Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pope Francis: Urbi et Orbi

Full Text from Vatican Radio

Pope Francis: Easter Vigil Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters, In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross. We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises; we are afraid of God’s surprises! He always surprises us!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change, there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.

2. But let us return to the Gospel, to the women, and take one step further. They find the tomb empty, the body of Jesus is not there, something new has happened, but all this still doesn’t tell them anything certain: it raises questions; it leaves them confused, without offering an answer. And suddenly there are two men in dazzling clothes who say: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6). What was a simple act, done surely out of love – going to the tomb – has now turned into an event, a truly life-changing event. Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our own lives and in the history of mankind. Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; he is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you, dear sister, dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.

3. There is one last little element that I would like to emphasize in the Gospel for this Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of God. Jesus has risen, he is alive! But faced with empty tomb and the two men in brilliant clothes, their first reaction is one of fear: “they were terrified and bowed their faced to the ground”, Saint Luke tells us – they didn’t even have courage to look. But when they hear the message of the Resurrection, they accept it in faith. And the two men in dazzling clothes tell them something of crucial importance: “Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee… And they remembered his words” (Lk 24:6,8). They are asked to remember their encounter with Jesus, to remember his words, his actions, his life; and it is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that enables the women to master their fear and to bring the message of the Resurrection to the Apostles and all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). To remember what God has done and continues to do for me, for us, to remember the road we have travelled; this is what opens our hearts to hope for the future. May we learn to remember everything that God has done in our lives.

On this radiant night, let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who treasured all these events in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51) and ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May he open us to the newness that transforms. May he make us men and women capable of remembering all that he has done in our own lives and in the history of our world. May he help us to feel his presence as the one who is alive and at work in our midst. And may he teach us each day not to look among the dead for the Living One. Amen.

Source: Vatican Radio

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pope Francis at the Via Crucis

Following is the address of Pope Francis, after leading a celebration of the Via Crucis at the Roman Colosseum on Friday night:
I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself.

The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.

Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters: they composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon: we saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope.

We now continue this Via Crucis in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this word of love and forgiveness. Let us go forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus, who loves us so much. He is all love.

Source: Vatican Radio.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Francis and the Papal Foot Washing Controversy

  • Pope Stresses Selfless Service to Youth at Holy Thursday Mass, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 03/28/13. The Holy Father opened the Triduum by spending it with young men and women at a youth detention center in Rome.

    Here is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily given today at Rome’s juvenile prison, Casal del Marmo:

    This is moving, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Peter understands nothing. He refuses but Jesus explains to him. Jesus, God did this, and He Himself explains it to the disciples… ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do’.

    It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others. This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each other…sometimes I would get angry with one someone, but we must let it go and if they ask a favor of do it!

    Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me. But you too must help us and help each other, always. And thus in helping each other we will do good for each other.

    Now we will perform the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet and we must each one of us think, Am I really willing to help others? Just think of that. Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us.

  • Pope Francis includes women in papal feet washing ceremony for first time Reuters 03/28/13:
    Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite [as well as Muslims].

    The pope travelled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome's outskirts for the traditional mass, which commemorates Jesus's gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

    The ceremony has been traditionally limited to men because all of Jesus' apostles were male. The Vatican spokesman said two of the 12 whose feet were washed were Muslim inmates.

    While the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio included women in the rite when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, it was the first time women had taken part in a papal Holy Thursday ceremony.

Reactions and Commentary

  • "Letters [to Pope Francis] from Prison" (Vatican Radio) 03/28/13:
    When the young boys at the juvenile detention facility in LA heard of Pope Francis’ wish to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison with the young inmates there, many of them expressed their desire to participate from afar and in close solidarity to what the Pope was going to do in another juvenile hall.

    To do this they have written letters to Pope Francis, thanking him for his gesture of love and service, praying for him – as he has asked all of us to do, describing the sadness of their lives in detention, and asking for prayers to help them endure the darkness and hopelessness of their situations… As [Jesuit Father Mike] Kennedy points out, some of these youngsters will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

  • Pontifex legibus solutus?, by Joseph A. Komonchak. Commonweal 04/01/13:
    Conservatives and traditionalists need not be the only ones to raise questions about some of Pope Francis’ liturgical innovations, whether it was his including women and Muslims among those whose feet he washed or in the reduction of the readings for the Easter Vigil. But shouldn’t we all be concerned when they are justified by the idea that, after all, the pope is the supreme law-giver and so is not bound by Church law. There is an old Latin legal term for this: princeps legibus solutus, which Black’s legal dictionary translates as: “Released from the laws; not bound by the laws. An expression applied in the Roman civil law to the emperor.” As the example given shows, it is a very dangerous principle to allow into ecclesiology.

  • Why Traditionalists Have a Point, by Kevin Tierney. Common Sense Catholicism 04/01/13:
    So there's been a ton of concern trolling about how bad traditionalists have looked over the whole footwashing issue, and how they really just need to pipe down. Yet little noticed is how even if some might have reacted badly, there was a point behind it all. This point was proved by Fr. Thomas Rosica of the Vatican's Press Office in a statement on Pope Francis' ignoring of established liturgical laws. It is statements like this that make traditionalism so appealing.

  • Popes, like dads, don’t have a choice in the matter, by Ed Peters. In The Light of the Law 03/28/13:
    By disregarding his own law in this matter, Francis violates, of course, no divine directive, nor does he—to anticipate an obvious question—achieve the abrogation of a law which, as it happens, I would not mind seeing abrogated. What he does do, I fear, is set a questionable example at Supper time.

