The potential unifier: Pope Francis and the Mid East

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Sebastian Gomes, Salt + Light writer/producer/director of The Francis Effect, gives us a glimpse into filming the documentary:

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: the current situation in the Middle East is catastrophic, and there’s no end in sight. It’s a volatile mix of religious, political, historical, ethnic, social and economic elements all firing at the same time. Catholics living in the midst of it have told us that: 1) the only certain thing is that things are uncertain, and 2) Don’t believe anyone who claims to entirely understand what’s happening.

Many highly intelligent people around the world have spoken about this being a defining moment in human history. Enter Pope Francis. His election in March of 2013 shocked the world, and the following eighteen months have been quite the encore. There have already been moments of great significance concerning the Middle East: the day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, or the Pope’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. It would be naïve and unreasonable to think that Pope Francis can single-handedly solve these complex and deep-seeded issues. But we have to be honest with ourselves: no one else even comes close. There is something in Pope Francis, the man, the moral figure that is not found in any other world leader today. And for that reason he is a beacon of hope.

Msgr. John Kozar, who runs the pontifical Catholic Near East Welfare Association, told me in our interview for “The Francis Effect” that for the people of the Middle East – both Christian and Muslim – Pope Francis is not simply the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, but a man of peace for the entire human family. As you can tell from the following excerpt, our interview was remarkably candid, focusing primarily on the Syrian crisis and the suffering of Christians and Muslims throughout the Middle East. But we also discussed the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy and the shift away from some of the trappings and excesses of the papal office under Francis.

Excerpt from January 29, 2014 interview with Msgr. John Kozar, President of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. To watch the full interview, purchase The Francis Effect DVD box set.

Gomes: From your point of view, how significant is the moral authority that this pope has gained because of the things he says and the things he does on a global scale?

Kozar: Well, let me begin by alluding to a few people that I just recently met in Rome for some meetings. One of them was a bishop from Syria. And he said this two or three times: ‘Overwhelmingly, the Christian population in my suffering country and the Muslims,’ he said, ‘I repeat, and the Muslims, are beseeching me in the strongest way possible to implore the Holy Father to kindly, please get involved with this whole quest for peace in this part of the world. He is the only moral figure that can command enough respect that possibly might bring some peace.’ I thought that was pretty strong. Because this is an area where there’s very little hope. And externally and internationally people want to write it off: ‘forget it. It’s not worth it.’ But imagine: ‘this is the only man that has that moral fibre and that moral acceptance. This upright figure, he might be able to do it. Please, implore him to help us.’

Gomes: This pope has mentioned “an ecumenism of blood,” speaking specifically about a solidarity that all Christians feel with the Christians in the Middle East who are being displaced or being killed. What do you make of that? How do you think that has been received on the ground?

Kozar: Well, I think it’s a very notable approach, and I think it has caught on because there are, I think, all of the Christian denominations and varieties and sub-varieties – there’s enough suffering to go around for all of them. But we can’t exclude; he includes also the non-Christians. This was brought home by some of the bishops from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, that some of our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer greatly. But the suffering might not be perceived in such strong terms because the numbers are so huge that if people flee that community, it doesn’t seem to draw a lot of attention. With Christians being really tiny minorities in some places and still diminishing, it seems to be more dramatic. But I think the Pope is reaching out and suggesting that there is a commonality of suffering here, of martyrdom that’s shared by all of the Christian traditions. And one of the things that I find very uplifting is that the lines of distinction are not very strong. When I was with Pope Benedict for that celebration [Mass during a September 2012 trip to Lebanon] I was at a Eucharist with, I think, 400,000 people. I was seated beside some Orthodox Patriarchs and Archbishops, and a few Protestant representatives, and then the faithful and many Muslims. And there was a one-ness. There was a one-ness gathered to pray for peace. And this man now, Francis, as Peter is potentially the great unifier. And I think, yes, people in this troubled part of the world and all over the world, they’re really grabbed by that.

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.

Faith, Through Charity, Can Dislodge Indifference and Apathy, Says Pope Francis

Francis urges Albanian Youth to say ‘Yes’ Acceptance and Solidarity

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Pope Francis urges Albanian youth to say yes to acceptance and solidarity during his Angelus address.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this celebration, I wish to greet each of you who have come from all over Albania and from nearby countries. I thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith.

