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Pope dedicates videomessage to Italian educator

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to a festival organised to promote books and reading, which is taking place in Milan from 19 to 23 April.

The videomessage is dedicated to Don Lorenzo Milani, the prior of Barbiana, and writer of many works including “letter to a professor”.

The Italian priest is also being remembered at the event entitled “Time for Books”.

In the videomessage the Holy Father describes Don Milani as a believer, in love with the Church even though he was hurt, and a passionate educator with a vision for  school life.

He goes on to say that “going to school means opening the mind and heart to reality, to the richness of its aspects, its dimensions.”

The Pope adds that Don Milani displayed a spiritual restlessness, fueled by love for Christ, the Gospel, the Church, society, and school, which he increasingly dreamed of as a "field hospital" to help the wounded, and to help make the lives of the marginalized and discarded better.”

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Regina Caeli: With Mercy violence and rancor have no sense

(Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address in a sunny St Peter’s Square, Pope France recalled the Church tradition of calling the first Sunday after Easter “in albis”, an expression he said, meant to recall the rite of those who had received baptism in white on the Easter Vigil. The Pope went on to say that  in the Jubilee of Year of 2000, St. John Paul II established that this particular Sunday was to be dedicated to Divine Mercy.

Listen to our report:

In the last months, the Holy Father said, “we have concluded the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy and this Sunday invites us to resume the grace that comes from the mercy of God.”

Drawing inspiration from the  Gospel reading of the day, the Holy Father  reminded those present of Jesus’ words, "receive the Holy Spirit. Those to whom you will forgive sins will be forgiven ".

Here is the sense of the mercy, the forgiving of sins, noted Pope Francis, “that occurs on the day of the resurrection of Jesus.”

The Risen Jesus, he continued  has sent to his Church, as a first task, his own mission to bring to everyone the concrete announcement of forgiveness.

This visible sign of his mercy brings with him the peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.

Mercy said the Pope, makes us realize that violence, rancor, and revenge have no sense.

Mercy also opens the door of the heart and allows us to express our closeness, above all to those who are alone and marginalized.

Mercy, in short, said Pope Francis is everyone committed to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace. Let us never forget that mercy, he concluded, is the keystone in the life of faith, and the concrete form in which we give visibility to the resurrection of Jesus.

Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father remembered the Beatification in Oviedo, Spain on Saturday of Father Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières an educator who lived in the nineteenth century, and founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel.

The Pope also greeted Polish pilgrims on the Feast of Divine Mercy and thanked Caritas Poland for their support of so many families in Syria.

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: 'martyrs are the living blood of the Church'

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday paid tribute to modern day martyrs whom he said “are the living blood of the Church".

The Pope was presiding over a Liturgy of the Word at the Church of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber, a shrine to the martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Speaking during his homily, the Pope had words of closeness for the many Christian communities being persecuted today “because of the hatred of the spirit of this world”.

“How often, he said, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: ‘Today our country needs heroes’.? Likewise, we can ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death”.

He said that martyrs are “the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift”.

And, speaking off-the-cuff the Pope turned his attention to refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of their faith and said that many, today, find themselves in refugee camps, many of which he said, are like concentration camps, while international agreements seem to be more important than human rights.    

Please find below Vatican Radio’s the full translation of the Pope’s homily:

We have come as pilgrims to this Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, where the ancient history of martyrdom joins the memory of the new martyrs, of many Christians killed by the insane ideologies of the last century, and killed only because they were disciples of Jesus.

The memory of these heroic, old and recent witnesses confirms us in the awareness that the Church is a Church of martyrs. And martyrs are those who, as the Book of Revelation reminds us, "Are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They had the grace to confess Jesus until the end, until death. They suffered, they gave their lives, and we receive the blessing of God for their witness. And there are also many hidden martyrs, those men and women who are faithful to the gentle strength of love, to the voice of the Holy Spirit, those who in their daily lives seek to help their brothers and sisters and to love God without reserve.

