Archive for the 'Papal Address' Category

Let No Wolf Enter the Sheepfold

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

pfrancisThe following is Pope Francis’ homily given on July 7 in the chapel of Santa Marta, attended by victims of sexual abuse by clergy, along with some families and carers and members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

It is worth reading in full.

After the Mass, the Holy Father spent three hours with six abuse victims, three men and three women, from Britain, Germany and Ireland.  

The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having traveled so far to come here.

For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking and others the same… and they set about to sustain that gaze.

And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin. This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair. Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction. Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide. The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church. To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow. Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out. He looks out upon one of his own torturers, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep. Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God. Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.

I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church. There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea (cf. Mt 18:6).

By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation. I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy. The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross. To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God. The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

I am grateful for this meeting. And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: “You know that I love you”; and hear him say: “go back and feed my sheep” – and I would add – “let no wolf enter the sheepfold”.

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Popes and Saints

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Joining in prayer with hundreds of thousands people in Rome who are gathering to thank God for the incredible lives and witness of these two holy men.

Holy Popes

St. John XXIII, pray for us!

St. John Paul II, pray for us!

 

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Joh Paul II and the Beggar Priest

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

JPIIDr Scott Hahn shared the following true story on April 25, 2001, on “Mother Angelica live.” This story was related to Dr. Hahn by his spiritual director. He heard the story while in New York City visiting a priest who is in the Archdiocese of NY. This priest related the story of what happened on his last trip to Rome.

The priest was scheduled to have a private audience with John Paul II. On the appointed day, the priest decided to stop in a basilica to say a prayer. On the steps of the church, he thought that he recognized one of the beggars. After entering the sanctuary, he knelt down to pray and then it hit him. The priest rushed out and approached the beggar: “I know you. Didn’t we go to seminary together?” The man gave a nodded. “So you are a priest then?” he said to the beggar. The man replied, “Not anymore.” He said that he had “crashed and burned” in his vocation. “Please leave me alone,” the beggar said. The priest was mindful of his approaching appointment with the Holy Father. “I’ve got to go — I’ll pray for you.” The beggar replied, “A lot of good that will do.”

The private meetings with the Pope are typically very formal. There are a number of people who have been granted a private audience at the same time, and when the Holy Father makes his way toward you, his secretary hands him a blessed rosary, and the pope in turn hands it to you. At this point, one would probably kiss the Pope’s ring and say something heartfelt. However, as Pope John Paul II approached, the priest gave in to a holy impulse, got down on his knees and implored the Pope: “Pray, Holy Father, for this particular man. I went to the seminary with him and now he is a beggar. He’s lost. Pray for him.” The priest told the Pope the entire story. The Holy Father looked concerned and he assured the priest that he would pray for his friend. As he moved on, he whispered something to an aide.

Later that day, the priest was contacted by the Vatican. They told the priest that he and the beggar – the former priest – were invited to see the Pope for dinner. Excited, he rushed back to the church where he last saw his classmate. Only a few beggars were left, and as luck (or grace) would have it, his former classmate was among them. He approached the man and said, “I have been to see the Pope, and he said he would pray for you. And there’s more. He has invited us to his private residence for dinner.”

“Impossible,” said the man. “Look at me. I am a mess. I haven’t showered in a long time… and my clothes …” The priest said, “I have a hotel room where you can shower and shave, and I have clothes that will fit you.” Again, by God’s grace, the beggar priest agreed. The Pope’s hospitality was wonderful. At the close of dinner, the pope’s secretary whispered to the priest, “He wants us to leave,” at which point the priest and the secretary left the Holy Father alone with the beggar. After quite some time, the beggar emerged from the room in tears. “What happened in there?” asked the priest. The most remarkable reply came. “The Pope asked me to hear his confession,” choked the beggar. After regaining composure, the man continued, “I told him, ‘Your Holiness, look at me. I am a beggar. I am not a priest.’”

“The Pope looked at me and said, ‘My son, once a priest always a priest, and who among us is not a beggar. I too come before the Lord as a beggar asking for forgiveness of my sins.’ I told him I was not in good standing with the Church, and he assured me that as the Bishop of Rome he could reinstate me right then and there.”
The man relayed that it had been so long since he had heard a confession that the Pope had to help him through the words of absolution. The priest friend asked, “But you were in there for some time. Surely the Pope’s confession did not last that long.”

“No,” said his friend, “But after I heard his confession, I asked him to hear mine.” The final words spoken by Pope John Paul II to this prodigal son came in the form of a commission. When the NY priest was invited back in from the hallway, the Pope asked him about the beggar, “Where was the parish where you found him?” The priest told him and then the Pope said to the beggar priest. “For your first pastoral assignment, I want you to go to the pastor there and report for duty because you’ll be an associate there with a special outreach for your fellow beggars.”

And that is where the beggar is today, fulfilling his new priestly role ministering to the homeless and the beggars on the steps of the very church from where he had just come.