In a particular way, I wish to greet the young! They tell me that Albania is the youngest country in Europe, so it is to you that I turn! I invite you to build your lives on Jesus Christ: the one who builds on Christ builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith (cf. 2 Tim. 2:13). Jesus knows us better than anyone else; when we sin, he does not condemn us but rather says to us, “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11). Dear young people, you are the new generation of Albania, the future of the nation. With the power of the Gospel and the example of the martyrs, you know how to say “No” to the idolatry of money, “No” to the false freedom of individualism, “No” to addiction and to violence; you also know how to say “Yes” to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, “Yes” to the beauty that is inseparable from the good and the true; “Yes” to a life lived with great enthusiasm and at the same time faithful in little things. In this way, you will build a better Albania and a better world in the footsteps of your ancestors.

Let us turn to the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate above all under her title of “Our Lady of Good Counsel”. I stand before her, spiritually, at her Shrine in Scutari, so dear to you, and to her I entrust the entire Church in Albania and all the people of this country, especially families, children and the elderly who are the living memory of the people.  May Our Lady guide you to walk “together with God towards the hope that does not delude.”

Pope Francis’ Homily Addresses Martrydom in Albania

 

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Below you will find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily during his first trip to Albania.

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass in Mother Teresa Square
(Tirana, 21 September 2014)

Today’s Gospel tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:1-9, 17-20).  He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity.  To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission.  The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”.  It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace.  Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country!

In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples.  Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them.  In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom.  Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel.  In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, and laity paid for their fidelity with their lives.  Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking. How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken!  I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance.  The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel (cf. First Reading). The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society.  Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all.  Today, I have come to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts; to involve the young generations; to nourish yourselves assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ: his Gospel will show you the way!  May your faith be joyful and bright; may you demonstrate that the encounter with Christ gives meaning to human existence, meaning to every man and woman.
In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society: do not be afraid to respond generously to Christ who invites you to follow him!  In a priestly or religious vocation you will find the richness and the joy of offering yourselves to the service of God and your brothers and sisters.  How many men and women await the light of the Gospel and the grace of the Sacraments!

To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel!  So many of your sons and daughters have suffered for Christ, even to the point of sacrificing their lives.  May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and of peace.  Amen.

Pope Francis’ Opening Address in Albania Focuses on Peaceful Co-existence

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Pope Francis’ visit to Albania marks the first time a pontiff has visited the ‘Land of the Eagles’ since Pope John Paul II’s trip in 1993. His opening address, full text found below, focuses on a fruitful co-existence between people of different beliefs.

“I am very happy to be here with you, in this noble land of Albania, a land of heroes who sacrificed their lives for the independence of the nation, and a land of martyrs, who witnessed to their faith in difficult times of persecution. I am grateful for the invitation to visit your country, called ‘the Land of the Eagles’, and for your warm welcome.

Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Albania re-embarked upon the arduous but rewarding path of freedom. This experience has allowed Albanian society to take up the process of material and spiritual reconstruction, to foster an increase of enthusiasm and initiatives, and to create a spirit of cooperation and exchange with countries of the Balkans, the Mediterranean, Europe and indeed with the rest of the world. This rediscovered freedom has helped you look to the future with trust and hope, establishing new projects and renewing friendly relations with countries both near and far.

Respect for human rights, among which religious freedom and freedom of expression stand out, is the preliminary condition for a country‚s social and economic development. When the dignity of the human person is respected and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, creativity and interdependence thrive, and the potential of the human personality is unleashed through actions that further the common good.

There is a rather beautiful characteristic of Albania, one which is given great care and attention, and which gives me great joy: I am referring to the peaceful coexistence and collaboration that exists among followers of different religions. The climate of respect and mutual trust between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims is a precious gift to the country. This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and exploited. This creates dangerous circumstances which lead to conflict and violence, rather than being an occasion for open and respectful dialogue, and for a collective reflection on what it means to believe in God and to follow his laws.

Let no one use God as a ‘shield’ while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression! May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!

What the experience in Albania shows, rather, is that a peaceful and fruitful coexistence between persons and communities of believers of different religions is not only desirable, but possible and realistic. The peaceful coexistence of different religious communities is, in fact, an inestimable benefit to peace and to harmonious human advancement. This is something of value which needs to be protected and nurtured each day, by providing an education which respects differences and particular identities, so that dialogue and cooperation for the good of all may be promoted and strengthened by mutual understanding and esteem. It is a gift which we need to implore from God in prayer. May Albania always continue to walk this path, offering an inspiring example to other countries.

Mr President, after a winter of isolation and persecution, the springtime of freedom has finally come. By means of free elections and new institutional structures, a democratic pluralism has been consolidated which is now favouring economic activity. Many people, especially at the beginning, chose to emigrate in search of work and a better standard of living, and in their own way contributed to the advancement of Albanian society. Many others rediscovered reasons for staying in their homeland, wanting to build it up from within. The efforts and sacrifices of all have improved the life of the nation in general.

