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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bishops of England and Wales speak out

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have issued a statement on the case of Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old British boy with a degenerative brain disease. In their message, issued on Wednesday as Alfie’s father James met with Pope Francis in the Vatican, highlights the professionalism and care for severely ill children that is shown at the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool.

The statement notes that recently reported criticism of hospital staff is unfounded and chaplaincy care is available for both staff and the family of Alfie Evans.

The bishops affirm their conviction that all those who are and have been making the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it.

Statement issued by the Catholic Conference
of Bishops of England and Wales

Our hearts go out to the parents of Alfie Evans and our prayers are for him and with them as they try to do all they can to care for their son. We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been making the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it. The professionalism and care for severely ill children shown at Alder Hey Hospital is to be recognised and affirmed. We know that recently reported public criticism of their work is unfounded as our chaplaincy care for the staff, and indeed offered to the family, has been consistently provided.

We note the offer of the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome to care for Alfie Evans. It is for that hospital to present to the British Courts, where crucial decisions in conflicts of opinion have to be taken, the medical reasons for an exception to be made in this tragic case.

Benedictine Monks visit the Vatican

At noon today (6:00am EDT), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the Monks from the Benedictine Confederation, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of that Confederation and the laying of the cornerstone for the Primatial Abbey of Saint Anselm in Rome.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with Monks from the
Benedictine Confederation

Reverend Abbot Primate,
Dear Father Abbots,
Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation and I thank the Abbot Primate for his courteous words.  I wish to express all my consideration and recognition for the relevant contributions that the Benedictines have brought to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years.  In this celebration of the Benedictine Confederation's Jubilee, I wish to recall, in a special way, the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 desired to unite all Benedictines by establishing a common house of study and prayer here in Rome.  I thank God for this inspiration, for it has brought Benedictines from all over the world to live a more profound spirit of communion with the See of Peter and among yourselves.

The Benedictine spirituality is renown for its motto: Ora et labora et lege.  Prayer, work and study.  In contemplative life, God often announces his presence in an unexpected way.  With meditation on the Word of God in lectio divina, we are called to remain in religious listening to his voice in order to live in constant and joyous obedience.  Prayer generates within our hearts, which are willing to receive the surprising gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervour which leads us, through our daily work, to receive and to share of gifts of God's wisdom with others: with the community, with those who come to the monastery in search of God (quaerere Deum), and with those who study in your schools, colleges and universities.  In this way, you motivate a spiritual life that is constantly renewed and reinvigorated.

Some characteristic aspects of the liturgical season of Easter, which we are currently experiencing, such as proclamation and surprise, prompt response and hearts that are disposed to receiving the gifts of God, are actually part of every-day Benedictine life.  In his rule, Saint Benedict asks you to put absolutely nothing before Christ (Rule of Saint Benedict, 72), so that you always remain vigilant, in the present moment, ready to listen to him and to follow him in docility (cf Rule, Prologue, ivi).  Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for you yourselves, permitting you to stand in the living presence of the Lord; and this is precious for the entire Church, who has benefitted throughout the centuries, like flowing water that irrigates and feeds us, nourishing our capacity to experience, personally and in community, the encounter with the risen Lord.

If Saint Benedict was a shining star - as Saint Gregory the Great referred to him - in his time which was marked by a profound crisis of values and institutions, this happened because he was able to discern between the essential and the secondary aspects of the spiritual life, placing the Lord firmly at the centre of your lives.  May you too, his children in modern day, practice discernment in order to recognize that which comes from the Holy Spirit and that which comes from the spirit of the world and from the spirit of the devil.  Discernment that requires not only a good capacity for reasoning and for common sense, but which is a gift of the Holy Spirit that we must also pray for.  Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily transform ourselves into puppets at the mercy of current tendencies (Gaudete et exsultate, 166-167).

In this era, where people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to God's voice, your monasteries and your convents become oases, where men and women of every age, background, culture and religion can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover themselves, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore proper order in their lives.  The Benedictine charism of welcome is very precious for the new evangelization, for it gives you an opportunity to welcome Christ in every person who arrives, helping those who are seeking God to receive the spiritual gifts that He has in store for each one of us.

Moreover, the Benedictines have always recognized the commitment to ecumenism and to inter-religious dialogue.  I encourage you to continue in this important work for the Church and for the world, placing your traditional hospitality at the service of these efforts.  In effect, there is no opposition between contemplative life and service to others.  Benedictine monasteries - both within cities and far from them - are places of prayer and welcome.  Your stability is important also for people who come looking for you.  Christ is present in these encounters: he is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the need that is identified.

I am grateful to you for your service in the field of education and formation, here in Rome and in many other parts of the world.  Benedictines are recognized as being a school of service to the Lord.  I urge you to give your students, together with the necessary notions and knowledge they require, the instruments they need in order to grow in the wisdom that motivates them to continually seek God in their lives; the same wisdom that will lead them to practice mutual understanding, for we are all children of God, brothers and sisters, in this world that is so thirsty for peace.

