Diane Sawyer says Pope Francis is beginning “a new era”

Diane Sawyer

Sebastian Gomes, Salt + Light  writer/producer/director gives us a glimpse into filming The Francis Effect, and particularly his interview with Diane Sawyer:

A person of Diane Sawyer’s stature needs no introduction. She is simply one of the best and most distinguished journalists in the English-speaking world. When we asked if she would be willing to do an interview with us for The Francis Effect, she immediately accepted and opened the doors for us to the ABC studios.  After all, who doesn’t want to talk about Francis?! During our interview, which is only one of a few that she has done from the other interview chair, I discovered a person of profound depth with a razor-sharp intellect.  Her abundant experience as a journalist has given her what I would call “the human insight,” that is, a picture of humanity that is simultaneously singular and comprehensive, aware of the challenges and difficulties facing our collective progress, yet able to delight in the simple and concrete expressions of charity, mercy and love happening around us every day.  In other words, a like-hearted person to Francis.

Excerpt from March 14, 2014 interview with Diane Sawyer, host of ABC World News. To watch the full interview, purchase The Francis Effect DVD box set

Gomes: What do you remember most about the night Pope Francis first appeared to the world, March 13, 2013?

Sawyer: First the unknown. We got the name, we had not fully prepared the way we should have prepared, and then he walks out and from the very beginning there were the obvious surface things: that simple cross. And we’re all talking about it, and he’s wearing his own shoes.  We’re all talking about it because that’s what we do, and then there was something so personal – and how you can do it with that giant square, and the billions of people watching – say “I’m really talking to you.”  And we were looking at ourselves astonished at the great drama of someone who was going to speak simple language with a purpose. And I remember we commented at the time that he used children’s prayers, so that every child around the world knew what he was talking about, the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary,” that he did the uniting things almost from the very beginning.  And then I remember the end of it – which I commented on the show – that he talked about a journey of brotherhood, and love and mutual trust. And that choice of words: “a journey,” which means destination unknown, we’re traveling together, and brotherhood, which was something that reached to the Americas and around the world; it said this was a new era, this is a beginning.

The Francis Effect DVD box set is now available  online and from the Salt and Light store. The 3-disc set includes the feature documentary, official trailers and over 6 hours of extended interviews.

 

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at Invocation for Peace

abas

The President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, delivered remarks to the participants in the Invocation for Peace here at the Vatican on Sunday evening. Below, please find the full text, in English, of President Abbas’ prepared remarks.

In the Name of God, the Most Gracious and Most Merciful
Your Holiness Pope Francis
Your Excellency President Shimon Peres,
Your Beatitudes, Honorable Sheiks and Rabbis
Ladies and Gentlemen 

It is indeed a great honor for us to meet again with His Holiness Pope Francis in fulfillment of his kind invitation to relish his spiritual and noble presence, and listen to his opinion and crystal wisdom, which emanate from a sound heart, vibrant conscience, as well as an elevated ethical and religious sense. I thank your Holiness from the bottom of my heart for initiating this important gathering here in the Vatican. Simultaneously, we highly appreciate your visit to the Holy Land Palestine,  and in specific to our Holy city Jerusalem and to Bethlehem; the city of love and peace, and the cradle of Jesus Christ. The visit is a sincere expression of your belief in peace and a truthful attempt to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Oh God, we ever praise you for making Jerusalem our gate to heaven. As said in the Holy Quran,

“Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship, whose surroundings We have blessed.” You made pilgrimage and prayer in it as the best acts the faithful can make in your praise, and made your truthful promise in your say:  “Let them enter the Masjid as they did for the first time.”  God Almighty has spoken the truth.

O, Lord of Heaven and Earth, accept my prayer for the realization of truth, peace and justice in my country Palestine, the region, and the globe as a whole.

I beseech You, O Lord, on behalf of my people, the people of Palestine – Moslems, Christians and Samaritans – who are craving for a just peace, dignified living, and liberty, I beseech you, Oh Lord, to make prosperous and promising the future of our people, and freedom in our sovereign and independent state; Grant, O Lord, our region and its people security, safety and stability. Save our blessed city Jerusalem; the first Kiblah, the second Holy Mosque, the third of the two Holy Mosques, and the city of blessings and peace with all that surround it.

