Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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29-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 168 

Summary
- The Pope speaks almost an hour with journalists on flight from Philadelphia
- Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter
- “Cantate Domino”, the music of Popes, recorded in the Sistine Chapel
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Vatican Radio
- Francis meets with the victims of sexual abuse: perpetrators will be held accountable
- Francis to visiting bishops: Appreciation and gratitude to families must prevail over complaints
- It is painful to see prison systems that do not care for wounds, soothe pain or offer new possibilities: the Pope to inmates at Curran-Fromhold penitentiary
- Concluding Mass at the World Meeting of Families: God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel
- Francis leaves the United States: I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country
- Message for World Youth Day in Krakow, 2016: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”
- World Youth Day and the Year of Mercy coincide to make “a Youth Jubilee at world level”
The Pope speaks almost an hour with journalists on flight from Philadelphia
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) – During his return flight to Rome following his apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis answered a number of questions posed by the journalists who accompanied him on the papal flight.
The Holy Father first commented that he had been surprised in the United States by the warmth and friendliness of the people. He remarked that in Washington D.C. the welcome was very warm but more formal than in New York, where everything was more exuberant, while in Philadelphia it was more expressive. “Three different approaches but the same welcome”.
He also explained the reason for his meeting with the United States episcopate in Washington D.C., where he felt the need to express to the prelates his compassion with regard to cases of sexual abuse. “A horrible thing”, he said, “and many suffer because they did not know about it and are true men of the Church, true pastors. … And I spoke to them using words from the Bible, from the Book of Revelation: you are coming from a great tribulation, because what happened was a 'great tribulation'. .. I would say almost a sacrilege. … We all know that abuse has occurred in many places: in families, in the neighbourhood, in schools, at gymnasiums … But when a priest commits abuse it is very serious, because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy or girl grow in God's love, towards emotional maturity. And instead this is crushed, it is damaged. And this must not be concealed: those who have covered up these events are equally guilty. It is dreadful. And the words I spoke were not intended to say, “Don't worry, it's nothing”. Instead I wanted to say, “It has been awful and I imagine you have wept a lot”. This was the meaning of what I said, and I spoke firmly”.
He affirmed that he understood those victims of abuse and their families who felt unable to forgive the perpetrators. “Yes, I understand them. I pray for them and I do not judge them. Once, at one of these meetings, a woman said to me, 'When my mother discovered I had been abused, she blasphemed against God, lost her faith and died an atheist'. And I understand her. And God, Who is better than me, understands her. I am sure that He welcomed her. Because what was abused, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter”.
With regard to the peace process in Colombia, he expressed his joy at the news that an agreement between the FARC and the government will be signed in March. “When I heard this, I asked the Lord, 'Let us arrive in March, may we arrive with this good intention', as some small details remain to be clarified, but the will is present on both sides. Even in the small group; all three are in agreement. We must await March for the definitive accord, which is the point of international justice. I have spoken twice with President Santos on the matter. And the Holy See is very open to assisting as far as possible”.
Attention then turned to the immigration crisis in Europe. “It has become a state of crisis after a long process. This process began years ago, as the wars from which these people flee have been going on for years. Hunger: there has been famine for years. When I think of Africa, I think of it as the exploited continent. … And I believe that instead of exploiting a continent, or a country, or the land, investments should be made so that the people can avoid this crisis. It is true, there is a refugee crisis – as I said in Congress – on a scale we have not seen since the last World War. … But you know what happens to walls. All of them. All walls fall down, today, tomorrow, or a hundred years from now. Eventually they crumble. Walls are not a solution. … The problem remains, and with more hatred”.
Another question addressed the issue of expectations for the upcoming Synod on the family and cases of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, and the recent Motu Proprio facilitating the process of declaring nullity of marriage, considered by some as opening the way to “Catholic divorce”. Francis said that, “in the reform of methods and procedures, I closed the door to the administrative route, by which divorce could have entered more easily. And it may be said to those who consider this to be Catholic divorce that they are mistaken, since this last document closes the door to divorce that may otherwise enter – it would have been easier – via the administrative route. … The Synod Fathers asked for this: the streamlining of procedures for declaring nullity of marriage. And I stop there. This document, this Motu Proprio, reduces the length of procedures, but it is not a divorce as marriage is indissoluble when there is a sacrament, and the Church cannot change this. It is part of her doctrine. It is an indissoluble sacrament. The legislative procedure is to show that what appeared to be a sacrament was in fact not a sacrament, for instance, due to lack of freedom, or lack of maturity, or mental illness. … Then there is the problem of second marriages, of divorcees who make a new union. It seems to me simplistic to say that the solution for these people is that that they can share in Communion. This is not the only solution. What the Instrumentum laboris proposes is far more. The matter of new unions by divorced persons is not the only problem. In the Instrumentum laboris there are many. For instance, young people who do not get married, who do not want to marry. It is a pastoral problem for the Church. Another problem is the emotional maturity necessary for marriage. Another problem is faith. … The Synod intends to think very carefully about preparation for marriage, which is on e of the most difficult aspects”.
The Holy Father also replied to a question regarding freedom of conscience for public workers requested to sign documents or carry out procedures contrary to their religious convictions. “I cannot bring to mind all the cases of conscientious objection that may exist. But yes, I can say that conscientious objection is a human right. It is a right, and if a person is prevented from exercising their freedom of conscience, they are denied a right. Conscientious objection must exist in all legal frameworks as it is a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying 'this right that has merit, this one does not'.