In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, I hope that the celebration of this Jubilee of the anniversary of the Benedictine Confederations foundation is a fruitful occasion for reflection on the quest for God and for his wisdom, and on how to more effectively communicate his perennial wealth to future generations.

Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with Saints Benedict and Scolastica, I invoke upon each of you my Apostolic Blessing.  And I ask you please, to continue your prayer for me.  Thank you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

General Audience on Baptism, a sign of Christian faith

This morning's General Audience began at 9:30am (3:30am EDT) in Saint Peter's Square, where the Holy Father, Pope Francis met with groups of pilgrims and the faithful from Italy and from every corner of the world.

In his speech, the Pope focused his mediation on Baptism: 2. The sign of Christian faith.

After having summarized his catechesis in various languages, the Holy Father offered particular greetings to each group of the faithful in attendance.  Then he made an appeal for the successful outcome of the World Bank Spring meetings taking place in Washington next Saturday and renewed his invitation to pray for Vincent Lambert and little Alfie Evans.

The General Audience concluded with the chanting of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic blessing.

Catechesis of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the General Audience

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

During the Easter season, we continue the catechesis on Baptism.  The meaning of Baptism clearly arises from its celebration, so we turn our attention there.  Considering the gestures and the words of the liturgy, we can grow in our understanding of the grace and commitment of this sacrament, which is always worth rediscovering.  We remember this grace in the sprinkling with holy water which can be done every Sunday at the beginning of the Mass, as well as in the renewal of Baptismal promises during the Easter Vigil.  In fact, what happens in the celebration of Baptism awakens a spiritual dynamic that spans the entire life of the baptized; it is the beginning of a process that allows us to live united with Christ in the Church.  Therefore, returning to the source of Christian life leads us to better understand the gift that we received on the day of our baptism and to renew our commitment to respond to this gift in the conditions in which we find ourselves today.  Renewing our commitment, better understanding this gift of baptism, and remembering the day of our baptism.  Last Wednesday, I asked you to do some homework: each one of us was asked to remember the day of our baptism, the day when we were baptized.  I know that some of you know that date, others, no; those who don't know the date, ask your relatives, those people, your godfathers and godmother ... ask them: What was the date of my baptism?  Baptism is a re-birth; it is like a second birthday.  Do you understand?  Do this task at home, ask them: What was the date of my baptism?

First of all, in the rite of welcome, we ask for the name of the candidate, because a name indicates the identity of a person.  When we introduce ourselves, we immediately say our names: My name is ..., and in this way we are no longer anonymous, an unknown person is someone who has no name.  In order for us to move away from anonymity, we say our names.  Without names we remain unknown, without rights and privileges.  God calls each one of us by name, loving each one of us, in the concreteness of our own history.  Baptism ignites our personal vocation to live as Christians, a vocation that is developed from day to day throughout the remainder of our lives.  It implies a personal - not a borrowed - response, with a copy and paste.  In fact, Christian life is interwoven with a series of calls and responses: God continues pronouncing our names throughout the years, his call resounds in thousands of ways, inviting us to conform ourselves to his Son Jesus.  Therefore our names are important ... very important!  Parents begin considering possible names for their children even before they are born: this too is part of waiting for a child who, with his or her own name, will have his or her own personal identity, as is the case for the Christian life through which that child is tied to God.

Certainly, becoming Christians is a gift that comes from on high (cf Jn 3:3-8).  Faith cannot be bought, but we can ask for it - yes - and it is received as a gift - yes.  Lord, give me the gift of faith, is a beautiful prayer!  That I may have faith, is a beautiful prayer.  Ask for that gift, but you cannot buy it, you must ask for it.  In fact, baptism is the sacrament of this faith, with which men and women, illuminated by the grace of the Holy Spirit, respond to the gospel of Christ (Rite of Baptism of Children, General Introduction, 3).  The formation of catechumens and the preparation of parents tend to arouse and reawaken a sincere faith in response to the gospel, such as listening to the Word of God during the celebration of Baptism.

If adult catechumens show first-hand the grace that they wish to receive as a gift from the Church, children are presented by their parents, along with their godparents.  Dialogue with them allows them to express their desire that their children should receive baptism and allows the Church to express her intention to celebrate baptism.  An expression of all this is the sign of the cross which the celebrant and the parents trace on the forehead of the children (Rite of Baptism of Children, Introduction, 16).  The sign of the cross expresses the seal of Christ on those who is about to belong to him and signifies the grace of redemption that Christ has acquired for us through his cross (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1235).  In the ceremony, we make the sign of the cross on the forehead of the child.  I want to return to a reasoning that I have previously presented.  Do our children know how to make the sign of the cross?  Many times, I have seen children who don't know how to make the sign of the cross.  And you, daddies and mommies, grandpas and grandmas, godfathers and godmothers, you should teach them how to make the sign of the cross so that they can repeat what was done on the day of their baptism.  Do you understand?  Teach children how to make the sign of the cross.  If they learn as children, they will do it well afterwards, when they are adults.