If we look hard, we can see that the cause of every persecution is the hatred of the prince of this world toward those who have been saved and redeemed by Jesus through His death and resurrection. In the Gospel we just heard (cf. Jn 15: 12-19), Jesus uses a strong and frightening word: the word "hatred". He, who is the master of love, who so enjoyed talking about love, speaks of hatred. But he always liked to call things by their name. And he tells us, "Do not be afraid! The world will hate you; but know that before it hated you, it hated me. "

Jesus chose us and redeemed us as a free gift of His love. With His death and resurrection He redeemed us from the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world. And the origin of hatred is this: since we are saved by Jesus, and the prince of the world does not want that, he hates us and encourages persecution, which from the time of Jesus and the birth of the Church continues to this day. How many Christian communities are being persecuted today! Why? Because of the hatred of the spirit of this world.

How often, in difficult moments of history, have we heard it said: "Today our country needs heroes."? Likewise, we can ask, "Today what does our Church need?" Martyrs, witnesses, that is, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death. All these are the living blood of the Church. They are the witnesses who carry forward the Church; those who witness to the fact that Jesus is risen, that Jesus is alive, who witness to Him with coherent lives and with the strength of the Holy Spirit they have received as a gift.

Remembering these witnesses of the faith and praying in this place is a great gift. It is a gift for the Community of Sant'Egidio, for the Church in Rome, for all the Christian communities of this city, and for so many pilgrims. The living legacy of martyrs today gives us peace and unity. They teach us that with the strength of love, with gentleness, one can fight against arrogance, violence, and war - and that peace can be achieved with patience. 

And so we can pray: O Lord, make us worthy witnesses of the Gospel and of your love; pour out your mercy upon humanity; renew your Church, protect persecuted Christians, grant peace to the whole world, soon.

(from Vatican Radio)

Testimonies of family and friends of the "New Martyrs"

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ visit to the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Tiber Island (San Bartolomeo all’Isola) featured a Liturgy of the Word for the Vigil of the “New Martyrs” of the 20th and 21st centuries.

During the Liturgy, family members and friends of three of the many new “witnesses of the faith” offered their testimonies about the witness of their loved ones: Karl Schneider, the son of Reformed Church pastor Paul Schneider, who was killed in Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald; Roselyne, the sister of Fr Jacques Hamel, killed by radical Islamists in France last year; and Francisco Hernandez Guevara, a friend of William Quijano, killed in El Salvador in 2009. Mementos of all three martyrs are preserved by the Sant’ Egidio Community at the Basilica.

Karl Schneider said his father Paul worked to maintain “a Christian orientation” in German society during the Nazi era. Paul Schneider, he said, was killed because he knew that the goals of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible.

Despite his age – he was 85 years old when he was murdered – Père Jacques Hamel was “strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for the people” – including, his sister said, even his murderers.

Finally, William Quijano, who organized “Schools for Peace” in El Salvador, “never spoke of repression or revenge against the violent gangs in his country. His friend, Francisco Guevara, said Quijano “never gave up teaching peace… His commitment broke the chain of violence.”

Below, please find the prepared testimonies of the family and friends of the “new martyrs”:

Testimony of Karl A. Schneider, son of Paul Schneider, Reformed Church pastor, killed at Buchenwald on 18 July 1939

Holy Father, dear Sant’Egidio community, dear Christian community,

I want to offer heartfelt thanks for the great honour you paid today to my father Paul Schneider, and for the fact that my daughter and I are able to be here.

My father was killed in 1939 at the Buchenwald concentration camp because for him the goals of National Socialism were irreconcilable with the words of the Bible. The Church has the task of watching over the State. With this conviction, my father strongly opposed any attempt to influence the Church politically. He committed himself so that the German people might maintain a Christian orientation in the state and in society.

All of us, even today, make too many compromises, but my father remained faithful only to the Lord and to the faith. He was a shepherd and a spiritual guide – even in the concentration camp! Until the end, whenever possible, despite torture and suffering, he cried with courage from the window of his cell in the bunker words of consolation and hope of the Bible to other prisoners. This is why he was called “the Preacher of Buchenwald.”