In relation to the bombing of Isis bases in Syria by the French air force, he commented, “I do not have a good knowledge of how the situation will unfold. I heard that Russia took one position and it wasn’t clear yet about the United States. I truly don’t know what to say because I haven’t fully understood the situation. But, when I hear the word bombing, death, blood… I repeat what I said in Congress and at the UN, to avoid these things. But, I don’t know, I can’t judge the political situation because I don’t know enough about it”.
He went on to answer a question on the relations between the Holy See and China. “China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture and many good things. I said once, in the aircraft flying over China, that I would very much like to visit China. I love the Chinese people. … I hope that there will be opportunities to establish good relations. … We are in contact and we are talking. For me to have a friend in a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a great joy”.
“Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic Church?”, was another question. “No, that cannot be done”, answered the Pope. “After discussion and long reflection St. John Paul II, said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. In the Church women are more important than men, because the Church is a woman. … The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than Popes, bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in developing a theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true”.
“In the United States you have become a star. Is it good for the Church for the Pope to be a star?” was the final question. “The title Popes use and must is 'Servant of the servants of God'”, replied Francis. “It is different to being a star. … Yes, in the media this word is used, but the reality is quite different. How many stars are there whose light goes out, that fall. It is a fleeting thing. Instead, being the servant of the servants of God, this is good. This does not come to an end”.
Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) “Communication and mercy: a fruitful encounter” is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for World Communications Day. The choice of theme this year has clearly been determined by the Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and the Holy Father undoubtedly desired that World Communications Day would provide the appropriate occasion to reflect on the deep synergy between communication and mercy.
In the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee Year, in paragraph 12, the Pope affirms that the Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. He adds that her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father.
It is helpful, in this regard, that communication is a key element for the promotion of a culture of encounter. The Pope, on this occasion, refers to the language and gestures of the Church but the context makes it clear that all men and women in their own communications, in their reaching out to meet others, ought to be motivated by a deep expression of welcome, availability and forgiveness.
The theme highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish. At a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarised and judgemental nature of much commentary on the social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony.
Once again, Pope Francis is reminding us that, in its essence, communication is a profoundly human achievement. Good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realised within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship.
World Communications Day, the only annual worldwide event called for by the Second Vatican Council, is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2016, May 8th).
The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published on 24 January, in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers.
Communication and Mercy: a fruitful encounter
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) “Communication and mercy: a fruitful encounter” is the theme chosen by the Holy Father for World Communications Day. The choice of theme this year has clearly been determined by the Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, and the Holy Father undoubtedly desired that World Communications Day would provide the appropriate occasion to reflect on the deep synergy between communication and mercy.
In the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee Year, in paragraph 12, the Pope affirms that the Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. He adds that her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father.
It is helpful, in this regard, that communication is a key element for the promotion of a culture of encounter. The Pope, on this occasion, refers to the language and gestures of the Church but the context makes it clear that all men and women in their own communications, in their reaching out to meet others, ought to be motivated by a deep expression of welcome, availability and forgiveness.
The theme highlights the capacity of good communication to open up a space for dialogue, mutual understanding and reconciliation, thereby allowing fruitful human encounters to flourish. At a time when our attention is often drawn to the polarised and judgemental nature of much commentary on the social networks, the theme invokes the power of words and gestures to overcome misunderstandings, to heal memories and to build peace and harmony.
Once again, Pope Francis is reminding us that, in its essence, communication is a profoundly human achievement. Good communication is never merely the product of the latest or most developed technology, but is realised within the context of a deep interpersonal relationship.
World Communications Day, the only annual worldwide event called for by the Second Vatican Council, is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (in 2016, May 8th).
The Holy Father's message for World Communications Day is traditionally published on 24 January, in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers.
“Cantate Domino”, the music of Popes, recorded in the Sistine Chapel
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office a conference was held to present the music CD “Cantate Domino. The Sistine Chapel and the music of Popes”, produced by Deutsche Grammophon. The speakers were Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Papal Household; Msgr. Massimo Palombella, S.D.B., director of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir; Mark Wilkinson, president of Deutsche Grammophon; and Mirko Gratton, director of the classical music section of Universal Italia.
“The Pontifical Musical Choir, also known as the Sistine Chapel Choir, is among the oldest choral institutions in the world and has the unique characteristic of being the Pope's choir”, explained Archbishop Ganswein. This characteristic makes it part of the life of the “Pope's Home” and places the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir within the structure of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, and gives it the specific task of being an entity whose service is entirely devoted to the Pontiff. “The Prefecture is the point of reference for the Choir in terms of its artistic, administrative and disciplinary management. It is a composite and structured entity made up of 20 adult singers regularly employed by the Holy See, with the addition of 20 pueri cantores who attend the private elementary school annexed to the Choir. The release of a musical CD under the prestigious Deutsche Grammaphon label is an unprecedented event in the history of the Pontifical Musical Choir, and attests to the quality and professionalism that this Institution has achieved, thanks to its serious and diligent work under the guidance of Maestro Massimo Palombella”.
The album, released on 25 September, includes Renaissance music written for the Sistine Chapel Choir by Palestrina, Lassus and Victoria. There are also two pieces of Gregorian chant, alongside world premiere recordings of the original version of Allegri’s fabled Miserere (Sistine Codex of 1661) and a Nunc dimittis attributed to Palestrina which is still used during papal celebrations. Cantate Domino offers listeners the chance to hear these pieces as the composers intended – in Latin and in the surroundings for which they were originally written. In order to capture the magic, mystery and beauty of the music in such unique surroundings, Deutsche Grammophon set up a specially constructed studio within the Chapel. The mixing desk was set up in an ante-chamber, next to the “Sala del Pianto” (where the newly elected pontiff first dresses in the papal vestments).
