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!

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis: Mass For Peace And Reconciliation

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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass For Peace And Reconciliation
Seoul, Myeong-dong Cathedral
18 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As my stay in Korea draws to a close, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon this beloved country, and in a special way, upon the Church in Korea.  Among those blessings I especially treasure the experience we have all had in these recent days of the presence of so many young pilgrims from throughout Asia.  Their love of Jesus and their enthusiasm for the spread of his Kingdom have been an inspiration to us all.

My visit now culminates in this celebration of Mass, in which we implore from God the grace of peace and reconciliation.  This prayer has a particular resonance on the Korean peninsula.  Today’s Mass is first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family.  In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how powerful is our prayer when two or three of us join in asking for something (cf. Mt 18:19-20).  How much more when an entire people raises its heartfelt plea to heaven!

The first reading presents God’s promise to restore to unity and prosperity a people dispersed by disaster and division.  For us, as for the people of Israel, this is a promise full of hope: it points to a future which God is even now preparing for us.  Yet this promise is inseparably tied to a command: the command to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law (cf. Dt 30:2-3).  God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people.

At this Mass, we naturally hear this promise in the context of the historical experience of the Korean people, an experience of division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years.  But God’s urgent summons to conversion also challenges Christ’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society.  It challenges each of you to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many.  And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.

In today’s Gospel, Peter asks the Lord: “If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  To which the Lord replies: “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22).  These words go to the very heart of Jesus’ message of reconciliation and peace.  In obedience to his command, we ask our heavenly Father daily to forgive us our sins, “as we forgive those who sin against us”.  Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?

Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation.  In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it.  What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross.  The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love.

This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea.  Trust in the power of Christ’s cross!  Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others!  I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life.  I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land.  Thus our prayers for peace and reconciliation will rise to God from ever more pure hearts and, by his gracious gift, obtain that precious good for which we all long.

Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people.

Before leaving Korea, I wish to thank the President of Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and all those who in any way helped to make this visit possible.  I especially wish to address a word of personal appreciation to the priests of Korea, who daily labor in the service of the Gospel and the building up of God’s people in faith, hope and love.  I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops.  Your example of unreserved love for the Lord, your faithfulness and dedication to your ministry, and your charitable concern for those in need, contribute greatly to the work of reconciliation and peace in this country.

Dear brothers and sisters, God calls us to return to him and to hearken to his voice, and he promises to establish us on the land in even greater peace and prosperity than our ancestors knew.  May Christ’s followers in Korea prepare for the dawning of that new day, when this land of the morning calm will rejoice in God’s richest blessings of harmony and peace!  Amen.

Expression of thanks to Pope Francis closing Mass of Asian Youth Day


Expression of thanks to Pope Francis
Bishop Peter Kang U-il Messa
After Communion at concluding Mass of Asian Youth Day
Sunday August 17, 2014

I thank His Holiness Pope Francis with all your heart, on behalf of the bishops of Asia for coming to stay close to young Asians. At the World Youth Days, the Holy Father has always accompanied the young, but this is the first time that the Pope comes from so far away together with the Asian bishops to attend the World Youth Day Asia.

We can not move us and rejoice even if only for the fact that young people who have the same faith congregate, coming from different contexts and beyond the walls of different nationalities and languages, to confirm their brotherhood in Christ, and to rejoice and praise together God. But not only that. Since this time the Pope has shared with the youth for a long time, I believe that young Asians have experienced, as never before, unrepeatable moments of grace, and that they have received a seed of hope and courage for the future.

I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the FABC (Bishops’ Conference of Asia), and many bishops of Asia, came from afar to attend the meeting with the Holy Father and to confirm the solidarity of the Asian Church. My heartfelt thanks also go to all those who for the preparation of this day have worked tirelessly without saving, in particular, to Mons. Lazarus Heungshik Yu, Bishop of the Diocese of Daejeon and the other members of the Preparatory Commission. I hope that the good Lord reward you abundantly.

I hope that all young Asians who participated in this Day, starting from grace and from the experience of these days, they can go out in search of the sources of faith in the places of their daily lives, knocking on the doors of the closed hearts, always walking together Jesus and the martyrs, and I hope that young people will strengthen the desire and passion to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.

I hope that the God of peace himself give you all his abundant blessing.

Closing Holy Mass homily of the 6th Asian Youth Day

Closing Holy Mass homily
6th Asian Youth Day
Haemi Castle
August 17, 2014

Dear Young Friends,

The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!   These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all.  Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ.  He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives!  The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant.  With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.

The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation.  The other part of this Day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up! – speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility.  Let us consider for a moment each of these words.

First, the word “Asian”.  You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia.  Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love.  The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).  As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies.  Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!

As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions.  Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures.  You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.

Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”.  You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life.  Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love!  This is the path you are called to take.  This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture.  In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.