 

And he did not forget us, his family. In a letter from the concentration camp kept in this church, my father strongly affirms his faith in the Easter victory of life. And he writes knowing that my mother, I, my brothers and sisters, are also under the protection of God. My mother's words, even when she was very old, were: “He was chosen to proclaim the Gospel and this is my consolation.” I, as his son, feel this consolation to this day.

Reading from Revelation 7:11-14):

Lector: And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

*****

Testimony of Roselyne, sister of Père Jacques Hamel, killed in Rouen, 26 July 2016

Holy Father, last year, on July 26, my brother, Jacques Hamel, was killed at the end of the Mass he had just celebrated at Sant’Etienne de Rouvray in Normandy.

Jacques was 85 years old when two young men, radicalized by hate speech, thought they would commit a heroic act by turning murderous violence. At his age Jacques was frail, but he was also strong. Strong in his faith in Christ, strong in his love for the Gospel and for the people, whoever they might be – and, I’m certain, for his killers as well.

As your Holiness said in memory of Jacques, in this difficult time he did not lose his presence of mind when, from the altar, he accused the true author of the persecution: “Begone Satan!” Truly, “killing in the name of God is always satanic.”

His death is in line with his priestly life, which was a “given” life: a life offered to the Lord when he said “yes” at the time of his ordination, a life serving the Gospel, a life given to the Church and for the people, especially for the poorest, whom he always served on the outskirts of Rouen. There is a paradox: he who never wanted to be spotlight bore witness to the entire world, [a witness] whose cannot yet be measured.

We have lived the reaction of all those Christians who have not yet preached revenge or hatred, but love and forgiveness; we have seen it in the solidarity of Muslims who wanted to visit the Sunday assemblies after his death; we have seen it in France, which has shown its unity around the tenderness for this priest. For us, his family, there is surely pain and emptiness. But it is a great comfort to see how many new encounters, how much solidarity, and how much love has been generated by Jacques’s witness. As he wrote, “Our vocation is to participate in building a new fraternity in a new world context.”

Yes, Jacques, my brother, with his life wanted to live as a brother with all those who had been entrusted to him; with his death he became to all. Last September we accompanied Jacques’ breviary which is now preserved in this Basilica, and we are deeply grateful for the memory of the witnesses of the faith here and for the solidarity [we experienced]. May Jacques’ sacrifice bear fruit, that men and women of our time might find the way to live together in peace.

*****

Witness of Francisco Hernandez Guevara, friend of William Quijano, killed in El Salvador on 28 September 2009

Holy Father, my name is Francisco Guevara, and I come from El Salvador in Central America. I am absolutely certain: Love and friendship enlarge the heart; William, too, had a heart enlarged by hope, and this was his strength. He loved life, and in his friendly way he attracted many young people and children to the “School of Peace.”

And on September 28, 2009, he was killed.

What was his crime? He dreamed of a world of peace.

William never gave up teaching peace; indeed his commitment broke the chain of violence. He said, “The world is full of violence, so we must work for peace, beginning with children. We must have the courage to be teachers, because a country without schools or teachers is a country without a future and without hope. The Schools of Peace are sanctuaries that place a barrier in the way of violence and poverty. Security is not only achieved with firmness, but with love.” He spoke to everyone about his dream: “We have the heart [anime], the intelligence and the strength to put ourselves to work. And prayer will sustain us.”

It is surprising that William never spoke of repression or revenge against maras (as the gangs are called Salvador), but insisted on the need for a change of mindset. For everyone. In the children, first of all; and he sought to give them affection in order to show that with the study they could progress, they could have a future – [but he also saw the need for a change in attitude] in young people, in adults.

He had effected just such a change in himself. He could have been one of the many who said, “No, nothing can be done here.” But instead he entered so profoundly into the dream of the Community, the dream of a new humanity, that he wanted to live it to the full. Children could and should change; young people could and should change.