“The Sistine Chapel was consecrated in 1483, and since then it has been home, without interruption, of the Pontifical Musical Choir”, explained Msgr. Palombella. “In recent years, after intense and specific study of Renaissance religious music and its aesthetic importance, we have been able to undertake an interesting and significant recording. My hope is that these musical masterpieces will reach millions of people throughout the world, bringing them into contact with the historical culture and profound spirituality of the Catholic Church”.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Bishop Hugo Alberto Torres Marin, auxiliary of Medellin, Colombia, as bishop of Apartado (area 26,000, population 561,000, Catholics 403,000, priests 65, religious 118), Colombia.
- Bishop Joao Evangelista Pimental Lavrador, auxiliary of Oporto, Portugal, as coadjutor of the diocese of Angra (area 2,243, population 246,102, Catholics 224,105, priests 147, permanent deacons 5, religious 129), Portugal.
Vatican Radio
Vatican City, 29 September 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has appointed Fr. Andrzej Majewksi, S.J., as director of programming for Vatican Radio.
28-09-2015 - Year XXII - Num. 166 

Francis meets with the victims of sexual abuse: perpetrators will be held accountable
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – The final day of the Pope's apostolic trip began yesterday with his meeting at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary with victims of sexual abuse perpetrated when they were minors by members of the clergy, or members of their families or teachers. The group was composed of five adults – 3 women and 2 men – accompanied by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston and president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, instituted by the Pope, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Joseph Fitzgerald, head of the diocesan office for the protection of minors in the same diocese.
During the meeting, which lasted half an hour, Francis listened to their accounts of their experiences, addressed them as a group and then greeted each one individually. He prayed with them and manifested his participation in their suffering, his pain and his shame for the harm caused by members of the clergy or ecclesiastical collaborators.
“Thank you for corning here today”, he said. “Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love. I am profoundly sorry that your innocence was violated by those who you trusted. In some cases the trust was betrayed by members of your own family, in other cases by priests who carry a sacred responsibility for the care of soul. In all circumstances, the betrayal was a terrible violation of human dignity.
“For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you. I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children. It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.
“We are gathered here in Philadelphia to celebrate God's gift of family life. Within our family of faith and our human families, the sins and crimes of sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret and in shame. As we anticipate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, your presence, so generously given despite the anger and pain you have experienced, reveals the merciful heart of Christ. Your stories of survival, each unique and compelling, are powerful signs of the hope that comes from the Lord's promise to be with us always.
“It is good to know that you have brought family members and friends with you today. I am grateful for their compassionate support and pray that many people of the Church will respond to the call to accompany those who have suffered abuse. May the Door of Mercy be opened wide in our dioceses, our parishes, our homes and our hearts, to receive those who were abused and to seek the path to forgiveness by trusting in the Lord. We promise to support your continued healing and to always be vigilant to protect the children of today and tomorrow.
“When the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus recognised that He was the Risen Lord, they asked Jesus to stay with them. Like those disciples, I humbly beg you and all survivors of abuse to stay with us, to stay with the Church, and that together, as pilgrims on the journey of faith, we might find our way to the Father”.
Francis to visiting bishops: Appreciation and gratitude to families must prevail over complaints
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Shortly after his meeting with a group of victims, the Holy Father returned to the issue of sexual abuse at the beginning of his address to the three hundred bishops attending the World Meeting of Families, held in the great Chapel of the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
“I am deeply pained by the stories, the sufferings and the pain of minors who were sexually abused by priests. I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret; I commit myself to ensuring that the Church makes every effort to protect minors and I promise that those responsible will be held to account. Survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy; humbly we owe our gratitude to each of them and to their families for their great courage in shedding the light of Christ on the evil sexual abuse of minors. I say this because I have just met with a group of persons abused as children, who are helped and accompanied here in Philadelphia with particular care by Archbishop Chaput, and we felt that I should communicate this to you”.
Moving on to the issue of the family, he pronounced a discourse, at times improvised, in which he focused on the characteristics of families in today's society and the mission of bishops, reiterating that as pastors they must not be afraid to stay in the midst of families, with all their problems and their capacities, as “ A Christianity which does little in practice, while incessantly explaining its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced”.
The following are extensive extracts from the Pope's address:
“For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but rather the joyous confirmation of God’s blessing upon the masterpiece of creation. Every day, all over the world, the Church can rejoice in the Lord’s gift of so many families who, even amid difficult trials, remain faithful to their promises and keep the faith! I would say that the foremost pastoral challenge of our changing times is to move decisively towards recognising this gift. For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should prevail over concerns and complaints. The family is the fundamental locus of the covenant between the Church and God’s creation. Without the family, not even the Church would exist. Nor could she be what she is called to be, namely 'a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race'. Needless to say, our understanding, shaped by the interplay of ecclesial faith and the conjugal experience of sacramental grace, must not lead us to disregard the unprecedented changes taking place in contemporary society, with their social, cultural – and now juridical – effects on family bonds. These changes affect all of us, believers and non-believers alike. Christians are not 'immune' to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim”.
“Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case. To describe our situation today, I would use two familiar images: our neighbourhood stores and our large supermarkets. There was a time when one neighbourhood store had everything one needed for personal and family life. The products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers. … They trusted one another. They built up trust”.
