Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis is praying for the victims and families of the 77 people who have died in a train derailment near the Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday evening.
During a July 24 evening press conference in Rio de Janeiro, the Vatican press office director, Father Federico Lombardi, said the Pope has been informed of the tragic accident, which “deeply moved” him and he is now praying for all the victims and their relatives.
Fr. Lombardi also asked the journalists present to observe one minute of silence for the victims of Spain’s deadliest train crash since 1972.
Cardinal Antonio María Rouco of Madrid, who was the archbishop of the Santiago de Compostela for 10 years, called the Pope to tell him the news because he felt terrible about it and “wanted to talk to the Pope with all his heart,” Fr. Lombardi said.
The current Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, Julián Barrio Barrio, said he is “shocked” at the horrific accident and that it has left him “almost speechless.”
In response, he is giving “all his support to the families of the victims, in these difficult times” and is “raising up his prayers for the deceased.”
The city has also canceled the festivities for the Feast of St. James, which is the most important feast of the year for the archdiocese and the region.
Maria Pardo Rios, spokeswoman for the Galicia region's main court, told the Associated Press that 73 people were found dead at the scene of the accident and four have died in hospitals. The numbered of injured is around 141 out of the 218 passengers.
The incident occurred at 8:41 p.m. on Wednesday evening when the train was about three or four kilometers (2 miles) away from the Santiago de Compostela station, according to a July 25 statement from the train operator Renfe.
Spanish journalist Miguel-Anxo Murado told the BBC’s John Humphrys that “the train driver admitted to going too fast,” and explained that he was traveling more than double the speed limit for the stretch of track he was on.
The train’s speed sent its eight carriages careening off the track so violently that some cars landed upside down and at least one was split in half.
Estefania Aguirre contributed to this report from Rio de Janiero.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Rio de Janeiro experienced another day of rain on Wednesday along with lower than normal temperatures, forcing World Youth Day pilgrims to wear the jackets and ponchos they packed but did not plan to wear.
Leao, a security guard at the World Youth Day media center in Rio, told CNA July 24, “This cold is not normal and it is very cold. Neither is the rain. This is normal in Sao Paulo but not here.”
Rodrigo, an umbrella vendor at Copacabana beach, also said it was unusually cold.
“I don’t see this dampening the enthusiasm of the young people. They pass by here happy and sometimes buy something,” sometimes an umbrella or a plastic poncho.
The rain and cold did not keep young people from showing up in throngs for the first morning of teaching sessions at the more than 270 different stations across the World Youth Day area. The names of the bishop catechists at each site are kept secret until the session begins to surprise the young people.
Organizers expect the number of participants to swell over the next two days and reach a crescendo at the vigil on Saturday night and the closing Mass on Sunday, when Pope Francis will announce the location of the next international edition of the youth event.
Previous World Youth Days took place in Madrid, Sydney, Rome, Toronto and Denver, to name a few. The events have drawn millions of people and provide young people with a chance to grow deeper in the faith, while also giving the Church a boost.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Despite jetlag, rainy weather and an intense schedule, Pope Francis is showing no sign of slowing down as he meets with young people in Rio de Janeiro.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, told the press July 24 that Pope Francis “hasn’t stopped at all” and his continuous energy is “something that strikes all of us.”
He also has not lost any of his personal touch, even though his attention is being sought after at every moment. One example occurred when he took time to meet with 30 cloistered nuns who waited in the rain for him at Bom Jesus Seminary in Aparecida as he had lunch with the seminarians.
“The funniest thing is that one nun asked for the Pope to sign a book for her and so he had to sign a book for all of them,” Fr. Lombardi recalled.
“One of them decided she wanted a picture with the Pope with her arms around his neck and so all of them had to have their picture with him, too,” he added with a laugh during a July 24 press conference at World Youth Day media center in Rio.
On Wednesday morning, Pope Francis began the day by visiting the national shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. “This has been a beautiful day despite the heavy rain, and the Mass at Our Lady of Aparecida was a very important moment,” Fr. Lombardi remarked.
“He consecrated World Youth Day and all the pilgrims to Our Lady,” the Vatican spokesman explained.
