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Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On Monday, Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:

MARTYRDOM

- Servant of God Tito Zeman, Slovakian professed priest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco (1915-1969).

HEROIC VIRTUES

- Servant of God Octavio Ortiz Arrieta, Peruvian bishop, of the Salesians of St. John Bosco (1878-1958);

- Servant of God Antonio Provolo, Italian diocesan priest, founder of the Society of Mary for the Education of the Deaf-Mutes, and the Sisters of the Society of Mary for the Education of the Deaf-Mute (1801-1842);

- Servant of God Antonio Repiso Martínez de Orbe, Mexican professed priest of the Society of Jesus, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Shepherd (1856-1929);

- Servant of God María de las Mercedes Cabezas Terrera, Spanish founder of the Missionary Workers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1911-1993);

- Servant of God Lucia of the Immaculate Conception (née Maria Ripamonti), Italian professed religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity (1909-1954);

- Servant of God Pedro Herrero Rubio, Spanish layperson (1904-1978);

- Servant of God Vittorio Trancanelli, Italian layperson and father (1944-1998).

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis ‘studying possibility’ of South Sudan visit

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has said his staff is “studying the possibility” of a visit to South Sudan.

He said the reason was that “the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Catholic” bishops of South Sudan had come to ask him: “Please, come to South Sudan, even for a day, but don’t come alone, come with Justin Welby”, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

“We are looking at whether it is possible, or if the situation down there is too dangerous. But we have to do it, because they – the three [Christian communities] – together desire peace, and they are working together for peace.”

The Holy Father’s words came during his Sunday visit to Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church in a question-and-answer session.

He was responding to a question from an Anglican seminarian from Nigeria, who had asked the Pope about the vitality of churches in the Southern Hemisphere.

Pope Francis said those churches are young and therefore have a certain vitality due to their youthfulness.

He also told an anecdote about Blessed Paul VI to show that “ecumenism is often easier in young churches”.

“When Blessed Paul VI beatified the Ugandan martyrs – a young Church – among the martyrs were catechists, all were young, while some were Catholics and others Anglican, and all were martyred by the same king in hate for the faith, because they refused to follow the dirty proposals of the king. And Paul VI was embarrassed, saying: ‘I should beatify both groups; they are both martyrs.’ But in that moment of the Catholic Church, such a thing was not possible.”

Responding to another question about ecumenical relations between the churches, Pope Francis said, “The relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today is good; we care for each other like brothers!”

He then gave two examples of common ground: saints and the monastic life.

“We have a common tradition of the saints… Never, never in the two Churches, have the two traditions renounced the saints: Christians who lived the Christian witness until that point. This is important.”

“There is another thing that has kept up a strong connection between our religious traditions: [male and female] monks, monasteries. And monks, both Catholic and Anglican, are a great spiritual strength of our traditions.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope visits All Saints Anglican Church

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has paid a visit to All Saints Anglican Church in the heart of Rome. This afternoon the Pope presided over an evensong service with the bishop of the Anglican Diocese in Europe Robert Innes.

Whilst at the Church the Holy Father also answered questions from the congregation. Responding to one question the Holy Father said a visit to South Sudan was being studied at the moment. He also said there was the possiblity that he would be accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The Pope also blessed a newly commissioned icon of Christ the Saviour.

It’s the first time a pope has visited an Anglican church in Rome and it comes as part of All Saints’ 200th anniversary celebrations.

Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen followed events and spoke to Lydia O'Kane from All Saints Church. 

Listen: 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: Catholics and Anglicans, brothers and sisters in Christ

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday visited the Anglican Parish of All Saints in Rome. Speaking at the Church the Pope said, "today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together."

Find below the English translation of the Pope's words.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

            I wish to thank you for your gracious invitation to celebrate this parish anniversary with you.  More than two hundred years have passed since the first public Anglican liturgy was held in Rome for a group of English residents in this part of the city.  A great deal has changed in Rome and in the world since then.  In the course of these two centuries, much has also changed between Anglicans and Catholics, who in the past viewed each other with suspicion and hostility.  Today, with gratitude to God, we recognize one another as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ, through our common baptism.  As friends and pilgrims we wish to walk the path together, to follow our Lord Jesus Christ together. 

            You have invited me to bless the new icon of Christ the Saviour.  Christ looks at us, and his gaze upon us is one of salvation, of love and compassion.  It is the same merciful gaze which pierced the hearts of the Apostles, who left the past behind and began a journey of new life, in order to follow and proclaim the Lord.  In this sacred image, as Jesus looks upon us, he seems also to call out to us, to make an appeal to us: “Are you ready to leave everything from your past for me?  Do you want to make my love known, my mercy?”

