English   ·   Français   ·   Italiano     ·   中文    

Letter of Pope Francis for the Establishment of the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”

Creation2

To my Venerable Brothers

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson,
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Cardinal Kurt Koch, 
President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

Sharing the concern of my beloved brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the future of creation (cf. Laudato Si’, 7-9), and at the suggestion of his representative, Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum, who took part in the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ on care for our common home, I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September, as has been the custom in the Orthodox Church for some time.

As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live. The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective. It is my hope that this Day will in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesial Communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches.

I ask you, Cardinal Turkson, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to inform the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences, as well as the national and international organizations involved in environmental issues, of the establishment of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, so that, with due regard for local needs and situations, it can be properly celebrated with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful. For this reason, it will be the task of your Council, in cooperation with the various Episcopal Conferences, to arrange suitable ways of publicizing and celebrating the Day, so that this annual event will become a significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.

I ask you, Cardinal Koch, as President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, to make the necessary contacts with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and with other ecumenical organizations so that this World Day can serve as a sign of a common journey in which all believers in Christ take part. It will also be your Council’s responsibility to ensure that it is coordinated with similar initiatives undertaken by the World Council of Churches.

In expressing my hope that, as a result of wide cooperation, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will be inaugurated and develop in the best way possible, I invoke upon this initiative the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, and of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation. As a pledge of spiritual fruitfulness, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, Eminent Brothers, and to all those who share in your ministry.

From the Vatican, 6 August 2015
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The Canticle of Creation

Celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation by watching CREATION!

Pope designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

Creation1

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like their Orthodox brothers and sisters, Catholics formally will mark Sept. 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has decided.

The day of prayer, the pope said, will give individuals and communities an opportunity to implore God’s help in protecting creation and an opportunity to ask God’s forgiveness “for sins committed against the world in which we live.”

Pope Francis announced his decision to add the annual prayer day to the Catholic calendar in a letter to Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The text of the letter, dated Aug. 6, was released by the Vatican Aug. 10.

Pope Francis said he was instituting the prayer day for Catholics because he shares the concern of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who initiated a similar prayer day for the Orthodox Church in 1989.

Metropolitan John of Pergamon, who represented the patriarch at the public presentation June 18 of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” had suggested there that all Christians join in prayer Sept. 1.

“This would mark a step toward further closeness among them,” he had said.

Pope Francis said Christians want to make their special contribution to safeguarding creation, but to do that they must rediscover the spiritual foundations of their approach to earthly realities, beginning with an acknowledgment that “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature,” but lived in communion with all worldly realities.

The ecological crisis, he said, is a summons “to a profound spiritual conversion” and to a way of life that clearly shows they are believers.

Quoting his encyclical, he said, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis said, will be a time for individuals and communities to “reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

The pope asked Cardinal Koch to consult with and work with the Catholic Church’s ecumenical partners and the World Council of Churches to make sure the prayer day becomes a sign of Christians’ commitment to work together to safeguard creation “in order to be more credible and effective.”

He entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace the task of working with Catholic bishops’ conferences and environmental organizations to publicize and coordinate the specifics of the celebration.

“I invoke upon this initiative the intercession of Mary, mother of God, and of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation,” he said.

The Canticle of Creation

Celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation by watching CREATION!

Behind Vatican Walls: Castel Gandolfo and Ferragosto

Vatican_Gardens

Rome, the eternal city, is conveniently located just barely inland from Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast and is surrounded by hills. This combination of geographical features means the summer months are hot, humid and smoggy. By August, it is next to impossible to breathe in the city. Thus Roman residents flee and take refuge in the beach or mountain village of their choice. Since 1623, popes have taken part in this exodus from Rome. Until now.

Jesuit Pope

Perhaps it is to be expected that a Jesuit would not feel the need to have a second residence. Maybe it is because he has lived in far hotter climates where retreating to a summer residence is a luxury reserved for the rich; or perhaps it is just a symptom of his need to stay close to his “habitat”. Whatever the reason Pope Francis has shown no interest in using the residence at Castel Gandolfo himself. For the third year in a row he has not scheduled a long term stay at the summer residence.

