Tuesday, November 25, 2014

(Talk 3, unscripted version of the October 3 talk) “EUROPE, RETURN TO JESUS!” by Pope Francis



“EUROPE, RETURN TO JESUS!”

(Talk 3, unscripted version of the October 3 talk)
by Pope Francis


Dear brother bishops,

I greet all of you with affection on the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe. And I thank Cardinal Peter Erdõ for the words with which he introduced this meeting. I will have this address distributed to you and permit myself to say a few things that are in my heart and that the words of His Eminence have brought to the surface.

What is happening today in Europe? What is going on in the heart of our mother Europe? Is she still our mother Europe, or grandma Europe? Is she still fertile? Has she fallen into sterility? Is she unable to give new life? For one thing, this Europe has committed a few sins. We must say this with love: it has not wanted to recognize one of its roots. And because of this it feels and does not feel Christian. Or it feels Christian somewhat in secret, but doesn't want to recognize it, this European root.

The Europe of today has been invaded. It may be the second invasion of the barbarians, I don't know. First it opened its doors in order to profit from labor. But now it feels this “invasion” of people who are coming to look for work, who are fleeing from their homeland in search of freedom and a better life.

Europe is wounded. I'll go back to that image that says so much to me, and I say that the Church today seems to me like a field hospital because there are so many wounded in the Church. But Europe is wounded too. Wounded by all the trials it has undergone. It has gone from the time of prosperity, of great well-being, to a worrying crisis in which young people too are discarded. In the newspapers the other day it said that here in Italy youth unemployment is up to 43 percent, I think. In Spain it’s 50 percent. And the Spanish bishops have told me that in Andalusia it is almost at 60 percent.

Cardinal Erdõ talked about the discarding of children and the elderly. And it's true. But now there is also the discarding of a whole generation of young people. I don't know if it is only in Europe, or in Europe and in the developed countries, that there is talk of 75 million from the age of twenty-five and down. But it's a whole generation. As European bishops, what are we doing for the young people? Giving them something to eat? Yes, that's the first thing. But that doesn't give dignity to a young person, to anyone. Dignity comes from work. And there is the danger that the children of mother, today practically grandma Europe, are losing their dignity because they do not have jobs and cannot bring bread home. Europe has discarded its children. A bit triumphantly. I remember that when I was studying in one country the clinics that did abortions then prepared everything to send it to cosmetic factories. Makeup made with the blood of innocents. And this was something to brag about, because it was progressive: the rights of the woman, the woman has the right over her body.

I don't know about here in Italy, I don't want to say because I'm not sure, but what will happen when the state is unable to pay the pensions, because there aren't enough young people working according to the law, because there is that black market for labor that they do, not always but… And the elderly - I've said this about Latin America, about my country, but I believe it's a universal problem or of many countries or some other continents - the elderly are discarded with stealth euthanasia. The social services cover medical treatment up to a certain point, and then you're on your own!

A Europe weary with disorientation. And I don't want to be a pessimist, but let's tell the truth: after food, clothing, and medicine, what are the most important expenditures? Cosmetics, and I don't know how to say this in Italian, but the “mascotas,” the little animals. They don't have children, but their affection goes to the little cat, to the little dog. And this is the second expenditure after the three main ones. The third is the whole industry to promote sexual pleasure. So it’s food, medicine, clothing, cosmetics, little animals, and the life of pleasure. Our young people feel this, they see this, they live this.

I liked very much what His Eminence said, because this is truly the drama of Europe today. But it's not the end. I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is the work of the pastors: to preach Jesus in the midst of these wounds. I have spoken of only a few, but there are tremendous wounds. To preach Jesus. And I ask you this: don't be ashamed to proclaim Jesus Christ risen who has redeemed us all. And for us too that the Lord may not rebuke us, as today in the Gospel of Luke he rebuked these two cities.

The Lord wants to save us. I believe this. This is our mission: to proclaim Jesus Christ, without shame. And he is ready to open the doors of his heart, because he manifests his omnipotence above all in mercy and forgiveness.