“It was quite obvious that the Pope was extremely happy, especially after seeing the crowd of 200,000, and he said, ‘see you again in 2017,’ which shows his real love for the place,” said Fr. Lombardi.
The Holy See press office director also recapped the Pope’s visit to St. Francis of Assisi Hospital, where the Franciscans care for poor drug and alcohol addicts free of charge.
“Today, in this place where people struggle with drug addiction, I wish to embrace each and every one of you, who are the flesh of Christ, and to ask God to renew your journey, and also mine, with purpose and steadfast hope,” he said during his July 24 visit.
The Holy Father’s schedule for July 25 begins with a private Mass.
The first public event will be at 9:45 a.m. when the Pope will receive the keys of the city and will then bless the Olympic flags.
The Pope will then visit the slum of Varginha and around noon he will meet with 7,000 Argentinians at the Cathedral.
“The Pope hasn’t prepared a speech for them and this will be something improvised, so it will be interesting to see his spontaneity in this occasion,” said Fr. Lombardi.
The day will end with the opening ceremony for World Youth Day at Copacabana beach. Organizers expect around 2 million young people to attend the ceremony.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The archbishop emeritus of Delhi, India told English-speaking pilgrims during their first catechesis session of World Youth Day that an encounter with Jesus will change their lives.
“When the Lord comes into your life something new happens, we believe we see people from a different perspective,” said Archbishop Vincent Michael Concessao July 24.
“You will see people as Jesus saw and he will give us confidence, trust and courage to do things,” he told pilgrims gathered at the school of Our Lady of Mercy in Rio de Janeiro’s Botafogo neighborhood.
Pilgrims are divided up into language groups on the mornings of July 24-26 for catechesis, one of the major teaching elements of World Youth Day.
Over 250 bishops from around the world are leading the catechesis sessions, which take place at different churches and schools across Rio de Janeiro.
The sessions are a chance for pilgrims to pray and listen to talks by the bishops related to the World Youth Day theme, “Go and make disciples among all the nations” (Mt 28:19).
Each catechesis session is including a question-and-answer period with the youth, Mass and confessions.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Delhi, India told the pilgrims some personal stories and spoke about saints who they could look to as role models.
“I wanted to become a priest after I had finished high school, but a week before I joined the seminary, my father had a third attack of paralysis,” he said.
“I was 16 at the time and despite my father’s suffering, I still wanted to join the seminary, and some people were surprised,” Archbishop Concessao recalled.
He also remembered a time when he met a poor man who attended his parish.
“He told me, ‘sometimes I eat once a day, sometimes twice, but what I have I can share it with you,’” he said.
“I felt that God was talking to me through him; for me it was like Jesus himself standing before me and talking to me,” he remarked.
The archbishop said that many times the Lord enters into our life through things that happen to us or people we meet.
“On the other side of the road there was a man who saw a beggar that was mentally challenged,” he said as he began another story.
“After two years the man opened an institution of about 250 people,” he added.
Archbishop Concessao told the youth that it is “very important” that their perspective be “a faith perspective.”
“How do you look at people?” he challenged them. “He is your brother and sister because God made all people in his image and likeness and for him there are no outsiders or strangers.”
“There are many others who are misguided, but you are here,” he said. “It is the presence of the Lord in our faith that is important.”
He then told the stories of saints who encountered the Lord and had their life completely changed, such as Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
“Every person is the temple of God and when we become aware of this we will do everything to be disciples of Jesus,” the archbishop insisted. “This is my prayer for you.”
After Archbishop Concessao’s remarks, Ronnie, a young woman from Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, shared her testimony with the pilgrims gathered at the school.
“One of my parents decided to break the covenant of marriage and broke our family,” she said.
But during a catechesis session in Madrid’s World Youth Day in 2011, she asked one of her friends to pray for her.
“As I knelt down, I realized how badly I was affected and I asked the Lord to heal me and my family,” Ronnie said.
“For the first time in my life I felt Jesus touching me and that was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had,” she added.
The young woman said when she went back home to Tobago, she told her mother of her experience and they both realized they had been praying on the exact same day and at the same time.
“She had had a very big problem and had also gone to a Church to pray, and through my prayers, I gave her the courage to carry on,” said Ronnie.