Reconciliation and peace, O Lord, are our goal. God in His Holy Book has addressed the faithful: “Make peace among you,”  Here we are, O God, inclined to peace. Make firm our steps and crown our efforts and endeavors with success. You are the promoter of virtue and preventer of vice, evil and aggression. You say and you are the most truthful, “And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower.” In the saying of Prophet Muhammad, “Spread the peace among you. “

Today, we reiterate after Jesus Christ addressing Jerusalem: “If only you had known the path of peace this day” (Luke 19:42). As well let us remember the words of Saint John Paul II when he said?: “If peace is realized in Jerusalem, peace will be witnessed in the whole world” Simultaneously, in our prayer today, we repeatedly call after those who advocate peace:  “Blessed are the peace makers,” and “Call for the peace of Jerusalem”  as came in the Holy Scriptures.

Accordingly, we ask You, O Lord, for peace in the Holy Land, Palestine, and Jerusalem together with its people. We call on you to make Palestine and Jerusalem in particular  a secure land for all the believers, and a place for prayer and worship for the followers of the three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and for all those wishing to visit it as it is stated in the Holy Quran.   

O Lord, You are the peace and peace emanates from You. O God of Glory and Majesty grant us security and safety, and alleviate the suffering of my people in hometown and Diaspora.

O Lord, bring comprehensive and just peace to our country and region so that our people and the peoples of the Middle East and the whole world would enjoy the fruit of peace, stability and coexistence.

We want peace for us and for our neighbors. We seek prosperity and peace of mind for ourselves and for others alike. O Lord, answer our prayers and make successful our endeavors for you are most just, most merciful, Lord of the Worlds.

Evangelizing our Elizabeths, Propelled to the Peripheries

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“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’” (Lk. 1:39-45)

The story of the Visitation, celebrated each year on May 31st, presents us with awesome insight into the life and mission of the Christian. Mary, having received in her womb the mystery of the Word made flesh, does not contain this incredible mystery, she does not withdraw for nine months of quiet solitude and private contemplation — rather she sets off “with haste,” propelled by the Holy Spirit to radiate the reality of Jesus present in our midst! Her encounter with God leads her to encounter with others, so that everyone may experience the joy of knowing God in Jesus Christ. The Visitation springs forth as Mary’s response to receiving Jesus in the Incarnation: it is a response that calls her outwards, to the outskirts, to the hill country, to bear “good news” and go out in joyful love and service.

Mary and ElizabethThis is the essence of evangelization: being transformed so that God can use us to transform others. It means sharing the Gospel – “good news” — with those around us, and especially those most in need. Like Mary, our experience of Jesus cannot be lived in isolation, it must overflow and be contagious! Our relationship with God is meant to be lived joyfully in the concrete circumstances of our daily lives and everyday encounters.

In the days prior to the conclave in which he was elected pope, Pope Francis — then Cardinal Bergoglio — spoke the following words about the nature of evangelization:

“Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.”

This desire is not just for the “Church” in some vague or general sense, but for all of us! We are called to have this desire to come out of ourselves, go to the peripheries and follow the spectacular example Pope Francis has given us since speaking these powerful words. As we celebrate the Visitation, let us ask ourselves: What are the peripheries and hill countries in our own lives? Who are our Elizabeths and what are we doing to bring them the joy of Jesus and his Good News? Our family, relatives, and friends certainly; but also the strangers sit beside on the subway, the panhandler asking for change on the street, the annoying neighbour, the difficult coworker. All of these are the Elizabeths of our day, what are we doing to bring them the joy we have encountered in Christ?

As the Church marks this great moment in the lives of Jesus, Mary, and Elizabeth, may our fears, reticence, and desire for convenience depart, and may we instead embark on a mission of living our Christian joy contagiously. We know that it is the Lord who inspires us to this mission, who accompanies us always, and who will lead us where we are to go. And so today may we too “set out and go with haste” to the hill countries, to bring Christ, to bring the Good News of the Gospel, to live it with joy. In short, may we evangelize.

