Daily Perspectives: Tues. April 15, 2015

Tonight on Perspectives: Pope Francis wishes all Jews a happy Passover, and prays for those affected by the wildfire in Valparaiso, Chile.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Gobierno de Chile

Perspectives Daily – Mon. April 14, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Palm Sunday Mass with Pope Francis, appointments at the Vatican and a look at the Francis Effect.

Who am I? Asks Pope during Palm Sunday homily

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On Palm Sunday, April 13, 2014, in an unscripted, extremely moving, Ignatian-style homily, Pope Francis invited the crowd of over 100,000 people to enter into today’s passion story from Matthew’s Gospel and ask some very personal questions of our own roles in the Gospel story.

Here is the Vatican’s official English translation:

CELEBRATION OF PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
St. Peter’s Square
29th World Youth Day
Sunday, 13 April 2014

This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: the entire populace welcomes Jesus. The children and young people sing , praising Jesus.

But this week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have just listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus?

We have just heard many, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who had decided to kill Jesus. They were waiting for the chance to arrest him. Am I like one of them?

We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We have heard other names too: the disciples who understand nothing, who fell asleep while the Lord was suffering. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not realize what it was to betray Jesus? Or like that other disciple, who wanted to settle everything with a sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who feigns love and then kisses the Master in order to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those people in power who hastily summon a tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I think that in this way I am saving the people?

Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned – or condemning them myself?

Am I like that crowd which was not sure whether they were at a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and then chose Barabbas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.

Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, who find entertainment in humiliating him?

Am I like the Cyrenean, who was returning from work, weary, yet was good enough to help the Lord carry his cross?

Am I like those who walked by the cross and mocked Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and then we will believe in him!” Mocking Jesus….

Am I like those fearless women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, and who suffered in silence?

Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who lovingly carries the body of Jesus to give it burial?

Am I like the two Marys, who remained at the Tomb, weeping and praying?

Am I like those leaders who went the next day to Pilate and said, “Look, this man said that he was going to rise again. We cannot let another fraud take place!” and who block life, who block the tomb, in order to maintain doctrine, lest life come forth?

Where is my heart? Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.

After Communion, Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address, during which he extended a special greeting to the participants of the World Youth Days (WYD) organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

He recalled that the next WYD will take place in 2016 in Krakow, Poland, under the theme: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5,7).

The Pope recalled how 30 years ago John Paul II entrusted the WYD Cross to the youth, exhorting them to “carry it through all the world as a sign of Christ’s love for humanity.”

He also announced that St. John Paul II would be the patron of the next World Youth Day in Krakow. Then a delegation of young people from Brazil handed to a delegation of youth from Poland the WYD Cross, which had stood in Saint Peter’s Square throughout the Mass.

The Holy Father went on to announce he would be paying a visit to Daejeon, South Korea, on August 15 where he will meet with the youth of Asia.

Pope Francis concluded his address by calling us to turn to the Virgin Mother, “because she helps us always to follow the example of Jesus with faith.”

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CNS photo/Paul Haring

Vatican Connections: Friday April 11, 2014

This week we have details on Pope Francis’ Holy Week schedule and his Holy Week schedule. Venezuela has officially asked the Vatican for help in talks between government and opposition leaders, and we look at one holy site in Rome that is being restored for the first time since the 15th century.

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In a late-breaking development, On Friday, Pope Francis sent a letter to Venezuela’s president Nicholas Maduro, members of the government and opposition, and the people of Venezuela. Below is Vatican Radio’s translation of the letter:

To President Nicolas Maduro Moros, members of Government, representatives of the Mesa de Unidad Democratica and UNASUR leaders.

“Firstly, I desire to thank you for inviting the Holy See to take part in this process of dialogue and peace for your beloved country. I assure each of you of my prayers, so that this meeting and the process you are undertaking bear the desired fruits of national reconciliation and peace, gifts that we invoke from God, for the Venezuelan population.

I am aware of the restlessness and pain that many people are experiencing, and while I express my concern for what is taking place, I renew my affection for all Venezuelans, especially for the victims of violence and their families. I am deeply convinced that violence can never bring peace and wellbeing to a country, because it only ever generates more violence. On the contrary, through dialogue you can rediscover common and shared ground that will help to overcome the current moment of conflict and polarization, which profoundly wounds Venezuela, to find new forms of collaboration. In respect and recognition of the differences that exist in your country, the common good can be favored. In fact, all of you share in the love you have for your nation and its people. You also share concerns linked to the economic crisis, violence and criminality. You all care deeply about your children’s future and desire that peace which distinguishes the Venezuelan people. You all share faith in God and the will to defend the dignity of the human person.

