- Year XXII - Num. 058
|- Be grains of wheat, offering the Gospel, the Cross and the witness of faith|
|- Francis offers pocket Gospels from the hands of the neediest|
|- Pope Francis' trip to Naples (21 March)|
|- The Pope meets detainees at Poggioreale penitentiary|
|- Francis to the clergy of Naples: “Gossip is the terrorism of brotherhood”|
|- “Only in the Crucified Christ do we find the explanation of the mystery of sickness”|
|- The Pope concludes his trip to Naples: “Our God is the God of words and of silence”|
|- Other Pontifical Acts|
|Be grains of wheat, offering the Gospel, the Cross and the witness of faith|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – At midday today the Pope appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace for the Angelus prayer with the thousands of faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, Francis commented on the day's Gospel reading, in which the evangelist John narrates that some 'Greeks', Hebrews, had asked the apostle Philip if they could see Jesus. The Pope explained that this request goes far beyond this particular episode, instead expressing something universal; it “reveals a desire present in the ages and cultures, a desire present in the heart of so many people who have heard of Christ, but have not yet met him. Jesus responds with a prophecy that reveals His identity and shows the path to know Him truly: 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified'. … The hour of the Cross, the darkest in history, is also the source of salvation for those who believe in Him”.
Continuing in His prophecy, “Jesus uses a simple and suggestive image, that of the 'grain of wheat' that, once fallen in the earth, dies in order to produce fruit. In this image we find another aspect of Christ's Cross: fruitfulness. The death of Jesus, in fact, is an inexhaustible source of new life, because it carries within itself the regenerating strength of the love of God. Immersed in this love through Baptism, Christians can become 'grains of wheat' and produce much fruit if they, like Jesus, 'lose their own life' for the love of God and for their brothers and sisters”.
Francis emphasised that all those who want to see Jesus, who search for Him, those who have not yet encountered Jesus or who have lost their faith, we are able to offer three things: the Gospel, where we can encounter Jesus, listen to Him, know Him; the Cross, sign of the love of Jesus who gave Himself for us; and our witness of faith, poor but sincere. “A faith that is translated into simple gestures of fraternal charity. But mainly, in the coherence of our life, between what we say and what we do, coherence between our faith and our life, between our words and our actions”.
|Francis offers pocket Gospels from the hands of the neediest|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – Following today's Angelus prayer, the Pope thanked the people of Naples for the warm welcome offered to him during his apostolic trip . He also remarked that today is the World Day of Water, promoted by the United Nations. “Water is the most essential element for life”, he said. “The future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it”. He made an appeal to the international community to ensure that the planet's waters are adequately protected and that no one is excluded or discriminated against in the use of this quintessential common good.
As he did last year during Lent, the Pope offered all those present a pocket-sized Gospel, which was distributed by some homeless people who live in Rome. “Here we see a beautiful gesture”, he remarked. “Those ones most in need are the ones who give us the Word of God. Take this Gospel; keep it with you and read it often, every day. Carry it in your bag, in your pocket, but read it often. A verse, a passage every day. The Word of God is a light for our path. Read it, it will be good for you”.
|Pope Francis' trip to Naples (21 March)|
|The Pope meets detainees at Poggioreale penitentiary|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday the Pope visited the Giuseppe Salvia Penitentiary in Poggioreale. Upon arrival he was welcomed by the director of the centre and the chaplain, and he greeted the detainees from the forecourt of the institution. After lunch the Holy Father handed them a brief written discourse, several paragraphs of which are reproduced below:
“At times we feel disillusioned, discouraged, abandoned by everyone, but God does not forget his children – He never abandons them. He is always at our side, especially in times of difficulty; the Father is 'rich in mercy'. ... This is a certainty that gives comfort and hope, especially in difficult and sad times. Although we have erred in life, the Lord never tires of showing us the way back to the path and encounter with Him. … It is a fundamental certainty for us: nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not even the bars of a prison”.
“Dear brothers, I know your painful situations: I receive many letters – some truly moving – from prisons around the world. Inmates often live in conditions unworthy of human beings, and subsequently are unable to reintegrate into society. But, thanks be to God, there are also leaders, chaplains, educators, pastoral workers who know how to stay close to you in the right way. There are some good and meaningful experiences of reintegration. We must work on this, to develop these positive experiences, so they help nurture a different attitude in the civil community and also in the community of the Church. At the basis of this commitment is the conviction that love can always transform the human person. And so, a place of marginalisation, as a prison may be, in a negative sense, can then become a place of inclusion and stimulus for society as a whole, so that it becomes just and more attentive to people”.