“Then a different kind of store grew up: the supermarket. Huge spaces with a great selection of merchandise. The world seems to have become one of these great supermarkets; our culture has become more and more competitive. Business is no longer conducted on the basis of trust; others can no longer be trusted. There are no longer close personal relationships. Today’s culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust. … Today consumerism determines what is important. Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming... Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption which does not favour bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships. Social bonds are a mere 'means' for the satisfaction of 'my needs'. The important thing is no longer our neighbour, with his or her familiar face, story and personality”.
“The result is a culture which discards everything that is no longer 'useful' or 'satisfying' for the tastes of the consumer. We have turned our society into a huge multicultural showcase tied only to the tastes of certain 'consumers', while so many others only 'eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table'. This causes great harm. I would say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness. ... Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognised”.
“Should we blame our young people for having grown up in this kind of society? Should we condemn them for living in this kind of a world? Should they hear their pastors saying that 'it was all better back then'. … No, I do not think that this is the way. As shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time. To look at things realistically, with the eyes of one who feels called to action, to pastoral conversion. The world today demands this conversion on our part. 'It is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. ... The Gospel is not a product to be consumed; it has nothing to do with consumerist culture”.
“We would be mistaken, however, to see this culture of the present world as mere indifference towards marriage and the family, as pure and simple selfishness. … We must not fall into this trap. Many young people, in the context of this culture of discouragement, have yielded to a form of unconscious acquiescence. They are paralysed when they encounter the beautiful, noble and truly necessary challenges which faith sets before them. Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, without really being lived to the full. In Congress, a few days ago, I said that we are living in a culture that drives and convinces young people not to form a family, some through lack of material means to do so, and others because they have the means but are comfortable as they are, but this is the temptation – not to form a family”.
“As pastors, we bishops are called to collect our energies and to rebuild enthusiasm for making families correspond ever more fully to the blessing of God which they are! We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family”.
“A Christianity which 'does' little in practice, while incessantly 'explaining' its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle. A pastor must show that the 'Gospel of the family' is truly 'good news' in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history. The world and history is transformed by families”.
A pastor serenely yet passionately proclaims the word of God. He encourages believers to aim high. He will enable his brothers and sisters to hear and experience God’s promise, which can expand their experience of motherhood and fatherhood within the horizon of a new 'familiarity' with God.
A pastor watches over the dreams, the lives and the growth of his flock. This 'watchfulness' is not the result of talking but of shepherding. Only one capable of standing 'in the midst of' the flock can be watchful, not someone who is afraid of questions, contact, accompaniment. … Naturally, experiencing the spirit of this joyful familiarity with God, and spreading its powerful evangelical fruitfulness, has to be the primary feature of our lifestyle as bishops: a lifestyle of prayer and preaching the Gospel. The bishop is charged to be a pastor, but to be a pastor first and foremost by his prayer and preaching, because everything else follows, if there is time”.
“By our own humble Christian apprenticeship in the familial virtues of God’s people, we will become more and more like fathers and mothers ... and less like people who have simply learned to live without a family. Our ideal is not to live without love! A good pastor renounces the love of a family precisely in order to focus all his energies, and the grace of his particular vocation, on the evangelical blessing of the love of men and women who carry forward God’s plan of creation, beginning with those who are lost, abandoned, wounded, broken, downtrodden and deprived of their dignity. This total surrender to God’s agape is certainly not a vocation lacking in tenderness and affection. We need but look to Jesus to understand this”.
“For faith, this is a most valuable sign. Our ministry needs to deepen the covenant between the Church and the family. Otherwise it becomes arid, and the human family will grow irremediably distant, by our own fault, from God’s joyful good news, and will go to the latest supermarket to buy whatever product suits them then and there”.
“If we prove capable of the demanding task of reflecting God’s love, cultivating infinite patience and serenity as we strive to sow its seeds in the frequently crooked furrows in which we are called to plant, then even a Samaritan woman with five 'non-husbands' will discover that she is capable of giving witness. And for every rich young man who with sadness feels that he has to calmly keep considering the matter, an older publican will come down from the tree and give fourfold to the poor, to whom, before that moment, he had never even given a thought”.
“My brothers, may God grant us this gift of a renewed closeness between the family and the Church. Families need it, the Church needs it, and we pastors need it”.
It is painful to see prison systems that do not care for wounds, soothe pain or offer new possibilities: the Pope to inmates at Curran-Fromhold penitentiary
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – After addressing the visiting bishops, the Pope transferred by helicopter to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia's largest male prison, which holds 2,800 inmates. Francis met with one hundred of them, along with the directors of the Centre, who awaited him in the gymnasium.
After hearing greetings from some of the detainees and receiving a gift that they had made for him, a chair, Francis thanked those present for welcoming him and giving him the opportunity to share this moment in their lives. “It is a difficult time, one full of struggles. I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society. Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society 'condemned' to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain. I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection”.
The Pope spoke about the Gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper. “This was something his disciples found hard to accept. Even Peter refused, and told him: 'You will never wash my feet'. In those days, it was the custom to wash someone’s feet when they came to your home. That was how they welcomed people. The roads were not paved, they were covered with dust, and little stones would get stuck in your sandals. Everyone walked those roads, which left their feet dusty, bruised or cut from those stones. That is why we see Jesus washing feet, our feet, the feet of His disciples, then and now”.