    We’re not talking here about, say, eschewing papal apartments or limousines or fancy footwear. None of those matters were the objects of law, let alone of laws that bind countless others. (Personally, I find Francis’ actions in these areas inspiring although, granted, I do not have to deal with complications for others being caused by the pope’s simplicity).

    Rather, re the Mandatum rite, we’re talking about a clear, unambiguous, reasonable (if not entirely compelling or suitable) liturgical provision, compliance with which has cost many faithful pastors undeserved ill-will from many quarters, and contempt for which has served mostly as a ‘sacrament of disregard’ for Roman rules on a variety of other matters. Today, whether he wanted to, or not, Francis set the Catholic world an example, about solidarity with outcasts, certainly, and about regard for liturgy.

    See also Dr. Peter's followup: Retrospectives on the Mandatum rite controversies 03/29/13.

  • What is Pope Francis really saying?, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. 03/28/13.
    In this explanation I am not necessarily endorsing specific things that he is doing (washing the feet of females in a prison) or not doing (refusing the mozzetta, etc.).

    ... Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do.

    Firstly, we are not succeeding in evangelizing. We are going backwards, globally....

    In the wealthy west, the Church is often perceived (and it is so very often portrayed) as not being compassionate. The Church doesn’t care about women in crisis pregnancies (and therefore we don’t condone abortion or contraception because we are not “compassionate”. The Church doesn’t care about the divorced and remarried (because we don’t admit them to Holy Communion and therefore we are not “compassionate”).

    I think what Pope Francis is up to is trying to project, re-project, is an image of the Church as compassionate.

    ... I’ll wager that, as a Jesuit, Francis doesn’t care about liturgy very much. He is just not into – one whit – either what traditional liturgy types or what liturgical liberals want....

    Francis wants priests to talk to people and find out what they need and get involved in their daily struggles. Liturgy, for Francis, seems to be involved precisely in that. Do I think Francis may be missing huge points in this approach? Sure, right now I do. But I am leaving the jury out.

    I don’t have to 100% embrace what Francis is doing even as I struggle to see and understand what I [think he] is up to.

  • How Should We Understand Pope Francis Washing Women's Feet?, by Jimmy Akin. National Catholic Register 03/28/13.

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Pope Stresses Selfless Service to Youth at Holy Thursday Mass, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 03/28/13. The Holy Father opened the Triduum by spending it with young men and women at Casal del Marmo, a youth detention center in Rome -- from Salt & Light, the full text of Pope Francis’ homily.
  • Pope Francis includes women in papal feet washing ceremony for first time Reuters 03/28/13. Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females [and Muslims] in the rite. [Full roundup of news, reactions and commentary on the papal foot-washing].
  • official text of Pope Francis’ Homily for Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday 2013:
    ... A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me”, “Pray for me” – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into prayer. The prayers of the people of God.

    When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal – but only apparently so – the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.

    We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.

  • Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop Mario Aurelio Poli as metropolitan archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vatican Information Service 03/28/13.


  • Pope Francis and Henri de Lubac, SJ, by Carl Olson. Catholic World Report 03/28/13:
    The influence of de Lubac, one of the finest Jesuit theologians of the past century, on Bergoglio is also obvious in this 2007 interview, which ends with this remark:

    [Q:] For you, then, what is the worst thing that can happen in the Church?

    BERGOGLIO: It is what De Lubac calls «spiritual worldliness». It is the greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church. «It is worse», says De Lubac, «more disastrous than the infamous leprosy that disfigured the dearly beloved Bride at the time of the libertine popes». Spiritual worldliness is putting oneself at the center. It is what Jesus saw going on among the Pharisees: «… You who glorify yourselves. Who give glory to yourselves, the ones to the others».

  • “Francis, the champion of mercy who will not yield on doctrine” Interview with Peruvian Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 03/28/13:
    Many do see him as a revolutionary…

    “We mustn’t try to fit the Pope into an ideological model; he is completely beyond this. He presented the idea of a poor Church for the poor but he cannot be interpreted within an ideological framework such as that of liberation theology. This would not do justice to a man of such intellectual depth as Bergoglio, whose love of Christ takes him back to the early sources of the Christian spirit.”

    Some critics say his gestures show an intention to “deconsecrate” the papacy: is this so?

    “We must not confuse the Pope’s natural way with people, with his responsibilities as Vicar of Christ. I think he is very clear about the distinction between the two things. He does not intend to deconsecrate, his actions are just simple. It’s not easy being a prisoner of protocol which leads you to say: “Don’t take away my freedom!” He is a profoundly free man and with everyone’s help he will continue along the right path. The people want the Pope to be close to them, but they also want the Pope’s ministry.”

  • “We rejoice to have a Pope that the world needs and Asia needs” Interview with Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay and also President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference (FABC). La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 03/28/13.
  • Evangelical Catholicism, Pope Francis, and the 21st-Century Church An interview with George Weigel. The Catholic World Report 03/28/13.
  • Francis Looks 10 Years Younger, Says Argentine Journalist Journalist Eduardo Woites talked with ZENIT about his former archbishop's style, and the impression that people in Buenos Aires have on seeing the Pontiff on television. Zenit 03/28/13.
  • Pope Francis and the Reform of the Priesthood, by Father Roger Landry. National Catholic Register 03/28/13:
    One of the most urgent reforms facing him is the restoration of the moral credibility of the hierarchy, and especially of the priesthood. The scandals of clerical sex abuse and tales of Vatican corruption have not only severely undermined the Church’s moral authority, but given the impression that living by the Church’s teachings forms freaks and moral monsters rather than saints.

