It was a busy weekend for His Holiness Pope Francis, who on Sunday gave his weekly Regina Coeli address to large crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Speaking from a window atop the Apostolic Palace, The Holy Father spoke of the feast of the Ascension. He said the key words in Sunday’s gospel were “Setting out.” Jesus sets out toward the Father, and commands His disciples to “set out” into the world. He said the Church is here to prolong Christ’s mission. When Christ said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” the Pope said it was a clear mandate, it is not optional. He said that, “Without the presence of the Lord and the power of His Spirit, our work, however well organized, is ineffective.” Pope Francis also took time to appeal for peace in both Ukraine and the Central African Republic, nations that in the past weeks have seen terrible violence. He said it was his hope that misunderstandings are overcome and that dialogue and reconciliation might be sought with patience.
After the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis gave his message for the 48th World Communications Day. He said that social communication “can promote the sense of the unity of the human family, solidarity, and the commitment to a dignified life for all.” He warned however “The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us.” The Pontiff said “Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity.”
Then On Sunday evening, Pope Francis travelled to Rome’s Stadio Olymico for the opening of the 37th National Convocation of the “Renewal of the Spirit”. The Holy Father was warmly welcomed to the sound of both cheer and song by the over 50,000 people who packed the stadium for the annual charismatic event. After taking the stage, the Holy Father heard a series of four testimonials, each from a person from a different state in life: the priesthood, youth, the sick and disabled and the family. Speaking to the tens of thousands who had gathered, he said that the members of their renewal had “received a great gift from the Lord.” He said their movement reminded him “of a great orchestra, where every instrument is different from the other, and the voices are also different; but all are necessary for the harmony of the music.” He cautioned them to remember that no one among the movement is greater than another and that “You have only one leader, only one lord: the Lord Jesus.” He reminded them to “Adore God. Seek sanctity in the New Life of the Spirit.” Before concluding, the pope invited charismatics of the world to celebrate their jubilee in 2017 at the Vatican.
It was announced over the weekend, that a Canadian nun and two Italian priests who had been taken captive have been released. Sister Gilberte Bussier of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Montreal, along with Father Gianantonio Allegri and Father Giampaolo Marta had been held captive since April 4. They were abducted while working in Northern Cameroon, in the Diocese of Diocese of Maroua – Mokolo. Speaking on the tail-end of a pastoral visit to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said that he had the opportunity to meet with the rescued religious. The Cardinal said "They were excited and happy and … in good physical and psychological condition. Certainly the fact that they were always together helped them to support each other.” He said that the time of the release was unexpected but that it was a blessing and above all, a grace.
Over the weekend, the Vatican responded to numerous claims in the media regarding the possibility of an Ecumenical Council taking place in 2025. It had been reported that following their meeting in Jerusalem last week, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew had agreed to such a council in Nicea to commemorate the first council that took place there in the year 325. Fr. Federico Lombradi of the Holy See Press Office said the proposal put forth by Patriarch Bartholomew was certainly both beautiful and significant. He made clear though, that with 11 years until the possibility of such a gathering; it was too early to jump to conclusions regarding an Ecumenical Council involving bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.