“We all know that life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us”, said the Pope. “We also know in faith that Jesus seeks us out. He wants to heal our wounds, to soothe our feet which hurt from travelling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey. He doesn’t ask us where we have been, He doesn’t question us what about we have done. Rather, He tells us: 'Unless I wash your feet, you have no share with me'. Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the Father always dreamed of, the life for which he created you. Jesus comes to meet us, so that He can restore our dignity as children of God. He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realise that we have a mission, and that confinement is never the same thing as exclusion”.
“Life means 'getting our feet dirty' from the dust-filled roads of life and history”, he continued. “All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us. Myself, first and foremost. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, Who wants to help us resume our journey. The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us He stretches out a helping hand. It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognise that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society. The Lord tells us this clearly with a sign: He washes our feet so we can come back to the table. The table from which He wishes no one to be excluded. The table which is spread for all and to which all of us are invited”.
“This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society. All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation. A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires: inmates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs. A rehabilitation which benefits and elevates the morale of the entire community and society. I encourage you to have this attitude with one another and with all those who in any way are part of this institution. May you make possible new opportunities; may you blaze new trails, new paths. All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. All of us. May the knowledge of this fact inspire us all to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others”.
“Let us look to Jesus, Who washes our feet”, concluded Francis “He is 'the way, and the truth, and the life'. He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change, the lie of thinking that no one can change. Jesus helps us to journey along the paths of life and fulfilment. May the power of His love and His resurrection always be a path leading you to new life”.
Concluding Mass at the World Meeting of Families: God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Hundreds of thousands of people attended the concluding Mass of the Eighth World Meeting of Families celebrated by Pope Francis in Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway yesterday at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Rome). During the event, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, announced that the next Meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2018.
In his homily, Pope Francis commented on the two readings of the day's liturgy, which present the scandal of the people before the miracles and the unexpected prophecies. In the first reading, Joshua tells Moses that two members of the people are prophesying, speaking God’s word, without a mandate. In the Gospel, John tells Jesus that the disciples had stopped someone from casting out evil spirits in the name of Jesus. “Here is the surprise”, remarked the Pope. “Moses and Jesus both rebuke those closest to them for being so narrow! Would that all could be prophets of God’s word! Would that everyone could work miracles in the Lord’s name!”
Jesus encountered “hostility from people who did not accept what He said and did. For them, His openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable. The disciples, for their part, acted in good faith. But the temptation to be scandalised by the freedom of God, Who sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, bypassing bureaucracy, officialdom and inner circles, threatens the authenticity of faith. Hence it must be vigorously rejected. Once we realise this, we can understand why Jesus’ words about causing 'scandal' are so harsh. For Jesus, the truly 'intolerable' scandal consists in everything that breaks down and destroys our trust in the working of the Spirit”.
“Our Father will not be outdone in generosity and He continues to scatter seeds. He scatters the seeds of His presence in our world, for 'love consists in this, not that we have loved God but that He loved us' first. That love gives us a profound certainty: we are sought by God; He waits for us. It is this confidence which makes disciples encourage, support and nurture the good things happening all around them. God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, 'Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!' To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not 'part of our group', who are not 'like us', is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith”.
“Faith opens a 'window' to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures. 'Whoever gives you a cup of water in my name will not go unrewarded', says Jesus. These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to become faith”.
“Jesus tells us not to hold back these little miracles. Instead, He wants us to encourage them, to spread them. He asks us to go through life, our everyday life, encouraging all these little signs of love as signs of His own living and active presence in our world. So we might ask ourselves: How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. May our children find in us models and incentives to communion! May our children find in us men and women capable of joining others in bringing to full flower all the good seeds which the Father has sown”.
“We Christians, the Lord’s disciples, ask the families of the world to help us!” exclaimed Francis. “How many of us are here at this celebration. This is itself something prophetic, a kind of miracle in today’s world. Would that we could all be prophets. Would that all of us could be open to miracles of love for the sake of all the families of the world, and thus overcome the scandal of a narrow, petty love, closed in on itself, impatient of others”.
“How beautiful it would be if everywhere, even beyond our borders, we could appreciate and encourage this prophecy and this miracle”, concluded the Holy Father. “May God grant to all of us, as the Lord’s disciples, the grace to be worthy of this purity of heart which is not scandalised by the Gospel”.
Following the Eucharist, Pope Francis gave the Gospel of St. Luke to five families representing the five continents, from, respectively, Kinshasa (Africa), Havana (America), Hanoi (Asia), Syney (Australia) and Marseilles (Europe).
Francis leaves the United States: I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Following Holy Mass at Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Pope travelled by car to the airport in Philadelphia where he embarked on his return flight to Rome. He was welcomed at the airport by five hundred people, mostly members of the Organising Committee and volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, as well as the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden. The Holy Father expressed his gratitude to them and to the families who had shared their witness during the Meeting.
“It is not so easy to speak openly of one’s life journey! But their honesty and humility before the Lord and each of us showed the beauty of family life in all its richness and diversity. I pray that our days of prayer and reflection on the importance of the family for a healthy society will inspire families to continue to strive for holiness and to see the Church as their constant companion, whatever the challenges they may face”.
The Pope thanked all those who had prepared for his stay in the archdioceses of Washington, New York and Philadelphia. “It was particularly moving for me to canonise St. Junipero Serra, who reminds us all of our call to be missionary disciples, and I was also very moved to stand with my brothers and sisters of other religions at Ground Zero, that place which speaks so powerfully of the mystery of evil. Yet we know with certainty that evil never has the last word, and that, in God’s merciful plan, love and peace triumph over all”.