    In his first couple of weeks as Pope, as well as his 14 years in Buenos Aires, Francis has been charting out the trajectory of priestly reshaping. We can focus on seven aspects of this needed renewal.

  • Anatomy of a Lie: The Assault on Pope Francis’ Reputation, by Victor Gaetan. 03/28/13. Who Slanders Pope Francis — and Why? National Catholic Register 03/28/13.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pope Francis' First General Audience

Pope Francis gave his first General Audience this morning at St. Peter’s Square. He spoke in Italian and summaries of his catechesis were delivered in different languages by various Vatican officials. The English translation of his catechesis is posted below, courtesy of Vatican Radio. [Salt + Light]:
Brothers and sisters, good morning!

I am pleased to welcome you to my first general audience. With deep gratitude and veneration I am taking up the “witness” from the hands of my beloved predecessor, Benedict XVI. After Easter we will resume the catechesis on the Year of Faith. Today I would like to focus a little on Holy Week. With Palm Sunday we began this week – the center of the whole liturgical year – in which we accompany Jesus in His Passion, Death and Resurrection.

But what does it mean for us to live Holy Week? What does it means to follow Jesus on His way to the Cross on Calvary and the Resurrection? In His earthly mission, Jesus walked the streets of the Holy Land; He called twelve simple people to remain with Him, to share His journey and continue His mission; He chose them among the people full of faith in the promises of God. He spoke to everyone, without distinction, to the great and the lowly; to the rich young man and the poor widow, the powerful and the weak; He brought the mercy and forgiveness of God to all; He healed, comforted, understood, gave hope, He led all to the presence of God, who is interested in every man and woman, like a good father and a good mother is interested in each child. God did not wait for us to go to Him, but He moved towards us, without calculation, without measures. This is how God is: He is always the first, He moves towards us. Jesus lived the daily realities of most ordinary people: He was moved by the crowd that seemed like a flock without a shepherd, and He cried in front of the suffering of Martha and Mary on the death of their brother Lazarus; He called a tax collector to be His disciple and also suffered the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that He is with us, in our midst. “Foxes”, Jesus said, “have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” (Mt 8:20). Jesus did not have a home because His house is the people — that is, us; His mission is to open all God’s doors, to be the loving presence of God.

In Holy Week we live the highest point of this journey, this loving plan that runs throughout the entire history of the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus enters Jerusalem to take the final step, in which His whole live is summarized: He gives Himself totally, He keeps nothing for Himself, not even His life. At the Last Supper, with His friends, He shares the bread and distributes the chalice “for us.” The Son of God is offered to us, He consigns His Body and his Blood into our hands to be with us always, to dwell among us. And on the Mount of Olives, as in the trial before Pilate, He puts up no resistance, He gifts Himself: He is the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah, who stripped himself unto death (cf. Is 53:12).

Jesus does not live this love that leads to sacrifice passively or as a fatal destiny; certainly He does not hide His deep human commotion in the face of a violent death, but He entrusts Himself with full confidence to the Father. Jesus voluntarily consigned Himself to death to respond to the love of God the Father, in perfect union with His will, to demonstrate His love for us. On the Cross, Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Each of us can say, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” Everyone can say that “for me”.

What does this mean for us? It means that this is my, your, our path. Living Holy Week following Jesus not only with the emotions of the heart; living Holy Week following Jesus means learning how to come out of ourselves – as I said on Sunday – to reach out to others, to go to the outskirts of existence, to be the first to move towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, consolation and help. There is so much need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!

Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God’s logic, the logic of the Cross, which is not first of all that of pain and death, but of love and of self-giving that brings life. It means entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following, accompanying Christ, remaining with Him requires an “stepping outside” stepping outside. Stepping outside of ourselves, of a tired and routine way of living the faith, of the temptation to withdraw into pre-established patterns that end up closing our horizon to the creative action of God. God stepped outside of Himself to come among us, He pitched His tent among us to bring the mercy of God that saves and gives hope. Even if we want to follow Him and stay with Him, we must not be content to remain in the enclosure of the ninety-nine sheep, we have to “step outside”, to search for the lost sheep together with Him, the one furthest away. Remember well: stepping outside of ourselves, like Jesus, like God has stepped outside of Himself in Jesus and Jesus stepped outside of Himself for all of us.

Some might say to me, “But, Father, I have no time”, “I have so many things to do”, “it is difficult”, “what can I do with my little strength?”, with my sin, with so many things? Often we settle for a few prayers, a distracted and inconsistent presence at Sunday Mass, a random act of charity, but we lack this courage to “step outside” to bring Christ. We are a bit like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus speaks of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, of self-giving, of love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and rebukes him. What Jesus says upsets his plans, seems unacceptable, undermines the sense of security that he had built up, his idea of ??the Messiah. And Jesus looks at the disciples and addresses Peter with perhaps one of the strongest words of the Gospel: “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do”(Mk 8:33). God always thinks with mercy: do not forget this. God always thinks with mercy: our merciful Father. God thinks like a father who awaits the return of his child and goes to meet him, sees him come when he is still far away … What does this mean? That each and every day he went out to see if his son was coming home. This is our merciful Father. It is the sign that he was waiting for him from the terrace of his house; God thinks like the Samaritan that does not approach the victim to commiserate with him, or look the other way, but to rescue him without asking for anything in return, without asking if he was Jew, if he was pagan, a Samaritan, rich or poor: he does not ask anything. He does not ask these things, he asks for nothing. He goes to his aid: This is how God thinks. God thinks like the shepherd who gives his life to defend and save his sheep.