This omission has residents of the hilltop town disappointed. Besides the stunning views of Lake Albano, quaint restaurants along the lakeside featuring fresh porchetta and fish, and picturesque hiking trails, the town’s only bankable attraction is the fact that the pope lives here during the summer and leads the Angelus every Sunday. The current pope’s decision to stay in Rome means local business owners face an uncertain future with hard times ahead. At least, this is what some media reports would have you believe.

Why do the residents of Castel Gandolfo feel such a profound sense of abandonment? More importantly, have they really been left high and dry by the pope?

A history of abandonment

At 55 hectares the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo is larger than Vatican City State, and can be traced back to days of the emperor Domitian. After Domitian died his successors saw no need for his villa (a familiar story). By 1596 the Savelli family owned an estate built over the ruins of Domitian’s villa.

Alas, the Savelli family fell on hard times and failed to repay an important loan. Pope Clement VIII issued a papal bull seizing the Savelli Villa as repayment for the outstanding loan and incorporated a large part of the property as Holy See territory. In 1623 Pope Urban VIII, who had a habit of leaving Rome during the summer to avoid disease, began using the villa at Castel Gandolfo as his official summer residence. He believed a pope should not have to stay in other people’s homes. Since then popes have retreated to Castel Gandolfo during the summer months.

As often happens with a centuries old institution, each pope left his mark on the residence. Today the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo includes a residence for the pope and a team of household staff, a fully functional farm that can provide food to the Vatican (including honey), an observatory (run by the Jesuits) and a vast, manicured garden. Pope Francis’ decision not to use the summer residence does not in any way mean that the house or the town are empty.

Open Doors

In 2014, the Vatican announced that the gardens of the Papal Summer Residence would be open to the public for the first time. Though visitors must purchase a ticket in advance from the Vatican Museums website, and tour times are limited, the Castel Gandolfo Papal Gardens are a must see for both garden and archeology enthusiasts. The remains of Domitian’s villa have been incorporated into the design of the terraced gardens.

While the gardens are open to the ticket-holding public, there are currently no facilities within those gardens for tourist essentials like food, drink, and souvenirs. (Or so it would seem from the reports of friends and colleagues who have visited the gardens). Thus the merchants of Castel Gandolfo stand to gain year round from the steady stream of visitors to these previously restricted gardens.

Links

For a less paraphrased history of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo and all its previous inhabitants, check out the Vatican City State website.

Behind Vatican Walls: Migrants

Pope Francis has returned to his regular schedule of activities at the Vatican. He held his first general audience this week after taking a one month break. His statement that divorced and remarried Catholics should not be treated as if they have been excommunicated made headlines around the world. However, the real issue that the pope – as well as Europe and various humanitarian organizations- is focused on is the issue of migration.

This week was the one year anniversary of the expulsion of Iraqi Christians and Yezidis by Islamic State militants. In a letter to the auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Pope Francis said he has often felt the desire to speak out about the inhuman and unexplainable persecution faced by people in various parts of the world because of their faith. He said this persecution often goes on in front of everyone’s eyes and is met with silence. He also extended his thoughts to the communities that opened their doors to welcome the displaced Christians and Yezidis. He said these communities “avoided averting their eyes” to the dramatic situation. Pope Francis renewed his call for the international community to take action against those who persecute religious minorities.

While that anniversary was being remembered, two boats of migrants went down off the coast of Libya and tensions rose in Calais, France where thousands of migrants have attempted to cross English Channel by stowing away on ferries, trucks, and cars.

In the Palermo, Italian and Irish navy vessels brought the survivors of two shipwrecks into port along with the bodies of 25 migrants who perished. Both ships went into distress of the coast of Libya.

In Calais an estimated 3,000 migrants are camped out, trying to cross the English Channel. French police have been trying to keep those migrants from getting onto trucks and ferries departing for Britain. One Sudanese man was arrested 50 kilometers from the British entrance to the tunnel. The man almost succeeded in walking through the rail tunnel.