“I invite you to live every day, every moment in the presence of God, to Whom the future of the world and of man belong. This is Christian hope: the future is in God's hands. History makes sense because it is inhabited by God's goodness”.
|Francis to the clergy of Naples: “Gossip is the terrorism of brotherhood”|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – After visiting the Poggioreale penitentiary yesterday, the Holy Father transferred to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Naples to venerate the relics of St. Januarius, the patron of the city, and to meet with the clergy, men and women religious and permanent deacons of the archdiocese. The episcopal vicars for the clergy and for consecrated life posed two questions to the Pope on behalf of those in attendance: the first on the mission of the priesthood in a city of great contrasts such as Naples, and the second regarding the difficulties and joys in the life of consecrated persons.
Francis preferred to answer directly, setting aside the official discourse he had prepared and, seated rather than on foot, he spoke with those present.
“One of the testimonies you asked of me is this: that of always being on the move”, he said. “The path of consecrated life is that which follows Jesus. … If at the centre of my life … there is the fact of being opposed to a bishop, or a parish priest, or another priest, my entire life is absorbed by this battle. But this means losing your life! Not having a family, not having children, not having conjugal love, which is so good and beautiful, just to end up arguing with the bishop, with brother priests, with the faithful, and to end up with a sour face: this is not bearing witness. … When Jesus is at the centre, these difficulties are there all the same, they are everywhere, but we face them in a different way. In a convent, perhaps I don't like the superior, but I tolerate her and I ensure that the other superiors understand the situation. But no-one can take away my joy: the joy of following Jesus”.
He then addressed the seminarians. “What I would like to say to you is this: if you do not have Jesus at your centre, defer your ordination. If you are not sure that Jesus is the centre of your life, wait a little, in order to be certain. The alternative is setting out on a path without knowing where it will finish”.
The Pope then went on to speak about a second witness, that of the spirit of poverty, which is necessary also for priests, “who do not make this vow, but must have this spirit …
When the Church enters into business, either for priests or for persons religious, it is not good. … Consecrated persons – be they priests, or men and women religious – must never be businesspeople. The spirit of poverty is not, however, the spirit of miserliness. A priest, who has never taken a vow of poverty, may keep his savings but in an honest and reasonable way. But when one becomes greedy and starts getting involved in business … How many scandals in the Church, and what a lack of freedom, due to money!”. Francis gave the example of benefactors whose lives are less than exemplary, but to whom priests are not free to speak frankly because of the money they contribute. He added, “When money is involved, we begin to discriminate between people. Therefore, I would ask all seminarians to examine their consciences in this respect”.
The third testimony for the Holy Father is mercy. “We have forgotten about works of mercy … and I offer you an example: in the great Christian cities, there are baptised children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross. And where is the work of mercy of teaching in this case? … We need to resume works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. If there is a sick person near my house and I would like to visit him, but the time I have available coincides with a television show, and I choose the television show rather than a work of mercy, then this will not do. .. These are the things that draw us closer to the spirit of the world, which is another thing I would like to speak about: the danger of worldliness. … Think about the priestly prayer, when Jesus beseeches His Father: 'I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one'. Worldliness is contrary to witness, while the spirit of prayer is a witness that we see … and this witness attracts vocations”.
Another question posed by the vicar for the clergy regarded priestly fraternity, and the bishop of Rome answered that promoting this fraternity was easy neither in the convent, in consecrated life, nor in the presbytery. “For me, the sign that there is no brotherliness is gossip. … The terrorism of gossip. … In a presbytery there may be various points of view and differences: this is normal and it is Christian, but these differences must be brought our by having the courage to speak directly to others. … And when this is not possible, because at times it cannot be done, tell another person who can act as an intermediary. But you cannot speak against another person, because gossip is the terrorism of diocesan fraternity, of priestly fraternity, of religious communities”.
Joy is also a form of witness. “The joy of a full life, the joy of having chosen well, the joy of seeing every day that the Lord is faithful to me. ... Boring, sad priests or consecrated persons, with bitterness in their hearts, have something wrong and should seek a good spiritual adviser”.
