Pope Francis I

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Post by SoulBiter »

I agree its worth pursuing and indeed we were pursuing it. Which is why we (the USA) have so many less nukes than we had in the 80's. But with Putin and China arming back up, its moving back the other way again.
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Ad infinitum.. 🥲

If we could think of a more effective way of resolving problems than the use of violence/exercise of force ~ that’d be amazing.

But it is hard indeed when there are no shared objectives and in particular when THIS is not one of them.
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Pope Francis in Orbán's Hungary: Christians must accept refugees
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Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony with Hungarian President Katalin Novák at Sándor Palace in Budapest, Hungary, April 28, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY — Pope Francis on April 28 launched his closely watched three-day trip to Hungary by telling the country's staunchly anti-immigrant political leaders that if the country wants to remain true to its Christian roots, it must be willing to accept migrants and refugees.

" 'I urge you to show favor not only to relations and kin, or to the powerful and wealthy, or to your neighbors and fellow-countrymen, but also to foreigners and all who come to you,' " said Francis, quoting St. Stephen, the country's 10th century king who spread Christianity throughout Hungary.

In the presence of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — one of Europe's most polarizing leaders who has previously lambasted migration as a "Trojan wooden horse of terrorism," while styling himself as a defender of traditional Christianity — the pope recalled the country's heritage of Christian leaders whose lives have been marked by openness towards others and a "gentleness" of spirit.

Francis' appeal offered a stark contrast to Orbán, who over the last decade has seized on migration as a wedge issue, often using coarse language characterizing migrants as "invaders" who threaten the country's national identity.

The pope, drawing on Hungary's own past, offered a different perspective.

" 'I urge you to welcome strangers with benevolence and to hold them in esteem, so that they prefer to be with you rather than elsewhere,' " Francis said, again quoting St. Stephen.

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Pope Francis gives his first speech in Hungary to government and civic leaders and diplomats serving in Budapest at the former Carmelite monastery that now houses the office of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, on April 28. (CNS/Vatican Media)

While acknowledging that welcoming new arrivals can be a "complex" issue, the pope said that "for those who are Christians, our basic attitude cannot differ from that which St. Stephen … having learned it from Jesus, who identified himself with the stranger needing to be welcomed."

[…]

Against the backdrop of war, the pope delivered an impassioned appeal for united Europe in a country that earlier this year hinted that it might seek to leave the European Union.

Francis, urging a return to multilateralism, went on to cite from the founding fathers of the European Union who after the Second World War sought to forge together in hopes of preventing future conflicts.

"We seem to be witnessing the sorry sunset of that choral dream of peace, as the soloists of war now take over," he lamented.

Now is the time, said the pope, "to recover the European spirit: the excitement and vision of its founders, who were statesmen able to look beyond their own times, beyond national boundaries and immediate needs, and to generate forms of diplomacy capable of pursuing unity, not aggravating divisions."

While only directly mentioning the conflict in Ukraine once, the pope quoted from the 1950 Schuman Declaration that inspired today's 27-member European Union: "World peace cannot be ensured except by creative efforts, proportionate to the dangers threatening it."

"At the present time," Francis added, "those dangers are many indeed; but I ask myself, thinking not least of war-torn Ukraine, where are creative efforts for peace?"

In her opening remarks to the pope, Hungarian President Katalin Novák praised the pope for coming to Hungary, saying, "Hungarians and millions of people all over the world see in you the man of peace!"

"Speak to Kyiv and Moscow, to Washington, Brussels, Budapest and with all those without whom there can be no peace," she pleaded. "Here, in Budapest, we ask you to kindly personally intercede for a just peace as soon as possible."

[…]

Yet while the majority of the pope's 20-minute address offered a markedly different vision for Europe than that of the current Hungarian government, Francis commended the country's pro-family policies that seek to promote traditional marriage and limit legal abortion.

"How much better it would be to build a Europe centered on the human person and on its peoples, with effective policies for natality and the family — policies that are pursued attentively in this country — a Europe whose different nations would form a single family that protects the growth and uniqueness of each of its members," said the pope.

As the pope concluded his opening remarks in Hungary — his second visit in less than two years — Francis again praised the country's strong national identity, but said it must also be marked by an "openness towards others."

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Pope Francis meets with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at Sándor Palace April 28 in Budapest, Hungary. The pope was beginning a three-day trip to Hungary's capital with meetings with government officials. (CNS/Vatican Media)

[…]

After dedicating the majority of his inaugural remarks to the theme of migration, Francis will begin his second-day in the Hungarian capital by meeting with refugees, including recent arrivals from Ukraine.


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Amid Hungary’s ‘no migrants’ policy, Pope Francis urges open doors and welcome
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Pope Francis delivers his speech during a mass in Kossuth Lajos' Square in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, April 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) — To be Christian is to be open and welcoming to others, Pope Francis said as he celebrated Mass outside Hungary's Parliament building.

"We, like Jesus, must become open doors. How sad and painful it is to see closed doors," especially the "closed doors of our selfishness," isolationism and indifference to the poor and the sick, he said at the Mass April 30 in Budapest's Kossuth Lajos Square.

In a country that has assisted hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war but otherwise maintains a "no migrants" policy, the pope decried "the doors we close toward those who are foreign or unlike us, toward migrants or the poor."

[…]

Pope Francis returned to the topic of borders and welcome at the end of Mass before leading the recitation of the "Regina Coeli" prayer.

Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest had described Hungary as being "the eastern border of Western Christianity for a thousand years."

Pope Francis commented, "It is a beautiful thing when borders do not represent boundaries that separate, but points of contact, and when believers in Christ emphasize first the charity that unites us, rather than the historical, cultural and religious differences that divide us."

Before leading the Marian prayer, he told people in the square he wanted to entrust to Mary "the faith and the future of the entire continent of Europe, which has been on my mind in these days and, in particular, the cause of peace."