This is what draws you together and urges you to undertake a process of dialogue which begins today, which must be rooted in an authentic culture of encounter, aware that unity must always prevail over conflict. Therefore, `I urge you not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace. At the heart of all sincere dialogue is reciprocal recognition and respect . Above all, there is the “heroism” of forgiveness and mercy, which free us from resentment, from hate and open up a road that is truly new. It is a long and difficult road, which requires patience and courage, but it is the only one that can lead to justice and peace. For the good of all your people and the future of your children, I ask you to have this courage.

With these sentiments I accompany the dear Venezuelan nation, and upon each of you I impart my Apostolic Blessing, invoking the help of Our Lord”.

Also on Friday, Pope Francis met with the International Catholic Child Bureau. During his audience he made the strongest public statements on clerical sexual abuse that we have heard from him thus far. Abandoning his prepared text, Pope Francis said:
 
” I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children…”
 
Victims advocacy groups were quick to say his statement was not enough. The US based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, released a statement asking Catholics to “be impressed by deeds, not words.”
 
Until recently it might have been an understandable response, but this year Pope Francis created the Commission for the Protection of Minors. He appointed eight people to that Commission, all of whom can be considered “heavy weights” in the area. One of the members, Marie Collins, is a survivor of clerical sexual abuse who started advocacy and support groups for victims in Ireland. Other members of the commission include psychiatrists specialized in identifying potential abusers, and experts in canon and civil law. The commission is currently working on ratifying its statues and identifying additional members for the committee. 
 

***Vatican Connections will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Tune in May 2, 2014

Perspectives Daily – Thurs. April 10, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Vatican conference on ending human trafficking, daily mass with Pope Francis and questions of religious freedom in Myanmar.

Pope Francis to Pontifical Gregorian University Consortium

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Pope Francis on Thursday held an audience for three educational institutions in Rome: the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. In his address, delivered in the Paul VI Audience Hall, Pope Francis noted that the three Jesuit-run institutions share in the desire “to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross … and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, His spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth” — and expression taken from the formula of the Society of Jesus. For those working and studying at the Pontifical institutions, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of learning to appreciate the ability to work and study in the city, and the Church, of Rome. This unique opportunity allows one to appreciate the roots of the faith in the past, and to be involved in the present, in “the actual path of this Church which presides in charity, at the service of unity and universality.”

Those who come to Rome also bring to the Church of Rome the variety of their own Churches and cultures. This, the Pope said, is an inestimable richness of the Roman institutions. “Your spiritual commitment, in teaching and in research, in study and in deeper formation, will be all the more fertile and efficacious as it is more fully animated by the love of Christ and of the Church, as the relationship between study and prayer is more solid and harmonious.” Theology and philosophy, he said, allow people “to acquire convictions that structure and strengthen the intellect and illuminate the will – but these studies will only be fruitful when done with an open mind, and on one’s knees” in prayer.

