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Pope Francis: Jerusalem must be protected from political disputes

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2018 / 10:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis stressed Friday the important role the Eastern Catholic Churches play in spreading the Gospel given that many of them are concentrated in the Holy Land, and said Jerusalem in particular should be protected from tensions and political disputes.

“The Oriental Catholic Churches, as living witnesses to their apostolic origins, are called in a special way to protect and pass on a spark of Pentecostal fire,” the pope said according to prepared remarks June 22. “They are called daily to discover anew their own prophetic presence in all those places where they dwell as pilgrims.”

This, he said, begins with Jerusalem, “whose identity and particular vocation needs to be safeguarded beyond different tensions and political disputes.”

Pope Francis spoke at the Vatican's Consistory Hall to members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, who are in Rome for their 91st plenary assembly, which this year coincides with the 50th anniversary of their founding.

The organization unites funding agencies from countries worldwide in order to provide services such as houses of worship and study, scholarships, and social and health care facilities to struggling areas.

Christians, though small in number in the area, are primarily called to this task, and must draw strength from the Holy Spirit “for their mission of witness,” he said, adding that in today's context, this mission “is more urgent than ever before.”

Francis then prayed that holy places such as Jerusalem, “where God’s plan was fulfilled in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” would be the birth place of “a renewed spirit of strength to inspire Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East to embrace their special vocation and to offer an account of their faith and their hope.”

He voiced hope that the Eastern Catholic Churches would not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel in settings “that are often even more secularized than in the West, where they come as immigrants or refugees.”

The pope also prayed that they would be welcomed on both a practical and ecclesial level, “as they seek to preserve and enrich the patrimony of their various traditions.”

Thanks to organizations such as ROACO, members of the Eastern Churches, he said, “can bear witness to us, whose hearts are often dulled, that it is still worth living and suffering for the Gospel, even as a minority, or the object of persecution, for the Gospel is the joy and the life of men and women of every age.”

The pope said the organization's landmark anniversary is a testament to the help they have given to Christians throughout the Middle East through the various initiatives they lead.

These projects, he said, allow Eastern Catholic Churches to thrive not only in their native lands, but also in the increasing diaspora, enabling them to continue bearing witness to the Gospel despite being “severely tested” by persecution.

This persecution, he said, has arisen “first by the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe and then, more recently, by forms of allegedly religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, to say nothing of apparently interminable conflicts, especially in the Middle East.”

Solidarity shown by organizations such as ROACO, he said, have helped to ensure the continued existence of the Eastern Churches at risk of extinction, and have allowed these churches to continue spreading the Gospel.

Pope Francis said the work of ROACO has also helped him to continue his mission of “pursuing possible paths to the visible unity of all Christians,” and stressed that Christians who are members of Eastern Churches, though distant, “are no less loved, and certainly not forgotten.”

“With your help,” he said in closing, “they are always listened to and helped to continue their journey as the Church of the Risen Christ, amid every challenge, and every spiritual and material suffering, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.”

Francis' comments on Jerusalem come after the United States on May 14 opened an embassy in the city, making the U.S. the only country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel since the state was established in 1948.

Israel has claimed Jerusalem as its capital. However, Palestinians claim that the eastern portion of the city is the capital of the future Palestinian state.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized by the international community, and all countries but the US have embassies in Tel Aviv. Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, then, was met with fierce backlash not only from international interlocutors, but also by the Vatican.

After Trump announced the change last December, Pope Francis expressed his “deep concern” and issued an appeal to the international community to ensure that “everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations.”

Pope Francis also urged the necessity of maintaining the status quo in his meeting with Theophilos III, patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, in October 2017, in which the two discussed the patriarch’s concern for the Christian community amid aggression by Jewish settlers.

“Any kind of violence, discrimination or displays of intolerance against Jewish, Christian and Muslim worshipers, or places of worship, must be firmly rejected,” the pope said, adding that “the Holy City, whose status quo must be defended and preserved, ought to be a place where all can live together peaceably; otherwise, the endless spiral of suffering will continue for all.”

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More: Following God’s law above all else

London, England, Jun 22, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA).- The feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More is observed as an optional memorial June 22. So that our readers don’t have to fish for more information, CNA has compiled a question-and-answer lowdown on their lives and legacies:

Who was St. Thomas More?