"Blessed Virgin," he prayed, "watch over the people who suffer so greatly. In a special way, watch over the neighboring, beleaguered Ukrainian people and the Russian people, both consecrated to you."

"Instill in the hearts of peoples and their leaders the desire to build peace and to give the younger generations a future of hope, not war," the pope prayed, "a future full of cradles not tombs, a world of brothers and sisters, not walls and barricades."

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis focused on the Gospel reading, John 10:1–10, where Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who calls his sheep by name and as the gate for the sheep.

Jesus brings people into the fold, the community, the church, the pope said, and then he sends them out.

"We too were first gathered into God's family to become his people," he said, "then we too were sent out into the world so that, courageously and fearlessly, we might become heralds of the good news, witnesses of the love that has given us new birth."

Jesus is an open door, the pope said, welcoming people into the community and sending them out again in his name.

Pope Francis said he is saddened to see "closed doors also within our ecclesial communities: doors closed to other people, closed to the world, closed to those who are 'irregular,' closed to those who long for God's forgiveness."

"Please," he told Hungarian Catholics, "let us open those doors! Let us try to be — in our words, deeds and daily activities — like Jesus, an open door: a door that is never shut in anyone's face, a door that enables everyone to enter and experience the beauty of the Lord's love and forgiveness."

Saying he was speaking particularly to himself and to his fellow bishops and priests, Pope Francis said they must be good shepherds like Jesus, who "does not take advantage of his role; he does not lord it over the flock entrusted to his care; he does not occupy spaces that belong to his lay brothers and sisters; he does not exercise inflexible authority."

The call extends to "those with political and social responsibilities," he said. "Be open and inclusive, then, and in this way, help Hungary to grow in fraternity, which is the path of peace."


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Pope Francis upholds Catholic ban on contraception
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Pope Francis blesses a baby as he arrives for his general audience at St Peter’s square at the Vatican. (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Pope Francis has sent a message to a Natural Family Planning (NFP) conference in which he upheld the central teachings of Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical of 1968 that prohibited married Catholics from using contraception.

The Pontiff stated that the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse were “inseparable” and he called for a counter-sexual revolution.

He warned Catholics that the widespread use of contraception had impoverished many societies and that some countries were now in danger of demographic collapse.

“There is a need always to keep in mind the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of the conjugal act,” he said in a message to a Rome conference celebrating the Billings Ovulation Method of NFP.

The Pope said: “When these two meanings are consciously affirmed, the generosity of love is born and strengthened in the hearts of the spouses, disposing them to welcome new life.

“Lacking this, the experience of sexuality is impoverished, reduced to sensations that soon become self-referential, and its dimensions of humanity and responsibility are lost.”

Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said that “the use of methods based on the natural rhythms of fertility should be encouraged, emphasising the fact that they ‘respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favour the education of an authentic freedom’.”

“In the aftermath of the so-called sexual revolution and the breakdown of taboos, we need a new revolution in our way of thinking,” reported Catholic News Agency.

“We need to discover the beauty of human sexuality by once again turning to the great book of nature, learning to respect the value of the body and the generation of life, with a view to authentic experiences of conjugal love.”

“In a world dominated by a relativistic and trivialised view of human sexuality, serious education in this area appears increasingly necessary,” Pope Francis said, “requiring an anthropological and ethical approach in which doctrinal issues are explored without undue simplifications or inflexible conclusions.”

The Pope also pointed out the benefits of the Billings method and others for using modern scientific findings to help couples struggling to conceive.

A greater understanding of the procreative processes, he said, “could help many couples make informed and ethically sound decisions that are more respectful of the person and his or her dignity”.

“Today the ideological and practical separation of the sexual relationship from its generative potential has resulted in the quest for alternative forms of having a child, no longer through marital relations but through the use of artificial processes,” he said.

“However, while it is appropriate to assist and support a legitimate desire to conceive with the most advanced scientific knowledge and technologies that can enhance fertility, it is wrong to create test tube embryos and then suppress them, to trade in gametes and to resort to the practice of surrogate parenthood.

“At the root of the current demographic crisis is, along with various social and cultural factors, an imbalance in the view of sexuality.”

Pope Francis also spoke about the importance of an authentic sexual education and “the connection between sexuality and the fundamental vocation of each person, the gift of self, which finds particular fulfilment in conjugal and family love.”

He said: “This truth, while present in the heart of each human being, requires education in order to achieve full expression,” he said.

The remarks of Pope Francis will inevitably disappoint people who were hoping that he might attempt to reverse or modify the teachings of Pope St Paul VI, whose encyclical [Humanae Vitae] shocked many Catholics when it clarified the teaching of the Church against contraception.

The Holy Father explained in his address that the plea by Pope St Paul for scientists to discover new and effective ways of fertility regulation which respected Catholic moral teaching were already fully realised.

Francis said: “In the second half of the last century, as pharmacological research for fertility control expanded and the contraceptive culture was on the rise, John and Evelyn Billings conducted careful scientific research and developed a simple method, accessible to women and couples, for natural knowledge of fertility, offering them a valuable tool for the responsible management of procreative choices.

“In those years, their approach might have appeared outdated and less reliable in comparison with the purported immediacy and security of pharmacological interventions. Yet in fact, their method has continued to prove timely and challenging.”

He said the proven efficacy of NFP has spurred “a serious reflection” on “the need for education in the value of the human body, an integrated and integral vision of human sexuality, an ability to cherish the fruitfulness of love even when not fertile, the building up of a culture that welcomes life and ways to confront the problem of demographic collapse”.

The Pope’s message was sent to participants in an international conference called “The ‘Billings Revolution’ 70 Years Later: From Fertility Knowledge to Personalized Medicine”.

[…]


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Close papal aide says Ukraine peace mission could bear fruit in 3 months
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Professor Stefano Zamagni, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences. (Credit: Vatican Media)

ROME — A close papal advisor has said that despite a spate of denials, the secret Vatican peace mission to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that Pope Francis referenced over the weekend does in fact exist and could yield results within a few weeks’ time.

