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Pope Francis: The Eucharist teaches us to adore God rather than ourselves

Pope Francis prays at Italy’s National Eucharistic Congress in Matera, Italy on Sept. 25, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Sep 25, 2022 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis traveled to the ancient Italian city of Matera, where he urged thousands of people gathered in a soccer stadium for Sunday Mass to "rediscover" Eucharistic adoration.

“Brothers, sisters, from the city of Matera, this ‘city of bread,’ I would like to tell you: Let us return to Jesus. Let us return to the Eucharist,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Sept. 25.

“Let us return to the taste of bread because while we are hungry for love and hope, or we are broken by the travails and sufferings of life, Jesus becomes food that feeds us and heals us.”

Matera, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world known for its ancient cave dwellings, is also called the “city of bread” due to its traditional sourdough recipe that has been passed down over centuries.

The ancient “city of bread” hosted Italy’s National Eucharist Congress from Sept. 23 to 25. More than 80 bishops and hundreds of delegates from across Italy participated in the congress with the theme “Let us return to the taste of the bread: For a Eucharistic and Synodal Church.”

Pope Francis flew early Sunday morning to the southern Italian city to offer the closing Mass for the congress. He departed by plane rather than by helicopter as scheduled due to stormy weather conditions in Rome and arrived to a warm welcome in Matera as his popemobile passed through a cheering crowd.

In his homily, the pope expressed his dream for “a Eucharistic Church” that “kneels before the Eucharist and adores with wonder the Lord present in the bread, but also knows how to bend with compassion and tenderness before the wounds of those who suffer, relieving the poor, drying the tears of those who suffer, making themselves bread of hope and joy for all.”

He said that the Eucharist presents each person with a challenge: “to adore God and not ourselves, putting Him at the center rather than the vanity of self.”

“When we adore the Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist, we receive a new outlook on our lives as well: I am not the things I possess or the successes I can achieve. The value of my life does not depend on how much I can show off nor does it diminish when I encounter failures and setbacks. I am a beloved child, each of us is a beloved child. I am blessed by God. He wants to clothe me with beauty and free me from all slavery,” Francis said.

“Let us remember this: whoever worships God does not become a slave to anyone. They are free. Let us rediscover the prayer of adoration, a prayer that is frequently forgotten. Adoration … frees us and restores us to our dignity as children, not slaves.”

Prisoners in Italy helped to make the Eucharistic hosts offered during communion at the Mass, as part of an initiative of the Italian prison chaplains’ association. The wine offered at communion was made from vines cultivated by refugees and migrants who work at the House of Dignity vineyards.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus prayer and recalled that Sept. 25 marks the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September.

The pope said: “Let us renew our commitment to building the future in accordance with God’s plan: a future in which every person may find his or her place and be respected; in which migrants, refugees, displaced persons and the victims of human trafficking may live in peace and with dignity.”

Pope Francis then prayed for peace in Ukraine and in Myanmar, where an air attack on a school earlier this week killed 11 children.

“May the cry of these little ones not go unheard! These tragedies must not happen,” he said.

The pope also appealed for the release of five priests and a religious sister who were kidnapped in Cameroon.

After praying the Angelus, the pope paused in silence in front of an icon of Mary from his wheelchair. The pope, who has struggled with an injury to his knee in recent months, stood up on his own at some points in the liturgy, including to offer the opening prayer.

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi of Bologna, the president of the Italian bishops conference, served as the primary celebrant for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Pope Francis could be seen seated behind him speaking the words of the Eucharistic prayer with his hand extended.

Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi of Bologna consecrates the host at Mass in Matera, Italy on Sept. 25, 2022. Vatican Media.
Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi of Bologna consecrates the host at Mass in Matera, Italy on Sept. 25, 2022. Vatican Media.

Pope Francis made back to back pastoral visits this weekend to the Italian cities of Assisi and Matera. In Assisi, the pope spoke to participants in the Economy of Francesco conference for young economists, entrepreneurs, and researchers.

After the Mass in Matera, the pope blessed a new soup kitchen for the poor connected with the local parish Church of the Annunciation.

“Today, together, we recognize that the Eucharist is a prophecy of a new world,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

“It is the presence of Jesus who asks us to commit ourselves so that an effective conversion occurs: from indifference to compassion, from waste to sharing, from selfishness to love, from individualism to fraternity.”