“I would like to finish with three things”, said the Holy Father, at the end of his meeting in the cathedral. “Firstly, worship: we have lost the meaning of the worship of God, and we need to resume this. Secondly, it is not possible to love Jesus without loving His spouse. Love for the Church. … Thirdly, and this is important: apostolic zeal, which is missionary in nature. The love of the Church will lead you to know this, to come out of yourselves, to go forth and preach Christ's Revelation, but it will also urge you to come out of yourselves to reach another transcendence, which is worship”.
Finally, the Pope venerated the reliquary that contains the blood of St. Januarius; its miraculous liquefaction is awaited every year by Neapolitan faithful on during a solemn religious ceremony lead by the archbishop. This time the blood was only half liquefied, and Francis affirmed: “We see that the Spirit loves us by half. We must all convert, so that He will love us more. Thank you, and do not forget to pray for me”.
|“Only in the Crucified Christ do we find the explanation of the mystery of sickness”|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) - “It is not easy to approach a patient. The most beautiful and most miserable things in life are reserved, they conceal themselves. One tries to hide the greatest love, out of modesty; and for modesty we also hide those things that demonstrate our human misery”. With these words the Pope addressed the patients he met in the Basilica of Gesù Nuovo yesterday, explaining that to approach a patient it is necessary to go to him, since the modesty of life leads him to conceal himself. “When there are lifelong illnesses, when we find ourselves faced with maladies that affect an entire life, we prefer to hide them, because going to visit a patient means going and finding our own sickness. It means having the courage to say to oneself: I too have a malady of the heart, of the soul, of the spirit; I too am spiritually afflicted”.
Francis spoke of the mystery of sickness, explaining that although God created us to change the world, to be efficient, to dominate Creation, “when we find ourselves before sickness, we see that the ailment prevents this: that man or that woman who was born this way, or who became this way, seems to say 'no' to the mission of transforming the world. … We are only able to approach the sick … if we accustom ourselves to looking at the Crucified Christ, as here is the only explanation for this 'failure', this human failure, this ailment throughout our lives”.
“If you cannot understand the Lord”, he said to the patients present, “I ask the Lord to make you understand in your hearts that you are the flesh of Christ”. Francis thanked the volunteers who spend their time “caressing Christ's flesh, serving the crucified and living Christ”, and the doctors and nurses who have not transformed their profession into a form of trade, as “when medicine turns into trade, into business, it is like the priesthood when it acts in the same way: it loses the kernel of its vocation”. Finally, he urged all the Christians of the diocese of Naples not to forget what Jesus asked us, and what we will all be judged upon: “I was sick, and you cared for me”. “The sick suffer: they are a reflection of the suffering Christ”, he concluded. “Do not be afraid to draw close to Christ Who suffers”.
|The Pope concludes his trip to Naples: “Our God is the God of words and of silence”|
Vatican City, 22 March 2015 (VIS) – The final stage of the Pope's visit to Naples yesterday took place on the Caracciolo seafront promenade, where he met with the people of the city. The Holy Father again answered three questions. The first was posed by a young woman who wanted to know how to interpret God's silence when faced with difficulties such as corruption, and how to respond to this with signs of hope.
“God, our God is a God of words, He is a God of gestures, and He is a God of silence. We know the God of words because in the Bible there are the words of God: God talks to us and seeks us. The God of gestures is the God around us. … And then there is the God of silence. Think of the great silences in the Bible: for instance, the silence in the heart of Abraham when he went to offer his son as a sacrifice. …. But God's greatest silence was the Cross: Jesus heard his Father's silence, to the point of defining it as abandonment. … And then there occurred God's miracle, that word, that grandiose gesture of the Resurrection. Our God is also the God of silence, and there are silences of God's that cannot be explained if you do not look to the Cross. For example, why do children suffer? Where is there a word from God to explain why children suffer? … I do not say that the silence of God can be 'understood', but we can draw nearer to God's silences by looking upon the crucified Christ, Christ abandoned from the Mount of Olives unto the Cross. … But 'God created us to be happy'. Yes, it is true. But very often He says nothing. And this is the truth. I cannot deceive you by saying, 'No, have faith and all will go well, you will be happy, you will have good fortune, you will have money …'. No, our God also remains in silence. Remember: He is the God of words, the God of gestures, and the God of silences, and you have to unite these three things in your life. This is what I can say to you. I am sorry. I have no other 'recipe'”.