St. Thomas More (1478-1535) was a humanist and intellectual – he worked as a lawyer and explored theology through his written works, many of which were defenses of the Catholic faith against heresy. He studied at Oxford and briefly considered religious life, but he eventually followed a vocation to marriage and fatherhood.

More was appointed by King Henry VIII to be Lord Chancellor of England in 1529.

What does “Lord Chancellor” mean?

The “Lord Chancellor” was the highest ranking member of the King’s cabinet. This role was commonly filled by a clergyman. Historically, the role entailed great judicial responsibility – its influence has evolved to scale back on this particular front.

How did he manage to get on Henry VIII’s bad side?

St. Thomas More stood firmly in his Catholic faith when Henry VIII began to pull away from the Church.

The king wanted a declaration of nullity for his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, but the Church, upon examination, could not find his marriage to Catherine invalid. More refused in 1530 to sign a letter asking the pope to declare the marriage null, and would not sign an oath acknowledging the monarch as the supreme head of the Church in England.

In May 1532 Henry pressured the English synod, the Convocation of Canterbury, to submit the clergy's authority to his own. The day after the convocation agreed to Henry's terms, More resigned as Lord Chancellor.

More wished to retire from public life, but when he refused to assent to the Act of Supremacy 1534, which repudiated the pope's authority over the Church in England, he was imprisoned on charges of treason.

He was sentenced to execution, which took place July 6, 1535.

Why is he a saint?

More’s persistence to remain sided with the Church rather than the king, ending in martyrdom, was a testament to his tireless devotion to God’s law. He was canonized by Pius XI in 1935, and was named patron of statesmen and politicians by St. John Paul II.

I’ve heard something about his beard…?

Yes. You’re not imagining things, don’t worry.

The story with St. Thomas More’s beard is that he laid his beard outside of the execution blade’s path in one final, humorous gesture.

His last words were,“This hath not offended the King,” implying that while his head had angered Henry VIII, his beard was innocent and did not deserve to be severed.

  Who was St. John Fisher?

St. John Fisher (1469-1535) was ordained a priest when he was about 22, and was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1504. He lived an intentionally simple lifestyle and was an intellectual. He studied theology at Cambridge, where he became chancellor. Among his writings is a commentary on the seven penitential psalms.

His mission as a bishop was to perfect how the Church’s teachings were conveyed by his diocese. Fisher spent much of his time travelling to parishes with the mission of theologically correcting and realigning clergy. He also wrote various apologetic defenses in response to Martin Luther.

What did he have to do with the whole Henry VIII situation?

St. John Fisher studied Henry's request for a declaration of nullity, but could not find grounds for such a declaration.

He refused to assent to the Succession to the Crown Act 1533, which recognized the king's supremacy over the Church in England and declared the daughter of Catherine of Aragon illegitimate, and was imprisoned for treason in April 1534.

Fisher was jailed, starved and deprived of all sacraments, but he didn’t budge on his position.

Fisher was made a cardinal in May 1535, in the hopes that Henry would not dare execute a prince of the Church.

Please don’t tell me it ended like More’s story…

It didn’t. There was no beard on the line.

However, Fisher was executed, head on the chopping block and all. He removed his hair shirt, and said the Te Deum and Psalm 31 right before giving his life for the kingdom of God and the honor of the Church, June 22, 1535. He is the only cardinal to have been martyred.

Why is Fisher a saint?

Same deal as More – he stuck to what he knew to be the truth and died for it. He was canonized with More in 1935 by Pius XI.

But he’s not nearly as well-known as St. Thomas More!

No, he’s not. St. Thomas Fisher’s grave, which also contains the bones of More, doesn’t even bear his name. But he did it for the glory of God.

Study finds mounting global restrictions on religion

Washington D.C., Jun 22, 2018 / 12:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Government restrictions on religion continued to rise across the globe in 2016, according to a recently released Pew study, which linked the stifling of religion to nationalist parties and organizations.

“This marks the second year in a row of increases in the overall level of restrictions imposed either by governments or by private actors (groups and individuals) in the 198 countries examined in the study,” said the Pew report.

The research found that 42 percent of countries experienced high or very high levels of overall religious restriction, which included hostile acts by government or private individuals or groups. This number is up from 40 percent in 2015, and 29 percent in 2007.