He asked the vice president, Joe Biden, to renew his gratitude to President Obama and to the Members of Congress, together with the assurance of his prayers for the American people. “This land has been blessed with tremendous gifts and opportunities”, he remarked. “I pray that you may all be good and generous stewards of the human and material resources entrusted to you”.
“I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity. Jesus says in the Scriptures: 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'. Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to Him. So too is your care for the poor, the sick, the homeless and the immigrant, your defence of life at every stage, and your concern for family life. In all of this, you recognise that Jesus is in your midst and that your care for one another is care for Jesus Himself.
“As I leave, I ask all of you, especially the volunteers and benefactors who assisted with the World Meeting of Families: do not let your enthusiasm for Jesus, His Church, our families, and the broader family of society run dry. May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure. Just as we have received so much from God –gifts freely given us, and not of our own making – so let us freely give to others in return”.
“Dear friends, I embrace all of you in the Lord and I entrust you to the maternal care of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. I will pray for you and your families, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. May God bless you all. God bless America!” concluded Francis.
At 8 p.m. local time (2 a.m., 28 September in Rome), the aircraft carrying the Holy Father departed from Rome, where it landed this morning at 9.58 a.m. On the way back to the Vatican he paused at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of the Salus Populi Romani and to thank the Virgin for the fruits of this apostolic trip.
Message for World Youth Day in Krakow, 2016: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – The following is the full text of the Pope's message for the 31st World Youth Day, to be held in Krakow, Poland in July 2016.
“Dear Young People,
We have come to the last stretch of our pilgrimage to Krakow, the place where we will celebrate the 31st World Youth Day next year in the month of July. We are being guided on this long and challenging path by Jesus’ words taken from the Sermon on the Mount. We began this journey in 2014 by meditating together on the first Beatitude: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Mt 5:3). The theme for 2015 was: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (Mt 5:8). During the year ahead, let us allow ourselves to be inspired by the words: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'.
1. The Jubilee of Mercy
With this theme, the Krakow 2016 WYD forms part of the Holy Year of Mercy and so becomes a Youth Jubilee at world level. It is not the first time that an international youth gathering has coincided with a Jubilee Year. Indeed, it was during the Holy Year of the Redemption (1983/1984) that St. John Paul II first called on young people from around the world to come together on Palm Sunday. Then, during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, over two million young people from around 165 countries gathered in Rome for the 15th World Youth Day. I am sure that the Youth Jubilee in Krakow will be, as on those two previous occasions, one of the high points of this Holy Year!
Perhaps some of you are asking: what is this Jubilee Year that is celebrated in the Church? The scriptural text of Leviticus can help us to understand the meaning of a 'jubilee' for the people of Israel. Every fifty years they heard the sounding of a trumpet (jobel) calling them (jobil) to celebrate a holy year as a time of reconciliation (jobal) for everyone. During that time they had to renew their good relations with God, with their neighbours and with creation, all in a spirit of gratuitousness. This fostered, among other things, debt forgiveness, special help for those who had fallen into poverty, an improvement in interpersonal relations and the freeing of slaves.
Jesus Christ came to proclaim and bring about the Lord’s everlasting time of grace. He brought good news to the poor, freedom to prisoners, sight to the blind and freedom to the oppressed. In Jesus, and particularly in his Paschal Mystery, the deeper meaning of the jubilee is fully realised. When the Church proclaims a jubilee in the name of Christ, we are all invited to experience a wonderful time of grace. The Church must offer abundant signs of God’s presence and closeness, and reawaken in people’s hearts the ability to look to the essentials. In particular, this Holy Year of Mercy is 'a time for the Church to rediscover the meaning of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord on the day of Easter: to be a sign and an instrument of the Father’s mercy'.
2. Merciful like the Father
The motto for this Extraordinary Jubilee is 'Merciful like the Father'. This fits in with the theme of the next WYD, so let us try to better understand the meaning of divine mercy.
The Old Testament uses various terms when it speaks about mercy. The most meaningful of these are hesed and rahamim. The first, when applied to God, expresses God’s unfailing fidelity to the Covenant with his people whom he loves and forgives forever. The second, rahamim, which literally means 'entrails', can be translated as 'heartfelt mercy'. This particularly brings to mind the maternal womb and helps us understand that God’s love for his people is like that of a mother for her child. That is how it is presented by the prophet Isaiah: 'Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you'. Love of this kind involves making space for others within ourselves and being able to sympathise, suffer and rejoice with our neighbours.
The biblical concept of mercy also includes the tangible presence of love that is faithful, freely given and able to forgive. In the following passage from Hosea, we have a beautiful example of God’s love, which the prophet compares to that of a father for his child: 'When Israel was a child I loved him; out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they went from me... Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks... I stooped to feed my child'. Despite the child’s wrong attitude that deserves punishment, a father’s love is faithful. He always forgives his repentant children. We see here how forgiveness is always included in mercy. It is 'not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child. It gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy.
The New Testament speaks to us of divine mercy (eleos) as a synthesis of the work that Jesus came to accomplish in the world in the name of the Father. Our Lord’s mercy can be seen especially when he bends down to human misery and shows his compassion for those in need of understanding, healing and forgiveness. Everything in Jesus speaks of mercy. Indeed, he himself is mercy.
In Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel we find the three parables of mercy: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the parable of the prodigal son. In these three parables we are struck by God’s joy, the joy that God feels when he finds and forgives a sinner. Yes, it is God’s joy to forgive! This sums up the whole of the Gospel. 'Each of us, each one of us, is that little lost lamb, the coin that was mislaid; each one of us is that son who has squandered his freedom on false idols, illusions of happiness, and has lost everything. But God does not forget us; the Father never abandons us. He is a patient Father, always waiting for us! He respects our freedom, but He remains faithful forever. And when we come back to him, He welcomes us like children into His house, for He never ceases, not for one instant, to wait for us with love. And His heart rejoices over every child who returns. He is celebrating because He is joy. God has this joy, when one of us sinners goes to Him and asks his forgiveness'.
God’s mercy is very real and we are all called to experience it firsthand. When I was seventeen years old, it happened one day that, as I was about to go out with friends, I decided to stop into a church first. I met a priest there who inspired great confidence, and I felt the desire to open my heart in Confession. That meeting changed my life! I discovered that when we open our hearts with humility and transparency, we can contemplate God’s mercy in a very concrete way. I felt certain that, in the person of that priest, God was already waiting for me even before I took the step of entering that church. We keep looking for God, but God is there before us, always looking for us, and He finds us first. Maybe one of you feels something weighing on your heart. You are thinking: I did this, I did that. Do not be afraid! God is waiting for you! God is a Father and He is always waiting for us! It is so wonderful to feel the merciful embrace of the Father in the sacrament of Reconciliation, to discover that the confessional is a place of mercy, and to allow ourselves to be touched by the merciful love of the Lord Who always forgives us.
You, dear young man, dear young woman, have you ever felt the gaze of everlasting love upon you, a gaze that looks beyond your sins, limitations and failings, and continues to have faith in you and to look upon your life with hope? Do you realise how precious you are to God, who has given you everything out of love? St. Paul tells us that 'God proves His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us'. Do we really understand the power of these words?
I know how much the WYD cross means to all of you. It was a gift from St. John Paul II and has been with you at all your World Meetings since 1984. So many changes and real conversions have taken place in the lives of young people who have encountered this simple bare cross! Perhaps you have asked yourselves the question: what is the origin of the extraordinary power of the cross? Here is the answer: the cross is the most eloquent sign of God’s mercy! It tells us that the measure of God’s love for humanity is to love without measure! Through the cross we can touch God’s mercy and be touched by that mercy! Here I would recall the episode of the two thieves crucified beside Jesus. One of them is arrogant and does not admit that he is a sinner. He mocks the Lord. The other acknowledges that he has done wrong; he turns to the Lord saying: 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom'. Jesus looks at him with infinite mercy and replies: 'Today you will be with me in Paradise'. With which of the two do we identify? Is it with the arrogant one who does not acknowledge his own mistakes? Or is it with the other, who accepts that he is in need of divine mercy and begs for it with all his heart? It is in the Lord, Who gave his life for us on the cross, that we will always find that unconditional love which sees our lives as something good and always gives us the chance to start again.
3. The amazing joy of being instruments of God’s mercy
The Word of God teaches us that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'. That is why the fifth Beatitude declares that the merciful are blessed. We know that the Lord loved us first. But we will be truly blessed and happy only when we enter into the divine 'logic' of gift and gracious love, when we discover that God has loved us infinitely in order to make us capable of loving like Him, without measure. St. John says: 'Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love... In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another'.
After this very brief summary of how the Lord bestows his mercy upon us, I would like to give you some suggestions on how we can be instruments of this mercy for others.
I think of the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He said, 'Jesus pays me a visit every morning in Holy Communion, and I return the visit in the meagre way I know how, visiting the poor'. Pier Giorgio was a young man who understood what it means to have a merciful heart that responds to those most in need. He gave them far more than material goods. He gave himself by giving his time, his words and his capacity to listen. He served the poor very quietly and unassumingly. He truly did what the Gospel tells us: 'When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,so that your almsgiving may be secret'. Imagine that, on the day before his death when he was gravely ill, he was giving directions on how his friends in need should be helped. At his funeral, his family and friends were stunned by the presence of so many poor people unknown to them. They had been befriended and helped by the young Pier Giorgio.
I always like to link the Gospel Beatitudes with Matthew 25, where Jesus presents us with the works of mercy and tells us that we will be judged on them. I ask you, then, to rediscover the corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, assist the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. Nor should we overlook the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, teach the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the sorrowful, forgive offences, patiently bear with troublesome people and pray to God for the living and the dead. As you can see, mercy does not just imply being a 'good person' nor is it mere sentimentality. It is the measure of our authenticity as disciples of Jesus, and of our credibility as Christians in today’s world.
If you want me to be very specific, I would suggest that for the first seven months of 2016 you choose a corporal and a spiritual work of mercy to practice each month. Find inspiration in the prayer of St. Faustina, a humble apostle of Divine Mercy in our times:
“Help me, O Lord,
…that my eyes may be merciful, so that I will never be suspicious or judge by appearances, but always look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and be of help to them;
… that my ears may be merciful, so that I will be attentive to my neighbours’ needs, and not indifferent to their pains and complaints;
… that my tongue may be merciful, so that I will never speak badly of others, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all;
… that my hands may be merciful and full of good deeds;
… that my feet may be merciful, so that I will hasten to help my neighbour, despite my own fatigue and weariness;
… that my heart may be merciful, so that I myself will share in all the sufferings of my neighbour” (Diary, 163).
The Divine Mercy message is a very specific life plan because it involves action. One of the most obvious works of mercy, and perhaps the most difficult to put into practice, is to forgive those who have offended us, who have done us wrong or whom we consider to be enemies. 'At times how hard it seems to forgive! And yet pardon is the instrument placed into our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart. To let go of anger, wrath, violence, and revenge are necessary conditions to living joyfully'.