Dear Cardinals,
Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, My dear brothers and sisters,
I welcome all of you, professors, students, and staff of the Pontifical Gregorian University, of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. I greet Father Nicolás, the father delegate, and all the other superiors, as well as the Cardinals and Bishops present. Thank you!
The Institutions to which you belong — joined in a Consortium by Pope Pius XI in 1928 — are entrusted to the Society of Jesus, and share the same desire “to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the Cross … and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, His spouse, under the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth” (Formula, 1). It is important that among them collaboration and synergy be developed, keeping the historic memory and at the same time taking charge of the present and looking to the future — the father general said, looking to the future, “But it’s far away, eh? [Look] to the horizons” — looking to the future with creativity and imagination, seeking to have a global vision of the situations and real challenges and a shared manner of confronting them, finding new paths.
The first aspect that I want to emphasize, thinking of your commitment, both as teachers and as students, both personally and institutionally, is that of appreciating the very place in which you find yourself working and studying, that is, the city and above all the Church of Rome. Here there is a past and there is a present. Here are the roots of faith: the memories of the Apostles and of the Martyrs; and here is the ecclesial “today,” here is the actual path of this Church which presides in charity, at the service of unity and universality. All of this should not be taken for granted! It must be lived and appreciated, with a commitment that is partly institutional and partly personal, left to the initiative of each one.
But at the same time you bring the variety of your home Churches, of your own cultures. This is an inestimable richness of the Roman institutions. It offers a precious occasion of growing in the faith and of opening the mind and the heart to the horizons of catholicity. Within these horizons the dialectic between the “centre” and the “peripheries” assumes its proper form, the evangelical form, according to the logic of a God that reaches from the centre coming from the peripheries in order to return to the peripheries.
The other aspect that I want to share is that of the relationship between study and the spiritual life. Your spiritual commitment, in teaching and in research, in study and in deeper formation, will be all the more fertile and efficacious as it is more fully animated by the love of Christ and of the Church, as the relationship between study and prayer is more solid and harmonious. This is not something out-dated, this is the centre, eh?
This is one of the challenges of our time: transmitting the knowledge and offering a key for vital comprehension, not a heap of notions unconnected to one another. There is need of a true evangelical hermeneutic for better understanding life, the world, humanity, not of a synthesis but of a spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truths of reason and of faith. Philosophy and theology permit one to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen the intelligence and illuminate the will … but this is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and on one’s knees. With an open mind and on one’s knees. The theologian who is satisfied with his complete and conclusive thought is mediocre. The good theologian and philosopher has an open, that is, an incomplete, thought, always open to the maius of God and of the truth, always in development, according to the law that St. Vincent of Lerins describes as follows: “annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore sublimetur aetate” (Commonitorium primum, 23 : PL 50, 668), [a thought that] is consolidated over the years, expands over time, deepens with age. This is the theologian who has an open mind. And the theologian who does not pray and who does not worship God ends up sunk in the most disgusting narcissism. And this is an ecclesiastical illness. The narcissism of theologians, of thinkers, and of the “just” does so much harm.
The purpose of the studies in every Pontifical University is ecclesial. Research and studies are integrated with personal and community life, with missionary commitment, with fraternal charity and sharing with the poor, with care of the interior life in relationship with the Lord. Your institutes are not machines for producing theologians and philosophers; they are communities in which one grows, and that growing occurs in the family. In the university family there is the charism of governance, entrusted to the superiors, and there is the diaconia of the staff, which is indispensable for creating the familiar environment in everyday life, and also for creating the attitude of humanity and of concrete wisdom, that will make the students of today persons capable of building humanity, of transmitting the truth in a human dimension, of understanding that if one lacks the goodness and the beauty of belonging to a family of work one ends up being an intellectual without talent, and ethicist without goodness, a thinker lacking in the splendour of beauty and only “wearing the mask” (It: “truccato,” “made-up”) of formalism. The daily, respectful contact with the hard work and witness and the witness of the men and women who work in your Institutions will give you that dose of realism that is so necessary so that your knowledge will be a human knowledge and not a laboratory [knowledge].

Dear brothers, I entrust each of you, your studies and your work, to the intercession of Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and of your other Patron Saints. I bless you from the heart, and I pray for you. And you, please, pray for me too! Thank you!
And now, before I give you my blessing, I invite you to pray to the Madonna, the Mother, that she might help us and protect us.

Pope Francis: Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity

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Greeting of the Holy Father Conference on Combating Human Trafficking
Thursday, 10 April 2014 Your Eminences,

Brother Bishops and Priests,Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet each of you participating in this Conference, the second such gathering held here in the Vatican to promote united efforts against human trafficking. I thank Cardinal Nichols and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for organizing this meeting, and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences for hosting it.

Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity. The very fact of our being here to combine our efforts means that we want our strategies and areas of expertise to be accompanied and reinforced by the mercy of the Gospel, by closeness to the men and women who are victims of this crime.

Our meeting today includes law enforcement authorities, who are primarily responsible for combating this tragic reality by a vigorous application of the law. It also includes humanitarian and social workers, whose task it is to provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life. These are two different approaches, but they can and must go together. To dialogue and exchange views on the basis of these two complementary approaches is quite important. Conferences such as this are extremely helpful, and, I would say, much needed.

I believe that one important sign of this is the fact that, one year after your first meeting, you have regrouped from throughout the world in order to advance your common efforts. I thank you for your readiness to work together. I pray that our Lord will assist you and that Our Lady will watch over you.

Perspectives Daily – April 9, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience, the Court of the Gentiles in Washington and Toronto holds its Day of Confessions.

Perspectives Daily – Tues. April 8, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis appoints a new Bishop for the Diocese of Peterborough, daily mass from Domus Sanctae Marthae and a look at prayer in lent.

Perspectives Daily – Mon. April 7, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly Angelus address and a visit to a Roman Parish, a Dutch Jesuit is assassinated in Syria and a Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton is destroyed.