Speaking to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quoditiano, Italian economist Stefano Zamagni said, “The pope has been working continuously for peace for more than eight months. But it’s no surprise: It is obvious that both the Kremlin and Kyiv deny it because there is still no official document.”

A professor at the University of Bologna and until recently president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Zamagni was once one of the highest-ranking laymen at the Vatican and is rumored to have been a leading ghost writer of the pope’s 2015 eco-encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Though he stepped down from leadership of the Pontifical Academy just over a month ago, Zamagni is still widely believed to enjoy a close relationship with Pope Francis and is apparently still involved in the Ukraine peace “mission,” described by Fatto Quoditiano as a dossier he helped to write.

Zamagni said that when it comes to the Ukraine peace process, he himself wrote a seven-point plan in September, “wanting to get ahead of the times,” and that this “mission,” as Pope Francis defined it, has been carried forward the past few months.

[…]

Speaking to Fatto Quoditiano, Zamagni said that both Kyiv and the Kremlin denied any knowledge of the Vatican’s “mission” because it involves “a path that has nothing official and canonical, but which gathers the fruits of the intervention of various people,” including the Pontifical Academy itself, which at the end of last year published the concluding document of a workshop on the topic of the Ukraine war.

This document, Zamagni said, voiced hope “for the mediation of the Pope and the Vatican secretariat in seating the parties around the table.”

Zamagni said that right now, “we are on the finishing straight. If not within the next few weeks, then within the next three months we will surely see if this effort for peace on the part of the Vatican will have received the go-ahead, if it arrives to a red-light.”

“It was to be imagined that a dialogue would have been reached, even underground, given that we are at a point where nothing can be resolved with weapons. The alternative to peace would be war by exhaustion,” he said, adding, “Only Bergoglio as super partes can guarantee peace,” even if it is not “perfect peace.”

“Better an unjust peace than a just war,” Zamagni said.

He also touched on the role of both China and the United States in the conflict, saying, “to sit around a table must be Biden and Xi, and the pope has strong influence on both for different reasons, but he is not party to either.”

“The two paths of negotiation (the Chinese one and the Vatican one) proceed in parallel,” he said, saying, “it is evident, and it is a consequence of the nature of the conflict: the clash between the United States and the other part of the world with China in the lead.”

Zamagni insisted that the peace mission the pope referred to exists despite denials, and noted that within the past week, the pope has met with officials on both sides of the conflict.

The day before departing for his April 28–30 visit to Hungary, Pope Francis met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the Vatican. While in Budapest, he met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who is widely considered one of Russia’s most sympathetic European leaders, and he also met with Hilarion.

Also noteworthy is the quiet visit paid by Metropolitan Anthony to the Vatican Monday, where Anthony met with the president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Eastern Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti. He also greeted Pope Francis briefly Wednesday at the end of the pontiff’s weekly general audience.

According to a communique published on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website, Anthony traveled to Italy for “a short working visit,” and that during the meeting with Gugerotti, “a wide range of issues of mutual interest were discussed.”

Zamagni in his remarks said he believed there have been signs of openness on the part of Russian Orthodox officials to work negotiate, noting how on the Orthodox celebration of Easter, Kirill urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pursue a “just peace.”

A Vatican official contacted by Crux for clarification on the nature of the secret peace mission declined to comment.


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Post by Skyweir »

Well here’s hoping 👌

But honestly if Russia denies meeting to talk peace with Catholicism what’s the likelihood they’re regarding these “vigilante” effort’s seriously?

And Zemagni (Z) sounds like a bit of a cowboy and I’m not sure his “an unjust peace is better than a just war” bizzo…

Also puhlease THE TWO PATHS - China or the Vatican??!!?

I find it hard to believe such a mission is as Z describes it.

Francis meeting with Orban 🤮 may reap some movement ~ but he’s hardly a reliable ally. But if they can encourage peace ~ more power to them.

As to the Russian Orthodix church ~ I doubt they have much influence over Putin or Russian military operations.
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Parolin confirms Ukraine peace mission, ‘surprised’ at denials
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Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. (Credit: Vatican Media)

ROME — Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has confirmed that a peace mission is underway to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, saying he was surprised by the denials from both sides, as they had each been informed.

“There will be a peacekeeping mission. As far as I know, the two sides were informed at the time,” Parolin told journalists at a book presentation Wednesday, saying, “I’m surprised they say otherwise,” in reference to the denials of any knowledge of the initiative from both Ukrainian and Russian officials.

“As far as I know, they know. Then you know how it is, in the middle of the maze of bureaucracy it may be that communications do not arrive where they should arrive. But mine are only interpretations, I know that both sides have been informed,” he said.

Parolin voiced doubt on whether “the conditions exist today for a ceasefire,” saying, “We hope so, I believe that even the Vatican initiative, if there will be one, intends to go in that direction.”

Parolin’s remarks come after Pope Francis on his return flight from Budapest Sunday made cryptic remarks about a secret peacekeeping mission to end the Russia-Ukraine war, telling journalist on board that, “right now a mission is underway, but it is not yet public. When it is public, I will reveal it.”

He offered no further details, and in the confusion that followed both Ukrainian and Russian officials denied having any knowledge about a peacekeeping mission.

[…]

In his remarks Wednesday, Parolin also commented on recent drone attacks on the Kremlin, saying they make achieving peace more difficult.

“All actions of war, especially if they intend to create an even more hostile climate, do not lead to peace, and certainly do not bring peace closer,” he said, saying the Vatican would like for both sides “to arrive at a cessation of fighting and then start a peace process.”

He spoke on the margins of a presentation at Rome’s LUMSA University of a book on Italian priest Don Tonino Bello for the 30th anniversary of his death, having carried out a peace mission in Sarajevo to stop the war in the Balkans shortly before he died.

