Monday, July 22, 2013

Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) on the Occasion of World Youth Day (22-29 July 2013)

This post will feature ongoing coverage of Pope Francis' journey to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and World Youth Day. It will be regularly updated as news and commentary becomes available.

Schedule of Papal Events

Pope Francis drew a reported 3 million flag-waving, rosary-toting faithful to Rio’s Copacabana beach on Saturday for the final evening of World Youth Day. Source: Capital Gazette, AP, Filipe Dana
  • Pope Francis Meets With Volunteers Before Departing Rio Zenit. 07/29/13:
    Before leaving Brazil, Pope Francis meet with an estimated 15,000 volunteers at the Congress Center Pavilion in Rio de Janeiro. The group was only a sliver of the 60,000 volunteers who worked in the past two years preparing for World Youth Day. The Holy Father expressed his gratitude for their work.

    The Pope also thanked them for “the countless little ways by which you have made this World Youth Day an unforgettable experience of faith. With your smiles, your acts of kindness and your willingness to serve, you have shown that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'”.

  • From the IOR to the gay lobby: Pope Francis tells all on flight from Rio to Rome, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 07/29/13. On the flight from Rio to Rome, Francis answered dozens of questions, some personal, some about the sensitive and burning issues concerning the Vatican.
  • On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’, by Rachel Donadio. New York Times 07/29/13:
    ... brief remarks by Pope Francis suggesting that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, made aboard the papal airplane on the way back from his first foreign trip, to Brazil, resonated through the church. Never veering from church doctrine opposing homosexuality, Francis did strike a more compassionate tone than that of his predecessors, some of whom had largely avoided even saying the more colloquial “gay.”
  • Rio's Copacabana beach transformed as three million Catholics pack sands for Sunday Mass, by Nick Squires. Telegraph UK. 07/28/13. It is usually synonymous with unbridled hedonism, but Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach was transformed into a vast encampment of the faithful on Sunday when three million young Catholics squeezed onto every last inch of sand for the climax of the Pope's week-long visit to Brazil.
  • Pope commissions young people to be missionaries without borders, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. 07/28/13:
    Pope Francis commissioned some 3 million young people to join forces and form what could be called Missionaries Without Borders.

    "Where does Jesus send us?" he asked World Youth Day pilgrims July 28. "There are no borders, no limits: He sends us to everyone."

  • “We need a Church capable of warming hearts” La Stampa 07/27/13:
    Francis was addressing the Brazilian Church but today’s lunch with the region’s cardinals and bishops in Rio’s Archbishopric was much more than this. The Pope laid out a plan for his pontificate. He presented the image of a Church which walks beside its faithful in order to be truly missionary and “is able to make sense of the “night” contained in the flight of so many of our brothers and sisters from Jerusalem.” In order to do this, the Church must stop being “too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas, perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions.” It needs to learn to be simple again, warm people’s hearts and “rediscover the maternal womb of mercy.”
  • Penitents, prisoners and pilgrims: Pope meets youth up close, by Francis X. Rocca. Catholic News Service 07/26/13:
    Pope Francis spent the morning and early afternoon of July 26 with about two dozen young people from different countries and diverse backgrounds, in a range of encounters that illustrated his characteristic emphasis on inclusion and reconciliation.

    The most dramatic meeting was the half hour he spent in the Rio de Janeiro archbishop's residence with eight young offenders from four area prisons. ...

  • A million young people jam Rio's Copacabana beach to try to see pope. Catholic News Service. 07/26/13.
  • Fears grow for Pope's safety in Brazil | Pope Francis forced into helicopter to avoid protests The Telegraph 07/23/13:
    The Pontiff was forced to arrive at Guanabara palace, the house of the governor of Rio state, by military helicopter, as protesters clashed with riot police using tear gas, water cannon and stun grenades.

    While some expressed anger over the cost of the £35 million papal visit, the main focus of the protests was against the Brazilian government, which last month faced violent street protests over corruption, poor public services, and the expense of hosting next year's soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

  • In Rio slum, pope denounces corruption, 'culture of selfishness' Catholic News Service. 07/25/13.
  • Pope returns to Marian shrine, entrusts WYD to Mary's care Catholic News Service. 07/24/13.
  • 400,000 brave wind, rain for WYD opening Mass on Copacabana beach Catholic News Service. 07/24/13.
  • Crowds in Rio swarm pope, who wanted to be 'close to the people', by By Francis X. Rocca. Catholic News Service. 07/22/13.
  • Bomb found at Aparecida shrine ahead of Pope's visit Catholic News Agency. 07/22/13:
    “It was a homemade device with little potential to cause fatalities,” according to a statement of the Brazilian Air Force. “It is worth pointing out that such episodes formed part of our security forces’ training in Aparecida and at no point were civilians' lives in danger.”

