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Posted on 01/24/2024 15:55 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Jan 24, 2024 / 10:55 am (CNA).
During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis focused on the vice of avarice, or greed, noting that the preoccupation with the accumulation of material goods reflects a greater “compulsive hoarding and pathological accumulation.”
“It is not a sin that regards only people with large assets but rather a transversal vice, which often has nothing to do with the bank balance. It is a sickness of the heart, not of the wallet,” the pope said to the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
The pope cited the example of the Desert Fathers — some of the earliest Christian hermits — who renounced their “enormous inheritances” yet who still “in the solitude of their cells clung to objects of little value. Those objects became for them a sort of fetish from which they could not detach themselves.”
The “attachment to small things” assumes a totalizing effect whereby it “takes away freedom,” Francis continued.
While it can give a sense of security, however fragile it may be, the pope noted the accumulation of these goods often becomes an inverted process. He observed that “we may be the masters of the goods we possess, but often the opposite happens: They eventually take possession of us.”
“Some rich men are no longer free, they no longer even have the time to rest, they have to look over their shoulder because the accumulation of goods also demands their safekeeping. They are always anxious, because a patrimony is built with a great deal of sweat but can disappear in a moment,” Francis added.
Highlighting the “drastic” monastic example of the “meditation on death” as a countermeasure to “heal from this disease,” Francis observed that these meditations highlight the futility of a hyper-fixation on material goods while also revealing its root cause: “It is an attempt to exorcize the fear of death, it seeks securities that in reality crumble the very moment we hold them in our hand.”
Death, the pope continued, is a stark reminder of the “senselessness of this vice” as it showcases that “we cannot carry the goods with us!”
To further develop this point, the pope turned the Sermon on the Mount to reflect on the importance Jesus placed not on temporal goods and ephemeral pleasures but on the promise of eternal life.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; instead lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal,” the pope said, quoting from the Gospel of Matthew.
At the end of the general audience the Holy Father reminded the faithful that Saturday, Jan. 27, is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
“The memory and condemnation of that horrible extermination of millions of Jewish people and people of other faiths, which occurred in the first half of the last century, helps everyone to not forget that the logic of hatred and violence can never be justified, because they deny our very humanity,” the pope said.
Imploring that “war itself is a denial of humanity,” the pope renewed his call to pray for peace amid the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“Let us not get tired of praying for peace, for conflicts to end, for weapons to stop and for exhausted populations to be helped.”
“I pray for the victims and their loved ones, and I implore everyone, especially those with political responsibility, to protect human life by putting an end to wars. Let’s not forget: War is always a defeat, always. The only ones to win are the arms manufacturers.”
🎥 VIDEO | At the General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about the sin of greed saying that worldly possessions “will not enter the coffin with us” and that “the bond of possession we create with objects is only apparent, because we are not the masters of world” pic.twitter.com/15priRZVdQ— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) January 24, 2024
Posted on 01/23/2024 21:22 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 23, 2024 / 16:22 pm (CNA).
“Love is the primary reason for the existence of the Church,” Pope Francis begins the letter accompanying the new edition of YouCat, the Catechism of the Catholic Church written for adolescents and young people.
The full text was published yesterday by the Italian newspaper La Stampa and is titled “The Password for Joy,” which, according to the pope, is found precisely within the catechism.
The pope explains that this “love” of which he speaks is primarily the love that God the Father revealed to the world through Jesus.
However, he also points out that there is another love that comes from each person: the love that believers, in turn, profess for Jesus Christ.
“He is the center of our heart. How, in fact, can we not have feelings of true affection toward him who has made us partakers of a love, that of the Father, a love about which it is impossible to imagine a greater one?” the pope wrote in his letter. “The believer is, therefore, always in love with Jesus.”
The pontiff also noted that it is the duty of “adults in faith” to make Jesus Christ known to those who have not yet had the opportunity. This encounter, the Holy Father said, must be proposed through the catechism, which reveals the love that Catholics feel for the Lord.