Holy Week is a time of grace which the Lord gifts us to open the doors of our hearts, our lives, our parishes – what a pity, so many parishes are closed! – in our parishes, movements, associations, and to “step outside” towards others, to draw close to them so we can bring the light and joy of our faith. Always step outside yourself! And with the love and tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we put our hands, our feet, our hearts, but then it is God who guides them and makes all our actions fruitful.

May you all live these days well, following the Lord with courage, carrying within a ray of His love for all those whom we meet.

"Bergoglio's Intervention"

The archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, on Saturday read from a document given him by Pope Francis, outlining the speech he gave during the pre-conclave General Congregation meetings of the Cardinals.

Cardinal Ortega had been so impressed with the speech he asked the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio for a copy of the intervention.Cardinal Ortega received permission from Pope Francis to share the information.

Here is an unofficial translation of the text

Evangelizing implies Apostolic Zeal1. - Evangelizing pre-supposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself. The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.

2. When the Church does not come out of herself to evangelize, she becomes self-referential and then gets sick. (cf. The deformed woman of the Gospel). The evils that, over time, happen in ecclesial institutions have their root in self-referentiality and a kind of theological narcissism. In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.

3. - When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light; she ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness (which according to De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church). It lives to give glory only to one another. Put simply, there are two images of the Church: Church which evangelizes and comes out of herself, the Dei Verbum religiose audiens et fidente proclamans; and the worldly Church, living within herself, of herself, for herself. This should shed light on the possible changes and reforms which must be done for the salvation of souls.

4. Thinking of the next Pope: He must be a man who, from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to go out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother, who gains life from “the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing.”

Source: Vatican Radio: "Bergoglio's Intervention: A diagnosis of the problems in the Church" 03/27/13.

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Friendship began with soccer, led to improved Catholic-Jewish ties, by David Agren. Catholic News Service. 03/27/13:
    Rabbi Abraham Skorka recalls meeting Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio at a Mass for a national holiday two decades ago.

    They shook hands afterward, and "he looked deep into my eyes," Skorka recalled of the man who would be elected Pope Francis. "He told me, 'I think this year we're going to eat chicken soup.' "

    The line referred to Argentine soccer. Skorka pulls for the River Plate club, whose fans are commonly called "chickens" by rivals. Francis supports the San Lorenzo club.

    According to Agren, "Soccer formed the initial bridge -- but their bond went beyond sport and helped to bring Christians and Jews closer together after some episodes of less-than-cordial relations in Argentina."
  • Vatican-Produced Documentary Reveals Francis' 1st Words After Election Zenit. 03/27/13:
    “I am a great sinner. Trusting in the mercy and patience of God, in suffering, I accept.” Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, director of the Vatican Television Center (CTV), revealed those words as the first uttered by Pope Francis when accepting his election as the Supreme Roman Pontiff.
  • Ignatius Press releases first Pope biography today as e-book, April 10th in stores Ignatius Insight 03/27/13. Available today in English, first as an e-book and in hardcover April 10, “Francis, Pope of a New World” (Ignatius Press, $19.95), is a fascinating, definitive and complete biography on Pope Francis.


  • Spiritual Worldliness: Pope Francis’ Critique of the Church, by Dr. Jeff Mirus. 03/27/13:
    This critique of a certain malaise in the Church can refer only to one thing: When we start defining the Church according to how we ourselves are, we are committing this sin of narcissism; we are being self-referential. And in this sense, we are making the Church self-referential in all of her operations, which must be carried out through her members. Let us consider some practical applications of the Pope’s thesis.
  • Pope Francis' First Easter, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register 03/27/13. "The papal events will highlight the Holy Father’s personal simplicity and humility."
  • ‘Rome Will Not Change Him,’ Argentinian Catholics Say of Pope Francis, by Carlos Caso-Rosendi and Joan Frawley. National Catholic Register 03/27/13. The humble pastoral style that has caught the world’s attention is well known to Catholics in Buenos Aires, as is his deep Marian devotion.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Pope Francis to live in Vatican guesthouse, not papal apartments Catholic News Service 03/26/12:
    Pope Francis has decided not to move into the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, but to live in a suite in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

    "He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple," but allows him "to live in community with others," both the permanent residents -- priests and bishops who work at the Vatican -- as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Father Lombardi said March 26. [...]

    According to CNS, Francis will be the first pope in 110 years not to live in the papal apartments on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace.

    La Stampa's "The Vatican Insider" reports:

    Pope Bergoglio’s fondness for community life in St. Martha’s House is quite obvious to everyone. The chance of meeting people, sitting down for meals with them, sharing parts of his day with the other residents and celebrating mass in a chapel that is able to hold a good number of people: all these reasons contributed to Francis’ decision to stay, which he communicated to the other guests of St. Martha’s House, first of all to the fifty priests and monsignors who work in the Roman Curia and were able to return to their rooms following the Conclave.

    Vatican Insider has learnt that there was an objection to the Pope’s decision to stay in St. Martha’s and that is that Curia priests were meant to return to their rooms and if Francis stayed there he would have direct contact with hem. Bergoglio apparently replied: “I am used to being with my priests.”

  • Two books by Pope Francis released Newsday 03/26/13:
    Pope Francis' first two publications hit Italian bookstores Tuesday and their titles, "Humility: The Path to God" and "Healing from Corruption," hint at the road map for his papacy, experts said.

    About 60 pages each, the books are a compilation of his homilies and essays, published in Argentina between the 1980s and '90s, when he was a prominent Jesuit teacher and before he was appointed archbishop of Buenos Aires.