“She then received counseling with my dad, and it just made me realize that if I had given up hope, my family would have been finished,” she said.
Pope Francis officially opened World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday evening at Copacabana beach at a ceremony attended by around half a million young people.
The international youth event will last until July 28 and will culminate in a final Mass at Campus Fidei at Guaratiba on Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Speaking amid cheers in the soccer field of a Rio de Janeiro shanty town, Pope Francis urged people who are more economically privileged to “never tire” of working for solidarity and social justice.
“The Brazilian people, particularly the humblest among you, can offer the world a valuable lesson in solidarity, a word that is too often forgotten or silenced, because it is uncomfortable,” he said July 25 to the residents of Varginha, a “favela” of the city hosting World Youth Day.
He continued, “I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity.”
Pope Francis visited Varginha after having said a private Mass at his local residence, and visiting the mayor of Rio de Janeiro as well as soccer players. When he got to the favela, he visited St. Jerome Emiliani parish, blessing a new altar there. He also visited a couple who reside in the district.
The Alves family, who greeted the Pope, said “this historic day will mark our lives forever,” adding that they felt as though pontiff himself was “welcoming us with an open heart, as a father.”
“Therefore, we would like to ask your permission to break a little bit 'protocol,' as Your Holiness does sometimes, and call you Father, Fr. Francis, who welcomes everyone and, especially, the most poor,” the said in their warm exchange.
They related that Varginha was founded in 1940 when migrants from northern Brazil settled by a city dump “driven by the dream of better days.” The district has suffered “neglect” from the rest of Rio since its founding, they said.
“Such neglect, our dear Father, has been left behind since the moment of the announcement of your visit to our community.” They spoke of how his visit has led to infrastructure improvements and added, “we hope it will continue this way.”
The couple assured “Father Francis” that they work for the good of the youth of Varginha, who “seek their strength in God” and are “fighting for a better life through education and decent work.”
“We are small, poor, forgotten,” they said, but “we remain faithful to God: simple, humble and united.”
Pope Francis then began by proclaiming that he wished to visit all of Brazil, knocking on each door “to say 'good morning' … to speak as one would to family friends,” but that he was coming to Varginha, “which today stands for every district in Brazil.”
The Pope thanked the residents for their warm welcome, and said that “to make people welcome” is a great gift, because “when we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them – some food, a place in our homes, our time – not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched.”
He commended the people of Varginha for being examples of hospitality, “demonstrating that true riches consist not in material things, but in the heart!”
And yet, he said, “no one can remain insensitive” to the economic inequalities in the world and that everyone “should be able to make a personal contribution to putting an end to so many social injustices.”
The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: it is the culture of solidarity that does so.”
The other cannot be seen as a “rival” or a “statistic” he urged, but must be recognized instead as a brother or sister.
Pope Francis commended Brazil's efforts to “integrate” the poorest among its people and added that “no amount of 'peace-building' will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins or excludes a part of itself.”
When a nation excludes, ignores, or marginalizes any part of its population, “it loses something essential” and “simply impoverishes itself,” he taught.
“Let us always remember this: only when we are able to share do we become truly rich; everything that is shared is multiplied! The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!”
The Pope then made reference to the Aparecida Document, a 2007 text of the Latin American bishops which he also mentioned when he visited Our Lady of Aparecida's shrine yesterday. He noted that the Church “wishes to offer her support for every initiative that can signify genuine development for every person and for the whole person.”
Giving bread to the hungry is a “necessary” act of justice, taught the Bishop of Rome, yet he added, “there is a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy.”
When so-called development ignores the “non-material goods” of a nation – its “fundamental pillars” – “there is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development.”
He listed these “fundamental pillars” as life; the family; integral education; health; and security.
Life, Pope Francis said, must be always “protected and promoted” as God's gift. He emphasized family as a “remedy against social fragmentation,” and said that education must be about more than the “mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit.”
Health involves the person's “integral well-being” and includes the “spiritual dimension,” the Pope said, and security must recognize that violence is overcome “only by changing human hearts.”
Pope Francis then addressed the youth of Varginha, noting that young people are particularly sensitive to injustice and are “often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of people who put their own interests before the common good.”