“This marks the biggest number of countries to fall in this top category since Pew Research Center began analyzing restrictions on religion in 2007,” Pew said.

“The share of countries with ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of government restrictions…rose from 25 percent in 2015 to 28 percent in 2016,” the study found. “Meanwhile, the share of countries with ‘high’ or ‘very high’ levels of social hostilities involving religion…remained stable in 2016 at 27 percent.”

The Middle-East and North Africa experienced the highest median level of government restrictions on religion, while Europe and the Americas were the only areas to experience an increase in median levels of social religious hostility.

Additionally, the research pointed to nationalist groups’ role in the rise of religious restrictions, particularly through targeting specific ethnic and religious minorities.

“In many countries, restrictions on religion resulted from actions taken by government officials, social groups or individuals espousing nationalist positions,” the Pew study noted.

Around 11 percent of countries saw government actors who “at times used nationalist, and often anti-immigrant or anti-minority, rhetoric to target religious groups in their countries in 2016,” – a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

European countries experienced this attitude most strongly, with around 33 percent having nationalist parties making statements against religious minorities, while 12 percent of Asia-Pacific countries shared a similar experience.

“Typically, these nationalist groups or individuals were seeking to curtail immigration of religious and ethnic minorities, or were calling for efforts to suppress or even eliminate a particular religious group, in the name of defending a dominant ethnic or religious group they described as threatened or under attack.”

Additionally, there was a 5 percent increase in countries where organized groups aimed to overtake public life at the expense of a religion.

The most popular targets for religious restrictions were Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“Looking at religious groups, harassment of members of the world’s two largest groups – Christians and Muslims – by government and social groups continued to be widespread around the world, with both experiencing sharp increases in the number of countries in which they were harassed in 2016,” the study said.

This research, which included 198 countries making up 99.5 percent of the world, comes from Pew’s ninth annual study of global restrictions on religion, which analyzes the “extent to which governments and societies around the world impinge on religious beliefs and practices.”

These levels were measured by government laws and policies, acts of individual or group hostility against religion, including armed conflict and terrorism. Harassment of religious groups was gathered by data relating to physical or verbal assaults, arrests, detentions, desecration of holy sites, and discrimination against religious groups via employment, education and housing.

The 2016 year was the most recent year in which data was available.

 

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah,
saw that her son was dead,
she began to kill off the whole royal family.
But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah,
took Joash, his son, and spirited him away, along with his nurse,
from the bedroom where the princes were about to be slain.
She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die.
For six years he remained hidden in the temple of the LORD,
while Athaliah ruled the land.

But in the seventh year,
Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carians
and of the guards.
He had them come to him in the temple of the LORD,
exacted from them a sworn commitment,
and then showed them the king's son.

The captains did just as Jehoiada the priest commanded.
Each one with his men, both those going on duty for the sabbath
and those going off duty that week,
came to Jehoiada the priest.
He gave the captains King David's spears and shields,
which were in the temple of the LORD.
And the guards, with drawn weapons,
lined up from the southern to the northern limit of the enclosure,
surrounding the altar and the temple on the king's behalf.
Then Jehoiada led out the king's son
and put the crown and the insignia upon him.
They proclaimed him king and anointed him,
clapping their hands and shouting, "Long live the king!"

Athaliah heard the noise made by the people,
and appeared before them in the temple of the LORD.
When she saw the king standing by the pillar, as was the custom,
and the captains and trumpeters near him,
with all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets,
she tore her garments and cried out, "Treason, treason!"
Then Jehoiada the priest instructed the captains
in command of the force:
"Bring her outside through the ranks.
If anyone follows her," he added, "let him die by the sword."
He had given orders that she
should not be slain in the temple of the LORD.
She was led out forcibly to the horse gate of the royal palace,
where she was put to death.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD as one party
and the king and the people as the other,
by which they would be the LORD's people;
and another covenant, between the king and the people.
Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal
and demolished it.
They shattered its altars and images completely,
and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars.
Jehoiada appointed a detachment for the temple of the LORD.
All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet,
now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword
at the royal palace.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 132:11, 12, 13-14, 17-18

R. (13) The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
The LORD swore to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
"Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne."
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
"If your sons keep my covenant
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne."
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
"Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her."
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
"In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David;
I will place a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but upon him my crown shall shine."
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

Alleluia Mt 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

"The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

On papal flight, Francis says intercommunion policy should be decided by diocesan bishops

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2018 / 05:22 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis said Thursday that the German bishops’ debate on the reception of the Eucharist by the non-Catholic spouses of Catholics, also referred to as intercommunion, should be decided by diocesan bishops, rather than bishops’ conferences.
 