“This beautiful book that you now have in your hands has its origin precisely in such a love: the love for Jesus that we believers hold within us,” he said.
Regarding the importance of the catechism for young people, Pope Francis recalled his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in the preface to the first edition of YouCat: “This book is compelling because it speaks to us of our very destiny and therefore concerns each of us intimately. Because of this I ask you: Study the catechism with passion and perseverance!”
Pope Francis referenced these words and also recommended that young people frequently read the Gospel and pray daily to “transfer” the attitudes of Jesus from the mind to the heart.
“Here is the password for a truly lively and joyful life,” the pope said, “to look at and judge what happens to us and the decisions we are called to make with the same eyes, with the same feelings, with the same attitude that embodied Jesus.”
Meuser leaves YouCat Foundation
Bernhard Meuser, the German founder, main author, and “father of YouCat” will retire at the end of this year, the organization said on its official website.
The 70-year-old theologian and philologist has written, supervised, and edited numerous publications that have received international recognition. The most important has been the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YouCat), which has been translated into more than 60 languages and is one of the bestselling Catholic books worldwide.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 01/22/2024 18:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Jan 22, 2024 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis received an ecumenical delegation from Finland on Friday, Jan. 19, on the second day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and to mark the feast of St. Henry of Uppsala.
Speaking on the importance of ecumenical dialogue and providing a broader reflection on the saints and the important role their testament plays, the pope noted that “we are on a journey and our common goal is Jesus Christ.”
The pope told the Finnish delegation: “The saints are brothers and sisters who have traveled this road to the end and have reached their goal. They accompany us as living witnesses of Christ our way, truth, and life.”
“If the thousandth anniversary of the death of St. Olav in 2030 can inspire and deepen our prayer for unity and also our journey together, this will be a gift for the entire ecumenical movement,” the pope added in his address.
Following the meeting with the pope on Friday, the ecumenical delegation met with Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. Father Oskari Juurikkala at the meeting called the cardinal “a quite unique case that can be an example for others.”
Finland shares a border with Sweden, Norway, and Russia. It is home to some 5.5 million people, of whom an estimated 16,000 are Catholic, fewer than 1% of the population.
The Diocese of Helsinki covers the entire country and comprises just eight parishes and 25 priests, of whom most are foreign-born. Despite the small number of Catholics, the Catholic population of Finland grows each year, primarily from conversion and immigration.
After a four-year sede vacante in the diocese, following the resignation of Bishop Teemu Sippo, the first Finnish-born Catholic bishop since the Protestant Reformation, Father Raimo Goyarrola was appointed as bishop of Helsinki by Pope Francis on Sept. 29, 2023.
Goyarrola was consecrated bishop of Helsinki on Nov. 25, 2023, in the Johanneksen Kirkko (St. John’s Lutheran Church) in Helsinki.
Reflecting on his episcopal consecration, Goyarrola told the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, in a recent interview that “it was amazing, it was an ecumenical feast. There were many Catholics, of course, but also many Lutherans, Pentecostals, Orthodox, Methodists, and Anglicans — we were like a council in the church.”
Ecumenism between the different churches is one of the defining features of the religious fabric of the country.
“Thanks to ecumenism, we use 25 different temples that are non-Catholic; they’re Lutheran or Orthodox churches. Every Sunday we use 25 [different non-Catholic parishes]; that means 25 different cities where [there is] Catholic Mass. But this is not a Catholic parish. And this is amazing. This is a gift. This is ecumenism in Finland,” the bishop continued in his interview with EWTN.
According to the diocese’s official website, the permanent Catholic parishes are located in Helsinki, Turku, Jyväskylä, Tampere (with chapels in Vaasa and Pietarsaari), Kouvola, Kuopio, and Oulu.