The Catholic Church, for her part, has resumed a normal existence, re-establishing her hierarchy and rejoining the threads of a long tradition. Places of worship have been built or rebuilt. Among these, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Counsel at Scutari holds a special place. Similarly, schools and centres of education and healthcare have been established for use by all citizens. The presence of the Church and her activities are therefore rightly seen as a service, not only to the Catholic community, but rather to the whole nation.

Blessed Mother Teresa, together with the martyrs who witnessed to their faith -to whom we pray and offer our appreciation- most certainly are rejoicing in heaven because of the work of men and women of good will who contribute to the flourishing of civil society and the Church in Albania.

Today, however, new challenges arise which must be faced. In a world that tends toward economic and cultural globalization, every effort must be made to ensure that growth and development are put at the service of all and not just limited parts of the population. Furthermore, such development will only be authentic if it is sustainable and just, that is, if it has the rights of the poor and respect for the environment close to heart. Alongside the globalization of the markets there must also be a corresponding globalization of solidarity; together with economic growth there must be a greater respect for creation; alongside the rights of individuals, there must be the guaranteed rights of those who are a bridge between the individual and the state, the family being the first and foremost of such institutions. Today Albania is able to face these challenges in an atmosphere of freedom and stability, two realities which must be strengthened and which form the basis of hope for the future.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to each of you for your gracious welcome, and, like Saint John Paul II in April 1993, I invoke upon Albania the protection of Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, entrusting to her the hopes of the entire Albanian people. May God abundantly pour out his grace and blessing upon Albania.

 

 

Prepared text of Pope Francis for Vespers in Tirana Cathedral

The following is Pope Francis’ original speech during the celebration of Vespers in Albania. 

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is a great joy for me to meet with you in your beloved homeland; I thank God for the opportunity and I thank you for your hospitality! Here in your midst, I can better express my closeness to your task of evangelization.

Since the moment your country has been free from dictatorship, the ecclesial communities in Albania have begun again to journey onward and to organize themselves for pastoral work, looking to the future with hope. I am particularly grateful to those Pastors who paid a great price for their fidelity to Christ and for their decision to remain united to the Successor of Peter. They were courageous in the face of difficulty and trial! There are still priests and religious among us who have experienced prison and persecution, like the sister and brother who have told us their story.  I embrace you warmly, and I praise God for your faithful witness that inspires the whole Church to continue to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

Treasuring this experience, the Church in Albania can grow in its missionary and apostolic zeal. I know and appreciate the effort you make to oppose those new forms of dictatorship that threaten to enslave individuals and communities. If the atheist regime sought to suffocate the faith, these new forms of dictatorship, in a more insidious way, are able to suffocate charity. I am referring to individualism, rivalry and heated conflicts: these are worldly mentalities that can contaminate even the Christian community. We need not be discouraged by these difficulties; do not be afraid to continue along the path of the Lord. He is always at your side, he gives you his grace and he helps you to sustain one another; to accept one another as you are, with understanding and mercy; he helps you to deepen fraternal communion.

Evangelization is more effective when it is carried out with oneness of spirit and with sincere teamwork among the various ecclesial communities as well as among missionaries and local clergy: this requires courage to seek out ways of working together and offering mutual help in the areas of catechesis and catholic education, as well as integral human development and charity. In these settings, the contribution of the ecclesial movements that know how to work in communion with Pastors is highly valuable. That is precisely what I see before me: bishops, priests, religious and laity: a Church that desires to walk in fraternity and unity.

When love for Christ is placed above all else, even above our legitimate particular needs, then we are able to move outside of ourselves, of our personal or communal pettiness, and move towards Jesus who, in our brothers and sisters, comes to us. His wounds are still visible today on the bodies of so many men and women who are hungry and thirst; who are humiliated; who are in hospital or prison. By touching and caring for these wounds with tenderness, it is possible to fully live the Gospel and to adore God who lives in our midst.

There are many problems that you encounter every day. These problems compel you to immerse yourselves with fervour and generosity in apostolic work. And yet, we know that by ourselves we can do nothing: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 127:1). This awareness calls us to give due space for the Lord every day, to dedicate our time to him, open our hearts to him, so that he may work in our lives and in our mission. That which the Lord promises for the prayer made with trust and perseverance goes beyond what we can imagine (cf Lk 11:11-12): beyond that which we ask for, God sends us also the Holy Spirit. The contemplative dimension of our lives becomes indispensable even in the midst of the most urgent and difficult tasks we encounter. The more our mission calls us to go out into the peripheries of life, the more our hearts feel the intimate need to be united to the heart of Christ, which is full of mercy and love.