Parolin referred to the visit of Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, the Moscow patriarchate’s foreign minister, to Rome this week, where he met with the president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Eastern Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, and greeted Pope Francis briefly Wednesday at the end of the pontiff’s weekly general audience.

Anthony’s visit “is part of the normal communications that occur from time to time,” Parolin said, saying the metropolitan’s visit “has nothing to do with” the peacekeeping mission. “Anthony has always said that communications continue, and he is the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

He reiterated the pope’s invitation to both Russian and Ukrainian officials to “find points of agreement and put an end to this massacre, which is severely affecting Ukraine but which also has considerable implications for Russia.”

Asked for details about the Vatican’s peacekeeping mission, Parolin declined, saying the pope mentioned it, and “we leave it to him to give any further information.”

Parolin reiterated his surprise at denials of the mission from Ukrainian and Russian officials, saying, “I don’t know what motivation or reasoning it responds to.”

He pointed to the figure of Don Tonino Bello, saying, “he really worked hard for peace, especially for the Gulf War, and then the Balkan War, and he proposed concrete signs of peace by exposing himself personally and asking for a commitment, not only verbal, in favor of peace.”

“Perhaps we need prophets of peace in our day,” he said.


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Unpacking how history changed yesterday with recognition of Coptic martyrs [News Analysis]
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Pope Francis with Coptic Pope Tawadros II. (Credit: Vatican News)

ROME — For those with ears to hear, every so often it’s actually possible to detect the sound of history’s tectonic plates as they shift. Such was the case Thursday, with a remarkable gesture by Pope Francis of inscribing a group of Coptic Christian martyrs into the Roman Martyrology, Catholicism’s official compendium of saints.

The move was not quite completely unprecedented, since, as Vatican News pointed out, the martyrology was updated in 2001 with certain Orthodox saints who date from the period after the historical separation between Eastern and Western Christianity.

Still, this was the first time the martyrology was revised with the explicit approval of a non-Catholic cleric, in this case Coptic Pope Tawadros II — suggesting, in some sense, that non-Catholics can have a say in whom the Catholic Church chooses to venerate.

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It was also the first time the newly inscribed martyrs are contemporaries, as these 21 martyrs (20 Egyptian Copts and one Ghanian Christian) were beheaded by ISIS in 2015.

The full implications of the act will become clear only with time. For now, four immediate observations suggest themselves:
  • It’s a rare case in which a papal act is likely to play well with both the Catholic left and right.
  • For a pope often accused of breaking with his immediate predecessors, this decision places Francis squarely in continuity with Pope John Paul II.
  • The decision may increase pressure on Francis to beatify and canonize his own new martyrs from the Middle East.
  • It also upends the saying, “Sometimes the only way around is through.” With regard to ecumenical progress, Francis seems to be suggesting that sometimes the best way through is around.
Left and Right

To traffic in wild over-generalizations, ecumenism, meaning the press for Christian unity, tends to be a greater concern for Catholic moderates and progressives. Conservatives sometimes fret that too much doctrinal ground may be given up in the search for consensus, and are likely to emphasize Catholic distinctiveness.

On the other hand, anti-Christian persecution, especially in its 21st century forms, often finds greater traction among conservatives. That’s especially so given that numerically, the largest number of new Christian martyrs today tend to be victims of Islamic fundamentalism. Liberals often worry that too much emphasis on anti-Christian persecution may lead to Islamophobia, and also may be exploited to gin up sympathy for conservative positions in the Western culture wars.

In this instance, Pope Francis has performed a deeply ecumenical act by honoring martyrs to Islamic extremism. While his motives were clearly pastoral, the immediate political reactions are nonetheless likely to be unusually compact, and in a positive direction.

Continuity with John Paul II

As early as his 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millenio Adveniente anticipating the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II began calling for a joint Christian memorial of the new martyrs. He repeated the idea in 1995’s Ut Unum Sint, his encyclical on ecumenism. In 1998, his preparatory commission for the jubilee proposed a “Common Martyrology,” meaning a listing of martyrs that would be shared among all the Christian churches.

That proposal ran into a theological buzzsaw, torpedoed by critics who said it would be incoherent to propose role models of holiness who went to their deaths upholding beliefs the Catholic Church officially regards as heretical.

Nonetheless John Paul persisted, staging an ecumenical liturgy in 2000 at Rome’s Colosseum dedicated to new martyrs, including non-Catholics such as Martin Luther King Jr.

In that sense, Pope Francis on Thursday advanced a cause to which John Paul II was also devoutly devoted.

Catholic Martyrs

Ironically, the lone constituency likely to be disconcerted by Francis’s inclusion of the Copts are members of his own flock across the Middle East, who may wonder why the same papal solicitude isn’t being shown to their own martyrs.

An emblematic case would be the 48 Chaldean Catholics who were executed by Islamic militants at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Oct. 31, 2010, including an unborn child in the womb. Their sainthood cause has been languishing in Rome since 2019, despite the fact that Francis actually visited the site of their martyrdom during his trip to Iraq in 2021, including sitting in the very spot where Father Taher Abdal was shot to death.

[…]

Nevertheless, acting on Coptic Orthodox martyrs while delaying Catholics still is likely to rankle. As one sainthood expert put it Thursday, it may come off as “marketing in the guise of ecumenism.”

Around, Not Through

It’s often said that the best marriages begin as friendships, when the partners aren’t thinking about themselves as spouses but simply people bound by common interests and values. In the same vein, it may well be that Christian unity doesn’t begin with formal declarations of structural reintegration, but rather with expressions of common cause on other fronts.

In that sense, by honoring the martyrs of another Christian confession, to the extent of including them in the Catholic Church’s official daily prayer, and by doing so only with the blessing of the leader of that non-Catholic tradition, Pope Francis effectively has achieved a new degree of integration, only without calling it that.