Pope Francis: Young people are missing the ‘spiritual capital’ that gives life meaning

Pope Francis at the Economy of Francesco conference for young economists, researchers, and activists in Assisi, Italy, Sept. 24, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Sep 24, 2022 / 07:42 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday lamented the loss of spiritual meaning in the lives of many young people today — a lack that is often replaced by an undue focus on material goods, he said.

“Human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, are seekers of meaning before being seekers of material goods. That is why the first capital of any society is spiritual capital,” he said at an international conference on the economy in Assisi, Italy, Sept. 24.

“Young people especially suffer from this lack of meaning,” the pope said. “Faced with the pain and uncertainties of life, they often find their souls depleted of the spiritual resources needed to process suffering, frustration, disappointment and grief.”

“Look at the youth suicide rate, how it has gone up,” he added.

Pope Francis attended the final day of a Sept. 22-24 conference, The Economy of Francesco, in Assisi, Italy. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis attended the final day of a Sept. 22-24 conference, The Economy of Francesco, in Assisi, Italy. Vatican Media.

“Technology can do much: it teaches us the ‘what’ and the ‘how’: but it does not tell us the ‘why,’” he said, “and so our actions become sterile and do not bring fulfillment to life, not even economic life.”

Pope Francis spoke about the importance of spirituality in an address to participants in The Economy of Francesco, a Sept. 22-24 conference for young economists, entrepreneurs, and researchers from around the world.

The initiative followed a call from Pope Francis to young people to build “a different kind of economy” based on greater care for the poor and the environment.

Francis traveled to Assisi for the final day of the meeting on Sept. 24. Before addressing attendees, the pope watched a skit based on Isaiah 21:1-12, followed by a meditation on the meaning of the scripture passage.

There was also a musical performance, presentations, a video of the first two days of the conference, and participant testimonies from economists, and activists for the environment, women’s rights, and social issues from Italy, Benin, Argentina, Thailand, Kenya, Afghanistan, and Poland.

‘I am counting on you’

Throughout his speech, Pope Francis emphasized the need for young adults to put their energy and creativity to good, practical, use to build a more just economy.

“You young people, with the help of God, know what to do, you can do it,” he said.

“According to Scripture, young people are the bearers of a spirit of knowledge and intelligence. It was the young David who humbled the arrogance of the giant Goliath,” he pointed out.

Pope Francis speaks at The Economy of Francesco conference in Assisi, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2022. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis speaks at The Economy of Francesco conference in Assisi, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2022. Vatican Media.

“Indeed,” he continued, “when civil society and businesses lack the skills of the young, the whole of society withers and the life of everyone is extinguished. There is a lack of creativity, optimism, enthusiasm. A society and an economy without young people is sad, pessimistic and cynical.”

“I say this with seriousness: I am counting on you. Please don’t leave us undisturbed, and lead by example.”

‘Poor at the center’

The pope also reflected on the example of Saint Francis of Assisi and what it means to help the marginalized. “Developing an economy inspired by [Saint Francis] means committing ourselves to putting the poor at the center,” he said.

“Starting with them, we look at the economy; starting with them, we look at the world,” he noted. “There is no ‘Economy of Francesco’ without respect, care and love for the poor, for every poor person, for every fragile and vulnerable person — from conception in the womb to the sick person with disabilities, to the elderly person in difficulty.”

“As long as our system ‘produces’ discarded people, and we operate according to this system, we will be accomplices of an economy that kills,” he underlined, challenging young economists to ask themselves if they are doing enough to change structures, or if they are content with just slapping a coat of paint on the house.

“Perhaps our response should not be based on how much we can do but on how we are able to open new paths so that the poor themselves can become protagonists of change,” he said.

He closed his address with a prayer to God the Father, asking his “forgiveness for having damaged the earth, for not having respected indigenous cultures, for not having valued and loved the poorest of the poor, for having created wealth without communion.”

“Living God, who with your Spirit have inspired the hearts, hands and minds of these young people and sent them on the way to a promised land, look kindly on their generosity, love and desire to spend their lives for a great ideal. Bless them in their undertakings, studies and dreams; accompany them in their difficulties and sufferings, help them to transform their difficulties and sufferings into virtue and wisdom,” he prayed.