“A parish priest on Sunday will say three to four Masses. One Mass is in the parish, but another Mass is 200 kilometers from the parish, and perhaps the third Mass is 150 kilometers from the parish, and so we travel a lot by car, by train,” the bishop added.
Finland is a traditionally Lutheran country; however, in many ways, it retains unique links with the Catholic tradition that has made greater ecumenical dialogue possible.
Juurikkala, a native of Helsinki and a priest of Opus Dei in Rome, spoke with CNA about his journey toward the faith and the unique ecumenical atmosphere that characterizes the Church in Finland.
“In the last couple of decades, there has been a growing sense of friendship, especially between the Lutheran, Orthodox, and Catholic bishops, priests, and pastors,” he said.
Both for Juurikkala and Goyarrola the unique status and historical legacy of Finnish Lutheranism have facilitated greater dialogue and mutual intelligibility with Catholicism.
Noting that in Finland, the Protestant Reformation took the form primarily of a “political reformation,” Goyarrola said Finnish Lutherans “pray[ed] to the Virgin Mary, the saints, and there were tabernacles all around Finland more than 100 years after the Reformation.”
“The Lutheran Church in Finland is the closest Lutheran Church in the world to the Catholic Church,” the bishop added.
Juurikkala observed that the Catholic Church and the Finnish Lutheran Church also had a common “way of understanding the Eucharist and communion; it’s not so radically reformed in many other places.” He added that there’s also a “strong sense of the episcopal office,” which positions it “much closer to Anglicanism in that sense. It’s a strong sense of the episcopal office and kind of the church hierarchy and the notion of priesthood.”
Juurikkala grew up in what he described as a “humanistic family” where there was an emphasis on “humanities, literature, and culture,” but “there was really nothing, no Christian element in our life apart from the general, you know, Western culture.”
The Finnish priest noted that in Finland, especially during the 1980s to the early 2000s, “the Catholic Church was very invisible in the society.”
But, in the past 20 years there has been a shift in the Church’s presence in the Nordic country, brought in part by the advent of social media and the proliferation of the internet, he said.
“We see clearly in Finland that with the younger generations, there’s a lot of openness toward spirituality in general and interest in religions,” Juurikkala said. “There were some studies by some sociologists since in the last couple of weeks they published a study showing that the most religious group now in Finland is teenage boys.”
Posted on 01/22/2024 16:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Jan 22, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis thanked the Vatican press corps on Monday for reporting on scandals in the Church with “delicacy” in a media environment that he said often “distorts religious news.”
Journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office met the pope in a private audience at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Jan. 22.
“Being a journalist is a vocation, somewhat like that of a doctor, who chooses to love humanity by curing illnesses. In a certain sense, the journalist does likewise, choosing to touch personally the wounds of society and the world,” Pope Francis said.
The pope encouraged journalists covering the Vatican to ground their work “on the solid rock of responsibility for the truth, not the fragile sands of gossip and ideological interpretations.”
“I would like to add the delicacy that you so often have in speaking of scandals in the Church; there are some and many times I have seen in you a great delicacy, a respect, an almost, I say, ‘abashed’ silence: Thank you for this attitude,” the pope said.
Speaking under Renaissance frescoes depicting the life and martyrdom of the first-century pope St. Clement I, Pope Francis said that journalists should strive “to grasp what is essential in the light of the nature of the Church.”
“Our meeting is an opportunity to reflect on the tiring job of the ‘Vaticanista,’ the Vatican expert, in recounting the journey of the Church, in building bridges of knowledge and communication instead of rifts of division and distrust,” he said.
The 87-year-old pope told the journalists not to hide “reality and its miseries” or “sugarcoat the tensions” in the Church but also “not to make unnecessary hype.”
The papal audience took place just days ahead of the Jan. 24 feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.
“I would like to express gratitude not only for what you write and broadcast but also for your constancy and patience in following day after day the news that arrives from the Holy See and the Church, reporting on an institution that transcends the ‘here and now’ and our own lives,” Pope Francis said.