(Texts courtesy of Oremus Bible Browser and Vatican Radio; Photos courtesy of life.remixed and capfrans.blogspot)

The “ordinary” holiness of Good Pope John

Pope John XXIII walking through the gardens

(Vatican Radio) In contrast to Pope John Paul II, whose memory is still fresh in the minds of many people, the pontificate of “Good Pope John” XXIII may seem like distant history. Pope Francis’ decision to canonize the two together has served as an opportunity for younger Catholics to rediscover the Pope who called the Second Vatican Council.

Sebastian Gomes, producer for Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Canada, was in Rome for the dual canonization. Born during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, Mr. Gomes spoke with Vatican Radio about Pope John XXIII and what he means for us today.

 

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“Pope Francis, as is now typical of Pope Francis, dropped a bomb on us by announcing the canonizations of these two popes together.

It’s interesting actually to see, in the first year of Francis’ pontificate, the little comments or references that he’s made to John XXIII. Obviously this is a Pope now who has a strong affinity to John XXIII. And it’s very significant. John was very different than John Paul II, but many people are noticing, very similar to Francis in a lot ways. So it’s powerful proclamation of the Church about what sanctity means and how it can express itself in many different ways.

At the Basilica of Saint Peter, there are always crowds of pilgrims, not only at the tomb of John Paul II, but also at the tomb of John XXIII. So what is it about John XXIII that is so attractive to so many people? I’d say he had the same qualities that attract people to Francis. He was very simple, humble, he came from utter poverty in northern Italy. But he was also kind of casual, and comfortable in his own skin. And that kind of normality really attracts. After the long reign of Pius XII here comes this short, stocky, jolly fellow who’s just kind of brushing aside some of the protocols and doing his own thing. That kind of thing attracts people, it’s ordinary. The ordinariness is what attracts, and I think that’s the enduring connection to the good Pope, Good Pope John.

One of the most enduring legacies of the Good Pope is his journal, The Journey of the Soul. John XXIII’s autobiographical story of his spiritual journey reveals a development, a spiritual growth that holiness is something that doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. It’s something that can take a lifetime.  That is an important message in a world that often looks for the quick fix, or they’re waiting for this kind of watershed moment, or a light bulb moment when it comes to religion or faith. And that doesn’t always happen. We can go to the mountaintop and some profound spiritual experience, and a lot of different movements in the Church today are promoting those kinds of things. But here’s a testament to the fact that… it’s slow, it’s difficult at times, it’s very human… So there’s that kind of slow progression in the spiritual life that is a lasting lesson that the life of John gives us.

The decision to canonize Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II together is significant. I think Francis also understands history, he knows the ups and downs of history. I think he wants to take the Church to the next level, in the sense, not of putting the past behind us, but putting a seal on the last 50 years, and what happened at the Second Vatican Council, what happened with John Paul trying to implement the Council, and really say, these were all great gifts for the Church. Now we have to take that on the road and go forward. So it’s a lesson for us to say what is our understanding of sanctity and holiness, because both of these men had limitations. And some of those came out in the media in the few days before the canonization. And those things have to be dealt with. But Francis is saying holiness comes in many different shapes and sizes, and different proclamations and understandings of living the Gospel, or doing your best to live the Gospel.”

Photo Story of Pope Francis’ Historic Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Pope Francis blesses a Palestinian journalist aboard the papal plane on his flight to Amman, Jordan, May 24, the start of his three-day visit to the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis blesses a Palestinian journalist aboard the papal plane on his flight to Amman, Jordan, May 24, the start of his three-day visit to the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis is welcomed by Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal after arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in AmmanThe Holy Father is welcomed by Jordan’s Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal after arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman May 24. (CNS photo/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)
 
barPope Francis is welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah II after arriving in Amman May 24.Jordan’s King Abdullah II welcomes Pope Francis  after arriving in Amman May 24. (CNS photo/Ali Jarekji, Reuters)
 