Pope Francis joins Economy of Francesco participants in signing a pact promoting an "economy of the Gospel" in Assisi, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2022. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis joins Economy of Francesco participants in signing a pact promoting an "economy of the Gospel" in Assisi, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2022. Vatican Media.

Economy of Francesco Pact

At the end of the encounter, Pope Francis joined participants in signing a pact promoting “an economy of the Gospel.”

The full text of the pact is below:

We, young economists, entrepreneurs, and changemakers, called here to Assisi from every part of the world, aware of the responsibility that rests on our generation, commit ourselves today, individually and all collectively to spending our lives so that the economy of today and tomorrow becomes an economy of the Gospel, and therefore:

an economy of peace and not of war, an economy that opposes the proliferation of arms, especially the most destructive, an economy that cares for creation and does not misuse it, an economy at the service of the human person, the family and life, respectful of every woman, man, and child, the elderly, and especially those most frail and vulnerable, an economy where care replaces rejection and indifference, an economy that leaves no one behind, in order to build a society in which the stones rejected by the dominant mentality become cornerstones, an economy that recognizes and protects secure and dignified work for everyone, an economy where finance is a friend and ally of the real economy and of labor and not against them, an economy that values and safeguards the cultures and traditions of peoples, all living things and the natural resources of the Earth, an economy that fights poverty in all its forms, reduces inequality and knows how to say with Jesus and Francis, “Blessed are the poor,” an economy guided by an ethics of the human person and open to transcendence, an economy that creates wealth for all, that engenders joy and not just riches, because happiness that is not shared is incomplete.

We believe in this economy. It is not a utopia, because we are already building it. And some of us, on particularly bright mornings, have already glimpsed the beginning of the promised land.

Pope Francis’ chief Vatican prosecutor retires; deputy prosecutor promoted

Alessandro Diddi addresses Pope Francis during the opening of the Vatican City State court's 93rd judicial year on March 12, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2022 / 08:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of the chief prosecutor of the Vatican City State court, Gian Piero Milano, and named a new prosecutor.

Milano, who will turn 75 in November, has been the Vatican tribunal’s prosecutor, also known as the promoter of justice, since October 2013.

As Vatican promoter of justice, Milano oversaw the investigations that led to the two “Vatileaks” trials and the prosecution of a priest and former Holy See diplomat for the possession and distribution of child pornography, among other cases. He was formerly a professor of canon and ecclesiastical law.

The pope on Friday appointed Alessandro Diddi as new head prosecutor. An adjunct prosecutor for the Vatican since 2015, Diddi is lead investigator for the Vatican’s major finance trial against defendant Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine others. He also has a background as a criminal defense lawyer in Rome.

To fill the spot left by Diddi’s promotion, Pope Francis on Sept. 23 named Settimio Carmignani Caridi adjunct prosecutor. Caridi, 68, is a professor of canon and ecclesiastical law at Rome’s Tor Vergata University. He also teaches Vatican law at the private Catholic LUMSA University in Rome.

Benedict XVI writes about ‘inner drama of being a Christian’ in new letter

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Sep 23, 2022 / 05:29 am (CNA).

In a new letter, Benedict XVI praised the story of a woman who lived “the inner drama of being a Christian” and dedicated her life to the spiritual encounter with Christ in eucharistic adoration and other practices. 

The pope emeritus wrote that his own personal experience was similar to what Mother Julia Verhaeghe went through in a letter to the author of a new biography. 

The writer, Father Hermann Geissler, is a former official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a member of the Spiritual Family “The Work” that Mother Julia founded and Pope John Paul II designated as a family of consecrated life in 2001.

In his letter to Geissler, made available to CNA, Benedict did not hide the fact that he had “the fear that her life could be of little interest as a whole because it lacks any external drama.”

Benedict praised the author for making “the inner drama of being a Christian visible, writing a genuinely fascinating biography. The external path of this life, which leads from Belgium through Austria and Hungary to Rome, with a focal point in Austria, becomes a reflection of the interior path through which this woman was led.”

“In this way, the true drama of life becomes visible, which is found above all in the encounter with Paul and, through him, with Christ himself, allowing others to retrace it,” Benedict added. 

“All the external and internal drama of faith is present in her life. The tension described here is particularly captivating because it is similar to what I have experienced since the 1940s.”