“Thank you also for your sacrifices in following the pope around the world and in working often even on Sundays and feast days. I apologize for the times when the news concerning me in various ways has taken you away from your families,” he added.
🎥HIGHLIGHTS | Pope Francis met with journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office in a private audience at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace. He thanked them for reporting on scandals in the Church with “delicacy” in a media environment. pic.twitter.com/xvzczIzNVK— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) January 22, 2024
Posted on 01/21/2024 16:05 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Jan 21, 2024 / 11:05 am (CNA).
Pope Francis called for the release of six religious sisters who have been kidnapped in Haiti in his Angelus address on Sunday.
Armed gunmen took the religious sisters hostage in Port-au-Prince on Friday during a bus hijacking, according to Vatican News. The sisters, members of the Sisters of St. Anne congregation, were abducted along with all of the other bus passengers.
“I have learned with sorrow of the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of people, including six religious sisters,” Pope Francis said on Jan. 21.
“In my heartfelt plea for their release, I pray for social concord in the country. And I invite everyone to bring an end to the violence, which is causing a great deal of suffering to that beloved population.”
The Sisters of St. Anne congregation has been present in Haiti for 80 years serving in the fields of education, catechesis, and human development.
Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne, Haiti, condemned the kidnapping, calling for an end to “deplorable and criminal practices.”
“This latest odious and barbaric act shows no respect for the dignity of these consecrated women who give themselves wholeheartedly and completely to God to educate and form the young, the poorest, and the most vulnerable of our society,” Dumas said.
Posted on 01/21/2024 15:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2024 / 10:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis announced the start of a Year of Prayer on Sunday in preparation for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year.
In his Angelus address, the pope said that a Year of Prayer starting on Jan. 21 will be “a year dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in one’s personal life, in the life of the Church, and in the world.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, the coming months will lead us to the opening of the Holy Door, with which we will begin the jubilee,” Pope Francis said from the window of the Apostolic Palace.
“I ask you to intensify your prayer to prepare us to live this event of grace well and to experience the power of God’s hope. That is why today we begin a Year of Prayer.”
The pope said that the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization will publish resources to help Catholic communities to more fully participate in the Year of Prayer. The Holy See Press Office has also announced that a press conference on the Year of Prayer will take place on Jan. 23.
The Vatican and the city of Rome are expecting an estimated 35 million people to flock to the Eternal City for the 2025 Jubilee Year of Hope — the first ordinary jubilee since the Great Jubilee of 2000.
🎥VIDEO | At the conclusion of the Angelus on the Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis announced the start of the Year of Prayer in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee. pic.twitter.com/bMD62jF6c0— EWTN Vatican (@EWTNVatican) January 22, 2024
A jubilee is a special holy year of grace and pilgrimage in the Catholic Church. It typically takes place once every 25 years, though the pope can call for extraordinary jubilee years more often, such as in the case of the 2016 Year of Mercy or the 2013 Year of Faith.
Jubilees have biblical roots. The Book of Leviticus called for jubilee years to be held every 50 years for the freeing of slaves and forgiveness of debts as manifestations of God’s mercy. The practice was reestablished by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300.
The 2025 Jubilee Year begins on Dec. 24, 2024 (Christmas Eve), and concludes on Jan. 6, 2026.
The Holy Doors are a central part of any jubilee. These doors, found at St. Peter’s Basilica and Rome’s other major basilicas, are sealed from the inside and opened during a jubilee year.
The opening of the Holy Door symbolizes the offering of an “extraordinary path” toward salvation for Catholics during a jubilee. Pilgrims who walk through a Holy Door can receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.
Pope Francis announced the Year of Prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace after presiding over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Sunday of the Word of God.
In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel in his Angelus address, Pope Francis said that “the Lord loves to involve us in his work of salvation.”