Where will this lead? At present, it’s difficult to say. At a minimum, however, it opens a new set of possibilities for joint recognition of sanctity that didn’t exist before, and that alone can’t help but feel like momentum.


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Pope Francis meets with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in wartime encounter at Vatican
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Pope Francis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shake hands after their meeting at the Vatican May 13, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Rome — Amid the Holy See's efforts to push for peace, Pope Francis met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on May 13, marking a rare wartime encounter at the Vatican between a pontiff and a head of state and on the eve of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia.

Zelenskyy's closely watched visit comes two weeks after the pope told reporters that he is engaged in a secret mission to end Russia's war against Ukraine. Since that time, both Russian and Ukrainian officials have said they are unaware of any such plans and have not authorized any peace negotiations. The pope's top diplomatic aides, however, have insisted that plans are underway.

Since the start of the war on Feb. 24, 2022, Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have made regular appeals for the pope to visit the war-torn country. The pope has said he is willing to visit, but only if he could travel to Moscow, as well, to make an appeal for peace.

But on day 443 of the war, Zelenskyy instead came to pay a visit to the pope.

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[…]

Francis greeted Zelenskyy at the door of the Vatican's Pope Paul VI Hall, rather than the Apostolic Palace, which is traditionally used for meetings with heads of state.

"Thank you for this visit," the pope said to Zelenskyy in Italian. "A great honor," Zelenskyy replied in English, placing his hand over his heart.

The pope and the president met for 40 minutes behind closed doors, with Zelenskyy giving the pope a bullet-dented plate and a poster in the style of an icon titled "Loss." The image memorialized the lives of children who died in the early days of the conflict.

A Vatican readout of the meeting said the pope assured Zelenskyy of his constant prayers and emphasized an urgent need for "gestures of humanity" to help victims of the war. In a tweet, Zelenskyy emphasized that he asked the pope to condemn Russian war crimes, writing that "there can be no equality between the victim and the aggressor."

He also said that he asked the Vatican to back Ukraine's peace formula, which includes the withdrawal of Russian forces from the country, a restoration of all of Ukraine's sovereign territory, Russian war reparations and postwar security guarantees for Ukraine.

Following his meeting with the pope, Zelenskyy met with the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, for 30 minutes.

The Vatican has made multiple overtures to serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine since the start of the war, though some experts have questioned what role the Catholic Church can play in ending a conflict between the two predominantly Orthodox countries.

While the pope has explicitly stated that Ukraine has a right to self-defense, including receiving arms from allies, he has also called for both sides to lay down their weapons and negotiate an end to the 15-month conflict.

At various points throughout the war, Ukrainian government officials have expressed frustration at the pope's joint calls for both Russia and Ukraine to end the war, saying it gives the impression that both parties bear some of the responsibility.

Following a meeting at the Vatican with the pope last month, Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal emphasized that he believed the Holy See could serve a primarily humanitarian role in the conflict, specifically by aiding in the return of what is estimated to be thousands of Ukrainian children taken from their homeland.

En route home from a trip to Hungary last month, Francis told reporters the Vatican would work towards that goal, noting that the Holy See had already been involved in brokering successful prisoner exchanges between Ukraine and Russia.

The pope has spoken with Zelenskyy three times by phone since the beginning of the conflict, the last conversation taking place on August 12, 2022.

Despite repeated efforts — including an unprecedented visit by the pope to the Russian Embassy to the Vatican the day after the war began to express his concerns — Francis has not been able to speak directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The May 13 visit marks Zelenskyy's second visit to the Vatican since being elected president of Ukraine in 2019. His last visit took place on Feb. 8, 2020, just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Vatican readout of that meeting made reference to Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea, noting at the time that the conflict was still afflicting Ukraine.

Three years later, Zelenskyy's arrived here in Rome on May 13 facing far graver challenges, seeking both the pope and the Italian government's continued support for his beleaguered country.

During his brief one-day stay in Rome, Zelenskyy also met with Italy's President Sergio Matarella and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni prior to heading to Germany where he, along with the Ukrainian people, will receive the International Charlemagne Prize, an annual award given for contributions towards European Unity.

"An important visit for approaching victory of Ukraine!" Zelenskyy tweeted.


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Vatican stamp inspired by monument celebrating colonial era stirs controversy
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(Credit: Vatican Media)

ROME — One of the hard lessons about being pope is that while it can require massive effort to accomplish something positive, it doesn’t take much at all to get you into trouble. As proof of the point, Pope Francis is facing blowback right now over a tiny piece of paper that measures less than two inches by 1.3 inches.

The paper in question is a new Vatican postage stamp promoting the next World Youth Day, to be staged in Lisbon, Portugal, August 1–6.

The stamp depicts Francis leading a small coterie of youth in pointing toward the horizon and, therefore, toward the future. It’s inspired by a famous statue in Lisbon called the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or the “Monument of the Discoveries,” which was erected in 1960 to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, and thus to celebrate Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

The choice has generated objections, both in Portugal and elsewhere, among critics who see it as celebrating colonial exploitation and oppression, finding it especially ironic that the Vatican would embrace such imagery just weeks after formally disowning the colonial-era “doctrine of discovery.”

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It doesn’t help that the statue in Lisbon was erected under the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar, with several observers on social media pointing out that the Vatican stamp bears comparison to imagery employed by Portugal’s “Secretariat of National Propaganda” during Salazar’s Estado Novo, or “New State.”

Even one of the pontiff’s own officials, Portuguese Bishop Carlos Alberto de Pinho Moreira Azevedo, delegate to the Pontifical Council for Social Sciences, declared that he found the stamp to be in “poor taste.”

“Certainly, Pope Francis does not identify with this nationalist image,” Azevedo told a Portuguese new outlet, “[which] contradicts universal fraternity.”

[…]

As of yesterday, several Portuguese media outlets were reporting that the stamp had been withdrawn, as it was no longer available for sale in the Vatican post office on St. Peter’s Square. With an initial run of 45,000 copies, the stamp was issued Tuesday with a face value of 3.10 Euro.