The biography, titled “She Served the Church: Mother Julia Verhaeghe and the Development of The Spiritual Family The Work,” explores the period from 1950 to 2001, from the second postwar period to the recognition of the Family, four years after the founder’s death in 1997.

The book is divided into four parts and includes testimonies, excerpts from Mother Julia’s letters, and other archival documents. Furthermore, the book contextualizes the life and choices of Mother Julia, connecting them to the situations of the time, of which Mother Julia was a careful observer.

In the introduction, Father Thomas Felder and Sister Margarete Binder wrote that “the following pages tell of a woman who had neither a particular culture, nor good health, nor any economic means.” Yet, they added, “a fire burned in her heart.”

This fire is the basis of the encounters that formed her life: first of all, the one with St. Paul; then the one with Pope Pius XII, who appeared to her in a dream and who predicted the Second Vatican Council; finally, the encounter with Cardinal John Henry Newman, to whom “The Work” has a particular relationship.

These meetings and relationships are part of a spiritual path to encountering Christ. Geissler’s book tells of these encounters with delicacy, without sensationalism, demonstrating that prophecy comes only when one is open to listening.

From the meeting with Pius XII, a great intuition was born: the human and humanizing element of the Second Vatican Council will try to take over, going beyond what must be the center of the Church, namely the sacred.

In the face of growing secularization, the Spiritual Family “The Work,” guided by Mother Julia, emphasized eucharistic adoration. It is a daily habit in every house of “The Work.”

The book also describes how Mother Julia felt the same enthusiasm and concern for a unified Europe, just as Brussels was preparing to host the 1958 Expo. Her view was always one of spiritual renewal, of a return to Christ.

Perhaps there was no external drama, but the restlessness of Mother Julia’s soul that Benedict refers to is good, open to reflecting on the issues of the time. 

In Geissler’s book, one perceives the constant amazement before the mystery of Christ, which leads her, already elderly, to visit the Holy Land and experience the desert.

The life of Mother Julia told in this book is of a woman who could look at her times with the concreteness that comes only from contact with God.

Benedict XVI, who turned 95 in April, often spoke about the need for contact with God and said that the encounter with Jesus was the answer to the world’s challenges.

Leading theologian sees a ‘rise in interest in Aquinas’ among young Catholics

Father Thomas Joseph White, O.P. / Pontificia Università di San Tommaso d’Aquino via Flickr.

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2022 / 12:15 pm (CNA).

A new generation of young people are deeply invested in the study of St. Thomas Aquinas, according to Father Thomas Joseph White.

The Dominican theologian and rector of the Angelicum in Rome said that he has witnessed both a new academic emphasis on historical accuracy regarding the 13th-century saint and attention to his potential contemporary relevance.

“We’re seeing a modest renaissance of Thomism in the Church, particularly in the English-speaking world,” White told CNA on Sept. 22.

“And this is something that people are now paying more attention to in the academic world because we’re seeing that there is a rise in interest in Aquinas that is not related to past ideas of magisterial homogeneity. It’s really more about people on the grassroots level, trying to think through the doctrine of the faith and bring theology to their local communities and to the broader Church through rigorous investigation and responsible reflection.”

White spoke as the 11th International Thomistic Congress is taking place in Rome Sept. 19–24.

“I think it’s the most important Thomistic conference internationally to take place in decades,” he commented.

Featuring more than 130 speakers, including Father Simon Gaine, Father Wojciech Giertych, and Father Gilles Emery, the congress has covered a wide range of topics from historical reflections on St. Thomas Aquinas to contemporary philosophical topics in metaphysics and ethics.

“It’s been an amazing last few days because we have had speakers from all over the world, from the Far East, from the United States, a healthy representation from Central and South America, Africa, India, and of course, Europe. It shows the kind of catholicity of engagement in Aquinas as a common doctor for Catholic thought,” White said.

Pope Francis received participants from the International Thomistic Congress in an audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace on Sept. 22.

Speaking entirely off the cuff, the pope underscored the importance of contemplation in intellectual life.

Pope Francis greets participants in the 11th International Thomistic Congress on Sept. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets participants in the 11th International Thomistic Congress on Sept. 22, 2022. Photo credit: Vatican Media

“Before talking about St. Thomas, before talking about Thomism, before teaching, we must contemplate,” Pope Francis told the Thomists.