Speaking aboard the papal flight from Geneva to Rome June 21, the pope told journalists that the Code of Canon Law leaves decisions about the criteria for intercommunion to diocesan bishops, in order that their decisions will apply only to their individual dioceses, rather than to the Church across an entire country.

The pope said that although the German bishops attempted to establish guidelines through their episcopal conference, “the Code does not foresee that. It foresees the bishop of the diocese, but not the conference, because a thing approved by an episcopal conference immediately becomes universal.”

“The particular Church, the Code permits it, the local Church [episcopal conference] cannot because it would be universal,” Francis elaborated.

“The conference can study and give direction and opinions to help the bishops to manage the particular cases,” the pope added.

Canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law generally allows for episcopal conferences to establish norms regarding the circumstances in which non-Catholic Christians may be admitted to the Eucharist.

In the danger of death, or “if in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers may licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed,” the canon says.
 
The same canon notes that “the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to issue general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non-Catholic Church or community.”

The pope’s remarks were in response to a question about a letter he approved, sent from Cardinal-elect Luis Ladaria to the German bishops in May, asking them to study the topic more before publishing guidelines.
 
The pope added that communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics “in special cases” is not a “novelty,” mentioning again the Code of Canon Law.

The Vatican press office could not be reached for clarification by deadline.

During the press conference, Pope Francis also addressed his feelings on the outcome of the day trip to Switzerland, which he undertook for the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches, saying the day’s activities of prayer, speeches, meetings, and Mass had all made him happy.
 
“The right word of the day is ‘encounter,’ and when a person encounters another and feels appreciation for the meeting, this always touches the heart, no? They were positive meetings, good even,” he said.
 
Francis also addressed the topics of immigration and refugees, the responsibility of religions to promote peace, and ecumenism.
 
About immigration, he noted that mass-migration is a problem around the world, and that a country should welcome as many refugees as it can integrate and give work to, in light of the virtue of prudence.
 
The pope also lamented the conditions which many refugees may face if they return to their country of origin, including the increased risk of being trafficked.
 
Speaking particularly of the United States, the pope reiterated his comments in a recent interview with Reuters, that he backs the statements of the U.S. bishops on the issue.
 
Answering a question on the topic of so-called “pacifist Churches,” which hold that a Christian cannot use or condone violence, Francis refuted the idea that there are “religions of peace,” as if that implied the existence of “religions of war.”
 
He said that religious fundamentalism exists, with people who “seek wars,” which it is important to stay alert to, but that during this time, when there is a “crisis of human rights,” all churches should work together to bring about a spirit of peace in the world.

The press conference concluded with Pope Francis presenting a slice of cake to Cardinal-elect Angelo Becciu, currently Substitute of the Holy See Secretariat of State.

Francis, offering the slice of Sardinian cake, noted that it was Becciu's last trip with the pope, because he will soon "change color, but not for embarrassment," referencing the archbishop's recent appointment as a cardinal.

 

Farm bill with SNAP restrictions passes narrowly in House

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2018 / 04:59 pm (CNA).- On Thursday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2018 farm bill, H.R. 2, which included controversial changes to food assistance programs that Catholic leaders had voiced concern over.

The Farm Bill is the main agricultural and food policy guide for the country. It provides funding for a number of programs and regulations in the food and agriculture industries.

The party-line vote was 213-211. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 20 Republicans voted against it. The same bill failed in May, when 30 Republicans voted against the legislation.

The most controversial element of the bill was a provision to change the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, previously called food stamps.

The farm bill would tighten restrictions on eligibility for SNAP. It would require people between the ages of 18 and 59 who receive SNAP to either have a job or participate in a job training program for 20 hours per week. Adults with disabilities or young dependents are exempted from this requirement.

Penalties for not complying with work requirements increase under the bill, from one month ineligibility to one year for a first violation, and from three months to three years for a second violation.