The desperation of migrants is great enough that they would rather pay traffickers for a spot on a barely sea-worthy vessel than remain in their homeland or their assigned refugee camp. Yet the sheer numbers of people hoping for a better life in Europe is putting governments and citizens on the defensive. But in the face of increased discrimination there are signs of hope.

In Germany, one politician has opened his home to two Eritrean refugees, despite the threats he knew his action would draw from his fellow citizens.

Photos – CNS


AliciaEvery week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person.

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for August 2015

Pope_Prayer_August

Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For June 2015, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Volunteers– That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.
  • Outreach to the Marginalized– That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbors to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.

Daily Offering Prayer

God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Thank you for praying with us!

In a tradition that is centuries old, the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. To become a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, you need only to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day. When you give God all the “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” of your day, you turn your entire day into a prayer for others. You are joining your will to God’s will. If you feel called to this simple, profound way of life, find out more at Apostleship of Prayer.

Behind Vatican Walls: Pope Francis in Cuba and US

Pope_Cuba2

With one papal trip barely over, attention is already turning to the next papal trip: Cuba and the U.S. The official schedule was released at the end of June.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the theme and logo of that portion of the trip some time ago. The motto is “Love is our Mission” and the logo features a pencil sketch of the pope waving to the skyline of a city.

The Diocese of Holguin just recently released their logo for the papal visit: A stylized mitre feature representations of the sea, the land, and the sky capped off with a stylized cross. The motto for that leg of the pope’s journey: “Missionary of Mercy”.

Pope_Cuba3

Meanwhile, Cuban president Raul Castro told Cuban media preparations are underway to receive the pope with the “affection, respect, and hospitality he deserves.” Castro went on to say that Pope Francis’ analysis of the problems facing humanity are cause for admiration. Castro also said he followed the recent papal visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay very closely.

“This economy kills”: anticipation mounts ahead of Pope’s US trip

Bolivia(Pope Francis listens attentively to speakers at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Bolivia on July 9.  Photo courtesy of CNS)

In two years Pope Francis has said enough about the global economic system to spark both enormous enthusiasm and heavy criticism.  The story is still developing, but after his recent trip to Latin America, the prevailing sense is that it will climax when he sets foot on US soil for the first time in September.

Personally, I’ve never seen Francis so comfortable, at home and in his element as he was during his week-long trip through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay last week.  Evidently he felt totally free to speak his mind and heart to his native Spanish speaking audience.  And when he spoke about economics, the message was clear.

Of the many and consistent critiques Francis made of the current economic system last week, none was more powerful than the address he gave to the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia—one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

The message simply stated at the beginning was, “land, lodging and labor are sacred rights for everyone.”  The problem is that this is not the reality.  “We want change,” he said, from “an unfettered pursuit of money,” or—as Francis described it—“the dung of the devil.”

Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home [the earth].”

Francis continued by encouraging the Popular Movements and the people of Bolivia to be the change they want to see; to take control of their own lives and lead by example: “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites,” he said, “It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize.”

It was by no means the first time Pope Francis has blasted the current economic system.  Since the publication of his 2013 exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, the critique has been piercingly clear and consistent.  Because of this, it has drawn criticism from the capitalist faithful—many of whom are in the United States—who deflect the Pope’s criticism by saying he doesn’t fully understand economics and shouldn’t be involved in making policy.

Well, oddly enough, the Pope actually agrees.  In that same address to the Popular Movements the Pope for the first time said that he doesn’t have the specific solutions to the socio-economic problems of the world:

“Don’t expect a recipe from this Pope.  Neither the Pope nor the Church has a monopoly on the interpretation of social reality or the proposal of solutions to contemporary issues. I dare say that no recipe exists.”

A few days later on the return flight to Rome, the Pope was asked about his economics message and the criticism it sparks in the United States.  The Pope, again for the first time, acknowledged that he hasn’t studied the criticisms:

“I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I heard about it, but I haven’t read about it, I haven’t had the time to study this well, because every criticism must be received, studied, and then dialogue must be ensue. You ask me what I think. If I have not had a dialogue with those who criticize, I don’t have the right to state an opinion, isolated from dialogue.”