In the presentation of the stamp by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Family, Laity and Life, the department which oversees World Youth Day, there was no reference to the complicated history of the statue which inspired it.

“Just as in the monument Prince Henry the Navigator guides the crew to the discovery of the new world, on the stamp, Pope Francis guides the youth and the Church, represented by Peter’s boat, to the discovery of ‘this epochal change,’ as the Holy Father stated at the Ecclesial Convention in Florence, without quietly giving in to the habit of sailing by sight, to the point of removing the very reality of the port that awaits them,” a statement from the dicastery said.

Rosa Pedroso Lima, a spokesperson for the World Youth Day Foundation in Lisbon, stressed that “Pope Francis is committed to respect, breaking down walls, expanding borders, communicating with peoples, cultures and religions,” calling any other interpretation of the stamp “abusive” with regard to the pope’s intentions.

Though the Vatican has not officially confirmed Pope Francis’s participation in the World Youth Day gathering, the pontiff released a video message May 4 in which he told young people preparing for the event, “I’ll see you in Lisbon.”


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Pope’s handpicked mediator on Ukraine defends Francis’s line on the war
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Cardinal Matteo Zuppi introduces the 77th general assembly of the Italian Bishops Conference on May 23, 2023. (Credit: Vatican Media)

ROME — In a potential glimpse of things to come, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, tasked with leading Pope Francis’s peace mission in Ukraine, on Tuesday called war a “pandemic” and defended the pope’s handling of the Ukraine–Russia war.

In a keynote address at the beginning of the spring plenary assembly for the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), Zuppi, the conference president, began his lengthy and wide-ranging speech with an appeal for peace, specifically in Ukraine.

Quoting Pope Francis, he said it is a country with “a martyred people.”

Despite criticism that Francis has been too soft in his treatment of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine — including refusing for months after the conflict began to even say the word “Russia” or to mention its President, Vladimir Putin — Zuppi voiced gratitude for the pope’s “prophecy” on the war.

Such a position, he said, is “so rare today, when speaking of peace seems to avoid taking sides or acknowledging responsibility.”

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The pope’s voice, “takes charge of the deep anxiety, sometimes unexpressed, often unheard, of the peoples who need peace,” he said, saying, “War is a pandemic. It involves us all.”

CEI’s spring general assembly is taking place May 22–25, with the theme, “Listening to what the Spirit tells the Churches: Steps Toward Discernment.”

[…]

In his speech Tuesday, Zuppi invoked Pope Francis’s chastisement of European leaders in his speech to national authorities and the diplomatic corps in Hungary April 28, asking, “Where are creative efforts for peace?”

Francis in that speech pointed to what he said was a deterioration of international relations, and Zuppi repeated this lamentation, saying, “We seem to be witnessing the sorry sunset of that choral dream of peace, as the soloists of war now take over.”

“More and more, enthusiasm for building a peaceful and stable community of nations seems to be cooling, as zones of influence are marked out, differences accentuated, nationalism is on the rise,” he said.

At the international level, “it even seems that politics serves more to stir up emotions rather than to resolve problems, as the maturity attained after the horrors of the war gives way to regression towards a kind of adolescent belligerence,” he said, saying peace will never be achieved “as the result of the pursuit of individual strategic interests, but only from policies capable of looking to the bigger picture.”

Zuppi said the pope’s analysis is one that “questions us,” saying that for Christians, “peace is not just a wish, but it is the very reality of the Church, which germinates, like a seed, from the Eucharist and the Gospel.”

Both the Church itself and individual Christians not only believe in peace, but “we are all called to be peacemakers, even more so in the terrible storm of conflicts,” Zuppi said, noting that the church “was among the people and on the ground” during the Second World War.

He noted that in just a few days’ time, on June 3, the Church will mark the 60th anniversary of the death of St. Pope John XXIII, who lived through two world wars “and effectively updated the peaceful message of faith” with his famed 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris, meaning “Peace on Earth,” which outlined the rights and obligations of people and their states, as well as his vision for proper interstate relations.

“We are the people of peace, starting with Jesus, who is our peace,” Zuppi said, noting that Italy given its location in the Mediterranean is “a hinge between North and South, but also between East and West.”

[…]

Zuppi lamented that there is often an attitude of “indifference” to global conflicts in which many remain “spectators of war reduced to a game.”

Actions of peace are needed to overcome this indifference, he said, saying solidarity with refugees, those from Ukraine and beyond, is a starting point, as there are many conflicts around the world raging, prompting people to flee their homes in search of safety elsewhere.

“In a world like ours we cannot do without a global vision,” he said, saying, “following the painful events of distant countries, with prayer and information, is a form of charity. After all, the culture of peace is a decisive chapter of the culture of life, which draws inspiration from faith.”

Faith must become part of culture Zuppi said, saying the world is in “an emotional and subjective time” in which deculturation is being pushed while “everything becomes fluid, even that which yesterday would have been unthinkable.”

“There is a great risk of being reduced to intimism, welfarism, or simply living outside history,” he said.

[…]


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Pope Francis says situation at U.S.–Mexico border is 'serious problem'
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Vatican City — Pope Francis called the migration crisis between Mexico and the United States a "serious problem" and praised a U.S. bishop working along the border during an interview with Telemundo journalist Julio Vaqueiro.

In the interview, broadcast May 25, the pope was shown photos of a baby wrapped in a blanket and placed inside a suitcase to be taken across the Rio Grande into the United States.

"It's a serious problem there," the pope said in response. "On the other side (of the border) there is a great man, Bishop Seitz" of El Paso, Texas.

"This bishop feels (the problem)," Francis said. "The problem of migrants is serious, it's serious there and it's serious here," he said about Europe, particularly "along the Libyan coast."