            His gaze of divine mercy is the source of the whole Christian ministry.  The Apostle Paul says this to us, through his words to the Corinthians which we have just heard.  He writes: “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1).  Our ministry flows forth from the mercy of God, which sustains our ministry and prevents it losing its vigour.

            Saint Paul did not always have an easy relationship with the community at Corinth, as his letters show.  There was also a painful visit to this community, with heated words exchanged in writing.  But this passage shows Paul overcoming past differences.  By living his ministry in the light of mercy received, he does not give up in the face of divisions, but devotes himself to reconciliation.  When we, the community of baptized Christians, find ourselves confronted with disagreements and turn towards the merciful face of Christ to overcome it, it is reassuring to know that we are doing as Saint Paul did in one of the very first Christian communities.

            How does Saint Paul grapple with this task, where does he begin?  With humility, which is not only a beautiful virtue, but a question of identity.  Paul sees himself as a servant, proclaiming not himself but Christ Jesus the Lord (v. 5).  And he carries out this service, this ministry according to the mercy shown him (v. 1): not on the basis of his ability, nor by relying on his own strength, but by trusting that God is watching over him and sustaining his weakness with mercy.  Becoming humble means drawing attention away from oneself, recognizing one’s dependence on God as a beggar of mercy: this is the starting point so that God may work in us.  A past president of the World Council of Churches described Christian evangelization as “a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread”.  I believe Saint Paul would approve.  He grasped the fact that he was “fed by mercy” and that his priority was to share his bread with others: the joy of being loved by the Lord, and of loving him. 

            This is our most precious good, our treasure, and it is in this context that Paul introduces one of his most famous images, one we can all apply to ourselves:  “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (v. 7).  We are but earthen vessels, yet we keep within us the greatest treasure in the world.  The Corinthians knew well that it was foolish to preserve something precious in earthen vessels, which were inexpensive but cracked easily.  Keeping something valuable in them meant running the risk of losing it.  Paul, a graced sinner, humbly recognized that he was fragile, just like an earthen vessel.  But he experienced and knew that it was precisely there that human misery opens itself to God’s merciful action; the Lord performs wonders.  That is how the “extraordinary power” of God works (v. 7).

          Trusting in this humble power, Paul serves the Gospel.  Speaking of some of his adversaries in Corinth, he calls them “super apostles” (2 Cor 12:11), perhaps, and with a certain irony, because they had criticized him for his weaknesses even as they considered themselves observant, even perfect.  Paul, on the other hand, teaches that only in realizing we are weak earthen vessels, sinners always in need of mercy, can the treasure of God be poured into us and through us upon others.  Otherwise, we will merely be full of our treasures, which are corrupted and spoiled in seemingly beautiful vessels.  If we recognize our weakness and ask for forgiveness, then the healing mercy of God will shine in us and will be visible to those outside; others will notice in some way, through us, the gentle beauty of Christ’s face.

            At a certain point, perhaps in the most difficult moment with the community in Corinth, the Apostle Paul cancelled a visit he had planned to make there, also foregoing the offerings he would have received from them (2 Cor 1:15-24).  Though tensions existed in their fellowship, these did not have the final word.  The relationship was restored and Paul received the offering for the care of the Church in Jerusalem.  The Christians in Corinth once again took up their work, together with the other communities which Paul visited, to sustain those in need.  This is a powerful sign of renewed communion.  The work that your community is carrying out together with other English-speaking communities here in Rome can be viewed in this light.  True, solid communion grows and is built up when people work together for those in need.  Through a united witness to charity, the merciful face of Jesus is made visible in our city.

            As Catholics and Anglicans, we are humbly grateful that, after centuries of mutual mistrust, we are now able to recognize that the fruitful grace of Christ is at work also in others.  We thank the Lord that among Christians the desire has grown for greater closeness, which is manifested in our praying together and in our common witness to the Gospel, above all in our various forms of service.  At times, progress on our journey towards full communion may seem slow and uncertain, but today we can be encouraged by our gathering.  For the first time, a Bishop of Rome is visiting your community.  It is a grace and also a responsibility: the responsibility of strengthening our ties, to the praise of Christ, in service of the Gospel and of this city.