Let's go forward with preaching. Let's not be ashamed. So many ways of preaching, but to mama Europe -- or grandma Europe, or wounded Europe -- only Jesus Christ can speak a word of salvation today. Only he can open a door of escape.

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(Talk 4, prepared version of the October 3 talk)

ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY OF THE
COUNCIL OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCES OF EUROPE (CCEE)


Consistory Hall
Friday, 3 October 2014

Dear Brother Bishops,

I affectionately greet all of you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and I thank Cardinal Péter Erdő for the words with which he introduced this meeting.

As Pastors close to your community and attentive to the needs of the people, you know well the complexity of the situation and the pressing challenges to which the mission of the Church is subjected, also in Europe. As I wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, we are called to be a Church which “goes forth”, moving from the centre to the peripheries to go towards all, without fear and without diffidence, with apostolic courage (n. 20). How many brothers and sisters, how many situations, how many contexts, even the most difficult, are in need of the light of the Gospel!

I would like to thank you, dear brothers, for the commitment with which you have welcomed this text. I know that this Document is increasingly the object of deep pastoral reflection and the starting point for paths of faith and evangelization in many parishes, communities and groups. This too is a sign of communion and the unity of the Church.

The theme of your Plenary: “Family and the Future of Europe” presents an important occasion to reflect together on how to value the family as a precious resource for pastoral renewal. I feel it is important for Pastors and families to work together in a spirit of humility and sincere dialogue so that the respective parish communities may become a “family of families”. In this context interesting experiences have blossomed, which call for proper attention in view of furthering fruitful cooperation in your respective local Churches. Engaged couples who seriously live marriage preparation; married couples who welcome foster or adopted children; groups of families who in parishes or in movements help each other on the path of life and faith. There is no lack of experience of different types of pastoral care of the family and of political and social commitment in supporting families, both those who live traditional married lives and those marked by problems or by breakup. It is important to take these important experiences in the various contexts and in the life of the men and women of today, as a propitious time to exercise careful discernment in order to “network” them, thus involving other diocesan communities.

The cooperation between Pastors and families also extends to the field of education. Indeed, the family, which already fulfills its role with regard to its members, is a school of humanity, brotherhood, love, communion which forms mature and responsible citizens. Open cooperation between the clergy and families will favour the maturation of a spirit of justice, of solidarity, of peace and the courage of one’s convictions. This will come about by supporting parents in their responsibility to educate their children, thus protecting their inalienable right to provide their children with the education they deem most suitable. Parents, in fact, remain the first and foremost educators of their children, thus they have the right to educate them according to their moral and religious convictions. In this way, you will be able to outline common and coordinated pastoral directives necessary to promote and effectively support Catholic schools.

Dear brothers, I encourage you to maintain your commitment to promote the communion of the various Churches in Europe, facilitating appropriate cooperation for fruitful evangelization. I also invite you to be a “prophetic voice” within society, above all where the process of secularization, taking place on the continent of Europe, tends to render speaking of God increasingly marginal. May the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mary and Saints and Patron Saints of Europe sustain you in this task. I ask you to please pray for me and I bless you from my heart.

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Final note: This does not mean that this above text is not correct. It is the text that was prepared for the occasion; so it is correct. But, Pope Francis set it aside and spoke from the heart, extemporaneously, and that text is the prior one, published yesterday for the first time by Magister from the notes of an unknown source.

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The Anthropological Question - at the bottom of all Robert Moynihan letters:

"You live in a deranged age, more deranged than usual, because, in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing." —Walker Percy (1916-1990), American Catholic convert and writer, author of The Message in the Bottle and Lost in the Cosmos


STRASBOURG, France -- Visit at the European Parliament: PERSON IS RELATION


Address of the Holy Father Pope Francis

By Pope Francis

Mr President and Vice Presidents,
Members of the European Parliament,
All associated with the work of this Institution, Dear Friends,

I thank you for inviting me to address this institution which is fundamental to the life of the European Union, and for giving me this opportunity to speak, through you, to the more than five-hundred million citizens whom you represent in the twenty-eight Member States. I am especially grateful to you, Mr. President, for your warm words of welcome in the name of the entire assembly.
My visit comes more than a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II. Since then, much has changed throughout Europe and the world as a whole. The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realized that “Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it”.1

As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less “Eurocentric”. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe.