When the farm bill was being discussed in April, representatives from the U.S. bishops conference, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Rural Life, and the National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul wrote a letter to leaders of the Congressional Agriculture Committee.

“Efforts to improve state workforce training programs by providing case-management, streamlining workforce programs, providing increased training slots and setting minimum standards are welcomed,” they said.

"However, the new workforce training program appears to lack sufficient investment to meet the additional demand for meaningful job training and skill building that will be generated by the new requirements,” they said in the April letter. The letter noted that the majority of SNAP recipients currently work.

“Moreover, rural communities may find compliance especially challenging given that job training programs are often located far away, and there is insufficient access to transportation,” the letter said.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the passage of the farm bill was a step “moving toward a poverty-fighting system,” where Americans will be able to move out of a cycle of poverty.

“This is a big deal,” said Ryan in a statement published on his website.

Ryan referred to the SNAP reforms as “critical,” saying they will “close the skills gap, better equip our workforce, and encourage people to move from welfare to work.”

“These reforms will return agency to people, rather than keeping it in government, empowering individuals to reach their full potential and make the most of their lives.”

President Donald Trump, posting on Twitter, said that he was “so happy to see work requirements included” in the version of the bill that passed the House of Representatives.

“Big win for the farmers,” said Trump.

The bill now moves on to the Senate, where a bipartisan compromise bill is expected to be debated next week.

Full text of Pope Francis' in-flight press conference from Geneva

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2018 / 04:29 pm (CNA).- In a June 21 conversation with journalists on the way back from a trip to Geneva, Pope Francis touched on an array of topics, including ecumenism, intercommunion, peace and just war, and refugees.


Please read below for CNA's full transcript of the Pope's inflight press conference:


Greg Burke:

Thank you, Your Holiness... we wait a second, here we go... perfect! Thank you in the meantime. To journey, to pray, to work together... we have walked, we have prayed also, at various times, and now we touch on work a little, even to eat after, so that it is seen that to journey together brings fruit.

Today the welcoming- we have seen, after many speeches that it is the mutual respect and it is something more, it is also friendship. However, there is still so much work to do and so many challenges and this interests us normally, the challenges... so, to you journalists... but, if you want to say something first [Holy Father]?

Pope Francis:

Thank you for your work, the day was a little heavy, at least for me... but I am content, I am content [ed. note: or ‘happy’] because the various things that we have done -- that is, the prayers to begin, then the speech during lunch it was the most beautiful, then the academic meeting, and then the Mass, they are things that have made me happy... The tiring but beautiful things! Thank you so much! Now I am available to you.  

Greg Burke:

Good. We begin with the Swiss. (Arnaud Bedat of L’Illustre magazine)

Bedat:

Holy Father, you have been in Geneva, but also in Switzerland. What are the images and what are the strong, important moments that had an impact on you during this day?

Pope Francis:

Repeat for me.

Bedat:

(repeated)

Pope Francis:

I believe that it is a common word: encounter. It was a day of varied encounters. The right word of the day is ‘encounter,’ and when a person encounters another and feels appreciation for the meeting, this always touches the heart, no? They were positive meetings, good even, beginning with the dialogue with the president at the beginning; it was not a speech of courtesy, as usual... [it was] a deep speech on the profound world debates and [spoken by him] with an intelligence... that I remain astonished, beginning from that.

Then the meetings that you all saw, and that which you did not see is the meeting at lunch, that was very profound [or deep] in the way it touched on many debates, mabe the debate we spent the most time on is "the youth." Because even all of the churches are concerned, in the good sense, for the youth and the pre-synod that occurred in Rome from March 19 and then attracted enough attention, because there were youth of all [different] beliefs, even agnostics and of all the countries. Think, 315 youth there and 15,000 connected [ed note: via Facebook] that they entered and exited and this perhaps awakened a special interest.

But the word that came to me maybe the whole trip is that it was a voyage of ‘encounter.’ Maybe... I don't know... an experience of encounter... no rudeness, nothing entirely formal. A human encounter. And this... between Protestants, Catholics and all [people] it says a lot, eh!


Greg Burke:

Thanks, Holiness. Now the German group. Roland Juchem of the German Catholic CIC Agency is here.

Roland Juchem:
 
Thanks, Holy Father. You speak often of concrete steps toward ecumenism. Today, for example, you again referred to that, saying “Let’s see what is possible to do concretely rather than getting discouraged for what isn’t.”