The cross is the distinguishing mark that shows who we are: our words, thoughts, glances, works are all under the sign of the cross, which is to say under the sign of Jesus' love to the very end.  Children are marked on their foreheads.  Adult catechumens are also marked in this way, with these words: Receive the sign of the cross on your ears so that you may listen for the voice of the Lord; on the eyes so that you may see the splendour of God's face; on the mouth, so that you may respond to the word of God; on the breast, so that Christ may live in your heart; on your shoulders so that you may support the gentle yoke of Christ (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 85).  We become more and more Christian depending on the measure to which the cross is imprinted within us as a mark of Easter (cf Rev 14:1; 22:4), making visible, even outwardly, the Christian way of facing life.  Making the sign of the cross when we wake up, before meals, when we are faced with a danger, as a defence against evil, at night before we go to bed, is one way of reminding ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to be.  For this reason, it is very important for children to learn how to make the sign of the cross well.  And, just as we do when we enter a church, so we can also do at home: keeping a bit of holy water in an appropriate container - some families already do this: that way, every time that we return home or go out, we can make the sign of the cross with that water and remember that we are baptized.  Don't forget, repeat it after me: teach your children to make the sign of the cross.

The Holy Father's catechesis was then summarized in various languages and His Holiness offered greetings to each group of pilgrims in attendance.  To English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United States of America. I offer a special welcome to the group of benefactors from Ireland, with gratitude for their support of the forthcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you all!

At the conclusion of the General Audience, the Pope made the following appeals:

Next Saturday in Washington (USA), the Spring Meeting of the World Bank will be held.  I encourage the efforts which, through financial inclusion, are seeking to promote the lives of the poor, favouring authentic and integrated development and respect for the dignity of all peoples.

I draw your attention once again to Vincent Lambert and to little Alfie Evans, and I wish to reiterate and strongly affirm the fact that the only master of life, from beginning to natural end, is God!  It is our duty, our duty is to do all we can to conserve life.  Let us think in silence and pray that the lives of all people will be respected and especially the lives of these two brothers of ours.  Let us pray in silence.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Happy 91st, Pope Benedict XVI

April 16 marks Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's 91st birthday. He will be spending the day quietly in the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in the Vatican, where he lives. The day of Joseph Ratzinger’s birth has been seen by some as a sign of Divine Providence. It was certainly a sign of things to come. The future Pope Benedict XVI was born on Holy Saturday, April 16, 1927. His birthplace is Marktl-an-Inn, a tiny village less than an hour’s walk away from Altoetting, the most important Marian Shrine in Bavaria.

1927 was the year Charles Lindbergh completed the first ever solo flight across the Atlantic. The Pope in Rome was Pius XI – the successor to Pope Benedict XV.

As Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger celebrated his 85th birthday, his last as Pope, with a Mass in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican. It was April 16, 2012. Reflecting on his long and eventful life, he claimed to be facing the final stretch of his life's journey. I do not know what awaits me, he said. But I do know that the light of God is there, that He is risen, that His light is stronger than all darkness; that the goodness of God is stronger than every evil in this world. And this helps me to proceed with confidence. This helps us to move forward.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pope visits a Roman parish

This afternoon in Rome, the Holy Father, Pope Francis paid a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Saint Paul of the Cross in Corviale.

Upon his arrival, at 3:40pm local time (9:40am EDT), the Pope was welcomed by Archbishop Angelo de Donatis, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome; by His Excellency, Paolo Selvadagi, Auxiliary Bishop for the Western sector of the diocese; by the pastor, Father Roberto Cassano; by the associate pastor, Father Gabriele Petreni and by two members of the parish staff.

In the yard outside the church, Pope Francis met with the children who are preparing for sacraments as well as their families and spoke with four of the children.  Then, in the parish hall, the Pope met with a large group of elderly and the poor.  Afterwards, in the corridor, he greeted representatives of various associations.  Later, in a catechism hall, Pope Francis met with prisoners who are involved in a programme of social reintegration which involves various crafts.  Finally, he heard the confessions of a few penitents.

At 5:20pm local time (11:20am EDT), the Holy Father presided over the Eucharistic celebration in the parish church.  Representatives from the XXXI prefecture and a few priests who are friends of the community were in attendance with the Pope to concelebrate the Mass.  Following the proclamation of the gospel, Pope Francis shared an unscripted homily.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the pastor offered a few words of greeting to the Holy Father and there was an exchange of gifts before the Pope returned to the Vatican.

Homily of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
during the Mass celebrated at the parish of
San Paolo della Croce a Corviale

The disciples knew that Jesus had risen, because Mary Magdalene had told them about it that morning; then Peter saw him; then the disciples who were on their way back to Emmaus recounted the details of their encounter with the risen Jesus.  They knew: he is risen and alive.  But that truth had not yet entered into their hearts.  That truth, yes, they knew it, but they still were doubtful.  They would have preferred to have that truth in their minds, perhaps.  It is less risky to have a truth in our minds that to hold it in our hearts.  It is less dangerous.