It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.

It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity.

I feel bound to stress the close bond between these two words: “dignity” and “transcendent”.

“Dignity” was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War. Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in contrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterized as it is by an enriching encounter whose “distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them”,thus forging the very concept of the “person”.

Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age.

In the end, what kind of dignity is there without the possibility of freely expressing one’s thought or professing one’s religious faith? What dignity can there be without a clear juridical framework which limits the rule of force and enables the rule of law to prevail over the power of tyranny? What dignity can men and women ever enjoy if they are subjected to all types of discrimination? What dignity can a person ever hope to find when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival and, worse yet, when they lack the work which confers dignity?

Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.

At the same time, however, care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a “monad” (μονάς), increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding “monads”. The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the “all of us” made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence.

To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that “compass” deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation.Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation.

In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future.

This loneliness has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.

Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings.5

Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.
This is the great mistake made “when technology is allowed to take over”;the result is a confusion between ends and means”.7

It is the inevitable consequence of a “throwaway culture” and an uncontrolled consumerism.

Upholding the dignity of the person means instead acknowledging the value of human life, which is freely given us and hence cannot be an object of trade or commerce. As members of this Parliament, you are called to a great mission which may at times seem an impossible one: to tend to the needs of individuals and peoples. To tend to those in need takes strength and tenderness, effort and generosity in the midst of a functionalistic and privatized mindset which inexorably leads to a “throwaway culture”. To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalization and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it.8

How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?

To answer this question, allow me to use an image. One of the most celebrated frescoes of Raphael is found in the Vatican and depicts the so-called “School of Athens”. Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato’s finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality.

This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent – to God – which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe’s practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems.

The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that “humanistic spirit” which it still loves and defends.

Taking as a starting point this opening to the transcendent, I would like to reaffirm the centrality of the human person, which otherwise is at the mercy of the whims and the powers of the moment. I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe’s growth.

This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person.

I wish, then, to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since “it is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence”.9

Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.

The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up: in this sense it is like a family, which is all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself.

I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. Affirming the centrality of the human person means, above all, allowing all to express freely their individuality and their creativity, both as individuals and as peoples.

At the same time, the specific features of each one represent an authentic richness to the degree that they are placed at the service of all. The proper configuration of the European Union must always be respected, based as it is on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, so that mutual assistance can prevail and progress can be made on the basis of mutual trust.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament, within this dynamic of unity and particularity, yours is the responsibility of keeping democracy alive for the peoples of Europe. It is no secret that a conception of unity seen as uniformity strikes at the vitality of the democratic system, weakening the rich, fruitful and constructive interplay of organizations and political parties.

This leads to the risk of living in a world of ideas, of mere words, of images, of sophistry... and to end up confusing the reality of democracy with a new political nominalism.

Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalizing tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom10.

Keeping democracies alive is a challenge in the present historic moment. The true strength of our democracies – understood as expressions of the political will of the people – must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. This is one of the challenges which history sets before you today.

To give Europe hope means more than simply acknowledging the centrality of the human person; it also implies nurturing the gifts of each man and woman. It means investing in individuals and in those settings in which their talents are shaped and flourish.

The first area surely is that of education, beginning with the family, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society. The family, united, fruitful and indissoluble, possesses the elements fundamental for fostering hope in the future. Without this solid basis, the future ends up being built on sand, with dire social consequences. Then too, stressing the importance of the family not only helps to give direction and hope to new generations, but also to many of our elderly, who are often forced to live alone and are effectively abandoned because there is no longer the warmth of a family hearth able to accompany and support them.