In a written reflection distributed to the congress participants, Pope Francis wrote that St. Thomas Aquinas’ “search for the truth about God was impelled and permeated by love.”

Ahead of the papal audience, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, offered Mass for the congress participants in St. Peter’s Basilica. A schola made up of students from the pontifical university sang for the liturgy.

The 11th International Thomistic Congress, jointly organized by the Thomistic Institute and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, is the first congress of its kind to be hosted by the pontifical university in Rome in nearly 20 years.

Father Dominic Holtz, the vice dean of philosophy at the university, told CNA that the congress has addressed new questions on “Thomistic engagement with neo-Confucian philosophers and transhumanism — sorts of things that we probably would not have even thought of asking 20 years ago.”

Father Dominic Holtz. Photo credit: Courtney Mares
Father Dominic Holtz. Photo credit: Courtney Mares

Holtz added that “a hallmark of Thomism is that it remains both able to engage new situations and retains a life in the classic perennial questions that every generation has to wrestle with.”

“For instance,” he continued, “there was a talk yesterday about how we understand Revelation. What does Revelation mean and how does it work when we engage the Sacred Scriptures? … And philosophical questions, like just what is the state of the human soul after death?”

“Those sorts of questions will always remain with us and they are being asked with new and interesting perspectives in light of what has been looked at before,” he said.

Pope Francis asks financial consultants to put people before business

Pope Francis speaks with Punit Renjen, an Indian-American businessman and CEO of the multinational professional services firm Deloitte, during an audience to the participants of the Deloitte Global meeting on Sept. 22, 2022, at Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. / Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has encouraged financial advisers and consultants to make decisions that put the good of individuals and communities before that of businesses.

The pope spoke about the role of integral human development in the financial sector during a Sept. 22 meeting at the Vatican with consultants for Deloitte, a global auditing firm.

Deloitte provides services including auditing, consulting, financial advising, and risk advisory to nearly 90% of the Fortune Global 500® companies and thousands of other private companies. It employs approximately 350,000 people around the world.

During his encounter with the firm, Pope Francis suggested three ways financial professionals can make the world more humane, just, and fraternal.

The first was to be aware of the power they hold and the ways they can encourage the entrepreneurs, bankers, managers, and public administrators they advise to make decisions that will have a positive impact and grow integral human development.

The pope’s second suggestion was that the financial professionals fulfill their responsibility by ensuring adequate professional, anthropological, and ethical standards “consistent with an evangelical vision of the economy and society; in other words, with Catholic social doctrine.”

To do this, he said, requires assessing both the direct and indirect effect of decisions and considering a decision’s impact on communities, people, and the environment before its impact on businesses.

Francis also encouraged Deloitte Global to enhance diversity, saying “entrepreneurial biodiversity” is “a guarantee of freedom of enterprise and freedom of choice for customers, consumers, savers, and investors” and “an indispensable condition of stability, equilibrium, and human prosperity.”

The pope drew attention to worsening environmental conditions and the undignified living conditions of many people who lack access to nutrition, health care, and education.

“While our human family is globalized and interconnected, poverty, injustice, and inequalities remain,” he said, pointing out that consultants and managers are in a position to if not reverse the situation, at least to help correct it.

“Today’s consultants, aware of their role, are called to propose and discuss new directions for new challenges,” he underlined. “The old schemes worked only partially, in different contexts. I would call this new generation of consultants ‘integral consultants’: experts and professionals who take into account the connections between problems and their respective solutions and who embrace the concept of relational anthropology.”

“Such an anthropology,” he said, quoting a 2018 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “‘helps the human person to recognize the validity of economic strategies that aim above all to promote the global quality of life that, before the indiscriminate expansion of profits, leads the way toward the integral well-being of the entire person and of every person. No profit is in fact legitimate when it falls short of the objective of the integral promotion of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the preferential option for the poor,’ and, we can add, the care of our common home.”

‘Full members of the Church’: Catholics with disabilities contribute to Synod on Synodality

Giulia Cirillo gives Pope Francis a report from Catholics with disabilities on Sept. 21, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Sep 21, 2022 / 07:25 am (CNA).

Catholics with disabilities delivered to Pope Francis on Wednesday a report they prepared for the Synod on Synodality.

