Archive of July 27, 2013

Bishop: love of Christ must fuel missionary work

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Our evangelization work must be motivated by a relationship of love with Jesus, an Australian bishop told a group of young English-speaking pilgrims at World Youth Day.

“We need to invite people into a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow them to discover,” said Bishop D. Eugene Hurley of Darwin, Australia on July 26.

The bishop was among the English-speaking catechists at World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Held July 24-26, the catechesis sessions allow pilgrims to be divided into smaller groups by language in order to hear a formation talk by a bishop, participate in a question-and-answer period and have the opportunity for prayer, song, Mass and confession. 

Bishop Hurley observed that it is rare to have the “experience of being totally and absolutely at home” in this world.
“It's a wonderful and extraordinary gift to be at home with God,” he said.

Being at home requires the recognition that you are loved, he continued, pointing to his father as an example in his own life of “an extraordinary expression of unconditional love.”

Experiencing love is an important part of evangelization, the bishop told the pilgrims.

“I think that if we're really going to be missionaries, we've got to have in our own life this deep and abiding conviction that God loves me.”

The personal conviction that we are individually loved by an Almighty God is what drives our missionary activity and keeps it from being empty, he said.

If we are truly going to be missionaries in this world, “we're not just going out for the fun of it,” Bishop Hurley said, noting that trying to talk about Jesus without having first encountered him is “not going to work.”

Rather, he explained, we need to fall in love with Christ. When we do, evangelization becomes not a duty, but a joy, and we are eager to share the greatest gift in our lives with those we meet.

The bishop recalled Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. He observed that Jesus began a relationship with the woman “slowly and gently,” in an attitude of love, and it led her to return home and witness, calling other people to come and see.

In the same way, our faith should be open and inviting, not a mere “doctrinal thesis” that sits on a shelf, collecting dust, he said. To be a missionary means being open to the love of God and sharing that love with others.

As an example, Bishop Hurley pointed to people in RCIA, preparing to become Catholic. He said that when he talks to these people about why they initially considered the Catholic Church, “almost without exception, it's become someone asked them.”

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WYD pilgrims learn techniques to defend, explain faith

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA) - Participants at a World Youth Day training session received a crash course in defending the Catholic faith, both in the media – including social media – and around family members, friends and coworkers.

“It's that moment when people turn to you and say, 'You're a Catholic, aren't you? How can you justify that?'” said Catholic Voices founder Austen Ivereigh, journalist and author of “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice.”

Ivereigh explained that he co-founded the Catholic Voices project in the U.K. in 2010 because he wanted to ensure “that Catholics knew how to communicate when the media spotlight was on them.”

The program is now present in 12 countries, including Brazil, he continued. While it prepares people to interact with the media, is can also be useful to equip the faithful in the workplace, at family gatherings and hanging out with friends.

“We have to be prepared, above that place of greatest tension between the Church and society,” he said.

Ivereigh delivered a talk on how to successfully defend the faith in the modern world and answered questions from pilgrims at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro on July 24. He was joined by Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of Catholic News Agency, who added suggestions on how to apply these principles to modern methods of social media.

The event, sponsored by CNA and Catholic Voices USA, was held in both English and Spanish and drew an international crowd of young people.

Ivereigh, who has been a journalist for years, rejected the portrayal of the media as anti-Catholic. Rather, he said, media outlets reflect the frame of modern society, which is their audience.

To be successful, the New Evangelization requires a new apologetics that understands these “frames” of our society, he explained.

Developed in 2010, Catholic Voices helps the faithful recognize modern frames and offer alternative frames that better explain the truths of the Catholic faith.

The first step in doing this is understanding the contemporary frame, how the Church is being seen, Ivereigh said. Then, Catholics must work to understand the value behind the criticism of the Church, which “often comes from a distorted Christian perspective.” From there, they can identify with that value as they begin their answer to the question being posed.

Ivereigh warned against the common attitudes of anger, defensiveness and naiveté, which cause problems for those trying to explain the faith to others. 