Alongside the family, there are the various educational institutes: schools and universities. Education cannot be limited to providing technical expertise alone. Rather, it should encourage the more complex process of assisting the human person to grow in his or her totality. Young people today are asking for a suitable and complete education which can enable them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment. There is so much creative potential in Europe in the various fields of scientific research, some of which have yet to be fully explored. We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.

Europe has always been in the vanguard of efforts to promote ecology. Our earth needs constant concern and attention. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. We need to love and respect nature, but “instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after”.11

Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes. I am thinking above all of the agricultural sector, which provides sustenance and nourishment to our human
family. It is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables.

Respect for nature also calls for recognizing that man himself is a fundamental part of it. Along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of that human ecology which consists in respect for the person, which I have wanted to emphasize in addressing you today.

The second area in which people’s talents flourish is labour. The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development. It also implies favouring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labour, their ability to create a family and educate their children.

Likewise, there needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance.

The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions.

Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts – the principal cause of this phenomenon – rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts. We need to take action against the causes and not only the effects.

Mr President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Awareness of one’s own identity is also necessary for entering into a positive dialogue with the States which have asked to become part of the Union in the future. I am thinking especially of those in the Balkans, for which membership in the European Union could be a response to the desire for peace in a region which has suffered greatly from past conflicts. Awareness of one’s own identity is also indispensable for relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly with those bordering the Mediterranean, many of which suffer from internal conflicts, the pressure of religious fundamentalism and the reality of global terrorism.

Upon you, as legislators, it is incumbent to protect and nurture Europe’s identity, so that its citizens can experience renewed confidence in the institutions of the Union and in its underlying project of peace and friendship. Knowing that “the more the power of men and women increases, the greater is individual and collective responsibility”,12 I encourage you to work to make Europe rediscover the best of itself.

An anonymous second-century author wrote that “Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body”.13 The function of the soul is to support the body, to be its conscience and its historical memory. A two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity. It is a history not free of conflicts and errors, but one constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all. We see this in the beauty of our cities, and even more in the beauty of the many works of charity and constructive cooperation throughout this continent.

This history, in large part, must still be written. It is our present and our future. It is our identity. Europe urgently needs to recover its true features in order to grow, as its founders intended, in peace and harmony, since it is not yet free of conflicts.

Dear Members of the European Parliament, the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity!

Thank you!

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Footnotes
1.     1  JOHN PAUL II, Address to the European Parliament (11 October 1988), 5.
2.      
3.     2  JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (8 October 1988), 3.
4.      
5.     Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 7; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 26.
4.     4  Cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37.
5.      
6.     5  Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55.
7.      
8.     6  BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in V eritate, 71.
9.      
10.   7  Ibid.
11.    
12.   8  Cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 209.
13.    
14.   BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps, 7 January 2013.
15.    
16.   10 Evangelii Gaudium, 231.
17.    
18.   11 FRANCIS, General Audience, 5 June 2013.
12.   12  Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 34.
13.    
14.   13  Cf. Letter to Diognetus, 6.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

The Power Behind the Mind of Pope Francis: Silence With Our Lady



November 24, 2014Monday — The Pope and Mary: 30 Minutes of Silent Prayer

A few moments ago, on the afternoon of Monday, November 24, in Rome, Pope Francis prayed silently for half an hour before an ancient and important icon of the Virgin Mary.

The Pope was praying before the icon this evening because tomorrow he will travel to Strasbourg, France, to speak to the leaders of the European Union.

So, this afternoon in Rome, as has become his custom before making any trip, Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray to the Virgin Mary.

It was the 14th time Pope Francis has visited St. Mary Major to pray before the icon, known as the Salus Populi Romani (The Safety, or Protection, of the Roman People), since his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013.

The Pope visited the Basilica at 5:30 p.m.

He went immediately to the chapel on the left side of the main altar.

He prayed to Our Lady for her protection for his journey tomorrow to the governing bodies of a new, united Europe which has in recent years become increasingly "post-Christian" and increasingly hostile to traditional Christian morality.