Considering the fact that the number of priests and religious is not yet sufficient, the Lord Jesus repeats to you today “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest,” (Mt 9: 37-38).  We must not forget that this prayer begins with a gaze: the gaze of Jesus, who sees the great harvest. Do we also have this gaze?  Do we know how to recognize the abundant fruits that the grace of God has caused to grow and the work that there is to be done in the field of the Lord? It is by gazing with faith on the field of God that prayer spring forth, namely, the daily and pressing invocation to the Lord for priestly and religious vocations.

Dear seminarians, postulants and novices, you are the fruit of this prayer of the people of God, which always precedes and accompanies your personal response. The Church in Albania needs your enthusiasm and your generosity. The time that you dedicate today to a solid spiritual, theological, communitarian and pastoral formation, is directed to serving adequately the people of God tomorrow. The people, more than seeking experts, are looking for witnesses: humble witnesses of the mercy and tenderness of God; priests and religious conformed to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who are capable of communicating the love of Christ to all people.

Together with you and the entire Albanian people, I want to give thanks to God for the many missionaries whose activity was decisive for the renewal of the Church in Albania and which continues to be of great importance to this day.  These missionaries have offered significant contribution to the consolidation of the spiritual patrimony that the Albanian bishops, priests, consecrated religious and lay persons have preserved in the midst of difficult trials and tribulations. Let us acknowledge the great work done by the religious institutes for the revival of Catholic education: these efforts are worth recognizing and sustaining.

Dear brothers and sisters, do not be discouraged in the face of difficulties. Following the footsteps of your fathers, be tenacious in giving testimony to Christ, walking together with God, toward the hope that never disappoints. In your journey, rest assured that you are accompanied and supported by the love of the whole Church. I thank you from the heart for this meeting, and I entrust each one of you and your communities – your plans and your hopes – to the holy Mother of God. I bless you from my heart and I ask you please to pray for me.

 

Unscripted remarks of the Holy Father during Vespers in Tirana Cathedral

“Today we have touched the martyrs.” – Pope Francis

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, during his visit to Albania, Pope Francis met with priests, seminarians, religious men & women & lay leaders in Tirana Cathedral to celebrate Vespers. Upon hearing the very moving testimonies of a priest and sister who were imprisoned for many years under the very harsh communist regime in Albania, Pope Francis set aside his prepared text and spoke the following very moving words to the assembly in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Tirana, Albania this afternoon. Pope Francis embraced both the elderly priest and sister who gave testimony during the Vespers service.

“I had prepared several words to tell you, and I will give it to the Archbishop so that he may send you the translation once it is done. But now, I would like to tell you something else. We heard in the Reading: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (1 Cor. 1,3-4).

It is the text that the Church makes us reflect upon in today’s Vespers. In these past two months, I have prepared myself for this visit, reading the history of the persecutions in Albania. And it was a shock for me: I did not know that your people suffered so much! Then, today, on the way from the airport to the square, all these photographs of the martyrs. I can see that this people still remembers its martyrs, of those who suffered so much! A people of martyrs… And today, at the start of this celebration, I have touched two of them. That which I can tell you is what they have already said, with their lives, with their simple words…they spoke about things with such simplicity…but with so much pain!

And we may ask them: “But how were you able to survive so much tribulation?” And they will say this passage that we have heard in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. It was He who consoled us!”, with this simplicity. They have suffered too much. They suffered physically, psychologically even, that anguish of uncertainty: if they were going to be gunned down or not…And they lived like that, with that anguish! And the Lord consoled them… I think of Peter, imprisoned, in chains: the whole Church prayed for him. And the Lord consoled Peter, and the martyrs and these two who we have heard today, the Lord consoled them because there were people in the Church, the people of God, the holy and good old women, so many cloistered nuns who prayed for them. And this is the mystery of the Church: when the Church asks the Lord to console His people, the Lord humbly consoles, even hidden. He consoles in the depths of the heart and consoles with strength. They, I’m sure, do not brag about what they lived through because they know that it was the Lord who carried them forward. But they tell us something, right? That for us, who are called to follow the Lord up close, the only consolation comes from Him, right?