“To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished.”
He re-assured them: “Situations can change, people can change.”
“Be the first to seek to bring good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who 'came that they may have life and have it abundantly.'”
The Pope concluded by emphasizing to the people of Varginha that “you are not alone, the Church is with you, the Pope is with you.”
“I carry each of you in my heart and I make my own the intentions that you carry deep within you: thanksgiving for joys, pleas for help in times of difficulty, a desire for consolation in times of grief and suffering.”
“I entrust all this to the intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida, Mother of all the poor of Brazil, and with great affection I impart my blessing.”
Bangkok, Thailand, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, the Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand, encouraged a large gathering of Thai Catholics to renew their lives during the Year of Faith.
“Faith is a gift of God,” Archbishop Tschang In-Nam said July 21. “Faith in Christ brings salvation.”
The nuncio said God’s call is fully revealed in Jesus and this love “transforms and changes us from within.”
He spoke about the Year of Faith, a special celebration of the Catholic Church lasting until Advent 2013. He said the year is an opportune “time for renewal.”
The archbishop spoke at the conclusion of the three-day Year of Faith celebrations organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand. The celebrations took place July 19-21 at St. Joseph’s Upatham School in the Sam Phran district of Thailand’s west-central Nakhon Pathom Province.
Participants in the event included local bishops, various other bishops from India, Pakistan and Philippines, 200 priests and vowed religious, and 6,000 lay people.
Sixteen new deacons from various dioceses of Thailand were ordained during a Mass at the event.
Archbishop Tschang In-Nam thanked parents and rectors for giving the Church deacons, saying the deacons would be future priests, bishops, cardinals and, perhaps, a future Pope.
The nuncio also had a special exhortation for priests, telling them “perceive your vocations.” He noted that priests make promises to the Church to be “faithful” to their priestly vocations.
He urged prayers for priestly vocations. He said Catholics should pray that God “open our hearts to faith” so that they may become “light and salt of the earth.”
The archbishop is also Apostolic Nuncio to Cambodia and Apostolic Delegate to Myanmar and Laos
Father Joseph Virot Lertthanogsak of the Diocese of Surat Thani appreciated the nuncio’s words.
“The nuncio’s encouragement to be faithful in priesthood touched me deeply and it’s motivating,” the priest told CNA.
There are only a few hundred thousand Catholics across ten dioceses in Thailand, a country of over 69 million people.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis told a gathering of some 30,000 youth from his homeland that they are to “make a mess,” shaking up the comfort, self-satisfaction and clericalism of a Church closed in on itself.
“What do I hope for from World Youth Day? I hope for a mess ... that the Church takes to the streets. That we defend ourselves from comfort, that we defend ourselves from clericalism,” the Pope told a group of pilgrims from Argentina during this week's World Youth Day.
“The Church must be taken into the streets,” he said in the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro July 25.
Pope Francis' meeting with the youth of Argentina was not originally planned, and forced a rearrangement of his schedule. The encounter was not announced until Tuesday, when the Pope was already in Brazil. At least 35,000 Argentines flocked to the cathedral to see their Pope.
“Thank you to those who are inside, and to the 30,000 who are out there: I greet all of you from here, you who are standing in the rain,” he said. “Thank you for your gesture of being close to us, of being with me here at World Youth Day.”
“I asked my organizers if there was a moment this trip at which I can meet with my fellow Argentines, please find it.” He indicated that the meeting was a result of his own “personal request.”
Pope Francis told them his hopes for the event, and stressed that the Church, that the life of parishes, must be taken into the streets.
“If not, the Church becomes an NGO. And the Church cannot be an NGO,” he said, echoing his very first Mass as Bishop of Rome, in which he preached to the cardinal electors that “if we do not profess Jesus Christ … we may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord.”
Pope Francis said that the world “has made a cult, a god, of money. We are before a philosophy that exults material goods,” and that this striving for comfort and following the mundane must not seep into the Church.
This philosophy, he reflected, “excludes” the youth and the elderly.
“We do not let aged people speak, and as for young people – it is the same. They do not have the experience and the dignity of work … Young people must be able to go out and fight for their values,” he urged.