The anticipation is mounting… It appears the showdown will finally happen when the Pope arrives in Washington in September.  What the Pope will say in his address to the American Congress is anybody’s guess, but we can be confident that it will factor in the predominantly American criticisms of his economics message.  That will be something new, a development in the Pope’s expression of his own ideas.

Finally, we might be tempted to think that the Pope’s humble admission of ignorance of his critics is typical of the man whom the world knows as simple, humble and innocent.  But I would call him subtly shrewd.  The Pope essentially outlined the process for the discussion by emphasizing dialogue through encounter.  Ideas and theories—economic or otherwise—can live in the clouds.  The people affected by the implementation of those ideas and theories can only live on the ground.  And that is where the Pope will finally meet his critics face to face.


SebastianGOn Further Reflection
In the complex world of the 21st century there are more questions than answers. The challenge for the Church is to find new and effective ways of bringing the Gospel message into the conversation.  For her part, the Church can act as a much needed voice of dialogue, reason and charity. On Further Reflection invites readers to go beyond the headlines to see the deeper realities affecting the Church and society.  Sebastian Gomes is a producer and correspondent for S+L TV.

Why is Pope Francis so Obsessed With The Devil?

francis_cnn

logo-cnn-2 As published on CNN July 20, 2015
(CNN) Pope Francis seems to be obsessed with the devil.

 

His tweets and homilies about the devil, Satan, the Accuser, the Evil One, the Father of Lies, the Ancient Serpent, the Tempter, the Seducer, the Great Dragon, the Enemy and just plain “demon” are now legion.

For Francis, the devil is not a myth, but a real person. Many modern people may greet the Pope’s insistence on the devil with a dismissive, cultural affectation, indifference, or at the most indulgent curiosity.

Yet Francis refers to the devil continually. He does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person, the most insidious enemy of the church. Several of my theologian colleagues have said that he has gone a bit overboard with the devil and hell! We may be tempted to ask, why in the devil is Pope Francis so involved with the prince of demons?

This intelligent Jesuit Pope is diving into deep theological waters, places where very few modern Catholic clerics wish to tread.

Francis’ seeming preoccupation with the devil is not a theological or eschatological question as much as a call to arms, an invitation to immediate action, offering very concrete steps to do combat with the devil and the reign of evil in the world today.

In his homilies, Francis warns people strongly to avoid discouragement, to seize hope, to move on with courage and not to fall prey to negativity or cynicism.

He is drawing on the fundamental insight of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the Pope’s own religious family. With his continual references to the devil, Pope Francis parts ways with the current preaching in the church, which is far too silent about the devil and his insidious ways or reduces him to a mere metaphor.

During the first months of Francis’ pontificate in 2013, the Evil One appeared frequently in his messages. In his first major address to the cardinals who elected him, the Argentine pontiff reminded them: “Let us never yield to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day.”

In several daily homilies in the chapel of the Vatican guest house, the Pope shared devilish stories with the small congregations rapt in attention as he homilized on taboo topics.

He has offered guidelines on how to rout the demon’s strategy: First, it is Jesus who battles the devil.

The second is that “we cannot obtain the victory of Jesus over evil and the devil by halves,” for as Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew, “who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

James Tissot - Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

James Tissot – Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness

The Pope has stressed that we must not be naive: “The demon is shrewd: he is never cast out forever, this will only happen on the last day.”

Francis has also issued calls to arms in his homilies: “The devil also exists in the 21st century, and we need to learn from the Gospel how to battle against him,” the Pope warned, adding that Christians should not be “naive” about the evil one’s ways. The devil is anything but a relic of the past, the pontiff said.

Acknowledging the devil’s shrewdness, Francis once preached: “The devil is intelligent, he knows more theology than all the theologians together.”