The Pope's remarks tomorrow are being awaited with considerable interest. It is expected that, among other things, he will call on the people's of Europe to remember the Christian faith that shaped their customs and laws for centuries.

The Pope's prayer continued for half an hour. The Pope brought to Our Lady a floral wreath with roses the colors of Europe, yellow and blue.

Here is a list of his prior visits, as published today by the very useful Italian website "Il sismografo."

1) March 14, 2013
On the morning after his election, at 8 a.m. (thus, the very first act of his pontificate)
2) May 4, 2013
To recite the Holy Rosary
3) May 30, 2013
The Feast of Corpus Christi (Pope Francis presided over the public procession from St. John Lateran, down the via Merulana, to St. Mary Major)
4) July 20, 2013
The vigil of his trip to Brazil for World Youth Day
5) July 29, 2013
Just after his return from Brazil for World Youth Day
6) December 8, 2013
Following the act of Veneration at the column by the Spanish Steps, where the Popes each year venerate Mary in memory of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
7) January 1, 2014
Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God
8) May 23, 2014
On the vigil of his departure for the Holy Land
9) May 27, 2014
In thanksgiving upon his return form his pilgrimage to the Holy Land
10) August 13, 2014
On the vigil of his trip to South Korea
11) August 18, 2014
Upon his return from his trip to South Korea
12) September 18, 2014
The vigil of his trip to Albania
13) September 22, 2014
Thanksgiving upon his return from his pilgrimage in Albania

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vis a vis Pope Francis, Don't Be the Older Brother of the Prodigal Son


Dr. Robert Moynihan via icontactmail4.com to me





November 18, 2014, Tuesday — "Tu es Petrus"

"The bishop is the center of unity, visible unity — the Holy Spirit is the center of invisible unity in the Church — so you try to keep people together for the sake of the mission. Whatever is necessary for that purpose is what I’ve tried to do. How you do it? Well, some of it presents itself. You have to make priest personnel changes. You have to take care of the financial situation. You have to manage the institutions in different ways. You’ve got to appear at certain events. You’ve got to be part of different meetings. All of that sets your schedule. It’s what you do. But in back of it is this purpose of how you can make all of that serve the unity of the Church for the sake of the mission. That’s the spiritual development of the people." —Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, recent interview with Catholic New World, the Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago


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This is not a time for too many words.

It is a time to recognize that there is a danger to the faith that is just as grave as the danger of modernism and relativism, and that is the danger of division and schism.

We must remain united.

In the present crisis of our world, with enormous efforts being devoted to transform and assimilate all traditional societies into a "new world order" with a "gender agenda" that is inimical to the traditional family, our lack of unity, our focus on what divides us rather than what unites us, is a clear and present danger.

Francis is Peter.

This does not mean that Francis must not be criticized. Catholics are not slaves of the Pope. Of course not. Catholics are not like courtiers, lying shamelessly, saying a naked Emperor is well-clothed. That would be servility. The Pope needs friends and colleagues and brothers, not slaves and courtiers.

But when we criticize Peter, when we "withstand him to his face," as Paul did to Peter in Jerusalem, at the first Council of the Church, a Council that decided that non-Jews could become Christians (and therefore shattered the ethnic basis of the covenant with God, something extraordinarily difficult for the first Christians, all of whom were Jews, including Peter, to understand), we do so as his brothers and his sons in the family of the faith.

The Pope does know well the story-line of Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World. He knows that the proposal for a world without Christ is being made, with marvelous seductive power, by the present order of the world.

And no Catholics more so than "traditional" Catholics -- I might call them "ordinary Catholics" because what traditional Catholics believe is ordinary Catholicism -- know that remaining with Peter is an essential element of being Catholic.

We might compare these Catholics to the "elder bother" in the parable of the prodigal son, the one who stayed home while the "younger brother" went to Babylon, that is, strayed from traditional Church teaching.

They stayed home, close to their father, and close to their faith, while their "younger brothers" journeyed far and abandoned much.

Now that the "prodigal son" is being invited home, they are -- perhaps -- feeling taken for granted, overlooked, unjustly treated.