    The bomb has already been destroyed. It was discovered around 11:30 am in Rio, during the completion of simulated exercises by security forces, according to Brazil's Grupo Estado.

  • Pope Francis Meets Benedict, Asks for His Prayers During WYD, by Edward Pentin. 7/19/13.
  • Pope Francis’ Style Changes Papal Flight, by David Uebbing. National Catholic Register 07/22/13.

John Allen, Jr.


  • What do pope's remarks on gays mean?, by Kevin Clarke. 07/30/13.
  • Towards a Non-Romantic Theology of Women, by Anna Sutherland. First Things "First Thoughts" 07/29/13. Less noticed than references to homosexuality in Pope Francis’ widely circulated remarks to the press on the Rio-to-Rome papal airplane was this comment on developing a theology of women.
  • World Youth Days, by Fr. Joseph A. Komonchak. Commonweal 07/29/13:
    I have two questions about World Youth Days. The first is prompted by reading that some three million people attended the papal Mass on the Copacabana beach. Is the Mass intended for such massive gatherings? Aren’t there other types of services that could be devised instead? I don’t think that every significant occasion in the life of the Church requires that a Mass be celebrated.

    And then, how broad, how deep, and how enduring is the effect of such “Catholic Woodstocks”?

  • Jerusalem's Bishop Shomali: " Francis is truly the Pope of the poor" 07/28/13. Jerusalem’s auxiliary bishop tells how WYD has helped young Catholics from the Holy Land, and discusses the possibility of the Pope’s visit there.
  • Francis and the importance of confession, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider":
    That Sunday, in the homily he pronounced during mass in the parish of Saint Anne in the Vatican, the Pope mentioned another chat he had had with a penitent who did not believe he was worthy of forgiveness because “he had done some really awful things.” Fr. Bergoglio replied to him: “Go to Jesus! He likes people talking to him about these things” He forgets; he has a special gift for forgetting. He forgets, he kisses you, embraces you and tells you: “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more!” This is the only advice he gives.”

    Francis also talked about the sacrament of penance during the Pentecost vigil with the ecclesial movements, when he confessed he missed having the freedom to go out and listen to people’s confessions in the parish whenever he pleased. He listed the questions he usually asks those who come to confess about giving money to the poor: “Do you give money to the poor? When you give money to the poor do you look them in the eye? When you give money to the poor do you touch their hand? Touching a poor person’s hand means touching “the body of Christ,” Francis explained.

  • Bergoglio sets about rebuilding the Church, just as St. Francis did. Italian newspaper "La Stampa" interviews former Franciscan [and liberation theologian], Leonardo Boff. La Stampa 07/24/13.
  • Francis in Brazil: Spirituality and the Challenges of Globalization, by Vincent J. Miller. America 07/23/13:
    As Francis began his journey to World Youth Day, in his comments to reporters he touched upon the specifics he will face in Brazil and sounded what are becoming familiar notes from his papacy. The two will come together in a provocative way in Brazil.

    Francis spoke of the effect of the global economic crisis upon the young, who are “at risk” of becoming a generation deprived of work. This deprives them not only of dignity, but “strips them of the possibility of belonging.” “We are used to a discarding culture, all too often with the elderly. But now, with so many young people out of work, the disposable culture comes even to them. We must end this habit to discard!” Against this isolation and exclusion of this disposable culture, Francis called instead for a “culture of inclusion, a culture of encounter.”

    This brief comment encapsulates well Francis’s noteworthy manner of bringing together spiritual questions with structural analysis of the global economy. This is not at all easy to do. The temptation is always to reduce one to the other.

  • Right wing 'generally not happy' with Francis, Chaput says Interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. National Catholic Reporter 07/23/13.
  • Francis a 'one-man show,' Brooklyn's DiMarzio says. Interview with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, NY. National Catholic Reporter 07/23/13.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lumen Fidei - "In The Light of Faith" - Francis' First Encyclical

This is an ongoing compilation of news and commentary relating to Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei ("In the Light of Faith") -- the content of which was initially composed by Pope Benedict XVI, and subsequently embraced and completed by his successor.

