Pope Francis has proposed a new work of mercy: care of creation. According to the Pope’s message “Show Mercy to Our Common Home,” released today on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, he states: “Obviously ‘human life itself and everything it embraces’ includes care for our common home. So let me propose a complement to the two traditional sets of seven: may the works of mercy also include care for our common home.” As a spiritual work of mercy, the Holy Father continued, “care for our common home calls for a ‘grateful contemplation of God’s world’ (Laudato Si’, 214) which “allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us” (ibid., 85). As a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” and “makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (ibid., 230-31).” During a press conference in the Holy See Press Office this morning to present the message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke on its significance. (Cardinal Turkson was named yesterday to lead the newly created Dicastery for Integral Human Development, which will encompass what is now four pontifical councils.) Cardinal Turkson was speaking along with Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Terrence Ward, author of ‘The Guardian of Mercy’ in which one learns of Caravaggio’s masterpiece on the works of mercy located in the southern Italian city of Naples. The African cardinal, who was the Pope’s closest collaborator for his encyclical on ecology, spoke on the message, underscoring how important it is to protect the environment, and that our own little actions should never be dismissed as not making a difference. While stressing how we on a personal level must ‘ecologically convert’ — committing ourselves to the little gestures like shutting off lights, monitoring the air conditioning, not polluting, etc — he noted how our personal efforts are not enough. There must also be an ‘ecological conversion’ on an institutional level, governmentally, political, and by businesses. Repenting for our sins that abuse the planet and changing course, Cardinal Turkson highlighted, are necessary, along with a serious examination of conscience about our conduct and how we can change our lifestyles. “This is the practical implication of Laudato Si’,” the prelate stressed, noting “this is how Laudato Si ought to be lived out.” In addition, Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke from an ecumenical standpoint, reminding those present how concern for the environment is a unifying force among Christians, and even beyond, to the world’s religions too. During the Q&A, a journalist asked how care for creation would be lived out concretely as an act of mercy. Terrance Ward made the point how the other works of mercy cannot be lived out properly if the planet itself is not ‘healthy.’ One cannot help another with food or drink, if the water or meal is contaminated, he noted, nor can one offer sustainable shelter, if the home is constructed on land that is not healthy or sound.
In Interview With Theologian Elio Guerriero, the Pope Emeritus Talks About His Renunciation and His “Fraternal” Relation With His Successor Francis, Adding “My Obedience Was Never in Discussion” Read a summation:
Some of you may know or know about Cardinal Peter Turkson, a well respected leader from Ghana, who as a seminarian studied at St. Anthony on the Hudson in Rensselaer and still maintains contact and friendships with many in our Diocese. Pope Francis has instituted a new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, to be led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, currently serving as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. This new dicastery was instituted in a Motu Proprio published today in the Osservatore Romano. The dicastery, to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, will be especially “competent in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.” On that same date, four Pontifical Councils–the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care)–will cease to exist and will be effectively encompassed into the new dicastery. In the Motu Proprio, the Pope underscores, ‘the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel’, thus the Successor of Peter must ‘continuously adapt the institutions which collaborate with him.’ One of the sections of the new dicastery addresses concern for refugees and migrants, particularly Francis’ belief that in today’s world integral human development cannot be promoted without special attention for the phenomenon of migration. Given this, this particular section is placed ad tempus beneath the direct jurisdiction of the Pope.