What happened to William, although it is tragic, makes us believe that another Latin America can be built, free from the nightmare of the maras. In the existential periphery, William bore witness to his hope in a different world, based on the Gospel and on more human values, on the centrality of closeness. This is the great gift of the small life of William Alfredo Quijano Zetino, my friend.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

19th century French priest beatified in Spain: Louis Antoine Ormières

(Vatican Radio)  The 19th century French priest Louis Antoine Ormières was beatified in the Spanish town of Oviedo on Saturday by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Founder of the Sisters of the Guardian Angel and 87 schools in France and Spain, Fr. Ormières (1809-1890) dedicated his life to providing education for young people.

“My principle has always been to do good and allow others to speak” was Blessed Ormières’ oft repeated phrase.

In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Giada Aquilino, Cardinal Angelo Amato called the new Blessed “an enterprising man and a born educator with a personality rich in Christian virtues, like faith, hope, and charity, and in human qualities, like goodness, gratitude, serenity, and friendship.”

As examples of Blessed Louis Antoine Ormières’ charity, Cardinal Amato said he “once defended a man unjustly accused of theft, offered hospitality to exiles from Spain, pleaded with well-off people to help a young man who had to take care of his family at the death of his father, and helped out a single mother of two young boys.”

“He was so generous in helping the sick that his bishop called him a martyr of charity,” Cardinal Amato said.

The miracle attributed to Fr. Ormières, which paved the way for his beatification, was of one of the Spanish sisters of the Guardian Angel who was suffering from a maxillofacial cancer.

Pope Francis recognized the miracle in a decree on 8 July 2016.

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican's message to Buddhists on Vesakh

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on Saturday, issued a message on the occasion of the Buddhist feast of Vesakh on the theme ‘Christians and Buddhists: Walking Together on the Path of Nonviolence’.

The Message signed by Council President, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Council Secretary, Fr Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ emphasizes the urgent need to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence as both these values were promoted by Jesus Christ and the Buddha.

The text reiterates how Jesus walked the path of nonviolence to the very end, to the cross and calls his followers  today to embrace his teaching about nonviolence.  Buddha also heralded the same message and encouraged all to overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.

Therefore the message calls for a  common enterprise, to study the causes of violence, combat violence  and to pray for world peace while walking together on the path of nonviolence.

The full text of the message is here below:

                                                             MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF VESAKH

                                                                                                 2017

Dear Buddhist Friends,

1.       In the name of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we extend our warmest greetings and prayerful good wishes on the occasion of Vesakh. May this feast bring joy and peace to all of you, to your families, communities and nations.

2.       We wish to reflect this year on the urgent need to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence. Religion is increasingly at the fore in our world today, though at times in opposing ways. While many religious believers are committed to promoting peace, there are those who exploit religion to justify their acts of violence and hatred. We see healing and reconciliation offered to victims of violence, but also attempts to erase every trace and memory of the “other”; there is the emergence of global religious cooperation, but also politicization of religion; and, there is an awareness of endemic poverty and world hunger, yet the deplorable arms race continues. This situation requires a call to nonviolence, a rejection of violence in all its forms.

3.       Jesus Christ and the Buddha were promotors of nonviolence as well as peacemakers. As Pope Francis writes, “Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet, he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for ‘it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come’ (Mk 7:21)” (2017 Message for the World Day of Peace, Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace, no. 3). He further emphasises that “Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16)” (ibid.). Accordingly, “to be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence” (ibid.).

4.       Dear friends, your founder, the Buddha also heralded a message of nonviolence and peace. He encouraged all to “Overcome the angry by non-anger; overcome the wicked by goodness; overcome the miser by generosity; overcome the liar by truth.” (Dhammapada, no. XVII, 3). He taught further that “Victory begets enmity; the defeated dwell in pain. Happily the peaceful live, discarding both victory and defeat.” (ibid. XV, 5). Therefore, he noted that the self-conquest is greater than the conquest of others: “Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself” (ibid, VIII, 4).

5.       In spite of these noble teachings, many of our societies grapple with the impact of past and present wounds caused by violence and conflicts. This phenomenon includes domestic violence, as well as  economic, social, cultural and psychological violence, and violence against the environment, our common home. Sadly, violence begets other social evils, and so “the choice of nonviolence as a style of life is increasingly demanded in the exercise of responsibility at every level […] ” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Letters of Credence, 15 December 2016).