Before a crowd of people on Palm Sunday in 2013, the newly elected Pope even dared to say that when Christians face trials, Jesus is near, but so is “the enemy — the devil,” who “comes, often disguised as an angel and slyly speaks his word to us.”

Most recently, on July 12, in the prepared text he was to deliver (in typical fashion he instead gave a masterful, unscripted address to 600,000 young people at a rally in Paraguay), the Pope presented the job description of the devil:

“Friends: the devil is a con artist. He makes promises after promise, but he never delivers. He’ll never really do anything he says. He doesn’t make good on his promises. He makes you want things which he can’t give, whether you get them or not. He makes you put your hopes in things which will never make you happy.

“… He is a con artist because he tells us that we have to abandon our friends, and never to stand by anyone. Everything is based on appearances. He makes you think that your worth depends on how much you possess.”

Since the beginning of his papacy, Francis has been warning that whoever wants to follow Jesus must be aware of the reality of the devil. The life of every Christian is a constant battle against evil, just as Jesus during his life had to struggle against the devil and his many temptations.

For Francis, the spirit of evil ultimately does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ.

In all of these references to the devil and his many disguises, Pope Francis wishes to call everyone back to reality. The devil is so frequently active in our lives and in the church, drawing us into negativity, cynicism, despair, meanness of spirit, sadness and nostalgia.

We must react to the devil, Francis says, as did Jesus, who replied with the Word of God. With the prince of this world one cannot dialogue.

Dialogue is necessary among us, it is necessary for peace, it is an attitude that we must have among ourselves in order to hear each other, to understand each other. Dialogue is born from charity, from love.

But with the Dark Prince one cannot dialogue; one can only respond with the Word of God that defends us.

The devil has made a comeback in this pontificate and is playing an important role in Francis’ ministry. Francis is dead serious about the devil! And he takes every opportunity he can to tell the devil to get the hell out of our lives and our world.

It’s not that Francis has been focusing on the evil one’s power, nor has he been mesmerized by the Harry Potter movies or by a desire to do sequels to the “Exorcist” movie: This Pope doesn’t watch TV!

All of the temptations Francis speaks about so often are the realistic flip side to the heart of the Argentine Jesuit Pope’s message about the world that is charged with the grandeur, mercy, presence and fidelity of God. Those powers are far greater than the devil’s antics.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Behind Vatican Walls: When in Bolivia…

Pope_Boliva_BVW

Much has been made of the messages Pope Francis delivered during his visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. As always, the pope made reference to local saints and historical episodes in his homilies and addresses, thrilling the locals and confusing foreigners following on television. Here’s a rundown of the some of the people and things Pope Francis referenced during his visit.

In Bolivia, during his meeting with the men and women religious of that country, Pope Francis mentioned two women whose names drew instant applause from the audience.

Blessed Nazaria Ignacia Teresa de Jesus

Born in Madrid, Spain, this religious nun worked with the poorest, smallest and weakest in Bolivia. Her work with disenfranchised Bolivians led her to found the first Bolivian religious community for women.

Early in life Nazaria was drawn to Christ. At her first communion she told Jesus “I want to follow you as closely and a human creature can.” However, her parents faith life was lukewarm and they did not understand her fervent faith. As a young woman she tried to enter the community of the Little Sisters of the Defenceless Elderly. Her father refused to give his permission. The mother superior consoled her saying “you will go to America and return with companions.” That same year her family moved to Mexico for economic reasons and Nazaria find a community of the same religious order there. She finally entered the community and after her novitiate was sent to Bolivia. There she worked with the poor elderly in small communities, but still she felt another call in her heart. She had an opportunity to talk to the Papal Nuncio to Bolivia and told him of the call she felt. He encouraged her and helped her get permission to found a new community: The Missionary Sisters of the Pontifical Crusade (today they are known as the Missionary Crusaders of the Church).

Under Nazaria’s guidance this little community worked with miners, indigenous ranch hands, women, children, and all those most oppressed by the social economic conditions in Bolivia. She went so far as to help women form the first union for female labourers. Today the community has houses and centres in Spain, France, Portugal, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea.