Pope Francis this morning lived out this Jubilee of Mercy he has proclaimed for the Church, crossing a holy door at the Shrine of John Paul II in Krakow, hearing the confessions of a handful of young people, and celebrating Mass for Polish priests and religious, encouraging them to “draw life from [God’s] forgiveness in order to pour it out with compassion on our brothers and sisters.” The Pope this evening will celebrate the prayer vigil of World Youth Day before Sunday’s closing Mass with more than a million youth expected to participate in the final events of WYD. At today’s Mass, the Holy Father reminded his fellow priests and consecrated persons and seminarians that “Jesus directs us to a one-way street: that of going forth from ourselves. It is a one-way trip, with no return ticket. It involves making an exodus from ourselves, losing our lives for his sake and setting out on the path of self-gift.” Furthermore, the Pope added, Jesus doesn’t like “journeys made halfway, doors half-closed, lives lived on two tracks. He asks us to pack lightly for the journey, to set out renouncing our own security, with him alone as our strength.” This life of service to others, Francis explained, has no “closed spaces or private property for our own use.” A priest, a consecrated person, does not choose where he lives or where they are sent; they don’t put their security in wealth or worldly power, he said. “They love to take risks and to set out, not limited to trails already blazed, but open and faithful to the paths pointed out by the Spirit. Rather than just getting by, they rejoice to evangelize.” Searching and findingFrancis also reflected on the apostle named in today’s Gospel: Thomas. Somewhat stubborn, and a bit like us, “we find him likeable,” the Pope remarked. Thomas, he said, gives us a great gift: “he brings us closer to God, because God does not hide from those who seek him.” Drawing from Poland’s St. Faustina, the Holy Father offered some concrete advice for following in Thomas’ footsteps and seeking the Lord. “For us who are disciples, it is important to put our humanity in contact with the flesh of the Lord, to bring to him, with complete trust and utter sincerity, our whole being. As Jesus told Saint Faustina, he is happy when we tell him everything: he is not bored with our lives, which he already knows; he waits for us to tell him even about the events of our day (cf. Diary, 6 September 1937). That is the way to seek God: through prayer that is transparent and unafraid to hand over to him our troubles, our struggles and our resistance. Jesus’ heart is won over by sincere openness, by hearts capable of acknowledging and grieving over their weakness, yet trusting that precisely there God’s mercy will be active.” The Pontiff suggested that Thomas’ prayer when he “found” Jesus, “My Lord and my God,” — these “magnificent words” — would be a good prayer for each day … “to say to the Lord: You are my one treasure, the path I must follow, the core of my life, my all.” Writing the GospelFinally, Pope Francis recalled an image he has offered before, drawing from the final verse of John’s Gospel, which says that the book of the gospel does not contain the “many other signs that Jesus worked.” “There is room left for the signs needing to be worked by us, who have received the Spirit of love and are called to spread mercy,” the Pope suggested. “It might be said that the Gospel, the living book of God’s mercy that must be continually read and reread, still has many blank pages left. It remains an open book that we are called to write in the same style, by the works of mercy we practise.” “Let me ask you this,” Francis said. “What are the pages of your books like? Are they blank? May the Mother of God help us in this. May she, who fully welcomed the word of God into her life give us the grace to be living writers of the Gospel.”
On his first full day in Poland today, Pope Francis formally addressed the pilgrims twice: with a homily at a Mass in Czestechowa and at the official welcome ceremony of World Youth Day in Krakow.On Wednesday, he had a special video connection with Italian young people who are in Krakow. Here’s some of what he’s been saying: Welcome ceremonyNothing is more beautiful than seeing the enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy with which so many young people live their lives. When Jesus touches a young person’s heart, he or she becomes capable of truly great things. Mercy always has a youthful face! Because a merciful heart is motivated to move beyond its comfort zone. A merciful heart can go out and meet others; it is ready to embrace everyone. So I ask you: Are you looking for empty thrills in life, or do you want to feel a power that can give you a lasting sense of life and fulfilment? Empty thrills or the power of grace? To find fulfilment, to gain new strength, there is a way. It is not a thing or an object, but a person, and he is alive. His name is Jesus Christ. HomilyTo be attracted by power, by grandeur, by appearances, is tragically human. It is a great temptation that tries to insinuate itself everywhere. But to give oneself to others, eliminating distances, dwelling in littleness and living the reality of one’s everyday life: this is exquisitely divine. God saves us, then by making himself little, near and real. At Cana, as here in Jasna Góra, Mary offers us her nearness and helps us to discover what we need to live life to the full. Now as then, she does this with a mother’s love, by her presence and counsel, teaching us to avoid hasty decisions and grumbling in our communities. As the Mother of a family, she wants to keep us together. With Italian youthYou speak of a very common problem among children and also among persons who aren’t children: cruelty. But look, children are also cruel sometimes, and they have that capacity to wound you where they will do the most hurt: to wound your heart, to wound your dignity … Can one forgive completely? It’s a grace we must ask of the Lord. We, on are own, cannot: we make the effort, you made it, but forgiveness is a grace the Lord gives you, to forgive your enemy, to forgive the one who has wounded you, who has hurt you. Peace builds bridges; hatred is the builder of walls. You must choose in life: either to build bridges or to build walls. Walls divide and hatred grows: when there is division, hatred grows. Bridges unite, and when there is a bridge, hatred can go away, because I can hear the other, I can speak with the other.