“Bringing God’s salvation to everyone was for Jesus the greatest joy, his mission, the meaning of his existence … And in every word and deed with which we join with him in the beautiful adventure of giving love, light, and joy multiply not only around us but also within us,” he said.
Posted on 01/21/2024 13:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has called Catholics to spend more time with the saving power of God’s word as society and social media amplify “the violence of words.”
Speaking of the “immense power” that the word of God can unleash in people’s lives, Pope Francis encouraged us to always “have the Gospel within easy reach.”
“While society and social media accentuate the violence of words, let us draw closer to and cultivate the quiet word of God that brings salvation, that is gentle, that does not make a loud noise and that enters into our hearts,” Pope Francis said on Jan. 21.
The word of God, he said, “does not leave us self-absorbed but expands hearts, changes courses, overturns habits, opens up new scenarios, and discloses unthought-of horizons.”
Pope Francis presided over Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he conferred lay ministries on nine new catechists and two new lectors.
In his homily, the pope pointed to how history shows us the power of God’s word in the lives of the saints.
“We think of the first monk, St. Anthony, who, struck by a passage of the Gospel while at Mass, left everything for the Lord. We think of St. Augustine, whose life took a decisive turn when God’s word brought healing to his heart,” Francis said.
“We think of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who discovered her vocation by reading the letters of St. Paul. And we think too of the saint whose name I bear, Francis of Assisi, who, after praying, read in the Gospel that Jesus sent his disciples to preach and exclaimed: ‘That is what I want; that is what I ask, that is what I desire to do with all my heart!’ Their lives were changed by the word of life, by the word of the Lord.”
Pope Francis underlined that for the same thing to happen in each of our lives “we need to stop being ‘deaf’ to God’s word” and to start spending time in prayer with sacred Scripture.
“We cannot do without God’s word and its quiet and unassuming power that, as if in a personal dialogue, touches the heart, impresses itself on the soul, and renews it with the peace of Jesus, which makes us, in turn, concerned for others,” the pope said.
“It calls us to set out with him for the sake of others. The word makes us missionaries, God’s messengers and witnesses to a world drowning in words, yet thirsting for the very word it so often ignores. The Church lives from this dynamic: Called by Christ and drawn to him, she is sent into the world to bear witness to him,” he said.
During the Mass, Pope Francis formally conferred the ministries of lector and catechist upon eight women and three men from South Korea, Chad, Jamaica, Brazil, Bolivia, Germany, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The ministries themselves have also been shaped by Pope Francis in recent years. The pope changed Church law in January 2021 so that women could be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.
Pope Francis established the ministry of catechist as an instituted, vocational service within the Catholic Church in May 2021. The ministry is for laypeople who have a particular call to serve the Catholic Church as a teacher of the faith. The ministry lasts for the entirety of life, regardless of whether the person is actively carrying out that activity during every part of his or her life.
In his homily, Francis asked people to think about whether they are making enough room for the word of God in their lives.
“Amid so many books, magazines, televisions, and telephones, where is the Bible?” he asked. “In my room, do I have the Gospel within easy reach? Do I read it daily in order to be faithful to my path in life?”
The pope encouraged people to always carry the Gospel with them, either on their phone or to physically carry a small pocket-sized copy of the Gospels, adding: “If Christ is dearer to me than anything else, how can I leave him at home and not bring his word with me?”
Taking the time to read the Bible can help prevent us from the trap of “concentrating on our own thoughts and problems rather than on Christ and his word,” he said.
Pope Francis created the Sunday of the Word of God in 2019 on the 1,600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, who famously translated the Bible.
The Sunday of the Word of God is celebrated in the Church each year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time since 2020.
“The word of God unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said.
“Christ’s word not only liberates us from the burdens we bear, past and present; it also makes us mature in truth and in charity. It enlivens the heart, challenges it, purifies it from hypocrisy, and fills it with hope,” he said.