    Vatican News Service also reports:

    “Guarire dalla corruzione” (orig. “Corrupcion y pecado”) is a text on morality. Based on an analysis of the spread of corruption in Argentine society and around the world, it locates the root of this evil within the heart. The text makes a novel distinction between the phenomena of corruption and sin. The afterword is written by Judge Pietro Grasso, president of the Italian Senate and former head of Italy's national anti-mafia prosecutor's agency.

    “Umilta, la strada verso Dio” (orig. “Sobre la acusacion de si mismo”) has a strongly spiritual character. It introduces a text—widely cited in the book—by Dorotheus of Gaza, a 6th century Church Father, on humility. The book includes an appendix written by the prior of the ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose, Enzo Bianchi, who updates Dorotheus' message through the reading offered by Pope Francis.

  • Pope App Tops iTunes Charts, by Catholic News Agency. 03/26/13. A Vatican-sponsored news application for smartphones known as “The Pope App” has risen to the top of the charts in the iTunes store, reflecting a spike in interest in the papacy and newly elected Pope Francis.
  • Excerpt From English-language Biography, "Pope Francis" Here is the Introduction to the biography "Pope Francis," written by Matthew Bunson and due to be released by Our Sunday Visitor in April. (Zenit 03/26/13).

    Zenit also carries an interview with papal biographer Matthew Bunson:

    length biography. And yet, how would you summarize the character and personality of our new Pope?

    Bunson: Pope Francis came to the papacy very much at ease with himself and grounded squarely in his spirituality and commitment to humility and service. His personality is one that has been formed powerfully by Ignatian spirituality and by the long years of service as a priest, bishop and cardinal in a country that has immense wealth and staggering poverty, at times in close proximity one to the other. He has a great practicality to his approach to problems, which is matched by his humility, personal warmth and well-attested intelligence. As cardinal, he was especially respected for his ability to build consensus and respect the opinions of others. This was seen in 2001 during the Synod of Bishops -- when he stepped in as relator for Cardinal Egan of New York immediately after 9/11 -- and in 2007 at Aparecida, Brazil. These different characteristics point to someone who is exceptionally authentic, prayerful and striving to bring Christ to others. It is going to be a remarkable pontificate to study and appreciate.


  • Reading the Papal Tea Leaves, by George Neumayer. Crisis Magazine 03/26/12:
    The picture that is forming of Pope Francis from all these bits and pieces is not that of a Ratzingerian restorationist but of a centrist prelate whose theological views, tone, and emphases are characteristic of the post-Vatican II period. He is no Hans Kung. He is too pro-life and Marian for that level of theological conjecture. But it is a stretch to think that he shares Benedict’s rigorous critique of the crisis within the Church and the modern world. There is a reason why the progressive bloc within the previous conclave saw him as a desirable alternative to Ratzinger.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Pope Francis: Passover telegram to Jewish Community Vatican Radio 03/25/13.
  • Presentation of first two books in Italian by Pope Francis Vatican Information Service 03/25/13.
  • Francis even wins over leader of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, by Giorgio Bernardelli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider":
    She has always been one of his most fervent opponents. Even the day after Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election to the papacy, she responded with a sarcastic “Amen!” But now, even Hebe de Bonafini, the militant leader of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo has had a change of heart. To the point of actually putting pen to paper and writing a letter to the Pope calling him simply “Fr. Francis” and candidly expressing how struck she was by all the testimonies of the people from the villas – Buenos Aires’ poorest neighbourhoods – about their friendship with Cardinal Bergoglio.
  • Francis echoes Benedict XVI in his warning against “filth” and his hope in young people La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 03/24/13.
  • Pope asks Jesuits to, with completely committed life, be leaven to world Vatican Information Service 03/23/13:
    Three days after beginning his pontificate, Pope Francis sent a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon. In it the Holy Father responded to the letter that the Superior General had sent to him on learning of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit in the history of the Society of Jesus to be elected Pope.

    Following is the complete text of the Roman Pontiff Francis' letter, dated 16 March:

    “Dear Fr. Nicolas, It is with great joy that I received the kind letter that you sent on behalf of yourself and of the Society of Jesus on the occasion of my election to the See of St. Peter, informing me of your prayers for me and my apostolic ministry along with your complete willingness to continue your unconditional service to the Church and to the Vicar of Christ, according to the precepts of St. Ignatius of Loyola.”

    “I thank you cordially for this token of appreciation and closeness, which I reciprocate with pleasure, asking the Lord to enlighten and accompany all Jesuits so that—faithful to the charism received and the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order, by their pastoral activity but above all through the witness of lives entirely devoted to the service of the Church, the Bride of Christ—they may be evangelical leaven to the world, tirelessly seeking the glory of God and the good of souls.”

    “With these sentiments I ask all Jesuits to pray for me and entrust me to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother in Heaven, while, as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours, I impart with special fondness my Apostolic Blessing, which I also extend to all those who work with the Society of Jesus in their activities, benefit from their good works, and partake of their spirituality.”

  • Pope Plans Full Easter Schedule With a Twist, by Esefania Aquirre / CNA. 03/25/13:
    Pope Francis will celebrate a full schedule this Holy Week, including washing the feet of youth detainees and leading the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.

    His six main events are: chrism Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday morning, followed by Mass at a youth detention center that evening, a Communion service and Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, Easter vigil Mass on Saturday evening and Easter Mass on Sunday morning.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Homily for Palm Sunday Mass

1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul. This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light - the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart - of joy, of celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.

2. The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket. Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware - our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.