barPope Francis is welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, during an arrival ceremony at the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman May 24. The pope is making a three-day visit to the Holy Land, spending one day each in Jordan, the Pales tinian territories and Israel. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis is welcomed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, during an arrival ceremony at the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman May 24. Here is Pope Francis’ address to the Jordanian authorities. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis is welcomed by Jordan's King Abdullah II, his wife, Queen Rania, and their children upon his arrival at the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, May 24. The pope is making a three-day visit to the Holy Land, spending one day each in Jo rdan, the Palestinian territories and Israel. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Upon his arrival at the al-Husseini Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan, May 24, Pope Francis is welcomed by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, his wife, Queen Rania, and their children. The Holy Father made a three-day visit to the Holy Land, spending one day each in Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barA Palestinian man holds a picture of Pope Francis during a May 24 demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and in solidarity with prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 31 days in Tulkarm, West Bank. (CNS photo/Abed Omar Qusini, Reuters) A Palestinian man holds a picture of Pope Francis during a May 24 demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and in solidarity with prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 31 days in Tulkarm, West Bank. (CNS photo/Abed Omar Qusini, Reuters)
 
barJordan's King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, arrive with Pope Francis as the pontiff visits Bethany Beyond the Jordan May 24, believed to be where Jesus was baptized, southwest of Amman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, arrive with Pope Francis as the pontiff visits Bethany Beyond the Jordan May 24, believed to be where Jesus was baptized, southwest of Amman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis makes the Sign of the Cross after praying as he visits Bethany Beyond the Jordan May 24, believed to be where Jesus was baptized, southwest of Amman. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis makes the Sign of the Cross after praying as he visits Bethany Beyond the Jordan May 24 (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis' skull cap is blown into the air as he delivers his homily during Mass at Amman International Stadium in Jordan May 24. The pope is making a three-day visit to the Holy Land, spending one day each in Jordan, the Palestinian territories and I srael. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)The Holy Father’s skull cap is blown into the air as he delivers his homily during Mass at Amman International Stadium in Jordan May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis meets with refugees and disabled young people in the Latin church at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the traditional site of Jesus' baptism, southwest of Amman, Jordan, May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis met with refugees and disabled young people in the Latin church at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism, southwest of Amman, Jordan, May 24. Here is his address. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis prays in front of the Israeli security wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, pool) Pope Francis prays in front of the Israeli security wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, pool)
 
barPope Francis bows towards the flag of the Palestinian Authority as he reviews the honor guard during an arrival ceremony with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) The Holy Father bows towards the flag of the Palestinian Authority as he reviews the honor guard during an arrival ceremony with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. Here is his address to Palestinian authorities. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis celebrates Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. Here is his homily. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis visits with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after an arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis visits with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after an arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople prays during a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (CNS photo/courtesy John Mindala) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople prays during a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. (CNS photo/courtesy John Mindala)
 
barFamily chosen to eat with pope after Mass in Bethlehem George Sbait and his wife, Shadia, pose with their children, Caesar, 13, and Nicole, 15, in front of a section of the Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 24. The Sbaits had lunch with Pope Francis in Bethlehem May 25. (CNS photo/Debbie H ill) Family chosen to eat with Pope Francis after Mass in Bethlehem: George Sbait and his wife, Shadia, with their children, Caesar, 13, and Nicole, 15, in front of a section of the Israeli separation wall in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 24. The Sbaits had lunch with Pope Francis in Bethlehem May 25. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
 
barPope Francis prays in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25, the traditional site of Christ's birth. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) Pope Francis prays in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25, the traditional site of Christ’s birth. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
 
barPope Francis is greeted by young people during a meetingMay 25 in the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp's Phoenix Cultural Center, near Bethlehem, West Bank. Pope Francis told Palestinian refugee youths to look to the future and to always work and strive for the thi ngs they wanted. (CNS photo/Andrew Medichini, pool via Reuters)Young people greeted Pope Francis  during a meeting May 25 in the Dehiyshe Refugee Camp’s Phoenix Cultural Center, near Bethlehem, West Bank. The Holy Father told Palestinian refugee youths to look to the future and to always work and strive for the things they wanted. (CNS photo/Andrew Medichini, pool via Reuters)
 
barPope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople attend an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem May 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople attended an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem May 25. Here is Pope Francis’ address during the Ecumenical Service. Prior to the Ecumenical Service, a Common Declaration was signed by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople kiss the Stone of Unction in Jeusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher May 25. The two leaders marked the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch At henagoras. (CNS photo/Grzegorz Galazka, pool)Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople kiss the Stone of Unction in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher May 25. The two leaders marked the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. (CNS photo/Grzegorz Galazka, pool)
 