The German bishops recently have decided to take a step and so we ask ourselves why Archbishop Ladaria wrote a letter that seems like an “emergency brake.” After the meeting May 3, it was affirmed that the German bishops would have had to find a possibly unanimous solution. What will be the next steps? Will an intervention from the Vatican be necessary to clarify or will the German bishops have to find an agreement?

Pope Francis:

Well. This is not a novelty because in the Code of Canon Law, what the German bishops were talking about is foreseen: communion in special cases. And, they were looking at the problem of mixed marriages, no? If it is possible or it isn’t possible. And the Code says that the bishop of the particular Church - this word is important, “particular,” if it is of a diocese - must read that. It’s in his hands. This is in the Code. The German bishops, because they had seen that it wasn’t clear... also some priests did things who weren’t in agreement with the bishop, have wished to study this theme and have made this study that I don’t want to exaggerate, but it was a study of more than a year, and more… it’s more than a year… well done… and the study was restrictive.

What the bishops wanted is to say clearly what is in the Code. And, I read it and said: this is a restrictive document, no? It wasn’t open to everyone. It’s a well thought-out thing, with ecclesial spirit. And they wished to do it for the local Church, not the particular. The thing slid along up until there for the German [bishops’] conference. And there, there is a problem, because the Code does not foresee that. It foresees the bishop of the diocese, but not the conference, because a thing approved by an episcopal conference immediately becomes universal.

And this was the difficulty of the discussion: not so much the content, but this. And they sent the document. Then, there were two or three meetings of dialogue or of clarification and Archbishop Ladaria sent that letter, but with my permission. He didn’t do it alone! I told him: ‘Yes, it’s better to make a step ahead and say that the document isn’t yet mature and that the thing needed to be studied more.’ Then, there was another meeting and at the end they will study the thing.
I think that this will be an orientative document so that each of the diocesan bishops can manage what canon law already permits.

It wasn’t a brake … it is reading the thing so that it goes along the right path. When I made a visit to the Lutheran Church of Rome, a question of the kind was posed, and I replied according to the spirit of the Code of Canon Law. It is the spirit that they are seeking now. Maybe it wasn’t the right information in the right moment, a little bit of confusion, but this is the thing: the particular Church, the Code permits it, the local Church [episcopal conference] cannot because it would be universal.

(journalist inaudible)
 
But the conference can study and give orientative opinions to help the bishops to manage the particular cases. Thanks.

Greg Burke:

Now from the Spanish group there is Eva Fernandez of COPE agency and Spanish radio

Pope Francis:

They are good, these [journalists] of COPE

Eva Fernandez:

Thank you, Holy Father! We have seen that even the secretary general of the Ecumenical Council of Churches spoke of help to refugees. Just recently we have seen the incident of the Aquarius ship, also the separation of families in the United States. Do you think that some leaders instrumentalize/use the tragedy of refugees. Do they use them...?

Pope Francis:

I have spoken a lot on refugees, the criteria are those that I have said: to welcome, to accompany, to place, to integrate. This is the criteria for all refugees. Then I have said that every country should do this with the virtue of the rule of prudence, because a country should welcome as many refugees as it can and as many as it can integrate, educate, assimilate, give work to. This I would say is the straightforward/easy, serene plan for refugees. Here we are living [with] a wave of refugees that flee from wars and from hunger. The war and hunger of many countries in Africa, wars and persecution in the Middle East. Italy and Greece were very generous in welcoming [refugees], and for the Middle East, Turkey [was also], in respect to Syria, it has received many... Lebanon many... Lebanon has as many Syrians as Lebanese... and then Jordan... other countries, also Spain has received [them? some?].

There is a problem of trafficking migrants, and also there is the problem when in some cases they return, because they should return if this -- I do not know/understand well the terms in agreement -- if they are in the Libyan water, they should return... and there, I have seen the photographs of the detention centers controlled by the traffickers. Traffickers immediately separate the women from the men... women and babies go... God knows where! This is what the traffickers do! There is even a case that I know of where the traffickers were close to a ship that had accepted barges and... [they were saying] "give us the women and the babies and take the males."