As young Christians, whether you are workers or students,whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present!  Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to servethe poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted.  It is these people especially who repeat the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!”.  The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ.  It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!”  It is often a cry which rises from our own hearts as well:  “Lord, help me!”  Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in

Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” – speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you.  It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel.  Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”.  No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice.  Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30).  Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31).  It is by his mercy that we are saved.

Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy.  Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world.  Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honor him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia.  Amen.

 

Baptism of Korean Layman at Nunciature by Pope Francis

 This morning (August 17) at 7:00 a.m. in the Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature, Mr. Lee Ho Jin received the sacrament of baptism. He is the father of a young boy, one of many young persons who died in the Sewol ferry tragedy earlier this year.

Mr. Lee Ho Jim had asked the Pope for baptism earlier in Daejon during the Pope’s meeting with survivors and family members of this tragedy. The candidate for baptism was accompanied by a son and daughter and the priest who had presented him to the Pope in Daejon. A lay staff member of the Apostolic Nunciature served as godfather for Mr. Lee Ho Jim. The celebration was very simple and was celebrated in Korean by Jesuit Fr. John Chong Che-chon, who has been serving as Korean interpreter for the Pope during this journey in Korea. The Pope intervened personally in the rite of Baptism with the pouring of water and anointing with Sacred Chrism. The newly baptized man took the baptismal name of Francis.

The Pope was very happy to be able to take part in the great ministry of the celebration of Baptism of a layman in the Korean Church in this unplanned ceremony.

Pope Francis meets with Asian Bishops at Martyrs’ Shrine in Haemi

blog_1408244711Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with the Asian Bishops
Haemi, Martyrs’ Shrine
17 August 2014

Dear Brother Bishops,

I offer you a warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord as we gather together at this holy site where so many Christians gave their lives in fidelity to Christ.  Their testimony of charity has brought blessings and graces not only to the Church in Korea but also beyond; may their prayers help us to be faithful shepherds of the souls entrusted to our care.  I thank Cardinal Gracias for his kind words of welcome and for the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in fostering solidarity and promoting effective pastoral outreach in your local Churches.

On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all.  Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).   But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and the fundamental point of reference which guides us to our destination?  Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians.  We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity.  Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak.  A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue.  If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us.  And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways.  I would like to point to three of these.  One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth and, shaking the earth beneath our feet, pulls us toward the shifting sands of confusion and despair.  It is a temptation which nowadays also affects Christian communities, causing people to forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, “there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Gaudium et Spes, 10; cf. Heb 13:8).  Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way inwhichthe worldthreatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10).  In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem.  For the ministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoralprograms and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance.  Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.  Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”.  It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission.  In this sense, faith enables us to be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love.  Saint Peter tells us that we should be ever ready to respond to all who ask the reason for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).  Our identity as Christians is ultimately seen in our quiet efforts to worship God alone,to love one another, to serve one another, andto show by our example not only what we believe, but also what we hope for, and the Onein whom we put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12).

Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity; it is from this that our dialogue begins, and this that we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves.  Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let usspeak “from him andof him” readily and without hesitation or fear.  The simplicity of his word becomesevident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters.

I would now touch on one further aspect of our Christian identity.  It is fruitful.  Because it is born of, and constantly nourished by, the grace of our dialogue with the Lord and the promptings of his Spirit, it bears a harvest of justice, goodness and peace.  Let me ask you, then, about the fruits which it is bearing in your own lives and in the lives of the communities entrusted to your care.  Does the Christian identity of your particular Churches shine forth in your programs of catechesis and youth ministry, in your service to the poor and those languishing on the margins of our prosperous societies, and in your efforts to nourish vocations to the priesthood and the religious life?

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy.  We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns.  Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate.  In this sense, dialogue demands of us a truly contemplative spirit of openness and receptivity to the other.  This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity.  It leads to a genuine encounter in which heart speaks to heart.  We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity.  As Saint John Paul II rightly recognized, our commitment to dialogue is grounded in the very logic of the incarnation: in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).  In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all.

Dear brother bishops, I thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome.  When we look out at the great Asian continent, with its vast expanses of land, its ancient cultures and traditions, we are aware that, in God’s plan, your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  May the Good Shepherd, who knows and loves each of his sheep, guide and strengthen your efforts to build up their unity with him and with all the members of his flock throughout the world.  I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

 

Greetings by Oswald Cardinal Gracias

Meeting with the Asian Bishops
Haemi, Martyrs’ Shrine
August 17, 2014

Greetings by Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay & President, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences

Most Holy Father,

At this moment, our minds and hearts go back to that historic occasion forty four years ago when the Bishops of Asia met together in Manila on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s historic visit to the Philippines in 1970. It was the first time that so many Bishops from Asia – around 180 were present – came together to exchange experiences and to deliberate jointly on pastoral issues facing this vast continent rich in its diversity. Thrilled by this experience, the Founding Fathers established the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) with the blessings of Pope Paul VI. FABC today has 19 member conferences comprising 27 countries, and 9 associate members besides: Churches which do not yet have Episcopal Conferences.

