Vatican City, Apr 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Pope told a crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Coeli that the grace from the sacraments received at Easter can renew relationships.
“The grace contained in Easter Sacraments has a huge potential for renewal in personal life, family life and social relations,” Pope Francis said April 1 to a packed Saint Peter’s Square.
He noted that “everything passes through the human heart,” and the sacraments allow people to “receive the grace of the risen Christ,” which gives them the freedom to change those faults that “can hurt me and others.”
The Pope underscored that this “allows the victory of Christ to remain in my life and broaden its beneficial action.”
“Without grace we can do nothing, and with the grace of Baptism and Holy Communion, we can become an instrument of God's mercy,” he said.
“Expressing in life the sacrament we have received here, dear brothers and sisters, is our daily work, but I would say it is also our daily joy,” the Holy Father added.
Today’s Mass liturgy recalls the Apostle Peter preaching on Jesus’ resurrection to crowds in Jerusalem.
He called on the power of the resurrection of Christ to reach everyone, the Pope recalled, “especially those who suffer” and those in “all situations in need of confidence and hope.”
Christ has conquered evil “fully and definitively,” he said, but “it is up to us to welcome this victory in our lives and in the realities of history and society.”
Chuckles were heard across St. Peter’s Square after the Pope concluded the gathering by saying, “thank you all and have a great lunch.”
He then waved a final goodbye, while the crowd waved back at him.
The Regina Coeli is sung or recited in place of the Angelus at 12:00 p.m., from Easter Saturday until Pentecost Sunday. At today’s gathering, the Pope recited the prayer and delivered his remarks in Italian.
The Vatican press office director, Father Federico Lombardi, said at a March 29 press conference that he thinks Pope Francis does not sing during liturgies because has a certain amount of tone deafness.
Pope Francis’ next event will be his second general audience on April 3.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis made a private visit to the tomb of St. Peter on the afternoon of Easter Monday to spend time in prayer before the remains of the first pontiff.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, his secretary Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, and two archeologists responsible for the excavations accompanied the Pope to St. Peter’s tomb in the Necropolis, a series of burial sites beneath the basilica.
St. Peter headed the Christian Church after Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Peter was martyred under the Roman Emperor Nero in the year 64 on Rome’s Vatican hill. He was crucified upside down at his own request because he said he was not worthy to die as Jesus did.
In 1965 archaeologists working on the Necropolis said they found the bones of St. Peter near an ancient Greek inscription that said “Peter is here.”
Monday marked Pope Francis’ second visit to St. Peter’s tomb, and according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi it was the first time a Pope visited the excavations.
After visiting the place where St. Peter is buried, Pope Francis went to the Clementine Chapel, the place closest to the burial site, where he spent time in silent prayer and a “deep and moving moment of reflection,” Fr. Lombardi said.
The tombs of many of the Popes from the 20th century are located in a crypt on the level above the excavations, so he also paid his respects there before leaving.
The entire visit, which began at 5:00 p.m., lasted about 45 minutes.
As he left the excavation, Pope Francis greeted the personnel on duty and return to his apartment at St. Martha’s House on foot.
Updated at 12:40 p.m. Rome time. Adds details about group accompanying Pope, comments from Fr. Lombardi.
Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 1, 2013 (CNA) - Christ, who is both God and man, must not be equated with any human leader or personality, warned Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela.
Jesus Christ “was not simply a leader or one of humanity’s great men,” nor was he merely “a social activist,” said Cardinal Urosa during Palm Sunday Mass on March 24.
The cardinal's statement came in the wake of comments by interim President Nicolas Maduro, calling Hugo Chavez “the redeeming Christ of the poor of America.”
“Jesus Christ is not just any person: he is not a prophet like the ones from the Old Testament; he is not a great saint like St. Joseph, St. Paul or St. Anthony, St. Ignatius of Loyola or St. John Bosco; he is not a boss or leader and benefactor of nations,” Cardinal Urosa declared, according to the archdiocesan press office.
“He is much more than that. He is God himself who became incarnate and like us in order to raise us to the marvelous status of children of God.”
“Christ came into the world to redeem humanity from its sins,” the cardinal explained. “He who suffered the unspeakable torture of the cross, after being subjected to cruel and inhumane torture and abuse, it not just any person.”
Rather, he stressed, Jesus of Nazareth “is God himself made man.”
This truth about Christ was openly proclaimed by St. Paul when he said that “Jesus is Lord,” Cardinal Urosa continued.
By speaking in this way, the Apostle “was saying that Jesus is God, as that is the meaning of the word Kyrios, Lord, in the language of the Old and New Testament.”
“That is the nucleus, the center of our faith and of our holy religion,” the cardinal added.
“Jesus is Divinity incarnate himself,” Cardinal Urosa said. “And for this reason, Jesus Christ, while he is immersed in history, he is in a domain, on a level, on a higher plane that is totally distinct from that of the heroes and leaders of history. It is supernatural, transcendent and religious plane.”
He explained that for this reason, we must not “equate any human leader or hero or ruler with Jesus Christ, nor offer them religious worship, as we do to Jesus Christ.”
“We cannot equate the supernatural and religious domain with the natural, earthly and socio-political domain.”
“It is very important that we keep this in mind and that we state this, rejecting any equating of Jesus Christ with human personalities,” the cardinal said. “Jesus is unique and unrepeatable. He is God himself, whom alone we adore.”
Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.
“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.
Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.
“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.
As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.
“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan.
The arts and crafts retailer is one of well over 100 plaintiffs challenging a mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to require employers to provide contraception, some abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations.
A narrow religious exemption included in the mandate does not apply to for-profit businesses run by religious individuals.
Since its founding in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972, Hobby Lobby has grown to more than 500 stores in 40 states. Its founder and CEO, David Green, and his family describe themselves as committed Christians who strive to serve God through all their endeavors, including their business.
The Greens donate large amounts of money to charitable causes, maintain a minimum wage that is significantly higher than that required by federal law and close their stores on Sundays, sacrificing profit to allow their employees to worship and rest.
As Christians, the Greens also object to funding or facilitating any drugs that can cause abortions, including the “morning after” and “week after” pills. Their lawsuit argues that their First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom are being violated through the mandate’s demands.
Both a federal district court and an appeals court initially denied an injunction that would have blocked the mandate from going into effect while Hobby Lobby argued its case.
The courts said that although the Greens express their sincere religious beliefs through their company, they did not feel that those beliefs were directly burdened by the mandate’s requirements.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied the company’s emergency injunction appeal in December, saying that the case did not meet the extreme standard necessary for the Supreme Court to intervene.
Without an injunction, Hobby Lobby was faced with up to $1.3 million per day in fines for violating the mandate, beginning Jan. 1 of this year.
In January, however, the retailer released a statement saying it had found a way delay the crippling fines by “shift(ing) the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.”
The company has said that despite the threat of staggering fines, it will continue fighting to exercise its owners’ religious beliefs in its policies.
In addition to granting a full panel of judges for the appeal, the 10th Circuit also said in its March 29th response to Hobby Lobby’s plea that it will “grant the pending request to expedite oral argument,” thereby accelerating the appeals process.
The court said that a date for the appeals case will be set soon. Arguments are expected to take place in the spring.