“When you're angry, that's the only thing people see and the only thing people hear,” he said, explaining that people will notice your anger and miss your message.

In addition, we are not able to “propose to our society the reasons for believing what we believe” when we are stuck in a defensive mode, he said. And those who are naive and fail to “understand the frames that our society puts on the Church” will not be able to step outside the frame and offer a new perspective, delivering a message that needs to be heard in an understandable way.

Ivereigh also shared helpful principles in defending the faith, such as being positive and compassionate, focusing on witnessing rather than winning a debate, speaking from experience, telling stories and seeking to shed light, not heat.

Bermudez then offered tips to apply these principles to the world of social media.

“The principles that are very successful when we deal with media are also very useful when we deal with our families” and other parties or gatherings, he said. However there are additional dimensions - such as space limits and anonymity - that we must take into account when we are dealing with the internet and social media.

One critical challenge in the world of social media is determining when to engage in a discussion and when to avoid it, Bermudez explained.

He noted that Ivereigh's guidelines for dialogue assume “a desire of some kind to engage in a conversation, even if the starting point is aggressive.”

But online, people “who are usually isolated in their hatred of the Catholic Church” become “like packs” of wolves, acting as internet “trolls” who pick fights and upset people with insulting comments.

Sometimes, he suggested, these internet trolls should be engaged, as a means to address the wider audience that is reading the posts. But many times, they should simply be ignored.

“Without that basic minimum interest, any discussion is just a waste of time” and should be avoided, he said.

Bermudez urged Catholics not to be intimated by trolls who seem to dominate social media discussions.

In reality, he said, they do not dominate, but appear to do so because they are very intense. Fortunately, there are ways of getting past their distractions, and most people following an online debate can see right through them.

Encouraging the faithful to apply Ivereigh's principles of charity and evangelization, Bermudez also offered other tips, such as using pictures as resources on Facebook or Twitter.

“Remember that we have a very iconic faith,” he said.

He also emphasized the importance of understanding the limits of the media forms that you are using. Twitter users, for example, must recognize that they only have 140 characters to make their point and will not be able to delve into deep philosophical explanations.

Still, Bermudez said, these forms of media can work if we take care in shaping our message, use links and make every word count.

“Brevity requires thinking,” he stressed.

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Proclaim Gospel boldly and freely, Pope tells clergy

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Saturday urged Catholic clergy and consecrated religious to share the Gospel with young people boldly “so that they may encounter Christ” and then form a better world.

“We are indeed here to praise the Lord, and we do so reaffirming our desire to be his instruments so that not only some peoples may praise God, but all,” the Pope preached July 27 at Rio de Janeiro’s St. Sebastian Cathedral during a morning Mass for bishops, priests, seminarians and religious.

He encouraged them to “proclaim the Gospel to our young people” with the same freedom of Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas.

The Pope used the word “parrhesia,” a Greek word with a special meaning. “Parrhesia” means the “freedom of speech” for a necessary truth to be proclaimed even – and especially – when doing so comes with a risk to the speaker. By using the word “parrhesia,” Pope Francis was encouraging a determined boldness in sharing the Gospel.

Pope Francis then discussed the vocation of a consecrated religious person, focusing on how they have been called by God to proclaim the Gospel and to promote a “culture of encounter.”

He began by emphasizing that clergy and religious should always be aware of “our divine vocation,” adding that “we often take (it) for granted in the midst of our many daily responsibilities.”

“This means returning to the source of our calling,” he said.

At the beginning of the consecrated vocation, the Pope reflected, there is a “divine election” in which the person is called by God to “be with Jesus” so as to say, with St. Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Living in Christ marks “all that we are and all that we do,” the Pope assured them.

This “life in Christ,” he said, is “precisely what ensures the effectiveness of our apostolate, that our service is fruitful.”

Pope Francis repudiated an approach to Christian ministry from a worldly, secular, or business-based point of view.

“It is not pastoral creativity, or meetings or planning that ensure our fruitfulness, but our being faithful to Jesus, who says insistently: ‘Abide in me and I in you’,” he stressed.