Asia is a continent experiencing the hopes and joys of a constant rebirth in the Spirit. Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in Asia. It is a young continent with a majority of the population young. Hence in many ways Asia is a very central for the future of the world and for the future of the Church. Globalization has impacted Asia and this has brought new challenges to the Church: Asian people are religious by nature, yet a spirit of secularism and materialism is creeping in. Family ties once considered so important and so deeply rooted in Asian society are slowly being eroded.

Again, while the Asian soul treats life as sacred, there are rising threats to life that are disturbing in many ways. The Asian seeks and enjoys community. Now this too is being impacted upon with a strong sense of individualism.

We are in this beautiful land of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his companions. During this week 124 more martyrs are being beatified. It is the blood of these holy martyrs that has been the seed for the growth of the Church here. The Asian Youth Day has shown how vibrant and enthusiastic the Korean youth are. Korea is a land where the laity has played a special role in Evangelization and this becomes a model for many of our Churches. We wish to be touched by the infectious passion of the Korean Church as we go back to our dioceses.

Most Holy Father we thank you for this visit to Korea, your first to Asia. You have brought the person of Jesus to us by your Message. You have inspired us by your example. We thank you for your leadership and we pray for the continuous assistance of the Spirit to you and God’s protection on your Petrine ministry. While we ask you to bless and pray for us, we commit ourselves to make the person of Jesus and His Message continuously more known, more understood, more loved and more followed. This we will do by our word, by our lives and by our work. Bless the Church in Asia, bless us the leaders of the Church. May Mary the Star of New Evangelization, our Mother and the Mother of Asia continue to guide, protect and intercede for us.

Thank you.

Pope Francis Meeting with Lay Apostolate

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
Meeting with the Lay Apostolate,
Kkottongnae, Spirituality Center
16 August 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am grateful to have this opportunity to meet you, who represent the many expressions of the flourishing apostolate of the laity in Korea.  I thank the President of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council, Mr Paul Kwon Kil-joong, for his kind words of welcome in your name.

The Church in Korea, as we all know, is heir to the faith of generations of lay persons who persevered in the love of Christ Jesus and the communion of the Church despite the scarcity of priests and the threat of severe persecution.  Blessed Paul Yun Ji-chung and the martyrs beatified today represent an impressive chapter of this history.  They bore witness to the faith not only by their sufferings and death, but by their lives of loving solidarity with one another in Christian communities marked by exemplary charity.

This precious legacy lives on in your own works of faith, charity and service.  Today, as ever, the Church needs credible lay witnesses to the saving truth of the Gospel, its power to purify and transform human hearts, and its fruitfulness for building up the human family in unity, justice and peace.  We know there is but one mission of the Church of God, and that every baptized Christian has a vital part in this mission.  Your gifts as lay men and women are manifold and your apostolates varied, yet all that you do is meant to advance the Church’s mission by ensuring that the temporal order is permeated and perfected by Christ’s Spirit and ordered to the coming of his Kingdom.

In a particular way, I wish to acknowledge the work of the many societies and associations directly engaged in outreach to the poor and those in need.  As the example of the first Korean Christians shows, the fruitfulness of faith is expressed in concrete solidarity with our brothers and sisters, without any attention to their culture or social status, for in Christ “there is no Greek or Jew” (Gal 3:28).  I am deeply grateful to those of you whoby your work and witness bring the Lord’s consoling presence to people living on the peripheries of our society.  This activity should not be limited to charitable assistance, but must also extend to a practical concern for human growth.  To assist the poor is good and necessary, but it is not enough.  I encourage you to multiply your efforts in the area of human promotion, so that every man and every woman can know the joy which comes from the dignity of earning their daily bread and supporting their family.

I wish also to acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by Korean Catholic women to the life and mission of the Church in this country as mothers of families, as catechists and teachers, and in countless other ways.  Similarly, I can only stress the importance of the witness given by Christian families.  At a time of great crisis for family life, our Christian communities are called to support married couples and families in fulfillingtheir proper mission in the life of the Church and society.  The family remains the basic unit of society and the first school in which children learn the human,spiritual and moral values which enable them to be a beacon of goodness, integrity and justice in our communities.

Dear friends, whatever your particular contribution to the Church’s mission, I ask you to continue to promote in your communities a more complete formation of the lay faithful through ongoing catechesis and spiritual direction.  In all that you do, I ask you to work in complete harmony of mind and heart with your pastors, striving to place your own insights, talents and charisms at the service of the Church’s growth in unity and missionary outreach.  Your contribution is essential, for the future of the Church in Korea – as throughout Asia – will depend in large part on the development of an ecclesiological vision grounded in a spirituality of communion, participation and the sharing of gifts (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 45).

Once again I express my gratitude for all that you do for the building up of the Church in Korea in holiness and zeal.  May you draw constant inspiration and strength for your apostolates from the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein “that love of God and of humanity which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished” (Lumen Gentium, 33).  Upon you and your families, and all who take part in the corporal and spiritual works of your parishes, associations and movements, I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ and the loving protection of Mary, our Mother.