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Pope Francis prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26. The pope stood for more than a minute and a half with his right hand against the wall, most of the time in silent prayer, before reciting the Our Father. Then he followed custom by leaving a wri tten message inside a crack between two blocks. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)The Holy Father prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26. The pope stood for more than a minute and a half with his right hand against the wall, most of the time in silent prayer, before reciting the Our Father. Then he followed custom by leaving a written message inside a crack between two blocks. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis is embraced by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka as he leaves after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26. On the right is Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina. "We did it," Rabbi Skorka said he told the pope and Abboud. The pope 's message contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.(CNS photo/Paul Haring) (May 26, 2014) (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis is embraced by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka as he leaves after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26. On the right is Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina. “We did it,” Rabbi Skorka said he told the pope and Abboud. The pope ‘s message contained the text of the Our Father and of the 122nd Psalm, traditionally prayed by Jewish pilgrims who travel to Jerusalem.(CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis visits with Israel's two chief rabbis, Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, left, and Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, in at the Heichal Shlomo center in Jerusalem May 26. Looking on is the pope's translator. The pope told them that Jews were not collec tively responsible for the death of Jesus and called on Christians and Jews to develop greater appreciation for their common "spiritual heritage," through deeper knowledge of each other's faith, especially among the young. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)On May 26 Pope Francis visited Israel’s two chief rabbis, Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, left, and Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, in at the Heichal Shlomo center in Jerusalem. The pope told them that Jews were not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus and called on Christians and Jews to develop greater appreciation for their common “spiritual heritage,” through deeper knowledge of each other’s faith, especially among the young. Here is his address. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
baraddress at the visit of the Grand Mufti of JerusalemPope Francis met with Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. “May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters and learn to understand the sufferings of others … May no one abuse the name of God through violence! May we work together for justice and peace!” said Pope Francis in his address during the visit.
 
barPope Francis greets Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem May 26. The pope told Peres that he wanted to "invent a new beatitude, which I apply to myself, 'Blessed is the one welcomed into the home of a wise and good man.'" (CNS photo/ Tsafrir Abayov, EPA) On May 26 Pope Francis met Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. The pope told Peres that he wanted to “invent a new beatitude, which I apply to myself, ‘Blessed is the one welcomed into the home of a wise and good man.’” Here is his address. (CNS photo/ Tsafrir Abayo v, EPA)
 
barPope Francis and Israel's President Shimon Peres plant an olive tree as a symbol for peace after their meeting at the president's residence May 26. (CNS photo/ Amir Cohen, EPA) Pope Francis and Israel’s President Shimon Peres plant an olive tree as a symbol for peace after their meeting at the president’s residence May 26. (CNS photo/ Amir Cohen, EPA)
 
barPope Francis visits a memorial at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem May 26. Theodor Herzl was the father of the Zionist movement that led to Israel's founding. (CNS photo/ OSSERVATORE ROMANO handout, EPA) Pope Francis visits a memorial at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem May 26. Theodor Herzl was the father of the Zionist movement that led to Israel’s founding. (CNS photo/ OSSERVATORE ROMANO handout, EPA)
 
barPope Francis visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem May 26. The pope laid a wreath of flowers at the site, and talked to and kissed the hands of six Holocaust survivors. Also in attendance are Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (CNS photo/ OSSERVATORE ROMANO handout, EPA)Pope Francis visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem May 26. The pope laid a wreath of flowers at the site, and talked to and kissed the hands of six Holocaust survivors. Also in attendance were Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Here is his address. (CNS photo/ OSSERVATORE ROMANO handout, EPA)

barPope Francis kisses the hand of a woman during a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 26. The pope honored the 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. (CNS photo/Abi r Sultan, EPA) Pope Francis kisses the hand of a woman during a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 26. The pope honored the 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. (CNS photo/Abi r Sultan, EPA)
 