The Pope encouraged the congregation to abide with Christ through contemplation, worship, and “embracing him” especially through “our faithfulness to a life of prayer, and in our daily encounter with him, present in the Eucharist and in those most in need.”

Being with Christ is not isolating, Pope Francis said. Rather, it makes us more able to “encounter others.”

He quoted Blessed Mother Teresa, who said: “We must be very proud of our vocation because it gives us the opportunity to serve Christ in the poor. It is in the favelas, in the cantegriles, in the villas miseria, that one must go to seek and to serve Christ.”

Pope Francis then urged the bishops and priests to help kindle within the heart of youth “the desire to be missionary disciples of Jesus.”

He recalled that when he was young, it was his dream to be a missionary in “faraway Japan.”

“God, however, showed me that my missionary territory was much closer: my own country.”

The call to be a missionary disciple, he stressed, is the call of the Christian, the call of the baptized.

“We must also help (young people) to realize that we are called first to evangelize in our own homes and our places of study and work, to evangelize our family and friends,” he said.

He urged those in charge of forming the young to “spare no effort” so that they too will be able to go out and evangelize.

“We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!”

Priests, and all Christians, must go out from their circles of comfort to seek and to save others, he emphasized.

“It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!” the Pope said. “Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church.”

“They too are invited to the table of the Lord.”

The Pope then lamented that a culture of “exclusion, of rejection” is spreading. “There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person on the edge of the street.”

The Bishop of Rome again repudiated the tendency to let human relationships be governed by models from the secular or business worlds. He criticized the view that sees human relations as regulated by the “dogmas” of “efficiency and pragmatism.”

He encouraged bishops, priests, religious and seminarians to “have the  courage to go against the tide.”

The Pope implored them not to reject God's gift of “the one family of his children.”

He said that “solidarity and fraternity,” a “welcoming and encountering” of all people, are what make societies “truly human,” truly personal.

“Be servants of communion and of the culture of encounter! Permit me to say that we must be almost obsessive in this matter.”

He balanced his opening statement on bold, free speech with a warning against pride.

“We do not want to be presumptuous, imposing ‘our truths.’ What must guide us is the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed,” he said.

Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary might be the example for consecrated persons called by God to proclaim the Gospel and to “promote with courage the culture of encounter.”

“May she be the Star that surely guides our steps to meet the Lord,” he concluded. “Amen.”

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Youths feel 'greater responsibility' after lunch with Pope Francis

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The twelve youths chosen to lunch with Pope Francis during World Youth Day said they were still in disbelief, adding that the encounter gave them a greater responsibility to serve the needy.

“I still can’t believe what happened,” said Marcelo Galiano, originally from Argentina’s Diocese of Paraná.

“I had already been working for the Church, but this gives me a bigger push to be more firm in my faith,” he said July 26.

Following a press conference in Copacabana, four of the twelve spoke with CNA.

Galiano, a therapist, works in Rio de Janeiro with those who have autism.

He said he never imagined he would be eating with the Pope.

“We have been so privileged,” he said. “What has changed in my life is that now I have more responsibility because he spoke with us with authority, as a pastor and as a father.”

Galiano said he liked the Pope’s “closeness,” describing him as “such a simple person” who “hasn’t put aside the things of everyday life.”

He stressed Pope Francis’ importance as Pope, “but one realizes that he still calls his friends and that he is still himself.”

“We spoke a bit about everything and when he gave us our gift at the end, a rosary, I gave him a big hug,” said Galiano.

The twelve youths ate with Pope Francis at the Archbishop of Rio’s residence. The six  men and six women were chosen by lot to represent World Youth Day pilgrims from each continent: Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Brazil.

Two of the women included Paula A. García from Colombia and Polina Grigorieva from Russia, who worked as volunteers for World Youth Day.

“The Pope really transmits God,” said Paula A. García, who was asked to translate for the youths and the Pope since she speaks both Spanish and English.

Pope Francis posed them questions including “why are you having lunch with the Pope when others are hungry in the slums?”

García said that question made the young people break into tears.