I meet so many young people who say that they are tired of this world being so divided, with clashes between supporters of different factions and so many wars, in some of which religion is being used as justification for violence. We must ask the Lord to give us the grace to be merciful to those who do us wrong. Jesus on the cross prayed for those who had crucified Him: 'Father, forgive them, they know not what they do'. Mercy is the only way to overcome evil. Justice is necessary, very much so, but by itself it is not enough. Justice and mercy must go together. How I wish that we could join together in a chorus of prayer, from the depths of our hearts, to implore the Lord to have mercy on us and on the whole world!
4. Krakow is expecting us!
Only a few months are left before we meet in Poland. Krakow, the city of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, is waiting for us with open arms and hearts. I believe that Divine Providence led us to the decision to celebrate the Youth Jubilee in that city which was home to those two great apostles of mercy in our times. John Paul II realised that this is the time of mercy. At the start of his pontificate, he wrote the encyclical Dives in Misericordia. In the Holy Year 2000 he canonised Sister Faustina and instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, which now takes place on the Second Sunday of Easter. In 2002 he personally inaugurated the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow and entrusted the world to Divine Mercy, in the desire that this message would reach all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope: 'This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness'.
Dear young people, at the Shrine in Krakow dedicated to the merciful Jesus, where He is depicted in the image venerated by the people of God, Jesus is waiting for you. He has confidence in you and is counting on you! He has so many things to say to each of you. Do not be afraid to look into His eyes, full of infinite love for you. Open yourselves to His merciful gaze, so ready to forgive all your sins. A look from Him can change your lives and heal the wounds of your souls. His eyes can quench the thirst that dwells deep in your young hearts, a thirst for love, for peace, for joy and for true happiness. Come to Him and do not be afraid! Come to him and say from the depths of your hearts: 'Jesus, I trust in You!'. Let yourselves be touched by His boundless mercy, so that in turn you may become apostles of mercy by your actions, words and prayers in our world, wounded by selfishness, hatred and so much despair.
Carry with you the flame of Christ’s merciful love – as St. John Paul II said – in every sphere of your daily life and to the very ends of the earth. In this mission, I am with you with my encouragement and prayers. I entrust all of you to Mary, Mother of Mercy, for this last stretch of the journey of spiritual preparation for the next WYD in Krakow. I bless all of you from my heart”.
World Youth Day and the Year of Mercy coincide to make “a Youth Jubilee at world level”
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) – Pope Francis' third message to the young, for World Youth Day (WYD), like the first two, is dedicated to the theme of the Beatitudes and is intended to accompany young people throughout the world on their long and challenging spiritual journey to Krakow, where in July next year World Youth Day will be held.
According to a press release from the Pontifical Council for the Laity, issued today, the WYD is a precious heritage left by St. John Paul II, and over the past thirty years it has become a powerful instrument of evangelisation of young people and a wonderful opportunity for dialogue between the Church and the younger generations. This spiritual adventure has already mobilised millions of young people from all continents. WYD has moved many of them to make big changes in their lives, and has led them to the discovery of a call, one that is an intrinsic part of being young: many are the vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life following each WYD, and many young people, after sharing this experience, have chosen to join with another as a couple in the sacrament of marriage.
In his message, the Holy Father remarked that the theme of the 31st World Youth Day places the event in the heart of the Holy Year of Mercy, and this makes it 'a Youth Jubilee at world level'. As the Successor of Peter reminds us, it is the third time that an international gathering of young people coincides with a Jubilee Year. It happened during the Holy Year of Redemption (1983/1984) when St. John Paul II invited young people from around the world for Palm Sunday for the first time. Then, during the Great Jubilee of 2000, more than two million young people from about 165 countries met in Rome for the 15thWorld Youth Day. Pope Francis says, “I am sure that the Youth Jubilee in Krakow will be, as on those two previous occasions, one of the high points of this Holy Year!”.
The Pope goes on to explain to young people how God revealed his mercy in the Holy Scriptures by showing his untiring loyalty and eternal love, always ready to forgive. In the New Testament, mercy is presented to us as“a synthesis of the work that Jesus came to accomplish in the world in the name of the Father […] Everything in Jesus speaks of mercy. Indeed, he himself is mercy”.
The Holy Father invites young people to have firsthand experience of the Lord's mercy. He says: “When I was seventeen years old, it happened one day that, as I was about to go out with friends, I decided to stop into a church first. I met a priest there who inspired great confidence, and I felt the desire to open my heart in Confession. That meeting changed my life! I discovered that when we open our hearts with humility and transparency, we can contemplate God’s mercy in a very concrete way”.
After explaining how God shows us his mercy, the Pope invites young people to become, in turn, instruments of that mercy towards others. He suggests a very concrete way of responding to this call: “I would suggest that for the first seven months of 2016 you choose a corporal and a spiritual work of mercy to practice each month”.
At the end of his message, Pope Francis renews his warm invitation to young people: “Only a few months are left before we meet in Poland. Krakow, the city of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska, is waiting for us with open arms and hearts. I believe that Divine Providence led us to the decision to celebrate the Youth Jubilee in that city which was home to those two great apostles of mercy in our times. [...] At the Shrine in Krakow dedicated to the merciful Jesus, where He is depicted in the image venerated by the people of God, Jesus is waiting for you [...].Come to Him and say from the depths of your hearts: ‘Jesus, I trust in You’”.

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