barPope Francis arrives to meet priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem May 26. "[God] never abandons us. And so, let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but wi th courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission," he told them. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)Pope Francis arrives to meet priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Church of All Nations at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem May 26. “[God] never abandons us. And so, let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but wi th courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission,” he told them. Here is his address. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis celebrates Mass with the ordinaries of the Holy Land and the papal delegation in the Cenacle in Jerusalem May 26. The pope dedicated his final hours in Jerusalem to time with local Catholics, reminding them that despite difficulties, God is always by their side. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) The Holy Father  celebrates Mass with the ordinaries of the Holy Land and the papal delegation in the Cenacle in Jerusalem May 26. The pope dedicated his final hours in Jerusalem to time with local Catholics, reminding them that despite difficulties, God is always by their side. Here is his homily. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
 
barPope Francis boards an airplane at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv May 26. The pope ended a three-day Holy Land pilgrimage rife with calls for bridging divisions. (CNS photo/Oliver Weiken, EPA) The Holy Father boards an airplane at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv May 26. The three-day Holy Land pilgrimage was rife with calls for bridging divisions. (CNS photo/Oliver Weiken, EPA)
 
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Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard the flight from Tel Aviv to Rome May 26. The pope told them he will meet with a group of sex abuse victims for the first time in June and confirmed reports the Vatican is investigating charges its fo rmer secretary of state misappropriated 15 million euro from the Vatican bank. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis answered questions from journalists aboard the flight from Tel Aviv to Rome May 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis’ Homily Mass with Ordinaries of the Holy Land

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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Mass with Ordinaries of the Holy Land

Upper Room, Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Dear Brothers,

It is a great gift that the Lord has given us by bringing us together here in the Upper Room for the celebration of the Eucharist.  Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples.  Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth.  From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.

In the Upper Room, the risen Jesus, sent by the Father, bestowed upon the apostles his own Spirit and with this power he sent them forth to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30).

To go forth, to set out, does not mean to forget.  The Church, in her going forth, preserves the memory of what took place here; the Spirit, the Paraclete, reminds her of every word and every action, and reveals their true meaning.

The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet.  Washing one another’s feet signifies welcoming, accepting, loving and serving one another.  It means serving the poor, the sick and the outcast.

The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice.  In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering to God our lives, our work, our joys and our sorrows… offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice.

The Upper Room reminds us of friendship.  “No longer do I call you servants – Jesus said to the Twelve – but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15).  The Lord makes us his friends, he reveals God’s will to us and he gives us his very self.  This is the most beautiful part of being a Christian and, especially, of being a priest: becoming a friend of the Lord Jesus.

The Upper Room reminds us of the Teacher’s farewell and his promise to return to his friends: “When I go… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:3).  Jesus does not leave us, nor does he ever abandon us; he precedes us to the house of the Father, where he desires to bring us as well.

The Upper Room, however, also reminds us of pettiness, of curiosity – “Who is the traitor?” – and of betrayal.  We ourselves, and not just others, can reawaken those attitudes whenever we look at our brother or sister with contempt, whenever we judge them, whenever by our sins we betray Jesus.

The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves.  How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room!  How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent.  All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the Church’s holiness continues to flow: from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.

Lastly, the Upper Room reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, established by the risen Jesus; a family that has a Mother, the Virgin Mary.  Christian families belong to this great family, and in it they find the light and strength to press on and be renewed, amid the challenges and difficulties of life.  All God’s children, of every people and language, are invited and called to be part of this great family, as brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of the one Father in Heaven.

These horizons are opened up by the Upper Room, the horizons of the Risen Lord and his Church.

Pope Francis’ Address at the meeting with priests, religious and seminarians

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“He came out and went… to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him” (Lk 22:39).

At the hour which God had appointed to save humanity from its enslavement to sin, Jesus came here, to Gethsemane, to the foot of the Mount of Olives.  We now find ourselves in this holy place, a place sanctified by the prayer of Jesus, by his agony, by his sweating of blood, and above all by his “yes” to the loving will of the Father.  We dread in some sense to approach what Jesus went through at that hour; we tread softly as we enter that inner space where the destiny of the world was decided.