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Thank you Faithful Men and Women

Monday, October 21st, 2013
Pope John Paul II on Mount Nebo

Pope John Paul II on Mount Nebo

Here’s a thought for the day, courtesy of Pope Francis — visit an elderly priest or religious!

At his daily Morning Mass (See Zenit for complete story) on October 18, Pope Francis called to mind three Biblical figures who endured the solitude and anguish of their older days.

First, there was Moses, “the courageous leader of the People of God” who led God’s people out of the slavery of Egypt into the Promised Land. But at the end of his life, he stands on Mount Nebo looking towards Jerusalem but he himself will not enter it.

Then, there was St. John the Baptist whose life “finished under the power of a weak, corrupt and drunken ruler who in turn was under the power of an adulteress’ jealousy and the capricious wishes of a dancer.”

Finally, there is Saint Paul who said in his second Letter to Timothy (read at Mass on Friday) (2 Tim 4:10-17)) that everyone had abandoned him yet, says the Holy Father, “the Lord was close to him and gave him the strength to complete his mission of announcing the Gospel.”

Remember the priests and religious whose active ministry might be complete but whose active prayer life and wisdom is a blessing for the world. It is also wonderful to give to the Retirement Fund for Religious appeal to help those who have insufficient funds for their care.

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Defend Life, But Watch for Wolves

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

francisrioAs someone who does not have cable TV, I miss out on a lot (whether this is good or bad is debatable). But I did miss most of the coverage of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and his trip to Brazil as covered by EWTN. Therefore, watching this video, put out by the Mercedarians, is a real treat.

The Mercedarians have taken footage of Pope Francis’ drive through the enormous crowds as the backdrop for a very interesting narrated talk that the Holy Father gave when he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Given on August 31, 2005, the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus (one of the first Mercedarians), he spoke about the culture of death and the need, in the face of persecution, to stand up for life. He picked a very appropriate feast day for this talk because St. Raymond Nonnatus (which means “not born”) was cut from his mother’s womb after her death in childbirth, thus his life was spared.

Here are a few tidbits of the then-Cardinal’s talk:

I was reading a book a while back, where this disturbing phrase was found: “In the world of today, the cheapest thing is life, what costs the least is life” — which is, therefore, the most disregarded thing, the most dispensable thing.

This elderly man, this elderly woman, are useless; discard them, let’s throw them in the nursing home like we hang up the raincoat during summer, with three mothballs in the pocket, and let’s hang it in the nursing home because they’re now disposable, they’re useless.

This child who is on the way is a bother to the family. “Oh no, for what? I have no idea.  Let’s discard him and return him to the sender.”

That is what the culture of death preaches to us.

This child that I have at home, well, I don’t have time to educate him. Let him grow up like a weed in the field, and this other child who doesn’t have anything to eat, not even little shoes to go to school, and well, I’m very sorry, but I’m not the redeemer of the whole world.

That’s what the culture of death preaches. It’s not interested in life.  What interests it? Egoism. One is interested in surviving, but not in giving life, caring for life, offering life.

Today, in this shrine dedicated to life, in this day of the patron saint of life, Jesus again says to us: “Care for it! I came to bring life, and life in abundance, but care for it!  You are going to be surrounded by wolves; you are to be the ones to defend life, to care for life.

Care for life! What a beautiful thing one sees — which I know! — that a grandfather, a grandmother, who perhaps can no longer speak, who is paralyzed, and the grandson or the son comes and takes their hand, and in silence cherishes them, nothing more.  That is caring for life.  When one sees people who take care so that this child can go to school, so that another doesn’t lack food, that is caring for life.

Open your heart to life!

St. Raymond, Patron Saint of expectant mothers and midwives, pray for us!

 

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Entrustment to Mary

Monday, August 5th, 2013

On this feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major which Pope Francis visited on the eve of his departure for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, it seems appropriate to post the counsel he gave to seminarians, novices and those discerning a vocation in a gathering held on July 7, 2013:

I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy.

She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear.

May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation,

without being afraid of joy,

she will help you to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross,

to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord in prayer.

Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.

With cloistered Nuns in Rio de Janeiro

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Go and Make Disciples

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Jesus did not say: “if you would like to, if you have the time,” but: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of Himself, but the whole of Himself, He gave His life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God.

 Krakow 2016

 

 

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The Source of Mission

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

On Sunday, July 7, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before 6000 seminarians and novices who have been on a 4-day pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter, reflecting on their call from God and their vocation.

The Holy Father described the three reference points to the missionary call, part of his reflection on the Sunday readings.

First: the joy of consolation. “If we first experience the joy of being consoled by Him, of being loved by Him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others!”

Second: the Cross of Christ. “The fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – the Cross that is always present with Christ – which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission.”

Third: Prayer. “If the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength for his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.”

The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

To see the complete text, visit the Vatican News website.

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The Winds of the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails

and drives it forward,and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit.

Lacking His impulse and His grace, we do not go forward.

The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God

and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself;

He impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel,

to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.

Pope Francis

Pentecost Sunday

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The Absurd Dichotomy

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

 

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