The document was a synthesis of an online listening session held in May with 35 people with disabilities, coming from 20 countries and spanning five continents.

“I think the big message, which I think is being heard now, is that people who are disabled are actually full members of the Church,” Father Justin Glyn, a Jesuit priest from Australia, told CNA Sept. 21.

Glyn, who is blind, said there is a history in the Catholic Church of seeing people with disabilities as “recipients of charity, objects of pity.”

“Whereas I think now the message is very much that we are full participants in the Church, we are people who are part of a Church that walks together synodally,” he added. 

The report from people with disabilities was hand-delivered to Pope Francis after his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 21 by Giulia Cirillo, an Italian woman who uses a wheelchair.

Cirillo told CNA afterward that she thanked Pope Francis “because he gave all of us the opportunity to speak, that is, even us, persons who live firsthand with disabilities.”

Sister Marie Claire Rolland, a French religious sister with Down syndrome, also participated in the listening session and the drafting of the synthesis. After hugging Pope Francis — the third pope she has met during her life — Rolland blessed him, making a sign of the cross on his forehead.

Sister Marie Claire Rolland blesses Pope Francis on Sept. 21, 2022. Vatican Media
Sister Marie Claire Rolland blesses Pope Francis on Sept. 21, 2022. Vatican Media

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life organized the virtual listening session in May and the preparation of the final report on what was shared.

Vittorio Scelzo, who oversees the dicastery’s area on the care of people with disabilities, told CNA the synthesis was delivered Sept. 20 to the committee tasked with preparing the synod’s first working document for the continental phase. The committee begins its work at a religious house near Frascati, Italy, on Sept. 21.

The laity, family, and life dicastery wanted the disabled to be “taken seriously,” Scelzo said. “The synod was perfect,” he noted, “the right moment, a kairos,” for hosting a listening session.

Father Glyn from Australia said his experience in the Church as a disabled man has been varied, but his experience as a priest with a disability is “hugely advantageous actually.”

He pointed to the problem of clericalism, explaining that “if you are a priest who knows that you are vulnerable, knows that you are weak, knows that you have the need of support of others, the temptation towards [clericalism] is not as strong because we know that we need each other.”

Cirillo, the woman who uses a wheelchair, said, “as a believer, I think each of us has a vocation that we need to discover; none of us is useless.”

“We can thus make a contribution for a more and more inclusive Church, also for people with disabilities,” she said.

“We all need help. Asking for help is not an embarrassment, it is our mission,” she continued. “Even when the condition of disability brings us extra difficulties, we have to remember that Jesus wants us to be joyful, and when we are sick, he is also sick for us. However our mission is to be joyful.”

Glyn said there are ways the Church still needs to improve accessibility to the sacraments and church buildings for the disabled. Still, it is also about people with disabilities being seen as full members of the Church, not as outsiders or a “them.”

“I think sometimes there’s been this view of disability as either a hangover of original sin [that] someday it’ll be made better — or on the other side, people privileged to suffer,” he said. “Whereas for most of us our lives are not suffering and our lives are joy. Our lives are made of the same things, made of the same fabric and stuff.”

Pope Francis urges support for Hurricane Fiona victims

Pope Francis prays with journalists on a papal flight August 14, 2014. / Alan Holdren/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Sep 21, 2022 / 07:04 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has called on Christians to support communities in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Fiona.

The pope expressed his solidarity with all affected by the category 3 hurricane in a telegram sent on Sept. 21 to bishops in the Caribbean countries.

The telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis “asks the entire Christian community and all people of good will to increase solidarity to help those affected by this disaster.”

More than 1.3 million homes and businesses were left without power in Puerto Rico after the storm dumped 30 inches of rain, causing surging floodwaters, submerged homes, and damaged roads.

Authorities have reported four deaths in Puerto Rico and 2 deaths in the Dominican Republic, where more than 1.15 households were left without potable water after the storm hit on Sept. 19.

Catholic Charities USA is currently coordinating distributions of food, water, and other essential items.

Kim Burgo, vice president of Catholic Charities USA’s disaster operations, told CNA that many families are still recovering from Hurricane Maria, the 2017 storm that the government says caused $90 billion in damage in Puerto Rico.