News and Commentary

  • Unity and the Light of Faith: Reflections on Lumen Fidei, by Carl Olson. Catholic Pulse. 07/11/13:
    In a unique way, Lumen Fidei brings to completion the papal project, if you will, begun with Pope Benedict’s 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (“God is Love”): a detailed and vigorous set of encyclicals focused on the three theological virtues. That this new encyclical is presented and authored by Pope Francis only reinforces the constant and important emphasis within this newest encyclical on unity: unity of faith, unity in truth, unity in the Church, journeying in unity, the unity of the divine plan, and the unity of the Godhead. The cooperation of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict is, I think, a sort of quiet rebuke to those who would fret over and fixate upon the differences between the two men to the point of agitation. Comparisons are normal; they can even be helpful. But the very production of this text — which is bold, humble, direct, nuanced, intellectually demanding, and spiritually challenging — is a reminder of what the papacy is and what it is meant to do. “The Successor of Peter,” writes Pope Francis (having acknowledged that he had merely “added a few contributions” of his own to Benedict’s draft), “yesterday, today and tomorrow, is always called to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the priceless treasure of that faith which God has given as a light for humanity’s path”
  • Personal Knowledge: A Footnote to an Encyclical, by Drew Christiansen. America 07/08/13. "If you were puzzled, as I was, at how Pope Francis could move from Benedict’s truths of the faith to the truth revealed by love in the latest encyclical, it was the pioneering work of Pierre Rousselot, with the mediation of his disciple Henri De Lubac, that made it possible."
  • The Encyclical on Faith, by James V. Schall, SJ. Catholic World Report 07/07/13:
    ... What struck me about this latest encyclical was how little it addressed itself to current events. It does say that marriage is between one man and one woman for their good and that of the child, but that is nothing new. One would think that a Church that wanted to be “relevant,” with a new Pope, some greater effort would be made to speak of economics and foreign affairs. I can imagine the editorial writers in the world press and media scratching their collective heads trying to figure out how to deal with this obviously important document. They are not used to being told that they cannot explain the condition of their own souls without the faith that addresses itself to the whole of human existence.

    I suggest that the encyclical’s purposeful indifference to such things is precisely its point. In the long run, these worldly things are not particularly important if they are not also taken up with the great drama of faith that constitutes salvation history. We cannot explain ourselves by ourselves to ourselves. "Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation that unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires…". This encyclical spells out the alternative to the self-centered man. We are not the center of our own reality; yet, we really exist and there is a center.

  • In first encyclical, pope celebrates faith as the light of human life, by Francis X. Rocca. (Catholic News Service). 07/05/13.
  • Encyclical illustrates continuity of two papacies, officials say, by Cindy Wooden (Catholic News Service) 07/05/13.
    Presenting Pope Francis' new encyclical and acknowledging how much of it was prepared by retired Pope Benedict XVI, top Vatican officials hailed it as a unique expression of the development of papal teaching and unity in faith.

    "It is a fortunate coincidence that this text was written, so to speak, by the hands of two popes," said Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a news conference July 5 marking the release of "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith").

    "Notwithstanding the differences of style, sensibility and accent, anyone who reads this encyclical will immediately note the substantial continuity of the message of Pope Francis with the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI," the archbishop said. ...

    Cardinal Ouellet told reporters, "A pillar was lacking in Benedict XVI's trilogy on the theological virtues" begun with his encyclicals on love and on hope. "Providence willed that this missing pillar should be both a gift from the pope emeritus to his successor and a symbol of unity."

    Pope Francis' decision to take up the work begun by Pope Benedict and add some of his own reflections, which he states explicitly in the encyclical, witnesses to their unity in faith, the Canadian cardinal said. "The light of faith is passed from one pontiff to another like a baton in a relay, thanks to 'the gift of the apostolic succession.'"

    For Cardinal Ouellet, the encyclical's "shared mode of transmission illustrates in an extraordinary way the most fundamental and original aspect of the encyclical: its development of the dimension of communion in faith," of the importance of believing in and with the church and of living one's faith in solidarity with others.

    The text of the finished encyclical, he said, reflects "much of Pope Benedict and all of Pope Francis."