They were all gathered together and the Lord appeared.  At first, they were afraid and thought he was a ghost.  But Jesus himself told them: No, look, touch me.  See the wounds.  A ghost doesn't have a body, see, it is I!  Why did they not believe?  Because they doubted?  There is a word in the gospel that gives us an explanation: Yet in their joy they still did not believe and were filled with amazement ... In their joy they could not believe.  There was so much joy!  If that is true, it was an immense joy!  Ah, I don't believe it.  I can't.  They could not believe that so much joy was possible; the joy that Jesus brought with him.

This happens also to us when we receive good news.  Before being able to welcome such news in our hearts, we say: Is it true?  How do you know this?  Where did you hear it?  We do this in order to be sure, because if it is true, there will be great joy.  If this is what happens to us when we are small, can you imagine how it was for the disciples!  There was so much joy that it was better to say: No, I can't believe it.  But he was there!  Yes, but he couldn't be there.  They could not accept it; they could not allow themselves to think in their hearts that he was truly alive.  And in the end, obviously, they believed.  This is the renewed youthfulness that the Lord gives us.  In today's Collect (Opening Prayer), we heard about renewed youthfulness.  We are used to growing older with our sins ... Sin makes our hearts grow older, always.  It makes our hearts hard, old, tired.  Sin tires the heart and we lose a little of our faith in the risen Christ: No I don't think so ... That would be so joyous ... Yes, yes, it is true, but he is in heaven taking care of his own affairs ... But I am his concern!  Every one of us!  But we are not able to make this connection.

In today's second reading, the apostle John says: If someone has sinned, we have an advocate with the Father.  Don't be afraid, He will forgive you.  He renews us.  Sin makes us grow old, but Jesus - risen, living - renews us.  This is the strength of the risen Jesus.  When we approach the sacrament of Penance, it is in order to be renewed, reinvigorated.  And the risen Jesus does this.  It is the risen Jesus who is present among us today: he will soon be here on the altar, he is in his Word ... On the altar, he will be like this: risen!  It is Christ who wants to defend us, our Advocate, when we have sinned, in order to reinvigorate us.

Brothers and sisters, let us ask for the grace to believe that Christ is alive, that he is risen!  This is our faith, and if we believe this, the other things will be secondary.  This is our faith, this is our true youthfulness.  Christ's victory over death, Christ's victory over sin.  Christ is alive, Yes, yes, now we will receive Communion ... But when you receive Communion, are you sure that Jesus is alive, present, risen?  Yes, it is only a little bit of blessed bread ... No, it is Jesus!  Christ is alive and risen in the midst of us and if we don't believe this, we will never be good Christians, we can never be good Christians.

But even though they could not believe such joyful news, they were still filled with amazement.  Let us ask the Lord for grace so that this joy may not impede us from growing , the grace to touch the risen Jesus: touch him in our encounters in prayer; in other encounters during the celebration of sacraments; in our encounters through the sacraments; in the meeting with his forgiveness that is the youthful renewal of the Church; in the encounter with the sick, when we have to find him, with those in prison, with those who are the most in need, with children, with the elderly.  If we feel the need to do something good, it is the risen Jesus who motivates us to do such things.  It is always joy, joy that keeps us young.

Let us ask for the grace to be a joyous community, because I'm sure that every one of us has faith, we have faith, we have met with the risen Christ.

Meeting with children
outside the church of Saint Paul of the Cross

I. Leonardo
Good morning Pope Francis!
I want to know something: what is your favorite gospel passage and why?

Pope Francis
What is your name?


Pope Francis
Leonardo.  Good Leonardo.  The gospel is filled with beautiful passages, very beautiful.  But you asked me which one is my favorite.  I will answer with one condition, that when you return home, you will find this passage in the gospel and read it.  Do you promise?


Pope Francis
All of you?


Pope Francis
One passage that I like very much is in the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus meets that businessman, that traitor who was named Matthew.  He was truly at the door of the city, he was attached to money, and he made people pay the tourist tax.  Did you pay a tax to enter here?


Pope Francis
No!  But we see that there is no Matthew here, thank God!  We won't have to pay to enter.  That's good.  And that man was a traitor because people paid taxes and he gave them to the army that was occupying Palestine at the time - it was the Roman army - he would give the money to the Romans.  This is a terrible sin, no?  How terrible!  A person who is attached to money is a terrible person!  But this man was even worse because he had forgotten that he was not a Roman, that he was Palestinian; he sold his country every time that he made other people pay the tax.  And Jesus was passing by - tax collectors were despised by everyone - Jesus passed by, looked at Matthew and said: Get up, come.  And that man couldn't believe.  A despised man, a traitor, a sinner ... And that man got up and followed Jesus.