Speaking about his own experience as a child of immigrants, and now as an immigrant in Rome, the pope said that every person who leaves his or her homeland "misses the air of their birthplace."

"The mate you make in a thermos yourself is not the same as the mate your mom or your aunt makes for you," he said, referring to the caffeinated herbal drink popular in Argentina.

[…]


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Pope’s new doctrine watchdog assures: ‘I’m not a Soros spy’ [In-Depth, Interview]
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Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández at the beginning of his ministry as Archbishop of La Plata in 2018. (Credit: Archdiocese of La Plata)

ROME — Pope Francis’s new top theological advisor has attempted to reassure voices in the United States and elsewhere who’ve questioned his adherence to Catholic teaching and tradition, vowing that he’s not a “Soros spy infiltrated in the Church.”

“I am not a Freemason, nor an ally of the New World Order, nor a Soros spy infiltrated in the Church. Those are pure fantasies,” said Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, an Argentine theologian tapped by the pontiff July 1 as the new prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, traditionally the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog agency.

“I try to be an honest person, I confess often, I love the Church and its doctrine, most of my writings are about spirituality and prayer. I cannot conceive my life without God,” Fernández said.

“So [they may] have confidence, and it is better [for them] to look for enemies of the faith elsewhere,” said Fernández, who will turn 61 on July 18, in reference to his critics.

The comments came in an interview with Crux on July 5, conducted via email and in Spanish. It marked Fernández’s first conversation with an English-language news outlet since his appointment to his new role, which he will assume formally in mid-September.

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A key papal ally and ghostwriter of several major papal documents, Fernández has used social media since his appointment to hit back against critics in the United States who, he’s said, have selectively mistranslated certain phrases from his writings, but he told Crux he has no generalized bias about Americans.

“In the United States, the population is very well educated, and the enormous development that the United States had in just a few decades speaks of the great capacity of that people. It would never occur to me to disparage such a noble and capable people,” he said.

“But there are also minorities that can be inclined to fanaticism, to hatred, and this leads to a partial gaze that only seeks the dark side of enemies,” Fernández said, asserting that “some assessments of the Holy Father and even of my person are unfair and not very objective.”

Fernández spoke of his own theological formation and said that in terms of his new role, in keeping with the instructions given by Francis, he’ll aim to promote “dialogue and a deepening of thought” rather than disciplinary actions against wayward theologians.

He also emphasized the importance of another charge given him by Francis, which is to ensure that all Vatican departments are in alignment with the “recent magisterium.”

“It can happen that answers are given to certain theological issues without accepting what Francis has said that is new on those issues,” Fernández said. “It’s not only inserting a phrase from Pope Francis, but allowing thought to be transfigured with his criteria. This is particularly true for moral and pastoral theology.”

The full interview with Fernández appears below, in a Crux translation from Spanish:

〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰〰

Crux: By now it is well known that you and Pope Francis share a close relationship. When did you first meet him, and how has your friendship developed?

Fernández: You know that I have never flaunted this relationship, but the truth is that since the year 2007, it has been a relationship of great trust. …

[…]


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Pope: No one can be indifferent to 'silent massacres' of migrants
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A wreath of flowers thrown by Pope Francis floats in the Mediterranean Sea in the waters off the Italian island of Lampedusa in this July 8, 2013, file photo. The pope threw the wreath to honor the memory of immigrants who have died trying to cross from Africa to reach a new life in Europe. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City — Mourning the "silent massacres" of innocent people who died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea seeking a better life elsewhere, the world must change its attitude toward migrants and those in need, Pope Francis said.

"The brother who knocks at the door deserves love, hospitality and every care," the pope said in a letter marking the tenth anniversary of his first apostolic journey as pope to the Italian island of Lampedusa July 8, 2013. "He is a brother who, like me, has been placed on earth to enjoy what exists there and to share it in communion."

Lampedusa, which lies between Sicily and the northern African nations of Tunisia and Libya, has been for decades a major destination point for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia seeking a new life in Europe. However, many migrants often make the journey in unsafe vessels or without needed provisions like food, water and floatation devices.

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At least 2,000 people are believed to have lost their lives in 2022 and again in 2021 while crossing the Mediterranean. Nearly 26,000 people were recorded dead between 2014 and 2022, and, between 2014 and 2018, about 12,000 people who drowned were never found, according to Statista. Francis mourned the deaths during his 2013 visit with prayers and by tossing a floral wreath into the rippling water.

In his letter to Archbishop Alessandro Damiano of Agrigento, Sicily, the pope said he wanted to visit the people of Lampedusa "to express my support and paternal closeness to those who, after painful ordeals, at the mercy of the sea, landed on your shores." The Vatican published the letter July 8.

"We are witnessing the repetition of grave tragedies in the Mediterranean, we are shocked by the silent massacres before which we still remain helpless and stunned. The death of innocents, mainly children, in search of a more serene existence, far from wars and violence, is a painful and deafening cry that cannot leave us indifferent," he wrote.

"The occurrence of such inhuman disasters must utterly shake our consciences," he wrote. "We must change our attitude" and "we are all called to a renewed and profound sense of responsibility, showing solidarity and sharing."

"It is therefore necessary for the church, in order to be truly prophetic, to make a diligent effort to set out on the paths of the forgotten, coming out of herself, soothing with the balm of fraternity and charity the bleeding sores of those who bear the same wounds of Christ imprinted on their own bodies," the pope wrote.

He urged Christians "not to remain imprisoned by fear and partisan logic, but to be Christians capable of replenishing this island" with the "spiritual richness of the Gospel, so that it may once again shine in its original beauty."

The pope also marked Sea Sunday July 9 after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter's Square. The international day of prayer for seafarers and their families, workers in the maritime industry, chaplains and volunteers with the apostolate of the sea was officially established in 1975 to raise awareness of the importance of the work performed by seafarers, who today number more than one million people.