Not so. They have been close to the Church's life all these years. They have avoided much confusion and misery. They have kept the faith, which is itself a profound joy.

So, if some who have been away can change course, and return, or even express a desire to return, they must be greeted with open arms -- as Francis has said over and over and over again.

And this was the profound meaning of his "Who am I to judge?"

He was not speaking about someone still in Babylon, but about someone who had decided that he wished to return home.

We are in a strange age a confusing age. And woe to us if our confusion divides us from Peter.

We may criticize a prudential choice -- and suggest a better course. But we must not break with Peter.

The bishop is the center of unity in his diocese, and the Bishop of Rome is the center of unity in the world.

The Church is characterized by four signs: she is one, she is holy, she is catholic, and she is apostolic. Unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam...

She cannot be the Church of the Creed if she is not one.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John Allan Interview with Cardinal Francis George about Pope Francis: What ‘America’s Ratzinger’ would like to ask Pope Francis


By John L. Allen Jr.
 November 16, 2014

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago will turn over the reins to his successor, Archbishop Blase Cupich, on Tuesday. George has long been seen as a leading intellectual light among America’s Catholic bishops, and even now, as he fights for his life, his mind remains remarkably nimble.
As it turns out, one thing occupying his mind these days is Pope Francis.
Now 77, George is currently undergoing experimentaltreatment intended to stimulate his immune system to fight off the cancer spreading from his bladder, liver, and kidneys through the rest of his body. If it fails, he’ll likely be looking at palliative care ahead of the inevitable.
I’ve described George before as the “American Ratzinger” for his blend of intellectual chops and tenacious commitment to Catholic tradition, in the spirit of the former Joseph Ratzinger, the man who became Pope Benedict XVI. (For the record, George shuns the label, insisting he’s not of Benedict’s intellectual caliber. He is, in any event, the closest thing to it on these shores.)
George sat down for an exclusive interview on Friday. A fuller account will appear Monday on Crux, but for now, one fascinating element is this: If time and health allow, George would really, really like to have a heart-to-heart with Francis.
Aside from the sheer fun of knowing what one of America’s best Catholic minds wants to ask the pope, George’s dream Q&A has political relevance because he remains a point of reference to the Church’s conservative wing. These aren’t just his questions, in other words, but what a large and influential Catholic constituency would like to know.
So, what’s on his mind?
To begin, George said he’d like to ask Francis if he fully grasps that in some quarters, he’s created the impression Catholic doctrine is up for grabs.
Does Francis realize, for example, “what has happened just by that phrase, ‘Who am I to judge?’ ”
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Francis’ signature sound-bite, George said, “has been very misused … because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution, whom he knows well,” George said.
(Francis uttered the line in 2013, in response to a question about a Vatican cleric accused of gay relationships earlier in his career.)
“That’s entirely different than talking to somebody who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness,” George said.
“Does he not realize the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t,” George said. “I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds.”
“The question is why he doesn’t he clarify” these ambiguous statements, George said. “Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear the burden of trying to put the best possible face on it?”
He said he also wonders if Francis realizes how his rhetoric has created expectations “he can’t possibly meet.”
I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds.”