And why do I like this passage? - te second question - because in it, we see the strength that Jesus had to change a heart.  His heart was the worst, but Jesus managed to change it.  Perhaps you know people who say: Ah, I could never be good, because I have done many things in my past, I could never change ... Jesus is capable of changing even the worst of us; he can make that person an evangelizer, an apostle and a saint.  This is why I like this passage in the bible so much, because we see the strength of Jesus to change our hearts, to make us good.  Don't forget your promise: what was that promise?

Read the gospel.

Pope Francis:
But not the whole thing!  Read that passage.  Find it.  The passage about Matthew, his name was Matthew, but at the time - when Jesus met him - his name was Levi.  Find it, read it at home and say: But look at this, look at this ... It is beautiful.  Thank you Leonardo, thank you!

II. Carlotta
Hello Pope Francis!  When we receive Baptism, we become children of God; what about people who are not baptized, are they not children of God?

Pope Francis
Stay there.  What is your name?


Pope Francis
Carlotta.  Tell me Carlotta, I want to turn the question and ask you: what do you think?  People who are not baptized, are they children of God or are they not children of God?  What does your heart tell you?


Pope Francis
Yes.  Ok, now i will explain.  You answered well, with a Christian flair!  We are all children of God.  All of us, all of us.  Even those who are not baptized?  Yes.  Even those who believe in other religions, those who are distant, who have other idols?  Yes, we are children of God.  Even the mafiosi are children of God? ... You are not sure ... Yes, even the mafiosi are children of God.  They would rather act like children of the devil, but they are children of God.  Everyone, everyone is a child of God, everyone.  But what is the difference?  God created everything, he loved everything and he placed in everyone's heart a conscience so that we could recognize good and distinguish it from evil.  Every person has this.  Every person knows, every person can perceive what is good and what is healthy; even people who do not know Jesus, who do not know Christianity, everyone has this ability in their souls, because God gave us this ability.  But when you were baptized, the Holy Spirit entered into your conscience and strengthened your belonging to God, and in that sense you became more a child of God, because you are a child of God just like everyone else, but also with the strength of the Holy Spirit who entered into your heart.  Do you understand, Carlotta?  Now, I want to ask all of you, and everyone respond: is every person a child of God?


Pope Francis
Good people are children of God?


Pope Francis
Bad people are children of God?


Pope Francis
Yes.  Even people who do not know God and those who have other religions, those who are distant, those who have idols, are we all children of God?


Pope Francis
The mafia, are they children of God?


Pope Francis
And we have to pray for them, that they return to God and truly recognize him!  Now, no one respond, but reply in your hearts: who among you is praying for the mafia, for their conversion?  Everyone respond in your heart.  Then, when we are baptized, who enters into our hearts? ... Louder!

The Holy Spirit!

Pope Francis
Good!  You are very good!  What is your name?


Pope Francis
Good Lorenzo!  The Holy Spirit enters, and this Holy Spirit makes us more the children of God, he gives us more strength to act like children of God.  This is the reason why Saint Paul has a phrase, and I want you to say it out loud with me.  Say: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit within you.  Why does he use these words?  Because a Christian, someone who is baptized and then behaves badly, is grieving the Holy Spirit within us.  The phrase is this: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit within you.  Can we say that together?

Pope Francis together with the children
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit within you.

Pope Francis
Once more!

Pope Francis together with the children
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit within you.

Pope Francis
And we, children of God, who through our Baptism have received the Holy Spirit within us, when we behave badly, when we commit a sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us.  Thank you Carlotta!

III. Edoardo
Dear Pope Francis, how did you feel when they elected you Pope?

Pope Francis
What is your name?


Pope Francis
Edoardo, good.  I felt only that God wanted that, I got up and kept going.  I didn't feel anything spectacular, but maybe, this response seems a bit boring, but I wasn't afraid, I didn't feel any special joy.  I felt like the Lord wanted it, and I kept going, Edoardo.  Many times, the Lord is calling.  I met one of you who is discerning a vocation because you are hearing the Lord saying something to you inside.  Wen the Lord calls and says to you: Now, you go there, he gives you peace.  This is what we feel inside when there is a true call from God: peace.  I felt peace.  Thank you, Edoardo.

IV. Emanuele
I can't do it! ...

Pope Francis
Come, come here to me Emanuele!  Come here to me and whisper in my ear.  Whisper in my ear.  Come, come, come to me.