[…]


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Pope: Sustainable development rooted in ethical values
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Pope Francis addresses participants of an international conference entitled, “Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals (Source: Vatican News)

Pope Francis on Friday meets with participants in an international conference entitled, “Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Vatican News — In 2015 Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly in New York shortly before member states unanimously adopted Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fast forward to 2019 and the Pope was in the Vatican on Friday where he greeted participants taking part in a two day international conference entitled, “Religions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Listening to the cry of the earth and of the poor”.

Listening to all voices

Pope Francis got straight to the point by telling those gathered that, “when we speak of sustainability, we cannot overlook how important it is to include and to listen to all voices, especially those usually excluded from this type of discussion, such as the voices of the poor, migrants, indigenous people and the young.”

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Pope said, “were a great step forward for global dialogue, marking a vitally “new and universal solidarity”. But he noted, “for too long, the conventional idea of development has been almost entirely limited to economic growth.”

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The Pontiff emphasized that, “this has led the modern economic system down a dangerous path where progress is assessed only in terms of material growth, on account of which we are almost obliged to irrationally exploit the environment and our fellow human beings.”

Economic and political objectives, Pope Francis stressed, “must be sustained by ethical objectives, which presuppose a change of attitude: what the Bible would call a change of heart. Already Saint John Paul II spoke about the need to “encourage and support an ‘ecological conversion’”, he said.

The Pope underlined that what was needed was a commitment to “promoting and implementing the development goals that are supported by our deepest religious and ethical values.” He also expressed the hope that concrete solutions and responses would emerge from the conference.

Religious Dimension

Noting the importance of the religious dimension to this gathering, Pope Francis said that “those of us who are religious need to open up the treasures of our best traditions in order to engage in a true and respectful dialogue on how to build the future of our planet.”

The Pontiff also underlined, that “if we want to provide a solid foundation for the work of the 2030 Agenda, “we must reject the temptation to look for a merely technocratic response to the challenges, and be prepared to address the root causes and the long-term consequences.”

Indigenous Peoples

During his address, the Pope made particular mention of Indigenous Peoples saying that, “in a strongly secularized world, such peoples remind us all of the sacredness of our earth. Their voice and their concerns, he added, should be at the centre of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and at the heart of the search for new paths for a sustainable future. I will also be discussing this with my brother bishops at the Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region, at the end of October this year.”

Injustice that brings tears to our world is not invincible

Concluding his address and quoting his encyclical Laudato Si’, he told those present that, “three and a half years since the adoption of the sustainable development goals, we must be even more acutely aware of the importance of accelerating and adapting our actions in responding adequately to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

He added, “the challenges are complex and have multiple causes; the response, therefore, must necessarily be complex and well-structured, respectful of the diverse cultural riches of peoples.”

[…]

The Conference is being jointly organized by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and runs until March 9th.


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Pope on Assumption: Mary takes us by the hand, inviting us to rejoice
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Pope at Angelus. (Source: Vatican News)

During Angelus address on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis reminds faithful that the Blessed Mother takes each of us by the hand, and invites us to rejoice as we follow her trusting, faithful and 'radical' example.

August 15, 2023 — Mary, our Mother, takes us by the hand, accompanies us, and invites us to rejoice. Pope Francis gave this reassurance during his Angelus address on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Monday.

In a special way, he encouraged us to learn from her example, and ask ourselves if we are capable of seeing God's closeness and letting it empower us.
Am I able to discern the work of God who, through gentleness and smallness, achieves great things?
On this Solemnity, the Pope encouraged, "Mary sings of hope and rekindles hope in us."

Mary holding our hand, inviting us to rejoice

Reflecting on Our Lady, the Holy Father reminded, "She is the first creature who, with her whole self, body and soul, victoriously crosses the finish line of Heaven."

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She shows us that Heaven is within reach, if we too do not give in to sin, if we praise God in humility and serve others generously. She, our Mother, takes us by the hand, she accompanies us to glory, she invites us to rejoice as we think of heaven.
The power of reciting the beautiful, familiar 'Hail Mary'

The Pope recalled that when Mary enters the house and greets her cousin, Elizabeth says: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,' and how these words "full of faith, joy and wonder" have become part of the “Hail Mary.”
Every time we recite this prayer, so beautiful and familiar, we do as Elizabeth did: we greet Mary and we bless her, because she brings Jesus to us.
Mary, he said, not only accepts Elizabeth’s blessing and replies by giving us the Magnificat, she goes further, contemplating the work of God throughout history, highlighting that the Lord 'has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.'

As we listen to these words, the Pope said, we might ask ourselves: "is the Virgin not exaggerating, describing a world that does not exist," where "the poor and hungry remain so, while the rich continue to prosper."

Our Lady announces a radical change

Mary’s canticle, Pope Francis stressed, is not intended to chronicle time, but to tell us something "much more important," namely "that God, through her, has inaugurated a historical turning point, he has definitively established a new order of things."
She, small and humble, has been raised up and — we celebrate this today — brought to the glory of Heaven, while the powerful of the world are destined to remain empty-handed. Our Lady, in other words, announces a radical change, an overturning of values.
Mary, he said, 'prophesies,' in anticipating what her Son will say, inasmuch as He will proclaim blessed the poor and humble, and warn the rich and those who base themselves on their own self-sufficiency. He points out that she already understood that it will not be power, success and money that will prevail, but service, humility and love.

Mary's prophetic voice reveals road to Heaven

"Looking at her, in glory, we understand that the true power is service, and that to reign, means to love."

This, he said, is "the road to Heaven."
So, we might wonder: will this prophetic reversal announced by Mary affect my life? Do I believe that to love is to reign, and to serve is power? That the purpose of my life is Heaven, paradise? Or am I concerned only with worldly, material things?
Warning against becoming "entrapped by pessimism" and calling on us to trust in God, the Pope concluded, praying: "Let us bless Mary with our prayer, and let us ask her for a prophetic view, capable of glimpsing Heaven on earth."


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