The second question was from an elderly woman, aged 95, who thanked the Pope for his defence of old age, a gift that today's society does not appreciate or discards, and commented that she had found a Christian community that showed her affection and gave her strength, and which had become like a family to her.
“You used a key word for our culture: 'discard'. The elderly are discarded, because this society throws away what is no longer useful, what is 'disposable'. Children are not useful, so why have them? … We discard children, and we discard the elderly, because we leave them by themselves. We elderly have ailments and problems, and we bring problems to others, and people discard us perhaps because of these ailments, because we are no longer useful. And then there is this habit of – excuse the expression – leaving people to die, and since we like using euphemisms, we use a technical word: euthanasia. But euthanasia is carried out not only by injection; there is also a hidden euthanasia, that of no longer giving medicine, of not offering cures, of making life sad, and so one dies, one expires. … But this path that you have found is the best medicine for a long life: closeness, friendship, tenderness. … Solitude is the most potent poison for the elderly. … Sons and daughters, I remind you of the fourth commandment. Are you affectionate with your parents? Do you embrace them, do you tell them you love them? … Examine your consciences. Affection is the best medicine for the elderly”.
Finally, a married couple asked the Pope how best to communicate the beauty of the family, through a pastoral ministry of outreach rather than defence.
“The family is in crisis: this is true, and it is not new”, answered Francis. “Young people do not want to get married, preferring instead to live together, easily and without compromises; then, if a child comes along, they marry out of necessity. … The crisis of the family is a social reality. Then there are the ideological colonisations of the family, modes and proposals from Europe and also from overseas. The error of the human mind that is gender theory creates a lot of confusion. … What can we do, faced with such active secularisation? What can we do with these ideological colonisations? What can be done with a culture that does not consider the family, in which people prefer not to marry? I do not have a recipe: the Church is aware of this and the Lord has inspired the convocation of a Synod on the family, on its many problems. … For example, there is the problem of preparation for marriage. Preparation is not a question of a course: became a married couple in eight lessons. … It is another thing entirely. It begins at home, with friends, with youth, during engagement. Engagement has lost the sacred meaning of respect. Today, normally, engagement and cohabitation are almost the same thing. Not always, as there are good examples. How can we prepare an engagement to mature? It is like fruit. If you do not gather it when it is ripe, it is not good. But all this is a crisis, and I ask you to pray a lot. I have no recipes for this, but the witness of love and the witness of how to resolve problems are important”.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope transferred to the maritime station of Naples in order to depart by helicopter. He arrived in Rome at
|Other Pontifical Acts|
Vatican City, 21 March 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Bishop Stanislav Stolarik, auxiliary of Kosice, Slovakia, as bishop of Roznava (area 7,000, population 389,400, Catholics 223,100, priests 120, religious 95), Slovakia. He succeeds Bishop Vladimir Filo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- appointed Bishop Charles Phillip Richard Moth, formerly military ordinary for Great Britain, as bishop of Arundel and Brighton (area 4,998, population 3,225,000, Catholics 198,200, priests 192, permanent deacons 36, religious 499), England.
- appointed Msgr. Javier Gerardo Roman Arias as bishop of Limon (area 9,188, population 323,000, Catholics 263,453, priests 23, religious 36), Costa Rica. The bishop-elect was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1987. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest and parish priest in various parishes of the archdiocese of San Jose de Costa Rica. He is currently adjunct secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, parish priest of the “Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe” parish, and bursar of the archdiocese of San Jose de Costa Rica.
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archieparchy of Istanbul of the Armenians, Turkey, presented by Bishop Hovhannes Tcholakian, upon reaching the age limit.
- confirmed the appointment of Bishop Levon Boghos Zekiyan, apostolic administrator of the archieparchy of Istanbul of the Armenians, Turkey, as archbishop of the same see.
- accepted the resignation from the office of apostolic administrator presented by Bishop Nechan Karakeheyan of the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics resident in Greece, upon reaching the age limit.
- appointed Rev. Hovsep Bezazian as apostolic administrator of the Ordinariate for Armenian Catholics resident in Greece, without episcopal rank.
- Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, formerly apostolic nuncio in Malta and Libya, as apostolic nuncio in the Netherlands.