(Emanuele goes to Pope Francis and whispers her question in his ear)

Pope Francis
Maybe all of us would cry like Emanuele if we had pain in our hearts like she does.  She was crying for her father and she had the courage to do it in front of all of us, because in her heart, she loves her daddy.  I asked Emanuele for her permission to repeat her question in public and she told me yes.  So, I repeat: A short time ago, my daddy died.  He was an atheist but he had all four of his children baptized.  He was a good man.  Is daddy in heaven?  How beautiful it is for a child to say of her father: He was good.  What a beautiful witness that man gave to his children, now his children can say of him: He was a good man.  This is a beautiful testimony from a child who has inherited the strength of her father and, also, who has had the courage to cry in front of all of us.  If this man was able to create such children, it's true, he was a good man.  He was a good man.  That man did not have the gift of faith, he was not a believer, but he had his children baptized.  He had a good heart.  And she has a doubt that daddy, because he was not a believer, might not be in heaven.  The only one who says who gets to go to heaven is God.  But can we imagine the heart of God before that daddy?  What do you think? ... A daddy's heart!  God has the heart of a daddy.  And before a daddy, who didn't believe, but who was capable of having his children baptized and of giving that skill to his children, do you think that God would be able to leave that person far away from himself?  Think about it ... Speak loudly, be courageous ...


Pope Francis
Does God abandon his children?


Pope Francis
Does God abandon his children when they are good?


Pope Francis
There, Emanuele, there's your response.  Surely, God was proud of your daddy, because it is easier to be a believer, to have children baptized, than it is for a non-believer to have his children baptized.  Surely, this pleased God very much.  Speak with your daddy, pray to him.  Thank you Emanuele for your courage.

We spoke about a father, and our father is God.  Let us all pray to our Father, God.

Our Father ...

And now, I will bless you.  Every one of you, think about someone who you love, about someone who loves you, about someone who we all love, and also about those who we don't love, or those who are our enemies.  Let us also pray for them, ask God to bless even them.  May God bless us all and enlighten our hearts.


Meeting with the elderly and the poor
in the parish hall

Father Roberto Cassano, Pastor
Your Holiness, we are - to paraphrase Saint Lawrence - before the treasure of Saint Paul of the Cross, of our parish: the poor and the elderly.  We have 100 families who help every month to prepare a package, thanks also to the support of the Knights of Malta, who have accepted the task of helping the poor; we help them whenever possible, in all kinds of material ways, with their bills and things like that, but also in immaterial ways, for example: we try to provide necessities from a psychological point of view whenever necessary, or simply a time to chat because one of the main problems in this parish is the loneliness experienced by the elderly.  And since this is a neighbourhood that is becoming increasingly elderly, we are in the greater majority.  Unfortunately, we could only invite a representative group: there are only 100 people here.  I give the floor to you, Your Holiness.

Pope Francis
I was just with the young: they were inquisitive, they asked questions.  Now I am with you, you are quieter ... Let us go on, slowly, because life has taught us, we have experience.  Someone says that young people run, but the elderly know, we know the way.  And you know the paths of life: many good paths, some others are not so good, there is also suffering, and there are things we have to do without ... The Lord loves you, and what the parish is doing with you, is a duty, a duty.  Because the people who are more in need are the focus of the parish and at the centre of the gospel.  For this reason, what your pastor has said makes me happy, the work that is being done with you.  I know that all of you have problems, illnesses, pains, spiritual problems, problems in your families, many things that we all know.  Everyone has his or her own pains, everyone has his or her own wounds, all of us.  But these should never cut us off from hope, from joy, because Jesus came to pay for our wounds with his own wounds.  This is a joy: Jesus paid for us, he is close to us, he loves us and when we are focused on our pains, our problems, let us think about the problems and the pains of Jesus, with which he has paid for all of us; and let us keep going.  And let us also do good for others: we can all do good, all of us.  Let us begin with prayer, praying for others, and also with doing good for others.  Everyone.  And let us do this with joy, the joy of being Christians.  Thank you for coming to the parish.  Your pastor said that you are the treasure of the parish.  Keep it up!

Let us pray and ask Our Lady to take care of this treasure.

Hail Mary ....


And pray for e, please!  Pray for me, not against me! (laughter)

Parting words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
before his return to the Vatican

Thank you very much for your company, for being here.  Thank you.

Thank you very much for your welcome and for the things you have shown me today.  I carry you in my heart and I promise to pray for you; and, you too, I ask you to pray for me.

Let's keep on going, keep up the good work.  We all need each other, all of us.  Together, let's keep going.  Sins?  We all have them.  Do you want to serve Jesus and to be good?  We all have this desire.  Let's keep going.  The Lord is always waiting for us with love, mercy and ready to make us young again.

Now, if you wish, we can pray to Our Lady and then I will give you my blessing.

Hail Mary ...


Have a good evening!

Witnesses to these things

The risen Jesus sent his disciples into the world so that we could all learn about him and the wonderful plans he has for each of us.  We who have heard this news are also being sent into the world to be his witnesses.

We are witnesses

I’ve changed parishes a number of times during my priesthood.  Each time, there are some things that make it feel as though I’m starting over, from the very beginning.  For the first little while, I look out at a sea of faces as I preside at the Mass, and I wonder: what’s that person’s story?  It’s one thing to see a person standing in front of me, but it’s an entirely different thing to be given the privilege of getting to know that person – to know his or her history, to understand the things that make that person happy, to be aware of painful moments that have been experienced and that have left their scars.  We don’t always get a chance to know people at that level, but if we do, we should consider it to be truly a privilege.