In that hour, Jesus felt the need to pray and to have with him his disciples, his friends, those who had followed him and shared most closely in his mission.  But here, at Gethsemane, following him became difficult and uncertain; they were overcome by doubt, weariness and fright.  As the events of Jesus’ passion rapidly unfolded, the disciples would adopt different attitudes before the Master: closeness, distance, hesitation.

Here, in this place, each of us – bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and seminarians – might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?

Am I among those who, when Jesus asks them to keep watch with him, fall asleep instead, and rather than praying, seek to escape, refusing to face reality?

Do I see myself in those who fled out of fear, who abandoned the Master at the most tragic hour in his earthly life?

Is there perhaps duplicity in me, like that of the one who sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, who was once called Jesus’ “friend”, and yet ended up by betraying him?

Do I see myself in those who drew back and denied him, like Peter?  Shortly before, he had promised Jesus that he would follow him even unto death (cf. Lk 22:33); but then, put to the test and assailed by fear, he swore he did not know him.

Am I like those who began planning to go about their lives without him, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, foolish and slow of heart to believe the words of the prophets (cf. Lk 24:25)?

Or, thanks be to God, do I find myself among those who remained faithful to the end, like the Virgin Mary and the Apostle John?  On Golgotha, when everything seemed bleak and all hope seemed pointless, only love proved stronger than death.  The love of the Mother and the beloved disciple made them stay at the foot of the Cross, sharing in the pain of Jesus, to the very end.

Do I recognize myself in those who imitated their Master and Lord to the point of martyrdom, testifying that he was everything to them, the incomparable strength sustaining their mission and the ultimate horizon of their lives?

Jesus’ friendship with us, his faithfulness and his mercy, are a priceless gift which encourages us to follow him trustingly, our failures, our mistakes and betrayals notwithstanding.

But the Lord’s goodness does not dispense us from the need for vigilance before the Tempter, before sin, before the evil and the betrayal which can enter even into the religious and priestly life.  We are fully conscious of the disproportion between the grandeur of God’s call and of own littleness, between the sublimity of the mission and the reality of our human weakness.  Yet the Lord in his great goodness and his infinite mercy always takes us by the hand lest we drown in the sea of our fears and anxieties.  He is ever at our side, he never abandons us.  And so, let us not be overwhelmed by fear or disheartened, but with courage and confidence let us press forward in our journey and in our mission.

You, dear brothers and sisters, are called to follow the Lord with joy in this holy land!  It is a gift and it is a responsibility.  Your presence here is extremely important; the whole Church is grateful to you and she sustains you by her prayers.

Let us imitate the Virgin Mary and Saint John, and stand by all those crosses where Jesus continues to be crucified.  This is how the Lord calls us to follow him.

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also” (Jn 12:26).

Pope Francis’ Address to the President of Israel

Pope to Peres

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Visit to the President of Israel
Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Mr President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind greeting and your words of welcome.  I am happy to be able to meet you once again, this time in Jerusalem, the city which preserves the Holy Places dear to the three great religions which worship the God who called Abraham.  The Holy Places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity.  Precisely for this reason, their sacred character must be perpetually maintained and protection given not only to the legacy of the past but also to all those who visit these sites today and to those who will visit them in the future.  May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace!  May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind!  How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the Holy Places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.

Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker.  I appreciate and admire the approach you have taken.  Peacemaking demands first and foremost respect for the dignity and freedom of every human person, which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe to be created by God and destined to eternal life.  This shared conviction enables us resolutely to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict.  Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity.

There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.  We think, for example, of recourse to violence and terrorism, all forms of discrimination on the basis of race or religion, attempts to impose one’s own point of view at the expense of the rights of others, anti-Semitism in all its possible expressions, and signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim. 

A variety of Christian communities live and work in the State of Israel.  They are an integral part of society and participate fully in its civic, political and cultural affairs.  Christians wish, as such, to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace; they wish to do so as full-fledged citizens who reject extremism in all its forms and are committed to fostering reconciliation and harmony. 

The presence of these communities and respect for their rights – as for the rights of all other religious groups and all minorities – are the guarantee of a healthy pluralism and proof of the vitality of democratic values as they are authentically embodied in the daily life and workings of the State.