These traffickers and the detention centers of the traffickers eh, that have returned, they are terrible... terrible! In the detention camps of the Second World War they saw these things! And also the mutilizations in the torture of [forced?] labor and then they threw them to be in the comunes of the men. For this the leaders are concerned that they [the people] do not return and fall into the hands of these people [the traffickers]. It is a world-wide concern! I know that the leaders speak on this and they want to find an agreement, even to modify the Dublin agreement and all of this.  

In Spain you have had the case of this ship that is docked in Valencia, but all of this is a mess... the problem of the wars is difficult to resolve. The problem of the persecution also of Christians in the Middle East, also in Nigeria... but the problem of hunger they can resolve, and many European leaders are thinking of an emergency plan to invest in these countries, to invest intelligently, to give work and education in these two things in the countries from which those people come... because -- [I’ll say] one thing, not to offend, but it is the truth -- in the collective subconscious, is a bad motto: Africa is exploited. And Africa is to be preyed on... this is in the subconscious... ‘eh, they are Africans.’ Always ‘land of slaves.’

And this should change with this plan of investment, and to increase education, because the African people have many cultural riches, many, and they have a great intelligence. The children are very intelligent and they, with a good education, can go beyond... this will be the road halfway to the goal, but in the moment leaders should make an agreement between themselves to go forward with these emergency fixes... this here in Europe! We go in America: in America there is a great migration problem.  

(journalist inaudible)

In Latin America too there is an internal migration problem... in my homeland there is a migration problem from North to South and even these people leave the countryside because there is no work and the go to the big cities and where there are these megacities [or huge cities], the slums and all these things, but it is also an external migration to other countries that have work... and speaking concretely of the United States, I back that which the bishops of the country say. I side with them. Thank you.


Greg Burke:
 
Thanks, Holiness. Now is the English group: Deborah Castellano Lubov of the Zenit Agency.


Deborah Castellano Lubov (Zenit):

 Thanks, Holiness! Holiness, in your address today to the ecumenical encounter you made reference to the enormous strength of the Gospel. We know some of the Churches, now the World Council of Churches, the so-called “pacifist Churches” who believe that a Christian cannot use violence. We remember that two years ago in the Vatican there was as conference organized. Do you think that it would be the case for the Catholic Church to unite to these so-called “Churches of peace” and set aside the doctrine of just war? Thanks.

Pope Francis:
A clarification, why do you say that there are “pacifist Churches?”

Deborah Castellano Lubov:

They are considered as pacifist because they have this way of reasoning that if a person (intuits) a violence, at that point they can no longer be considered Christians.

Pope Francis:

Thanks. I understand. Because you put your finger right in the wound, eh? I think that… today at lunch a pastor said that maybe the first human right is the right to hope and I liked that. And this has to do a bit with this and we spoke about the crisis of human rights today. I think that I have to begin from this to arrive to your question.  The crisis of human rights is clearly seen. They speak a bit about human rights but so many groups or some countries take a distance, and “yes, human rights,” but there isn’t the strength, the enthusiasm, the conviction. I don’t say 70 years ago but 20 years ago. And this is grave because we have to see the causes, but what are the causes for which we have arrived to this that today human rights are relative. Also the right to peace is relative. It is a crisis of human rights. This I think that we must think it through to the end, or with certainty.

Then, Churches of peace. I think that all the Churches that have this spirit of peace must reunite and work together as we said in the speeches today, myself and the other people that spoke. And at lunch, unity for peace was spoken of. Peace is an exigency because there is risk of a war that we … some have said this: this third world war, if it is done, we know with which arms it will be done… but if there were a fourth, it would be done with sticks because humanity will be destroyed. The commitment for peace is serious, but when you think of the money that is spent on weapons… for this, the religions of peace… is the mandate of God. Peace, fraternity, human unity. All of the conflicts, don’t resolve them like Cain, resolve them with negotiations, with dialogue, with mediations… for example, we’re in a crisis of mediations. The mediation as a juridical figure (very rich) today is in pure crisis. Hope is in crisis, crisis of human rights, crisis of mediations, crisis of peace.

But then if you say that there are religions of peace, I ask myself, where are the religions of war? It’s tough to understand this. It’s tough. But, some groups, I would say in almost all of the small religious groups, I will say a bit simply fundamentalists, seek wars… Also we Catholics have some. They always seek destruction, no? And this is very important to have our eyes on it.  I don’t know if I replied. Thanks.