The twelve apostles had a particularly privileged opportunity to live with Jesus for three years or so.  I can only imagine what they must have learned from him, what they must have learned about him.  Even other disciples – followers of Jesus – who sat at his feet and listened to his teachings were indeed fortunate, however I think that some of them did not recognize the extent of their good fortune, not until they encountered the risen Jesus.

We hear about two such encounters in today’s gospel: the first is the adventure that was experienced by the two disciples who encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus (cfLk 24:35) and the second is the apparition that took place while they were speaking (cf Lk 24:36-48) about that encounter with the other disciples.

It would have been one thing to know Jesus up close: to be familiar with his favorite foods, his likes and dislikes, the things that excited him and the things that bored him ... but the disciples were also the ones who witnessed the fulfillment of his promise: that he would rise from the dead.  Those who encountered the risen Jesus saw something truly extraordinary.  Never before had anyone died and then come back to life.  Never before had anyone spoken to them about the fulfillment of the Law, the prophets and the Psalms (Lk 24:44), yet they were granted the extreme privilege to meet him, to see the marks of the nails in his hands and his feet, to witness him eating among them just as he had done countless times before.

Their encounters with the risen Jesus also marked each one of the disciples in a permanent, unchangeable way.  Even today, anyone who has had the experience of meeting Jesus in prayer and of hearing him speak to our hearts can truly say that he or she is deeply fortunate.

Like the disciple Peter, who spoke about his encounter with the risen Jesus at the gate of the temple (cf Acts 3:13-19) and like John, who wrote about his encounters with the risen Jesus and about the truth that he had come to believe, we too have been granted the great privilege of being called God’s children (1 Jn 2:1) and we have also been entrusted with the great gift of knowing him (cf 1 Jn 2:5).

We are witnesses to these things (Lk 24:48), if we have the eyes to see them.

Nous en sommes des témoins

J'ai changé de paroisse à plusieurs reprises pendant mon sacerdoce. À chaque fois, il y a des choses qui donnent l'impression que je recommence du point de départ. Lorsque je suis nouvel arrivé, je regarde une mer de visages pendant que je préside la messe, et je me demande: quelle est l'histoire de cette personne? C'est une chose de regarder une personne qui se tient devant moi, mais c'est une autre chose d'avoir le privilège de connaître cette personne - de connaître son histoire, de comprendre les choses qui rendent cette personne heureuse, d'être conscient des moments douloureux qui ont été vécus et qui ont laissé des marques ou des cicatrices. Nous n'avons pas toujours l'occasion de connaître les gens à ce niveau, mais si l’occasion se présente, nous devrions nous compter vraiment chanceux de se connaitre dans la vérité.

Les apôtres ont eu une expérience privilégiée de vivre avec Jésus pendant environ trois ans. Je peux seulement imaginer ce qu'ils ont dû apprendre de lui, ce qu'ils ont dû apprendre à son sujet. Même les autres disciples – ceux et celles qui suivait Jésus - qui s’assoyaient à ses pieds et écoutaient ses enseignements étaient en effet chanceux, mais je pense que certains d'entre eux n'ont pas reconnu la profondeur de leur privilège, avant d'avoir reçu l’éclairage et la rencontré avec le Christ ressuscité.

Nous entendons les détails concernant deux de ces rencontres dans l'évangile d'aujourd'hui: la première est l'aventure vécue par les deux disciples qui ont rencontré Jésus ressuscité sur la route d'Emmaüs (cf Lc 24, 35) et la deuxième est l'apparition qui a eu lieu alors qu'ils parlaient (cf Lc 24, 36-48) de cette rencontre avec les autres disciples.

Ils se considèrent déjà chanceux de connaître intimement Jésus: de connaître ses aliments préférés, ses goûts et ses aversions, les choses qui l'excitaient et les choses qui l'ennuyaient ... mais les disciples étaient aussi ceux qui assistaient à l'accomplissement de sa promesse: qu'il ressusciterait d'entre les morts. Ceux qui ont rencontré Jésus ressuscité ont vu quelque chose de vraiment extraordinaire. Jamais auparavant personne n'est décédé et ensuite est ressuscité. Jamais personne ne leur avait parlé de l'accomplissement de la loi de Moïse, les Prophètes et les Psaumes (Lc 24, 44), mais ils avaient le privilège extrême de le rencontrer, de voir les marques des clous dans ses mains et ses pieds, de le voir manger parmi eux comme il l'avait fait d'innombrables fois auparavant.

Leurs rencontres avec Jésus ressuscité ont aussi marqué chacun des disciples d'une manière permanente et immuable. Même de nos jours, quiconque a eu l'expérience de rencontrer Jésus dans la prière où ils s’adressent à nous d’une manière profondément intime peut vraiment dire qu'il est tellement chanceux.