6.      Though we recognize the uniqueness of our two religions, to which we remain committed, we agree that violence comes forth from the human heart, and that personal evils lead to structural evils. We are therefore called to a common enterprise:  to study the causes of violence: to teach our respective followers to combat evil within their hearts;  to liberate both victims and perpetrators of violence from evil; to bring evil to light and challenge those who foment violence;  to form the hearts and minds of all, especially of children, to love and live in peace with everyone and with the environment; to teach that there is no peace without justice, and no true justice without forgiveness; to invite all to work together in  preventing  conflicts and rebuilding broken societies;  to urge the media to avoid and counter hate speech, and biased and provocative reporting; to encourage educational reforms to prevent the distortion and misinterpretation of history and of scriptural texts;  and to pray for world peace while walking together on the path of nonviolence.

7.       Dear friends, may we actively dedicate ourselves to promoting within our families, and social, political, civil and religious institutions a new style of living where violence is rejected and the human person is respected. It is in this spirit that we wish you once again a peaceful and joyful feast of Vesakh!

Vatican City

Cardinal Jean-Louis Taura

        President

  Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ

                      Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen

A former lawyer who left his profession to become a Capuchin Franciscan priest, Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen has his liturgical memorial on April 24.Fidelis' life bridged the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a time of religious conflict in Western Europe. He died at the hands of a mob while preaching in Switzerland, where he had gone to combat the Calvinist heresy.The future “Fidelis� received the name of Mark Rey at the time of his birth, during 1577 in present-day Germany. Mark studied at the University of Freiburg, and worked for a time as a private tutor. Eventually he went back to the university and earned his law degree around 1611.Though he had already shown signs of devotion to God and studied canon law alongside civil law, Mark opted for a secular career as an attorney. Within a year he was known as “the poor man’s lawyer� because of his concern for the needy. Just as quickly, he became disgusted with the corrupt ways of his chosen field .Leaving his legal practice behind, Mark decided to give his life directly to the service of Christ and the Church. In short order he received ordination as a priest, and joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Freiburg.With his entry into the order he received the name “Fidelis,� meaning “faithful� -- after the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation, “Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.� As he embraced radical poverty and simplicity, the attorney-turned-Franciscan left his inheritance to a scholarship fund for poor seminarians, who also received his books.Fidelis showed his love for God through prayer and fasting, while caring for his neighbors through preaching, writing, and the celebration of the sacraments. He showed particular care for the poor and sick, and was especially revered for his work among Austrian soldiers who were suffering from a plague epidemic.During 1614 a Swiss Catholic bishop had sought help from the Capuchins, to restore the faith and counteract the spread of Calvinist Protestantism. In 1621, Fidelis was sent on the mission. He brought just four items: a Bible, a prayer book, a crucifix and a copy of the Capuchin rule.The winter of 1621-22 was a busy period of preaching, instruction and theological disputation for the Franciscan priest. He preached not only in the pulpits of Catholic churches, but also in public places, and even in the meeting-places of the Calvinists themselves. Some Swiss Protestants responded with hostility, but many others were also brought back to the Church.Like many cases of religious persecution during this time, Fidelis’ treatment at the hands of the Calvinists did not stem exclusively from doctrinal disagreement. National and cultural tensions also contributed, with many Swiss Protestants suspecting that the Catholic mission was part of an Austrian plot against their nation.This volatile situation boiled over on April 24, 1622, when Fidelis’ preaching provoked a riot at a church in the village of Seewis. Some Austrian soldiers were killed in the uproar, and a would-be assassin shot at the priest.After declining an offer of help from a Protestant, Fidelis was confronted outside the church by a mob, and told to choose between his Catholic beliefs and his life. Fidelis was defiant: “The Catholic religion is the faith of all ages. I fear not death.�St. Fidelis was beaten and stabbed to death. The sight of his martyrdom, however, is said to have converted one of the Protestant preachers who led the mob. A succession of attested miracles led to his canonization in 1746.