlehem, we bring him forth in the hearts of repentant sinners, and on the altar for their food and consolation,” the cardinal said.

He stressed the need for “every authentic pastoral charity.”

This charity is not only “much desired” by the Christian faithful, sought by the Church, and “so ardently insisted upon by the Holy Father.” This charity is “overflowing from the wounded Heart of Jesus.”

Cardinal Piacenza also encouraged confessors to pray for one another, especially in preparation for Christmas, “so that, for confessors as much as for penitents, the smile of the Child Jesus may shine transformatively in their souls.”

“And thank you for all you do as generous channels of the waters of divine mercy,” he added.

Praising the Virgin Mary as the “perfect mirror of Christ’s charity and sign of sure hope in his victory over sin and death,” he prayed that she may “stake out a true and lasting spiritual ‘rebirth’” for all the members of the Church.

Pope: Mary and Joseph exemplify mission, vocation of family life

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2014 / 05:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke today about Jesus’ choice to be born into a family, saying that it shows the importance of the vocation, which Mary and Joseph epitomized through their everyday holiness.

An early Christmas present: Pope Francis to meet man serving life sentence

Vatican City, Dec 17, 2014 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As inmates are moved by a letter Pope Francis has sent to the prison of a small town in central Italy, the news broke that a man serving a life sentence will be among those at an audience with Pope Francis Dec. 20.

The Saturday meeting will be between the Roman Pontiff and members of the Community Pope John XXIII, which was founded by Fr. Oreste Benzi, who died in 2007.

Members of the community will be received by Pope Francis on the occasion of the opening of Fr. Benzi’s cause for beatification, and the list of participants includes Carmelo Musumeci, who was sentenced to life in prison for having committed a homicide in 1991.

While in prison, Musumeci completed high school and then earned a law degree.

Pope Francis addressed the issue of life imprisonment in an Oct. 23 address to delegates of the International Association of Penal Law, saying that “all Christians and men of good will are … called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve prison conditions, with respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom. And I link this to life imprisonment. A short time ago the life sentence was taken out of the Vatican’s Criminal Code. A life sentence is just a death penalty in disguise.”

The encounter between Pope Francis and Musumeci thus comes in the midst of a pontificate with particular pastoral concern for prisoners.

Among his first decisions as Bishop of Rome was to celebrate Holy Thursday at a juvenile prison near the city.

And meeting with prison chaplains on Oct. 23, 2013, he asked them to tell prisoners, “I am praying for them, I have them at heart, I am praying to the Lord and to Our Lady that they may be able to get through this difficult period in their lives in a positive way, that they may not become discouraged or close in on themselves.”

These words encouraged the members of the Community Pope John XXIII to forward a request to have Musumeci among those who will meet Pope Francis Dec. 20.

Longing to meet the Pope, Musumeci has addressed a letter to Pope Francis.

“Pope Francis, I am now living the 24th year of a ‘death penalty in disguise,’ as you call it. And since I got the news that brothers and sisters of the Community Pope John XXIII had included me in the list of people who will meet you in Vatican City State, I have been unable to sleep.”

“Lost in sadness and melancholy, I confess, Pope Francis, that often no more hope lies in my heart. I am tired of hope, and counting the days and nights… I am also tired of waiting for death, and I confess that some nights I wish to go toward death, so as to end my penalty in advance.”

As the Dec. 20 meeting is being prepared, Pope Francis sent on Dec. 14 a letter to inmates of the prison of Latina, which he delivered through Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, Pope Francis’ second secretary who spent several years as a deputy parish priest in Latina.

Msgr. Lahzi Gaid gave the letter to Fr. Nicola Cupaiolo, the chaplain of the prison, who then gave the letter to the 120 prisoners, 30 of them are women imprisoned in the high security branch for crimes of terrorism or mafia.

The Pope addressed all the prisoners who had written to him: “Reading your letters was a great comfort to me. It is impossible to me writing back to each of you, so I wish that each of you feel this letter as my personal response to him.”

Wishing them a Merry Christmas, Pope Francis hoped that “hours, days, months and years that you have spent or you are spending in this prison are considered and lived nota s a wasted time or as a temporary punishment, but as a real occasion of growing in order to find the peace of heart and the strength to spring up, returning to live the hope in the Lord that never disappoint you.”

Pope Francis also said he is pleased that many of the prisoners “are following a path of faith with the chaplain, Fr. Nicola, and with those are collaborating in being close to you not because of a duty but for their inner openness to sincerely consider you sisters and brothers.”

Pope Francis sent to the prisoners a new Missal, so that “you could find in the Holy Mass the path of walking daily with the Lord … the needed food to sustain the path to salvation and liberation” that no prison “can prevent.”

Only a repentant heart will receive salvation, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2014 / 01:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis touched on the importance of being humble and open to the Lord’s correction, encouraging the faithful to offer him their sins to God in order to be saved.

“The humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved and this is the way of the Church, isn’t it?” the Pope asked during his Dec. 16 daily mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha Guesthouse.

“This is the path I must follow, not the path in which I do not listen to His voice, do not accept correction and do not trust in the Lord.”

Pope Francis centered his reflections on the day’s readings, taken from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah and from the Gospel of Matthew, which the pontiff said both speak of a “judgment” on which both salvation and condemnation depend.

While Zephaniah in the first reading talks about a “rebellious and polluted” city, there is still the presence of some who repent of their sins, the Pope observed, saying that this group is the “people of God” who possess the “three characteristics (of) humility, poverty and trust in the Lord.”

However the people in the city who refused to trust in the Lord and accept the corrections he gave him cannot receive salvation because they are closed to it, he said, while it is the meek and the humble who trust that will be saved.

“And that is still valid today, isn’t it? When we look at the holy people of God that is humble, that has its riches in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord – the humble, poor people that trust in the Lord: these are the ones who are saved.”

The Pope then turned to the gospel reading in which Jesus tells the chief priests and elders the story of a father who asks his two sons to work in their vineyard. While the first son says that he will go and does not, the second initially denies his father’s request, but later goes to work.

In telling this story, Jesus makes it clear to the chief priests and elders that they were not open to the voice of God preached by John the Baptist, adding that this is why tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before they do.

This statement from Jesus echoes the situation of many Christians today who feel “pure” simply because they go to mass and receive communion, the Pope noted, explaining that God asks for more.

“If your heart is not a repentant heart, if you do not listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and you do not trust in Him, your heart is unrepentant,” he said, observing how the Pharisees were “hypocrites” for being scandalized at the attention Jesus gave to prostitutes and tax collectors.

 Although they were affronted at Jesus acceptance of the sinners, they then “secretly approached them to vent their passion or to do business,” the pontiff explained, saying that because of their hypocrisy they are not welcome in paradise.

Pope Francis said that this judgment gives hope provided that we have the courage to open our hearts to God, even if that means giving him the full list of our sins.

He recalled the story of a Saint who believed that he had given everything to God with great generosity. However in a conversation with the Lord, the saint was told that there was still something he was holding onto.

When the saint asked what it was that he still had not given, the Lord replied “Your sins,” the pontiff recalled.

The moment in which we are able to tell the Lord “these are my sins – they are not his or hers, they are mine…take them” will be the moment when we become that “meek and humble people” who trust in God, the Pope said, and prayed that “the Lord grant us this grace.”

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