Comme le disciple Pierre, qui a parlé de sa rencontre avec Jésus ressuscité à la porte du temple (Actes 3: 13-19) et comme Jean, qui a écrit au sujet de ses rencontres avec Jésus ressuscité et la vérité qu'il croyait, nous aussi, nous avons reçu le grand privilège d'être appelés enfants de Dieu (1 Jn 2, 1) et nous avons aussi reçu le grand don de le connaître (cf 1 Jn 2, 5).

Nous en sommes des témoins de ces choses (Lk 24:48) si nous avons les yeux pour les percevoir.

Regina Coeli for III Sunday of Easter

At noon today (6:00am EDT), the III Sunday of Easter, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Regina Coeli with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Regina Coeli

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

At the centre of this third Sunday of Easter is the experience of the risen Christ experienced by his disciples, all together.  This is especially emphasized in the gospel which once again places us in the Upper Room, where Jesus appeared to the Apostles, addressing them with the greeting: Peace be with you (Lk 24:36).  This is the greeting offered by the risen Christ, who gives us peace: Peace be with you!  Christ's peace is both interior and existing as part of the relationships between people.  The encounter described in Luke's gospel insists on the reality of the resurrection.  Jesus is not a ghost.  In fact, this is not an apparition of Jesus soul, but of his real presence, with his risen body.

Jesus realized that the apostles were disturbed when they saw him, that they were baffled because the reality of the resurrection was inconceivable to them.  They thought that they were seeing a ghost; but the risen Jesus is not a ghost, he is a man, with a body and a soul.  For this reason, in order to convince them, he said to them: Look at my hands and my feet - he showed them his wounds - it is truly I!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Lk 24:39).  Even this did not seem to be enough to overcome the disciples' disbelief.  The gospel also says something interesting: they had so much joy within that they could not believe it: No, this cannot be!  It cannot be true!  This much joy is not possible!  In order to convince them, Jesus said to them: Do you have anything to eat? (Lk 24:41).  They offered him some grilled fish; Jesus took it and ate it in front of them, in order to convince them.

Jesus' insistence on the reality of the resurrection sheds light on the Christian perception of the body: the body is not an obstacle or a prison for the soul.  The body is created by God and man is not complete if there is no union between body and soul.  Jesus, who overcame death and rose in body and soul, helps us to understand that we should have positive ideas about our own bodies.  This ican become an occasion or an instrument for sin, but sin is not provoked by the body, but rather by our moral weakness.  The body is a wonderful gift from God, intended, in union with the soul, to express the fullness of His image and likeness.  Therefore, we are called to have great respect for and to take care of our own bodies and those of others.

Every offence or wound or violence against the body of our neighbour is an outrage to God our creator!  My thoughts are drawn especially to children, women and the elderly who are malnourished in body.  In the flesh of these persons, we find the body of Christ.  The wounded Christ, mocked, slandered, humiliated, whipped, crucified ... Jesus taught us love: a love that, in his resurrection, has proven to be more powerful than sin and death, and seeks to redeem all those who experience the slavery of our times in their own bodies.

In a world where there is too much arrogance against the weak and where materialism suffocates the spirit, today's gospel calls us to be people who are capable of looking deeply, filled with amazement and great joy in the presence of the risen Lord.  He calls us to be people who can gather and value the novelty of life that He sows in history, in order to direct our lives toward new heavens and a new earth.  May the Virgin Mary sustain us on this journey; let us entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession.

Following the recitation of the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, in Vohipeno (Madagascar), the martyr Luciano Botovasoa, the father of a family and a faithful witness of Christ to the point of giving his life, is being proclaimed Blessed.  Arrested and killed for having demonstrated his willingness to remain faithful to the Lord and to the Church, for many of us, he represents an example of charity and commitment to faith.

I am profoundly disturbed by the current world situation in which, despite the instruments available to the international community, it is difficult to agree on common action in favour of peace in Syria and in other regions of the world.  While I am praying incessantly for peace, and as I invite all people of good will to continue doing the same, I appeal once again to all political leaders, that justice and peace may prevail.

I am pained by the news that three men who were kidnapped at the end of March at the border between Ecuador and Colombia have been killed.  I am praying for them and for their families, and I am close to the beloved Ecuadorian people, encouraging them to go on, united and peacefully, with the Lord's help, and that of his Blessed Mother.

I entrust to your prayers those people, like Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in other countries who are living sometimes for prolonged periods of time in a state of serious illness, medically assisted for the most basic of needs.  Theirs are delicate, very painful and complex situations.  Let us pray that every sick person may always be respected in full dignity and adequately cared for in their various conditions, wit the consent of family members, doctors and other health care workers, with great respect for life.

I affectionately greet all of you, pilgrims from Italy and from many other parts of the world: families, parish groups, schools, associations.  In particular, I greet the faithful from California, as well as those from Arluno, Pontelongo, Scandicci, Genova-Pegli and Vibo Valentia; the children from the Children of Jesus school in Modena and the Friends of Paul VI group in Pescara.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  And please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!