They say that the population is asking for lunch, eh, dinner, that there is just enough time to arrive with a full stomach. It’s just to tell you… a word that I want to say clearly that today was an ecumenical day, really ecumenical! And at lunch we said a beautiful word, a beautiful thing, that I leave with you so that you think on it and reflect, you make a nice consideration of this. In the ecumenical movement we have to take from the dictionary a word: “proselytism.” Clear? You cannot have ecumenism with proselytism. You have to choose. Either you have an ecumenical spirit or you are a proselytizer.

Thanks! I would continue speaking because I like it… but now let’s make the Substitute [of the Secretariat of State] come because it is the last trip he’ll make with us, because now he’s going to change color, but not for embarrassment! We want to say goodbye to him. It’s a Sardinian cake to celebrate!


Cardinal-elect Angelo Becciu (Sardinian-born Substitute of the Holy See Secretariat of State):

 Thanks! It is a double surprise of calling me and thanking me in front of you! And then there’s a Sardinian cake. Well, then, we’ll try it with pleasure! I truly thank the Holy Father for this occasion, but for everything, because he has allowed me this magnificent experience of traveling so much with him. At the beginning, he scared me saying, ‘No, I’ve made few trips.’ Do you remember? And then after one, he added another and then another and we said to ourselves, ‘good thing he said there would be few and they’ve been many.’ A magnificent experience of seeing the Holy Father spread the Word of God courageously. My service has been only this: to help him in this. Alright? Thanks to all of you and to those who have helped us! Thanks.

Pope Francis:

Buon appetito, have a good dinner and thanks so much! And pray for me, please. Thanks.
 

 

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Reading 1 Sir 48:1-14

Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord's word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You brought a dead man back to life
from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.
You sent kings down to destruction,
and easily broke their power into pieces.
You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness.
You heard threats at Sinai,
at Horeb avenging judgments.
You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance,
and a prophet as your successor.
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
And who falls asleep in your friendship.
For we live only in our life,
but after death our name will not be such.
O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!

Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,
wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
Nothing was beyond his power;
beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
In life he performed wonders,
and after death, marvelous deeds.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

R. (12a) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes round about.
His lightnings illumine the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
All who worship graven things are put to shame,
who glory in the things of nought;
all gods are prostrate before him.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia Rom 8:15bc

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This is how you are to pray:

'Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'

"If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 2:1, 6-14

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind,
he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here;
the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.”
“As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,
I will not leave you,” Elisha replied.
And so the two went on together.
Fifty of the guild prophets followed and
when the two stopped at the Jordan,
they stood facing them at a distance.
Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up
and struck the water, which divided,
and both crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha,
“Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”
Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.”
“You have asked something that is not easy,” Elijah replied.
“Still, if you see me taken up from you,
your wish will be granted; otherwise not.”
As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
When Elisha saw it happen he cried out,
“My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!”
But when he could no longer see him,
Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two.

Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him,
and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan.
Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,
Elisha struck the water in his turn and said,
“Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?”
When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:20, 21, 24

R. (25) Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.
R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia Jn 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Kgs 21:17-29

After the death of Naboth the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite:
"Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel,
who rules in Samaria.
He will be in the vineyard of Naboth,
of which he has come to take possession.
This is what you shall tell him,
'The LORD says: After murdering, do you also take possession?
For this, the LORD says:
In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth,
the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.'"
Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me out, my enemy?"
"Yes," he answered.
"Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD's sight,
I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you
and will cut off every male in Ahab's line,
whether slave or freeman, in Israel.
I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat,
and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah,
because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin."
(Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared,
"The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.")
"When one of Ahab's line dies in the city,
dogs will devour him;
when one of them dies in the field,
the birds of the sky will devour him."
Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil
in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab,
urged on by his wife Jezebel.
He became completely abominable by following idols,
just as the Amorites had done,
whom the LORD drove out before the children of Israel.

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments
and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh.
He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued.
Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite,
"Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me?
Since he has humbled himself before me,
I will not bring the evil in his time.
I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 11 and 16

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Turn away your face from my sins,
and blot out all my guilt.
Free me from blood guilt, O God, my saving God;
then my tongue shall revel in your justice.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Alleluia Jn 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment;
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.