  • The Light of Faith" by Four Hands, by Fr. Thomas Rosica. Salt and Light 07/05/13. In order to begin to understand the magnitude of Pope Francis’ first Encyclical, “Lumen Fidei,” we must take into consideration a scene in the Vatican Gardens early this morning which preceded the unveiling of this great papal teaching prepared by “four hands.” ...
  • Francis on the "Light of Faith" First responses to 'Lumen Fidei' by Drew Christiansen, Robert P. Imbelli, James Martin, SJ, Peter Folan, S.J., Christiana Z. Peppard. America Magazine. 07/05/13.
  • 14 things you need to know about Pope Francis’s new encyclical, by Jimmy Akin. National Catholic Register 07/05/13.
  • In first encyclical, Francis reaches out to seekers, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 07/05/13.
  • Lumen Fidei and Taking the Right Stand, by David Cloutier. dotCommonweal 07/05/13:
    If you do not take a stand, you will not understand. Understanding requires standing. These are the culminating themes of the account of the concept of faith in Joseph Ratzinger’s 1968 Introduction to Christianity, in which faith is named as “taking up a position” and “to take one’s stand on something.” Ratzinger is trying to identify faith with a certain type of stance toward reality, rather than with any formulae, claiming that faith is the prerequisite of all real human understanding. Without faith, he suggests, all understanding eventually is reduced to “making” – that is, not to standing somewhere, but to remaking the world in one’s own image. (By “faith” here, I hasten to add that Ratzinger is speaking more broadly that about “the Faith” – he’s showing that understanding is really only possible if there is acknowledgment of meaning in the world that is PRIOR TO my own definitions, and to acknowledge such meaning is to trust, have faith.

    Chapter 2 of Lumen Fidei quotes Isaiah 7:9, “Unless you believe, you will not understand,” the very verse on which Ratzinger bases his reflection in his 1968. The hand of Benedict is very much present here, weaving a complex reflection on how love, the senses, and reason all work together in fruitful concert when grounded in faith, a faith that itself must be embodied in the community of the Church (chapter 3) and in service to the common good (chapter 4). ...

  • Where’s the Sin?, by Nathaniel Peters. First Things "On The Square" 07/23/13.
  • You've got to love an encyclical that name-checks Wittgenstein - Peter Bradley. Lex Communis 07/05/13. "Neither Francis nor Pope Benedict XVI (whom Francis acknowledges as the author of the encyclical’s first draft) are afraid to speak of sin. Yet Lumen Fidei discusses faith as it relates to Scripture, salvation, reason, theology, the Sacraments, and society, all without much explicit mention of sin."

Pope Francis Roundup!

  • Pope clears the way for the canonizations of John Paul II, John XXIII by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. 07/05/13. Pope Francis signed a decree clearing the way for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II and has decided also to ask the world's cardinals to vote on the canonization of Blessed John XXIII, even in the absence of a miracle. John Allen Jr. reports opes John XXIII and John Paul II will likely be canonized together within the year. See also: Wherein Fr. Z explains what is really going on with the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf.
  • Francis (with Benedict) dedicates the Vatican to St Michael , by Gianni Valenti. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 07/05/13. The Bishop of Rome – in the presence of his predecessor – unveils a statue of St Michael in the Vatican gardens. And places the Vatican city under the protection of the Archangel St Joseph.
  • Pope Francis gets the keys to the latest Popemobile, a converted, Alabama-built Mercedes M-Class (All Alabama) 07/05/13.
    The head of Mercedes-Benz Cars had a private meeting this week with Pope Francis at the Vatican to hand over the keys to the latest Popemobile, which was converted from an M-Class produced at the German automaker's Alabama plant. ...

    The hand-over was mainly a symbolic gesture underscoring that the new pope also trusts in the automaker's cars, said Mareike Jahnle, a Daimler spokesperson. The only change was the coat of arms that is embroidered on the throne in the dome of the car.

  • Francis plans dramatic pro-immigrant outing, by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter 07/02/13:
    For Europeans, especially Italians, the southern Mediterranean island of Lampedusa has become what the deserts along the Mexican/U.S. border have long been for Americans -- the scene of appalling humanitarian tragedies as desperate migrants try to reach a better life as well as a metaphor for political and cultural tensions over immigration policy.

    The fact that Pope Francis has chosen Lampedusa for his first visit outside Rome on Monday, therefore, is anything but casual. ...

  • Pope Francis Tweets compiled by Thomas C. Fox. National Catholic Reporter 07/02/13. On the outside chance some NCR readers might have missed some of Pope Francis' tweets, I've gathered some of them here. These nuggets of spiritual wisdom date back to mid-May.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Pope Francis Roundup!