 “That’s what worries me,” George said. “At a certain moment, people who have painted him as a player in their own scenarios about changes in the Church will discover that’s not who he is.”
At that stage, George warned, “He’ll get not only disillusionment, but opposition, which could be harmful to his effectiveness.”
Second, George said he’d like to ask Francis who is providing him advice — which, he said, has become the “big question” about this pope.
“Obviously he’s getting input from somewhere,” George said. “Much of it he collects himself, but I’d love to know who’s truly shaping his thinking.”
Third, George noted that Francis often makes references to the Devil and the biblical notion of the end-times, but said it’s not clear how that shapes his vision and agenda.
Among other things, George recalled that one of Francis’ favorite books is “The Lord of the World” by Robert Hugh Benson, a converted Catholic priest and son of a former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s an apocalyptic fantasy, written in 1907, culminating in a showdown between the Church and a charismatic anti-Christ figure.
George said he’d like to ask Francis a simple question: “Do you really believe that?”
“I hope before I die I’ll have the chance to ask him how you want us to understand what you’re doing, when you put [the end-times] before us as a key to it all,” he said.
Perhaps, George said, the sense that the end is near explains why Francis “seems to be in a hurry.”
So far, George said, he hasn’t been able to talk these things out with the new boss.
“I didn’t know him well before he was elected, and since then I haven’t had a chance to go over [to Rome] for any meetings because I’ve been in treatment,” he said.
Getting some quality time, as George describes it, wouldn’t be just about indulging his personal curiosity, but also being a good bishop.
“You’re supposed to govern in communion with the successor of Peter, so it’s important to have some meeting of minds,” he said. “I certainly respect [Francis] as pope, but I don’t yet really have an understanding of, ‘What are we doing here?’ ”
Enter Blogger: Suggestion: Francis is about the business of raising Church and world consciousness to an experience of Christ as the Revelation of God in the flesh. Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) said it in the most straightforward terms philosophical terms: In his opening sentence to “The Acting Person,” Wojtyla wrote: “The inspiration  to embark upon this study came from the need to objectivize [conceptualize, putting into words] that great cognitive process which at its origin may be defined as the experience of man: this experience, which man has of himself, is the richest and  apparently the most complex of all experiences accessible to him. Man’s experience of anything outside of himself is always associated with the experience of himself, and he never experiences anything external without having at the same time the experience of himself.”  The burden of Wojtyla’s “The Acting Person” is to show phenomenologically how the human person as subject, as “I,” is the Being that is the prius of the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. And although the “I” is the only subject experienced by man, it is cognized by the human intellect and handled as an object without losing its subjectivity.
            This philosophy of Wojtyla is present in the theological epistemology of Joseph Ratzinger when it is activated in prayer as “I-gift” in relation to the Father with Jesus Christ. Since Christ’s “I” is pure Self-gift to the Father, when Simon in Lk 9, 18 prays with Christ, he experiences in himself what Christ experiences in Himself as Son. He becomes “another Christ;” and since “like is known by like,” Simon is able to say, because he experiences the Christ that he is becoming: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). That is, one “knows” God by experiencing self becoming God, or as it was quoted in Aparecida by the pope to be: “Only God knows God” (cf. Mt. 11, 27). This is all Augustine, Bonaventure, Benedict XVI and Francis. It is knowing God on the level of experience, and as “I.” It is “narrative” not doctrine.
            Robert Barron says it so well: “…(T)he first of the Gospels commences with this simple declaration: ‘The beginning  of the good  news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ [Mk. 1, 1]. The first telling of the evangelion is a presentation in narrative form of Jesus as the Christ,…’”[1] It is a story in the first person singular. It is the most profound communication of Christ. It is Kerygma. Barron goes on to give an anecdote: “Ludwig von Beethoven once played one of his piano concertos to a small audience. After the performance, one of the listeners said, ‘But what does it mean?” Indignant, Beethoven sat down and played it through again. It meant precisely wht it was, nothing more or less.”[2] Ratzinger explains in depth: “As faith understood the position, Jesus did not perform a work that could b distinguished form his ‘I’ and depicted separately. On the contrary, to understand him as the Christ means to be convinced that he has put himself into his word. Here there is no ‘I’ (…) which utters words: He has identified himself so closely with his word that ‘I’ and word are indistinguishable: he is word.  In the same way, to faith, his work is nothing else than the unreserved way in which he merges himself into this very work; he performs himself and gives himself; his work is the giving of himself.”[3]
            The meaning of man is Jesus Christ, the Prototype. Hence, the work and word of man must be moving always in the direction of the attitude  of self gift. The adviser of Francis is Benedict XVI.





[1] Robert Barron, “The Priority of Christ” Brazos (2007) 48.
[2] Ibid 49
[3] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity” (1990) 150.