Pope Francis carries a palm frond at the Palm Sunday mass in St Peter's Square. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three words, then: joy, Cross, young. Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.

Source: Vatican Radio 03/25/13.

Pope Francis to Benedict XVI: "We are Brothers"

Castel Gandolfo: Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI. Two popes meet. 03/23/13:
... Despite the fact that most media seem to enjoy placing the current pope and his predecessor in stark opposition to each other, the reality is that the two share a deeply fraternal relationship. Since the night of his election, on March 13 last year, Francis has always spoken with kindness and cited his "venerable predecessor." His very first gesture, looking out from St Peter's central loggia was to ask everyone to pray for Pope Benedict XVI. The next day he celebrated Mass with cardinals carrying the German pope's processional cross in his hands, in his encounter with the College of Cardinals he quoted him directly with words of sincere praise for his pontificate with which "he enriched and strengthened the Church with his teaching, his kindness, his guidance, his faith, his humility and gentleness that will remain a spiritual heritage for everyone. "

He mentioned him again with great friendliness and devotion during his meeting with the media, at the Mass in the parish of St. Anne, at the first Mass of his pontificate, meeting with Christian and religious leaders and in his meeting with the diplomatic corps.

Francis and Benedict’s historic meeting: “We are brothers” La Stampa "The Vatican Insider":

After briefly greeting the other people present (the Bishop of Albano and the director of the Pontifical Villas, Petrillo), they got into the car Benedict XVI had arrived in. Francis got in on the right hand side, the side the Pope always sits on and Benedict sat on the left. The Prefect of the Papal Household, Mgr. Georg Gänswein, also took the same car which took them to the lifts which took them up to the apartment. They then went to the chapel to pray.

“In the chapel, the Pope Emeritus offered Francis the seat of honour but the latter replied: “We are brothers,” and asked Ratzinger to kneel down with him at the same pew,” Fr. Lombardi said.

After a brief moment of prayer, they went to the private Library where the private meeting started at 12:30. This is the library where the Pope usually receives important guests when he is at Castel Gandolfo. Francis gave the Pope Emeritus a beautiful icon as a gift, after which their conversation began. It lasted 45 minutes and ended at 13:15.

“It should be noted that the Pope Emeritus wears a simple white cassock without a fascia (sash) or shoulder cape: it is these two garments that distinguish him from Francis who does wear a fascia and shoulder cape,” the Vatican spokesman stressed.

The two secretaries, Fr. Georg and Fr. Xuereb attended the lunch as well and the private and confidential meeting concluded with a conversation in the Library.

Pope Francis (L) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence March 23, 2013. Pope Francis travelled by helicopter from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo for a private meeting with former Pope Benedict XVI. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Vatican Radio also reports:

The Holy Father also brought a gift for his predecessor, an icon of Our Lady of Humility, as a gift for Benedict XVI's great humility. The two men then spent an estimated 45 minutes in private conversation in the Library before emerging to lunch with two secretaries.

The intensely reserved nature of the encounter confirms what Benedict XVI had confided to the priests of Rome in his last meeting with them as Pope on February 14th when he said: “Although I am retiring now, I will always be close in prayer, and you will be close to me, even if I remain hidden away from the world".

Pope Francis, left, and the former pope Benedict XVI prayed together at Castel Gandolfo. AFP/Osservatore Romano


  • Ratzinger-Bergoglio lunch:"A constructive meeting. It would be wrong to draw comparisons" Antonio Spadaro, the director of the Company of Jesus’ journal Civilta Cattolica gives an account of today’s face-to-face meeting between Francis and Benedict XVI. La Stampa 03/23/13.
  • Unprecedented image in two thousand years of Catholic history, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 03/24/13:
    Gossip over continuity and break based on mozzettas, ermine furs and red shoes is threatening to overshadow the reality of true continuity between Benedict XVI and Francis. Theirs is a continuity that finds proof in several passages, in small deeds and stresses that were seen and heard during the first few days of this pontificate: the humility shown by both, their shared knowledge that the Church is ultimately led by God, their sense of non protagonism. After the election Benedict XVI said that “ everywhere the pope goes he shines the light of Christ, not his own”, Francis too, when talking to journalists, remarked that the protagonist is Christ not the pope.

    Another element that the two popes have in common is their awareness of the need to safeguard the environment and all creation, of which mankind is the apex; in fact Benedict XVI had earned the nickname of “Green pope”; not to mention the concern over career-ambition and the “ spiritual worldliness” within the Church. Only people who have forgotten Benedict XVI’s profound homilies on these matters during consistories and during the ceremonies to appoint bishops might think that there is no harmony between the two popes. Only people who do not know Ratzinger’s writings on liturgy might believe that his philosophy would centre around lace, ermine fur and evermore sophisticated parameters rather than the simple encounter with the mystery of Christ. Some time ago, during a TV show, Bergoglio said that mass is not “ a gathering of friends who come to pray and eat bread and wine… To what great extent a priest needs to prepare to celebrate the holy communion !”

    The exceptional footage shot yesterday at Castel Gandolfo shows the pope Emeritus pointing out to his successor the papal kneeling stool and then trying to stand aside, but being prevented from doing so by Francis who took him by the hand to pray side by side because in his eyes they are “brothers”. Those who saw the footage perfectly understand the mutual consideration and harmony that exists between these two men. Those who heard Francis’ voice as he gave his predecessor the picture of Our Lady of Humility and said “I thought of you because during your pontificate -- you gave us many examples of tenderness and humility" will not hesitate in recognizing humility as one of the common denominators between the two popes.