“Care for the two extremes of life,” he taught. As youth must be able to stand up for their values, so must “older people be able to speak out, to transmit their wisdom and knowledge.”
“You must not let yourselves be marginalized. Faith in Christ is not a joke. The only sure way, is the way of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus.”
“Faith in God's Son, who became man and who died for me, must make a mess, must disturb us out of our complacency.”
“This is your protocol for action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25,” he advised the youth.
Matthew 25 tells of the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgement: “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in.”
“Please, do not water down the faith,” he pleaded. “Stir things up, cause confounding, but do not diminish faith in Jesus Christ.”
Finally, Pope Francis thanked his countrymen for their closeness to him. He lamented that he could not be closer to them.
“At times I feel (encaged) … how ugly it is to be encaged, I would have liked to be closer to you all,” he said, sharing his heart with them.
“Don't forget to make a mess, to disturb complacency. Don't forget the youth and the aged.”
The Pope concluded by blessing the crowd, as well as a Franciscan cross and an image of Our Lady of Lujan, Argentina's patroness, which will be returning with the youths to their country.
“The Lord left his mother among us to accompany us. She cares for all of us, protects us on our way, in our heart, in our faith. May we be disciples, just as she was, and missionaries, also like her.”
Pope Francis asked God's mother to give voice “to the scandal of the cross …. which speaks of the closeness of God.”
“May God bless you all,” he said, leaving his compatriots. “Pray for me. Do not forget to pray for me.”
Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Princeton law professor Robert P. George has been elected as chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, giving the prominent Catholic thinker a leading role in policy recommendations for the US government.
George said July 23 that religious freedom is the “most fundamental of human rights.”
“I am deeply honored that my colleagues have entrusted me with this position of leadership. I have big shoes to fill,” he said, praising his predecessor, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, for promoting religious liberty.
“It will be my constant endeavor to live up to her outstanding example as USCIRF works to ensure that the cause of religious freedom, understood in its most robust sense, is given the high priority it deserves in the formation and execution of U.S. foreign policy,” George continued. “While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done.”
The commission monitors the state of freedom of religion, thought, conscience or belief as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. The commission gives independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton. He is an expert in the natural law legal and moral philosophy. He is the author of several books, including one defending the life of the human embryo.
Speaker of the House John Boehner appointed George to the religious freedom commission in 2012.
Dr. Lantos Swett, the outgoing chair of the commission, said she was “honored” to have worked with George in “the struggle to guarantee religious freedom abroad for people of every faith and shade of belief.”
“He is a true human rights champion whose compassion for victims of oppression and wisdom about international religious freedom shine through all we have accomplished this past year,” she said.
Lantos Swett said the bipartisan commission is “united in its admiration” for George’s skills as a religious freedom advocate.
George has served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was a judicial fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court and served on UNESCO’s Word Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
George co-wrote the Manhattan Declaration, a 2009 document that advocated the defense of religious liberty, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of human life in the United States. Over 500,000 people, including several hundred important Christian religious leaders, signed the document.
He is a present or former board member of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Institute on Religion and Democracy and the Family Research Council. He has also held editorial board positions for publications including Touchstone, First Things and Public Discourse.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis asked for a moment of silence for 21-year-old pilgrim Sophie Morinière, who was on her way to participate in World Youth Day but died in a bus accident July 17.
During the Pope’s welcoming ceremony for World Youth Day on July 25, he expressed his condolences for those who were also badly injured just days before the event.
The bus, which was taking a group of pilgrims of the Saint-Léon parish in Paris to Rio, collided with a truck close to Kourou in the French Guiana, a country bordering north of Brazil.
The young woman had traveled from Paris to take part in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro and was with other friends in Guiana where they had spent a week prior to the global youth event.
Sophie was in her fourth year of studies at the Polytechnic Women’s Institute of the Sein in Paris, where she lived. She was the oldest of four siblings: one sister, aged 19, and two brothers, aged 17 and 14.
In an interview with Notre Dame Radio on July 12, five days before her death, the young woman discussed her delegation that was on the way to World Youth Day in Rio.
“The time in Guayana will be a period of preparation,” she said.