Woe to us if we look for consolation elsewhere! Woe to the priests, the religious, the nuns, the novices, the consecrated when they look for consolation far from the Lord! I do not want to ‘hit you over the head’ (it. bastonarvi), eh? I do not want to become the executioner here, but know this well, eh? If you look for consolation somewhere else, you will not be happy! Even more so: no one will be able to console you, because your heart was not opened to the consolation of the Lord. And you will end, as the great Elijah says to the people of Israel, “limping with both legs”. Praise be God the Father, God of every consolation, who consoles us in all our tribulations, so that we may also console those who find themselves in any form of affliction, with the consolation with which we ourselves have been consoled, by God. It is what these two have done, today. With humility, without pretext, without bragging, doing a service for us: consoling us. Also, they tell us “But, we are sinners”.

Indeed, they say to us: “Sinners, but the Lord has been with us: this is the path. Do not be discouraged!” Forgive me, if I use you today as an example, but we should all be an example for the other. But, let us go home thinking well of this: Today, we have touched the martyrs.”

Thanks to Zenit International News Service for transcribing the Italian words spoken by the Holy Father.

Philadelphians’ Invite Pope Francis to Visit in 2015

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With the World Meeting of Families to take place in Philadelphia in September of 2015, it is possible the Holy Father may visit the US for this first time in his pontificate. To make matters easier, the people of Philadelphia extend an invitation to Pope Francis in hopes of confirming his presence in 2015. See the video below to see what Philadelphians had to say to Pope Francis:

What would you say to Pope Francis to convince him to visit your city?

Tell us (or tweet @saltandlighttv ) us in the comments below!

Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ: ‘The church is not a church of ‘no’’

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Sebastian Gomes, Salt + Light writer/producer/director of The Francis Effect, gives us a glimpse into filming the documentary:

In the immediate aftermath of the whirlwind 2013 papal transition, everyone was comparing Pope Francis to Pope Benedict, pointing out the many differences and similarities between them. Naturally, nearly all of this commentary was coming from indirect sources, that is, from people who knew neither Francis nor Benedict personally.  For this reason we were very happy to secure an interview with Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Vatican’s spokesman under both pontiffs. If anyone understands the vicissitudes of the past twenty months, it is he.  It was important therefore, to ask him very particular questions, like how Francis’ methods of communication are different from Benedict’s and what it’s like working for a spontaneous Pope (check out Francis going to confession).  It’s clear from the interview that Fr. Lombardi is in the same boat as many of us: surprised and also deeply inspired by what he sees the new Pope doing on a daily basis. In other words, despite the great challenges of working for a spontaneous Pope (including what many perceive to be frequent misinterpretations of the Pope’s words by the media), the fact that Francis so naturally communicates the heart of the Gospel is enough to energize and sustain him.  He’s not alone.

Excerpt from March 24, 2014 interview with Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office. To watch the full interview, purchase The Francis Effect DVD box set.

Gomes: How would you measure the success of the “Francis effect?”

Fr. Lombardi: For me, it is very clear that the most important point is to understand the center of the message of the gospel. And Francis says this and he repeats it continuously, “God loves us. God demonstrates to us his mercy, his love through Jesus Christ and through the gospel.” And so, this very clear accent about the love of God, the mercy of God, is something that the people have understood very well. And this has changed their perspective about the church. The church is not a church of ‘no,’ or a church of power, but it is a church of ‘yes’ for the well-being of souls, for everyone in the church of salvation. It is the church of service. This change of perspective, in the minds of many, many people, faithful and also not faithful, is the most important aspect of this pontificate so far and I can say also a big spiritual success.

The Francis Effect DVD box set is now available for 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.

Address by His Eminence Cardinal Andrea Yeum Soo-jung: Mass for Peace and Reconciliation


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Address by His Eminence Cardinal Andrea Yeum Soo-jung
Mass for Peace and Reconciliation
Myeong-dong Cathedral in Seoul
August 18, 2014

Holy Father, I wanted to thank you very much for visiting our country split in two, north and south and for praying for his peace by celebrating the Eucharist. Today is the last day of his visit to Korea. Soon after he finished this Mass will return to his home.

I am very happy to have you accompanied in these five days. Since his arrival he held a number of meetings and celebrations of the Eucharist. In each time showed the best aspect of the Church. For young Asians, in particular, has shown a Good Shepherd who accompanies them and walking beside them.

In Seoul beatified martyrs of our primitive, Paul Yun Ji-Chung and his companions a hundred and twenty. With this, the Korean Church has blessed addition to the one hundred and three hundred twenty-four new saints. I feel so out of me a most serious responsibility for evangelization.

Holy Father, I ask you to pray for us, that we are committed to achieve full peace in our country and the world.  How You love us and our country, we love it. Thank you again and go in peace! Thank you!