  • Dr. Robert Moynihan comments further on the significance of Pope Francis' gift to Benedict of the icon of the Madonna of Humility:
    ... a few minutes ago I received an unexpected email from Metropolitan Hilarion, 46, an old friend who is also the “Foreign Minister” (the term isn’t quite accurate, but it suggests the importance of his work and position) of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate, so, the right-hand of Patriarch Kirill. He wrote:

    “Pope Francis presented to Pope emeritus Benedict the icon which had been presented to Pope Francis by Metropolitan Hilarion on behalf of Patriarch Kirill [the head of the Russian Orthodox Church] after the private audience [with the new Pope] on 20 March. Отправлено с iPhone [Sent from iPhone]“

    So the icon was the Russian icon Hilarion gave to Francis three days ago!

    I wrote back: “Amazing. Are you pleased, or upset?”

    I added: “It is reported here: ‘They spent 45 minutes talking alone. Pope Francis gave Pope Benedict an icon of Our Lady of Humility, saying that when he received it, he immediately thought of giving it to Pope Benedict.’”

    Hilarion wrote back: “Very pleased and touched.”

    ... at the moment Pope Francis and Pope Benedict first met, at the first meeting ever of the “two Popes” of the Roman Catholic Church, there was a “Russian connection” and an “Orthodox connection” which was present, which was between them, joining them: an image of the Virgin Mary, the Madonna of Humility, brought from Russia and given to Pope Francis in Rome on March 20, an image which immediately struck Pope Francis when he received it as reminding him of Benedict, an image which he decided to bring with him today, to give to Emeritus Pope Benedict, on the occasion of the unprecedented, historic occasion, of their first meeting.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Francis vows to press Benedict's fight vs. 'dictatorship of relativism', by John Allen Jr. 03/22/13. "For those tempted to draw an overly sharp distinction between Pope Francis and his predecessor, the new pope offered a clear reminder Friday that he may have a different style than Benedict XVI, but on substance, he's cut from much the same cloth."
  • Pope to Diplomatic Corps: as Pontiff, I hope that dialogue will lead us to "build bridges” between persons Vatican Information Service. 03/22/13:
    ... “But there is another form of poverty”, he observed. “It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the 'tyranny of relativism', which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.”

    “One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is 'Pontiff', that is, a builder of bridges, with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.”

    Repeating that the role of religion is fundamental to this task, Francis affirmed that: “It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.”

  • Pope Francis celebrates Mass, sits in back row, by Joshua J McElwee. National Catholic Reporter 03/22/13. Pope Francis celebrated Mass Friday morning for the Vatican's gardeners and house cleaners, apparently after walking into the celebration unexpectedly and joining the group by quietly sitting among the congregation.
  • Vatican security scrambling, yet prepared for pope's love of the scrum, by Carol Glatz. Catholic News Service. 03/22/13.
  • The secret report Benedict wrote for Francis, by Marco Tosatti. La Stampa "Vatican Insider" 03/22/13. "Ratzinger has left his successor a 300-page report to look through."
  • Boom in confessions is a sign of the Francis effect La Stampa 03/22/13. Mgr. Crociata’s statements after the meeting of the Permanent Council of the Italian Bishops’ Conference: The Pope’s words on penitence have led many to approach the sacrament again.


  • Pope Francis and the Return of Natural Law, by Samuel Gregg. 03/22/13. "Anyone who might have thought that Pope Francis’s choice of name somehow suggested that the Catholic Church was going to be led by someone who imagines Francis of Assisi to be a jolly, badly-dressed, Gaia-worshipping baby-boomer from 1972 received a severe jolt of reality today."
  • Five tests of whether Pope Francis' reform of the Vatican could be real, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 03/22/13. "As soon as Holy Week wraps up, however, the focus will shift from style to substance. Hard questions will begin to be asked about whether he's capable of delivering the reform in the Vatican that many cardinals believed they were voting for in electing him."
  • Pope Francis and the Christians of the Middle East, by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. First Things "On The Square" 03/22/13.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


  • Pope calls Argentine kiosk owner to cancel paper delivery Catholic News Agency. 03/21/13:
    Around 1:30 p.m. local time on March 18, Daniel Del Regno, the kiosk owner’s son, answered the phone and heard a voice say, “Hi Daniel, it’s Cardinal Jorge.”

    He thought that maybe a friend who knew that the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires bought the newspaper from them every day was pulling a prank on him.

    “Seriously, it’s Jorge Bergoglio, I’m calling you from Rome,” the Pope insisted.

  • Pope Francis has chosen the youth at Casal del Marmo Detention Centre for the traditional washing of the feet on Holy Thursday L'Osservatore Romano 03/22/13:
    “As Archbishop of Buenos Aires — the communiqué reads — Cardinal Bergoglio used to celebrate” The Mass In Cena Domini “in a prison, hospital or hospice for the poor or marginalized”. With the choice to go to a prison for juvenile delinquency, Pope Francis has thus decided to continue this course and to maintain the simplicity whereby he has always lived. . . .

    Benedict XVI and John Paul II, too, visited the detention centre. Pope Benedict celebrated Mass there on 18 March 2007, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, in the chapel of the “Merciful Father”. Pope John Paul went there for a visit during the afternoon of 6 January 1980, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, accompanied by his Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, who was particularly involved in the pastoral care of the youth who were held in the Casal del Marmo, where he was known simply as Fr Agostino.