“We have put ourselves in touch with locals who are happy to meet and receive us with open arms,” Sophie told Notre Dame Radio. “We will have time for spiritual sharing and we will be received by families, distributed in pairs in each one of their homes.”
The young woman also said “I will share with you (the radio’s morning audience) what will be lived in Brazil.”
“I will tell you about our encounters, our experiences, because in Paris one can't follow everything that takes place on the other side of the world.”
After her death, Pope Francis, through his Secretary of State, wrote a telegram in which he affirmed that “the Pope assures you of his prayers and expresses his most deepest sympathy to those injured, to the rescue workers and all those surrounding them.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - After three days of rain in Rio de Janeiro, World Youth Day planners have decided to change the location of the overnight prayer vigil and closing Mass to Copacabana beach.The announcement was made July 25, as heavy rains continued to fall on the city. The final World Youth Day events had originally been planned to take place July 27-28 in Campus Fidei - which means "Field of Faith" - in Guaratiba, some 30 miles away. However, the dirt field has become a giant mud pit due to the heavy rains, and it would pose problems for the expected crowds of more than one million. The activities will now be transferred to Copacabana beach, which is already the site of the Opening Mass, Papal welcoming ceremony and Way of the Cross. As a result of the change, participants will not make a 13 km pilgrimage, part of the original plan, as all motor vehicles would have been required to stop at a distance outside of Campus Fidei. Additionally, pilgrims will not be spending the night at the beach, as they would have done at Campus Fidei. Organizers had spent months preparing the field for approximately one million overnight guests, ensuring adequate water, restrooms, medical facilities and other necessities. These preparations have not been made at Copacabana beach. The new schedule ends with the Saturday prayer vigil with the Holy Father at 7:30 p.m. Events will resume on Sunday with Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at 10 a.m. "It was a difficult decision, but responsible, always thinking in the safety of our pilgrims," explained Msgr. Paulo Cezar Costa, vice president of the Local Organizing Committee for World Youth Day. "Copacabana has always been our plan B, and now we must apply it," he continued. "The pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro are already feeling the fruits of World Youth Day. Let's keep this World Youth Day cheerful and happy."
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The virtue of faith “accomplishes a revolution” in the lives of believers, which brings our way of thinking and acting into line with God's, Pope Francis told World Youth Day pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro.
“Faith immerses us in his love and gives us security, strength, and hope,” the Pope taught during his homily for a Liturgy of the Word held as a welcoming ceremony for the event.
“To all appearances, nothing has changed; yet, in the depths of our being, everything is different,” he said at the liturgy held on Copacabana beach July 25.
Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had visited a slum and met with Argentine pilgrims. He was welcomed to Copacabana by Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, who said the “challenging task” of World Youth Day is to bring “the hope of Christ” to the “many youth saddened in a world of consumerism, egoism, inequalities and false joys.”
The archbishop called the assembled pilgrims “protagonists of a new world,” returning to a theme he had sprinkled throughout his homily at the opening Mass of World Youth Day on Tuesday.
Archbishop Tempesta also made reference to Pope Francis' emphasis at the opening of his pontificate that the Church must “always confess Jesus Christ in our journey of faith and mission, so as to not fall into the temptation of being a socio-charitable NGO.”
Pope Francis then offered a quick greeting to the pilgrims, in which he observed a minute of silent prayer for the soul of Sophie Morinière, a French World Youth Day pilgrim who died in an automobile accident yesterday in French Guiana.
He encouraged the pilgrims, saying, “I have come today to confirm you in (the) faith … but I have also come to be confirmed by the enthusiasm of your faith.”
He was then welcomed by five youths, each representing one of the continents. The pilgrim from the Americas said, “we wish to manifest our joy and to say that it is very good to be here.”
The Gospel proclaimed at the Liturgy of the Word told of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and Pope Francis began by affirming that “here today, it is good for all of us to be gathered together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and who is present in our midst here in Rio.”
Christians are called to welcome Jesus in return, by “putting on” the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.
“To put on,” he said, is “to pour over,” comparing “putting on faith” with placing salt, or oil, atop a plate of food.
“'Put on faith', and your life will take on a new flavor, it will have a compass to show you the way,” he proclaimed.