Mr President, I assure you of my prayers for the institutions and the citizens of the State of Israel.  I likewise assure you of my constant prayer for the attainment of peace and all the inestimable goods which accompany it: security, tranquillity, prosperity and fraternity.  Finally, my thoughts turn to all those afflicted by the continuing crises in the Middle East.  I pray that their sufferings may soon be alleviated by an honourable resolution of hostilities.  Peace be upon Israel and the entire Middle East!  Shalom!

Pope Francis’ Address to the Chief Rabbis of Israel

Pope Francis at chief Rabbis

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
To the Two Chief Rabbis of Israel
Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Distinguished Chief Rabbis of Israel,

I am particularly pleased to be here with you today.  I am grateful for your warm reception and your kind words of welcome.

As you know, from the time I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I have counted many Jews among my friends.  Together we organized rewarding occasions of encounter and dialogue; with them I also experienced significant moments of sharing on a spiritual level.  In the first months of my pontificate, I was able to receive various organizations and representatives from the Jewish community worldwide.  As was the case with my predecessors, there have been many requests for such meetings.  Together with the numerous initiatives taking place on national and local levels, these testify to our mutual desire to know one another better, to listen to each other and to build bonds of true fraternity.

This journey of friendship represents one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council, and particularly of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, which proved so influential and whose fiftieth anniversary we will celebrate next year.  I am convinced that the progress which has been made in recent decades in the relationship between Jews and Catholics has been a genuine gift of God, one of those great works for which we are called to bless his holy name: “Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his love endures forever; who alone has wrought marvellous works, for his love endures forever” (Ps 135/136:3-4).

A gift of God, yes, but one which would not have come about without the efforts of so many courageous and generous people, Jews and Christians alike.  Here I would like to mention in particular the growing importance of the dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.  Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land, this dialogue was inaugurated in 2002 and is already in its twelfth year.  I would like to think that, in terms of the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah, it is just coming of age.  I am confident that it will continue and have a bright future in years to come.

We need to do more than simply establish reciprocal and respectful relations on a human level: we are also called, as Christians and Jews, to reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the bond existing between us.  It is a bond whose origins are from on high, one which transcends our own plans and projects, and one which remains intact despite all the difficulties which, sadly, have marked our relationship in the past.

On the part of Catholics, there is a clear intention to reflect deeply on the significance of the Jewish roots of our own faith.  I trust that, with your help, on the part of Jews too, there will be a continued and even growing interest in knowledge of Christianity, also in this holy land to which Christians trace their origins.  This is especially to be hoped for among young people.

Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common and respect in matters on which we disagree: all these can help to guide us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God’s hands.  Together, we can make a great contribution to the cause of peace; together, we can bear witness, in this rapidly changing world, to the perennial importance of the divine plan of creation; together, we can firmly oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination.  May the Lord help us to walk with confidence and strength in his ways.  Shalom!

Pope Francis’ Address at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis Visit to the Memorial of Yad Vashem Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

“Adam, where are you?” (cf. Gen 3:9). Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a Father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew that his children could be lost… yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, That cry – “Where are you?” – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss…

Adam, who are you?  I no longer recognize you. Who are you, o man?  What have you become? Of what horror have you been capable? What made you fall to such depths?

Certainly it is not the dust of the earth from which you were made. The dust of the earth is something good, the work of my hands. Certainly it is not the breath of life which I breathed into you. That breath comes from me, and it is something good (cf. Gen 2:7).

No, this abyss is not merely the work of your own hands, your own heart… Who corrupted you?  Who disfigured you? Who led you to presume that you are the master of good and evil? Who convinced you that you were god? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god.

Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of God: “Adam, where are you?”

From the ground there rises up a soft cry: “Have mercy on us, O Lord!” To you, O Lord our God, belongs righteousness; but to us confusion of face and shame (cf. Bar 1:15).

A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens (cf. Bar 2:2). Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.

Almighty Lord, a soul in anguish cries out to you. Hear, Lord, and have mercy! We have sinned against you. You reign for ever (cf. Bar 3:1-2). Remember us in your mercy. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!

“Adam, where are you?” Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your own image and likeness, was capable of doing.

Remember us in your mercy. 

address yad vashem