Pope Francis gave a solemn address today in Krakow after an artistic and musical presentation of the Via Crucis, in which the 14 stations of Christ’s Passion were linked to the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Read text of Stations here: https://zenit.org/articles/way-of-cross-for-pope-youth-to-link-stations-to-works-of-mercy/ “Where is God?” Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if there are men and women who are hungry and thirsty, homeless, exiles and refugees? Where is God, when innocent persons die as a result of violence, terrorism and war? Where is God, when cruel diseases break the bonds of life and affection? Or when children are exploited and demeaned, and they too suffer from grave illness? Where is God, amid the anguish of those who doubt and are troubled in spirit?,” the Pope asked the thousands of young people in Krakow for World Youth Day, acknowledging that these are the questions that come to our hearts. “These are questions that humanly speaking have no answer,” he said. But Jesus’ answer is “‘God is in them.’ Jesus is in them; he suffers in them and deeply identifies with each of them,” the Pontiff reflected. “He is so closely united to them as to form with them, as it were, ‘one body.’” Dying on the cross, Francis said, Jesus took “upon himself and in himself, with self- sacrificing love, the physical, moral and spiritual wounds of all humanity.” The Way of the Cross prayed by the youth, the Pope continued, emphasized the importance of imitating Jesus with the works of mercy. In one of the most emphatic moments of his address, he reminded that Christians must follow this way. “In welcoming the outcast who suffer physically and welcoming sinners who suffer spiritually, our credibility as Christians is at stake.” “Unless those who call themselves Christians live to serve, their lives serve no good purpose. By their lives, they deny Jesus Christ,” he said. The Pope asked the young people to answer Jesus’ call to commit themselves to a life of service. “To enable you to carry out this mission, [Jesus] shows you the way of personal commitment and self-sacrifice. It is the Way of the Cross,” he said. “Those who take up this way with generosity and faith give hope and a future to humanity.” “Dear young people,” the Pope concluded, “on that Good Friday many disciples went back crestfallen to their homes. Others chose to go out to the country to forget the cross. I ask you: How do you want to go back this evening to your own homes, to the places where you are staying? How do you want to go back this evening to be alone with your thoughts? Each of you has to answer the challenge that this question sets before you.”
Pope Francis started off his five-day trip to Poland with a strong defense of the unborn, saying that “life must always be welcomed and protected. These two things go together – welcome and protection, from conception to natural death.” Abortion is illegal in Poland except for cases of rape/incest, or when the unborn child has a severe disability. It is also considered illegal in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, though as moral theologians explain, due to the principle of double effect, medical interventions to save the life of the mother which unintentionally bring about the death of the child are not abortion at all, since abortion is the deliberate killing of the unborn child. For the last several years, pro-life groups have sought a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn, and this summer, a new civil initiative to ban abortion was again successful and stands to be debated by government. In this context, the Pope’s first address in Poland, given to government authorities and other civil leaders just an hour after his arrival, emphasized the duty of the state to assist mothers in welcoming life. “All of us are called to respect life and care for it,” he said. “On the other hand, it is the responsibility of the State, the Church and society to accompany and concretely help all those who find themselves in serious difficulty, so that a child will never be seen as a burden but as a gift, and those who are most vulnerable and poor will not be abandoned.” Good memoryEarlier in his address, Pope Francis praised the Polish nation for letting “good memory” have the upper hand in their society. “In the daily life of each individual and society,” he said, there are “two kinds of memory: good and bad, positive and negative. Good memory is what the Bible shows us in the Magnificat, the canticle of Mary, who praises the Lord and his saving works. Negative memory, on the other hand, keeps the mind and heart obsessively fixed on evil, especially the wrongs committed by others. “Looking at your recent history, I thank God that you have been able to let good memory have the upper hand, for example, by celebrating the 50th anniversary of the forgiveness mutually offered and accepted between the Polish and German episcopates, following the Second World War. That initiative, which initially involved the ecclesial communities, also sparked an irreversible social, political, cultural and religious process that changed the history of relationships between the two peoples. “Here too we can think of the Joint Declaration between the Catholic Church in Poland and the Orthodox Church of Moscow: an act that inaugurated a process of rapprochement and fraternity not only between the two Churches, but also between the two peoples. “The noble Polish nation has thus shown how one can nurture good memory while leaving the bad behind.” The Pope said that in order to do this, there must be “solid hope and trust in the One who guides the destinies of peoples, opens closed doors, turns problems into opportunities and creates new scenarios from situations that appeared hopeless.” ProgramThe Holy Father went on to meet privately with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda. He then headed to Wawel Cathedral where he was to have a private meeting with the nation’s bishops. There are 45 dioceses in Poland and 211 living bishops. The original program for his visit included a formal speech to the prelates, but the Pontiff decided to forego an address and instead have an informal “conversation” without media attention. The Pope is expected to greet the crowds this evening from his residence in Krakow. Tomorrow, Francis will visit the Monastery of Jasna Gora and have a time of prayer at the Chapel of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Częstochowa. He will celebrate Holy Mass for the occasion of the 1,050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland, in the Shrine of Częstochowa. In the evening, he will participate in Krakow at a welcoming ceremony with the young people of WYD2016.
This is a modest effort at a "blog" my attempt to offer some brief reflections each day that come from various sources that I find interesting - primarily the daily reflections of Pope Francis as found on Zenit and Rome Reports. Fr. John