By putting on hope, one's days and horizon will be “enlightened,” he added, and “putting on love” builds a solid foundation for one's life and the journey of life “will be joyful, because you will find many friends to journey with you.”
Faith, hope and love are Christ's gift, Pope Francis said, and Christ is “the one who brings God to us and us to God.”
“With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’
standpoint,” and so we must also “put on Christ.”
In putting on Christ, he said you receive a friend in whom you can always have faith; “wings of hope” for the journey into the future; and a “fruitful” life, “full of his love.”
“I would like each of us to ask sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus?”
The Pope acknowledged the temptation to “put ourselves at the centre, to think that we alone build our lives or that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power.”
“But it is not so,” he reflected.
Rather, possessions, money and power “end up possessing us,” leaving us unsatisfied and always wanting more, with only an “illusion of being happy.”
Pope Francis contrasted the pursuit of fleeting pleasures with the willingness to be pursued by Jesus.
“'Put on Christ' in your life, place your trust in him and you will never be disappointed.”
Faith, he said, “accomplishes a revolution in us, one which we can call Copernican, because it removes us from the centre and restores it to God.”
The fruits of the Holy Spirit “find a home in our heart” through faith, “and our very being is transformed.”
With the gift of faith “our way of thinking and acting” is renewed, transformed into “Jesus' own, God's own” way of acting and thinking.
That this World Youth Day is being held during the Year of Faith, the Pope said, “is truly a gift to draw us closer to the Lord, to be his disciples and his missionaries, to let him renew our lives.”
Pope Francis told the more than one million gathered pilgrims that Christ awaits them in his sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist. “Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness,” he emphasized.
“He never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy!”
“He is waiting for you in his flesh in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love.”
The Pope also encouraged the youth to seek Jesus in their fellow pilgrims, who will “teach you the language of charity, goodness and service.”
“You too, dear young people, can be joyful witnesses of his love, courageous witnesses of
his Gospel, carrying to this world a ray of his light,” he assured them.
“'It is good for us to be here'”, he concluded, “putting on Christ in our lives, putting on the faith, hope and love which he gives us.”
Pope Francis re-visited his emerging World Youth Day theme of being “disciples and missionaries” with the Mother of God. “Like her, may we say 'Yes' to God.”
“Let us ask that her maternal heart intercede for us, so that our hearts may be open to loving Jesus and making others love him. He is waiting for us, and he is counting on us. Amen.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa encouraged young people to follow the path of sanctity during his World Youth Day catechesis July 25, and called saints “the Christian's work of art.”
“When young people discover the path to holiness, new horizons open up before them,” Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga told CNA today at the site of his catechetical session, Saint Augustine parish in Rio de Janeiro.
“We should not be afraid to proclaim this, because the Holy Spirit wants to make a work of art out of each baptized person, and saints are the Christian’s work of art.”
“We should not be afraid to pose this challenge.”
The cardinal from Honduras said the atmosphere in Brazil is one of joy and much happiness.
“We are seeing great enthusiasm in the young people and I think this has contributed to the Holy Father coming here with so much anticipation and to the wonderful gestures of the new evangelization that he has made.”
The Pope rode “in a simple little car,” Cardinal Rodriguez noted, and the enthusiasm “raised concern among some security officials but in the end it was not a problem.”
“A second element is the catechesis, which involves so much participation and is so spiritual and interesting because of the questions that are raised.”
“The young people make us see that they have great concern for the faith,” he reflected.
“These young people have not come to just walk around or have fun. They have come motivated by the faith, and that is beautiful.”
He encouraged all those involved in youth ministry around the world not grow weary or become discouraged, “because being committed to this task is worth it” and will bear much fruit.
Cardinal Rodriguez was one of more than 250 bishops delivering catechetical sessions for pilgrims in Rio this week. The catecheses are meant to help the pilgrims to understand, and to absorb Pope Francis' message into their lives.
Young people from Peru, Ecuador, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay attended the cardinal’s catechetical session at Saint Augustine's this morning.
During his Mass, Cardinal Rodriguez also prayed for the victims of a train accident that took place yesterday near Santiago de Compostela in Spain. At least 78 people died in the accident.