            Let us encourage one another to become ever more faithful disciples of Jesus, always more liberated from our respective prejudices from the past and ever more desirous to pray for and with others.  A good sign of this desire is the “twinning” taking place today between your parish of All Saints and All Saints Catholic parish.  May the saints of every Christian confession, fully united in the Jerusalem above, open for us here below the way to all the possible paths of a fraternal and shared Christian journey.  Where we are united in the name of Jesus, he is there (cf. Mt 18:20), and turning his merciful gaze towards us, he calls us to devote ourselves fully in the cause of unity and love.  May the face of God shine upon you, your families and this entire community! 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Angelus: Let God take care of tomorrow

(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis took his cue from the Gospel reading of the day in which Jesus calls us not to worry about tomorrow, recalling that above all there is a loving Father who never forgets his children.

Listen: 

Drawing from this passage the Pope reminded the pilgrims and tourists present to trust in God who takes care of the living beings of creation.

Trusting in him, explained the Holy Father, “will not magically solve our problems, but it lets us face them with the right frame of mind.”

Pope Francis went on to say that, “God is not distant or anonymous: he is our refuge, the source of our serenity and our peace.”

When we distance ourselves from God we end up following the obsessive pursuit of worldly goods and riches. However, Jesus, the Holy Father said, “tells us that this desperate search is an illusion and a cause of unhappiness.”  Quoting from scripture, Pope Francis reiterated that "You cannot serve God and wealth"; one has to choose constantly the road that leads to God, because the temptation to reduce everything to money, pleasure and power is pressing. Choosing God’s path, observed the Holy Father may not immediately bear fruit but it ultimately leads to fulfillment and the realization of his plans for us.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: Parish priests called to support married couples

On Saturday morning in the Vatican, Pope Francis met with parish priests participating in a training course dealing with annulment procedures and other legal issues surrounding marriage.

The course was organized by the Roman Rota, the highest appellate tribunal of the Church.

Listen to the report: 

Referring to the proposals of the Synod of Bishops on “Marriage and the Family”, and his subsequent Apostolic Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia”, the Pope praised this study initiative saying it  is the parish priest who is in daily contact with families and is called to concretely apply the  appropriate juridical norms.

In most cases, said the Pope, the parish priest is the first to whom young people turn when they decide to marry and create a new family. And again, it is to the parish priest that couples come when their marriage is in crisis and they need to rediscover the Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

No one knows better than you do, he told the priests, the complexity and variety of problems that exist in marriage: Christian unions, civil marriages, broken marriages, families and young people who are happy or unhappy.

“You are called to be a travel companion to every person in every situation, to support and to give witness”, said the Pope.

First and foremost you are called to witness to the Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony and the good of the Family as the vital heart of the Church and society, by proclaiming that marriage between a man and a woman is a sign of the union between Christ and His Church. Pope Francis went on to say how God and His Love are reflected in the Sacrament of Marriage – which he described as “an icon of God”.

At the same time, the parish priest is called to support those who have come to realise that their union is not a true sacramental marriage and want to correct this situation. In this delicate and necessary moment make sure your faithful see you as a brother who listens and understands, rather than an expert in bureaucracy and juridical norms, he said.

Pope Francis invited parish priest to pay special attention to those young people who prefer to live together rather than get married. “Spiritually and morally-speaking,” he said, ”they are among the poor and little ones towards whom the Church wants to be a Mother who never abandons, but is close to them and takes care of them…So be tender and compassionate towards them”.

Finally, the Pope reminded those present of his speech to the Roman Rota on January 21st in which he called for a new teaching style in preparing couples for matrimony, one that follows each step of their sacramental journey, from the wedding itself to the first years of marriage.

“I encourage you to put this teaching into practice”, he said, “despite the difficulties you may encounter.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Blessed Villana de'Botti

Villana de’Botti was a wife and a Third Order Dominican. She was born in Florence in 1332. She was a very pious child, and at age 13 she ran away from home to join a convent. She was refused and returned home. Soon after, her family married her to Rosso di Piero.The rejection at the convent and the marriage seemed to change Villana. She became lazy and worldly, concerned only with pleasure. One day, as she was getting dressed, her reflection in her mirrors suddenly changed to a demon. Villana understood this to be a reflection of her sinful soul. She tore off her clothes, put on something poor and simple, and ran to the Dominican Fathers for help.She became a Dominican tertiary, concentrated on her vocation of married life, and spent her free time praying and reading Scripture and the lives of the saints. She was given to religious ecstasies at Mass, visions of Our Lady and the saints, and had the gift of prophecy. She became the object of much ridicule and slander, but even her fiercest opponents eventually came to see her as a living saint.She died in 1361 of natural causes at the age of 30. Her body was taken to the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which was under the care of the Dominican Fathers. The priests were unable to bury her for a month due to the constant crowd of mourners. She was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1824.