Venerable Virginia Blanco Tardia

Pope Francis also mentioned the Venerable Virginia Blanco Tardia, a lay woman known for her untiring work with the Catholic Action movement in Bolivia. Blanco Tardia was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia and joined Catholic Action at age 16. She was studious and cultured and went on to become a teacher and catechist. All accounts of her life say she was an “exemplary catechist” educating the children of farm workers in both Spanish and Quechua.

During her lifetime he founded an “Economic Kitchen” for the poor, a prayer group called the “Prayer & Friendship Group”, and a centre that provided medical services to those who couldn’t afford healthcare anywhere else. Along side this she served as the diocesan president of the Women’s Association of the Catholic Action for many, many years. Blanco Tardio died of a cardiac arrest in 1972 in Cochabamba.

Paraguayan Women

Addressing the diplomatic corps and civil authorities in Paraguay, Pope Francis praised Paraguayan women for saving the country during its most dramatic and disastrous period of history, the Triple Alliance War (or The Great War) that lasted from 1865 to 1870.

The ruler at the time, Francisco Solano Lopez, inherited his position from his father and feels the need to prove himself as a leader. Argentina and Brazil, meanwhile, both believe they have legitimate claims over Uruguay….which is also Paraguay’s only access point to the sea. When Brazil invades Uruguay, Solano Lopez declares war on Brazil and sends troops into Uruguay through Argentine territory. Brazil and Argentina meanwhile reach an agreement regarding Uruguay and join forces against Paraguay.

This leads to a war in which Paraguay is outnumbered and up against Brazil and Argentina’s modern weapons. Solano Lopez conscripts every able bodied Paraguayan male to the front lines. Women have to step in to work the land and provide the support needed to keep the troops fighting. Still, famine and disease set in.

According to some estimates, the war wiped out 60% of Paraguay’s population and 90% of the country’s men.  For each man left alive in the country there are eight women. Even though the country is in ruins the women of Paraguay keep going. They keep working, producing food, producing goods, and tending to the needs of those who have survived the war. More importantly, despite having seen the evil that humanity is capable of, they decide to continue having children. This decision saves Paraguay as a nation, but also saves the culture and language of this fledgling nation. Pope Francis has repeatedly referred to the women of Paraguay as the most glorious women of Latin America.

“Chiquitunga”

During his meeting with the young people of Paraguay Pope Francis heard the testimony of Liz,  a 25 year old woman, a daughter of separated parents, who has become the sole caregiver for her mother and grandmother. Liz’s mother is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and her grandmother is bedridden. Through the generosity of her friends, fellow parishioners, and extended family, Liz was able to become a nurse. While sharing her story and her struggles with Pope Francis she said she found inspiration and strength in the example of “Chiquitunga”, who she learned of while working in a hospital.

Chiquitunga is the nickname for Maria Felicia de Jesus Sacramento (born Maria Felicia Guggiari Echeverria). Chiquitunga was born in Villarrica, Paraguay to a faithful Catholic family. At the age of 16 she joined Catholic Action and consecrated herself to the service of God. She taught catechism, provided pastoral care for young labourers and university students, and helped the poor, elderly and abandoned in the poorest areas of her city. She wrote of the great joy she felt being able to serve these people because she found Christ in their faces.

Despite the joy that she felt serving those in need, she felt called to the contemplative life. At age 30 she entered the Carmel de la Asuncion and took the habit of the Discalced Carmelites. Chiquitunga lived only four years after entering the monastery. She died on Easter Sunday 1959 of hepatitis, which had already killed other sisters in her community. The cause for her beatification was opened in 1997.

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Fr. Rosica on Relevant Radio: Pope Francis is giving us a wonderful simplicity of life

Tom_Radio

On Monday, July 13, 2015, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation, was featured on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air with John Harper. Listen to the full interview that covers topics ranging from the Pope’s recent trip to South America to Laudato Si and his upcoming trip to Cuba, the United States and the World Meeting of Families.

 

0:00

CNS photo/Paul Haring