    [HT: Amy Welborn - a history of the relationship between past bishops of Rome and the incarcerated and a description of their encounters].
  • "Believe it or not, it was a trouble-free Conclave", Domenico Agasso Jr. (La Stampa) interviews Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who speaks of the election of Pope Francis:
    "Contrary to what many of you journalists think and speculated upon, no: it was a serene Conclave, always, in every moment. The categories and opposing parties that you all 'assign' to the Government of the Church do not really belong to us".
  • Pope Francis in no hurry to move into papal apartment, by John Thavis. 'When the new pope took a tour of the 10-room papal apartment a few days ago, he was said to have remarked, “Three hundred people could live here.' As a cardinal in Buenos Aires, he chose to live in a small apartment instead of the archbishop’s mansion."
  • The favorite books and spiritual readings of the Pope From today's edition of Argentine daily La Nación. 03/21/13.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

EWTN Interview with Jorge Mario Bergoglio

EWTN's exclusive 15-minute interview with Cardinal-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, now Pope Francis. Conducted just six months ago, the future pope discusses His Holiness Benedict XVI's call for a Year of Faith, Latin America as a spiritual resource for the universal Church, the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, and much more.

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


Pope Francis meets with the Metropolitan Hilarion and the Russian delegation. [HT: Caelum Et Terra]


  • Father General on His Visit with the Pope - account of the meeting between Pope Francis and Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, which took place yesterday at the Casa Santa Marta. America 03/19/13.
  • Quid est Veritas? - Fr. Simon Henry observes:
    Much nonsense has been spoken in the media today concerning the Holy Father's Inauguration but among those I found most irritating was the assertion that Pope Francis "signalled his wish to get closer to his 1.2 billion followers by swapping the bullet-proof Popemobile for an open-top jeep" [and] "abandoning the bullet-proof popemobile often used by Benedict" -- I find the level of 'reporting' to be risible.
  • Like Benedict, mission is Pope Francis' focus, by Bernardo Cervellera. 03/19/13:
    During a sober ceremony, wearing simple vestments, the pope shows his closeness to children and the sick. Despite their differences, both Francis and Benedict XVI are profoundly united. Insisting on the need to protect creation and preserve the human habitat, the Pope Francis calls on the powerful to choose between good and evil, without relativism. He calls for less bureaucracy and more witness and mission, talks to Taiwan's president and an Iranian minister.
  • Orthodox Christians appear in St. Peter’s, by Giacomo Galeazzi. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider":
    “Bergoglio was an ordinary for followers of the Orthodox rite in Argentina” and even when he was still in his own country he had excellent relations with his “separated brethren”, explains Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a former foreign minister and Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Therefore “he is familiar with this tradition and respects it,” a tradition that also includes married priests. Yesterday, as well as keeping kneeling stools, the new pope handed out hosts dipped in wine at Communion, as is usual in Eastern rites.

    This sends out an important message: promising continuity with Ratzinger’s liturgical reforms while paying attention to the values of the Eastern churches which could enrich Western Catholicism, in danger of stagnation, as the council of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) also warns. For the first time since 1054, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Constantinople attended the inauguration of the Pope (also Bishop of Rome) in St. Peter’s Square. Ecumenical diplomacy sprang into action as soon as the Argentine cardinal was elected. Bartholomew I is based in Istanbul (what was Constantinople in ancient times).

  • Point of Order: Continuity, Not Rupture, Wheat and Weeds 03/19/13:
    ... I have to have a virtual smackdown of people who speak about Pope Francis' surprising breeches of protocol in the first few days of his papacy -- or his "unusual" sneaking out of the Vatican-- as if HE has the common touch as opposed to that cold old predecessor.

    Nonsense! How soon we forget that in his first days Pope Benedict did exactly the same thing -- snuck home to his apartment, walked rather than taking the popemobile, greeted people in the street to the delight of ordinary folk and consternation of Vatican security.

  • THe Black-and-White Pope, by Donald S. Prudlo. Crisis 03/20/13:
    ... feelings of reserve or concern upon a papal election are very common in all periods of history and such attitudes need not be characterized as anti-papal or anti-Catholic. Secondly, the vituperation that has poured from both right and left against Francis (not to mention mutual condemnations of each from the center), is both unuseful and uncharitable. Finally, there exist real concerns about the future direction of the Church, and those who make such concerns known—when they are presented in well-reasoned and charitable ways—ought not to be attacked and ostracized.
  • Meeting Pope Francis, by George Weigel. First Things "On The Square" 03/20/13:
    When Pope Francis stepped out onto the central loggia of St. Peter’s on the night of March 13, I thought of the man I had met in his Buenos Aires office ten months before: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., who was looking forward to laying down the burden of leadership and devoting himself to prayer, reflection and study.

    Now, because Benedict XVI decided to renounce the Chair of Peter and do what Cardinal Bergoglio wanted to do, the old-school Argentine Jesuit is now Benedict’s successor. His acceptance of the cross that is the papacy was an act of humble obedience by a man who had bent his will to the divine will for over a half-century.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis: Daily Roundup


In a rapidly changing world, the Vatican remains a bulwark of time-tested tradition. Yet in the course of a week, a little-known Argentinian has been elected as the Pope, delighting the world with his fresh focus and spontaneous gestures. As the Church celebrates today's inauguration Mass, can we expect more surprises to come? Host Kris Dmytrenko asks Jesuit Father Gilles Mongeau and Marlena Lougheed what the future holds for Pope Francis. -- Salt and Light TV.

Pope Francis: Homily at Mass of Inauguration

Following a historic papal transition in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis was installed as the 266th Bishop of Rome during a special inauguration mass in St. Peter's Square on March 19, 2013.

From Vatican Radio), the Homily of the Holy Father at the Inauguration of his Papal Ministry:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1). How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness! Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us! I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.