  • Pope Francis' first encyclical to be published July 5 Catholic News Service. 07/01/13. Pope Francis' first encyclical -- "Lumen fidei" (The Light of Faith) -- which he has said is largely the work of retired Pope Benedict XVI, will be published July 5.
  • Catholic website launches cartoon of Pope Francis La Stampa 06/29/13. The Pope is transformed into a cartoon for the first time., a Catholic website run by a group of university students has launched a four minute animation of Pope Francis’ life, in different languages, including Italian, Argentinean media report.
  • Pope creates commission to study activities, mission of Vatican bank Pope Francis has created a five-person commission to review the activities and mission of the Vatican bank. ... part of the pope's larger efforts to reform the central offices of the church. Catholic News Service 6/26/13. (For more, see: Pope Francis’ fight for transparency, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 06/29/13).
  • Francis’ first encounter with world Jewish Leaders: warmth and personal commitment, by Lisa Palmieri-Billig. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 06/28/13. Pope Francis' new style shone through in his first meeting with representatives of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations on 24 June.
  • Young Argentine Catholics on an underground mission in Francis' footsteps La Stampa 06/28/13:
    This coming 29 June, the young Catholics of Buenos Aires will become missionaries and take the same underground Jorge Mario Bergoglio used to use to get around town until a few months ago. Francis will therefore become an emblem of those existential peripheries he so loves talking about as Pope, from Rome, as he used to with the young Catholics of Buenos Aires. The Archdiocese of Buenos Aires has sent out an invitation to young people to celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul by gathering in the subway stations Francis used to use and then attend an evening Mass in the cathedral.
  • Francis breaks the mould by not attending Vatican concert La Stampa 06/23/13:
    Bergoglio’s aversion to worldliness is common knowledge and he has tried his best to avoid attending certain events. On this occasion, however, he had confirmed his attendance, so he had a legitimate reason for not walking the 50 metres that separate St. Martha’s House from the concert hall to attend the concert directed by Slovakian director Juraj Valcuha Mehta with Rai state television Orchestra: he was busy at work at his desk. Francis is faced with making some important decisions which are expected to change the face of the Roman Curia in the coming months. He does not see himself as a monarch but as a shepherd: only two days ago, he urged bishops “not to have the psychology of 'Princes.'”

    There were lots of long faces among dignitaries, politicians, sponsors and cardinals when it was announced that Francis would not be attending the concert, just a minute before it was due to start.

  • Pope says false ideas of freedom spawn threats to human life Catholic News Service. 6/17/13:
    "Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death," the pope said in his homily during the Mass June 16.

    The Mass was the culmination of a weekend dedicated to "Evangelium Vitae" (the "Gospel of Life"), a pilgrimage organized for the Year of Faith and named after the 1995 encyclical by Blessed John Paul II on the "value and inviolability of human life."

    "All too often," Pope Francis said, "people do not choose life, they do not accept the 'Gospel of Life' but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.

    "It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment," he said. "As a result, the living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death."

    "Let us say 'yes' to love and not selfishness," Pope Francis concluded. "Let us say 'yes' to life and not death. Let us say 'yes' to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time."

  • Pope nixes 'boring' practice of reading text to students, uses Q&A. Catholic News Service. 06/07/13. Pope Francis ditched a 1,250-word prepared speech to students saying it would be "a tad boring" to read out loud and opted instead to just quickly hit the high points and spend the rest of the time answering people's questions.
  • Man in Pope Francis Exorcism Story Says He's Still Possessed by Demons, by Leonardo Blair. Christian Post 05/31/13. "I still have the demons inside me, they have not gone away," said Angel, while admitting that he is now able to walk since Pope Francis prayed over him on May 19 at the end of Mass.


  • The Hundred Days of Francis and the Enigma of the Empty Chair, by Sandro Magister. 06/24/13. "His sudden refusal to listen to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven offered for the Year of Faith is the seal on the beginning of a pontificate that is difficult to decipher. The success that he enjoys in the media has a reason and a cost: his silence on the crucial political questions of abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage."
  • 100 days of Francis: Reality and expectations, by Andrea Tornielli. La Stampa "The Vatican Insider" 06/19/13. A summary of what’s new in Francis’ papacy, his most important messages and the changes introduced.
  • Bergoglio, the "Black Pope" Dressed in White, by Sandro Magister. 06/13/13. He governs the Church like a superior general of the Jesuits. He listens, but decides on his own. Even a McKinsey man has been called in to study the reform of the curia. Which Francis wants to purify from corruption and from the "gay lobby".
  • Pope is a 'spiritual success' who will emphasize change, rabbi says Catholic News Service 06/12/13. Interview with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, an Argentine biophysicist and rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, and co-author of On Heaven and Earth with Pope Francis.
  • Beneath the hype, Rio a major test for Francis, by John Allen, Jr. National Catholic Reporter 05/24/13. "In exactly two months, Pope Francis will make his first overseas trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day. It shapes up as the biggest Catholic blowout of the early 21st century, a massive celebration of history’s first Latin American pope folded into what’s already the Catholic version of Lollapalooza."