Pope Francis’ telegram to Bishop Rubén Antonio González Medina of Ponce, Puerto Rico said that he is praying fervently “to the most merciful Father, begging him to grant His consolidation to the beloved Puerto Rican people who are suffering grave misfortunes.”

In the telegram to Dominican Archbishop Freddy Antonio de Jesús Bretón Martínez of Santiago de los Caballeros, said that the pope was entrusting the local community to Our Lady of Altagracia, the patroness of the Dominican Republic.

 

Pope Francis: ‘The cross of Christ remains the anchor of salvation’

General audience with Pope Francis on St. Peter's Square, Vatican, Sept. 21, 2022 / Pablo Esparza / CNA

Rome Newsroom, Sep 21, 2022 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Reflecting on his recent trip to Kazakhstan, Pope Francis on Wednesday said that offering Mass for the feast of the Holy Cross surrounded by the capital city of Nur-Sultan’s “ultra-modern architecture” led him to think about the meaning of the cross today. 

“In a world in which progress and regression are intertwined, the cross of Christ remains the anchor of salvation,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 21.

Speaking at his Wednesday general audience, the pope underlined that the cross is “a sign of hope that does not disappoint because it is founded on the love of God, merciful and faithful.”

Pope Francis said his Sept. 13–15 visit to the Central Asian country reminded him of Kazakhstan’s many martyrs who “suffered so much for the faith during the long period of persecution: murdered, tortured, imprisoned for the faith.”

“And credit … must be given to the Kazakh government, which, having freed itself from the yoke of the atheistic regime, now proposes a path of civilization clearly condemning fundamentalism and extremism,” he said.

The primary purpose of the pope’s trip to Kazakhstan was to take part in an interreligious conference, the Seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

On the final day of the congress, delegates representing the world’s major religions voted to adopt a declaration calling religious pluralism an expression “of the wisdom of God’s will in creation.”

Pope Francis said that the congress aimed to put “religions at the center of efforts to build a world where we listen to each other and respect each other in diversity.”

“And this is not relativism,” he added. “It is listening and respecting.”

Throughout his trip last week, the pope repeatedly appealed for dialogue and peace in the “senseless and tragic war” in Ukraine. At the end of his general audience, the pope repeated his appeal, expressing solidarity with the “noble and martyred” Ukrainian people.

The pope said this envoy in Ukraine, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, called him yesterday and described “the pain of the people, the savage actions, the monstrosities, and the tortured corpses that had been found.”

He was likely referring to Krajewski’s recent visit to a mass grave in Izium, Ukraine, where 146 bodies, mostly civilians, have been exhumed so far. 

Pope Francis praying at the general audience, Sept. 21, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA
Pope Francis praying at the general audience, Sept. 21, 2022. Pablo Esparza / CNA

Pope Francis also highlighted World Alzheimer’s Day, noting that the disease “affects so many people who, because of this condition, are often placed on the margins of society.”

“We pray for Alzheimer’s patients, their families, and their loving caregivers, that they will be increasingly supported and helped,” he said.

St. Peter’s Basilica to light up with video projection telling the story of first pope

The facade of St. Peter is barely visible: A preview of the illuminated display. / Vatican News YouTube channel (screenshot)

Rome Newsroom, Sep 20, 2022 / 08:34 am (CNA).

Visitors to the Vatican in October will be able to see the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica illuminated with a video display telling the story of the Church’s first pope. 

An eight-minute video, “Follow Me: The Life of St. Peter,” will be projected onto the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every night from Oct. 2 to Oct. 16, starting at 9 p.m.

A short preview of the video at a Vatican press conference on Sept. 20 revealed that it will showcase video renderings of Renaissance artwork found in the Vatican Museums and inside the basilica. 

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, has said that this is the first of several pastoral initiatives to help welcome pilgrims to the tomb of St. Peter ahead of the Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year.

According to the cardinal, the Vatican expects 30 million people to visit during the Jubilee Year. 

“It is important that they see the face of the Mother Church that welcomes everyone. We thought of showing the image of the early Church, founded on Peter and his profession of faith,” Gambetti said.

“We think that people will be guided by the example of Peter to encounter the Lord and their brothers and sisters, to live their experience as pilgrims, and to leave renewed. It is an integrated pastoral action,” he added.

The display will be projected on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. during the first two weeks of October.

Vatican News YouTube channel (screenshot)
Vatican News YouTube channel (screenshot)