“He was telling us ‘God loves you a lot’ through the questions he asked us,” she remarked. “He didn’t tell us directly that, but he made us reflect.”

She said he made them reflect what they will do in the future against all the world’s injustices. He asked them not to do big things, but small things with love.

“We were all nervous in the beginning because we didn’t know what we were going to talk about with him, but he just came and it was very normal,” she told CNA.

She said that for her, meeting the Pope was a top point in her life, calling the meeting “the cherry on top.”

“Listening to him was reaffirming everything I had been learning spiritually up until now in my life,” said García.

“It was a very impressive atmosphere and I know we are all very moved.”

Danielle Danowsky, from Michigan, said meeting Pope Francis was amazing and that she had “no words” to describe it.

“I want to live now more profoundly the things that he said to us during the meeting,” Danowsky told CNA.

“He mentioned how we are so fortunate with our health and with what he had and that we should care for the needy,” she added.

Thomson Philip, an India-born man from New Zealand, sat at the left hand side of the Pope.

He said he felt “very blessed,” calling the meeting the “biggest opportunity” he had had in his life.

“When I received the email inviting me to this lunch, I was so shocked I almost fainted,” he told CNA.

After he confirmed the authenticity of the email, he could not even tell his parents about it because the youths were asked to keep it confidential.

Like the other youth who lunched with the Pope, Philip felt more responsibility because of the meeting.

“He asked each one of us to spread the hope of Christ among the young people,” said Philip.

He noted the Pope did not ask them to do “big things,” but “small things in our parish and in our community.”

“Go talk to the young people, listen to them and share Christ’s hope, basically,” Philip summarized.

He stressed that the Pope asked them to pray a lot, especially the rosary.

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Pope Francis: only God’s beauty can attract

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis told Brazil’s bishops that people will be drawn to the Church only through God’s beauty, recounting how God worked simply through three fishermen and a statue of the Virgin Mary to enrich the Christian faith of the country.

“Only the beauty of God can attract. God’s way is through enticement, allure,” Pope Francis said during a lengthy address to the bishops of Brazil July 27 at the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro’s John Paul II building.

The Pope said that Catholics need to learn how to be “a Church which makes room for God’s mystery, a Church which harbors that mystery in such a way that it can entice people, attract them,”

The Pope added that God “awakens in us a desire to keep him and his life in our homes, in our hearts. He reawakens in us a desire to call our neighbors in order to make known his beauty. Mission is born precisely from this divine allure, by this amazement born of encounter.”

The Pope based his remarks on the story of the origins of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint.

One day in 1717, three Brazilian fishermen struggled for hours to catch any fish. They discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary entangled in their nets and, inspired, they prayed to the Blessed Virgin. Soon they had caught an abundance of fish.

The fishermen began to venerate the statue and told others about it. Devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida grew as more miracles were attributed to her.

“There is much we can learn from the approach of the fishermen,” Pope Francis said, adding that their story also offers a lesson about how God acts in the world.

“We speak about mission, about a missionary Church. I think of those fishermen calling their neighbors to see the mystery of the Virgin. Without the simplicity of their approach, our mission is doomed to failure.”

Pope Francis painted a picture of fishermen with “a dilapidated, ill-fitted boat,.” Their nets are “old and perhaps torn” and after a long day “for all their work, the nets are empty.”

But it is through situations like this that God can work, the Pope said.

“(W)hen God wills it, he enters the scene. The waters are deep and yet they always conceal the possibility of a revelation of God. He appeared out of the blue, perhaps when he was no longer expected.”

God’s “own beauty, reflected in his Mother conceived without original sin, emerges from the darkness of the river. In Aparecida, from the beginning, God’s message was one of restoring what was broken, reuniting what had been divided.”

Pope Francis reflected that “God always enters clothed in poverty, littleness.” The statue of Our Lady of Aparecida “appears with a black face,” in a nation that had been “divided by the shameful wall of slavery.”

The Pope reminded his fellow bishops that the Church is alwys called to be a means of reconciliation. He added that God’s plan is revealed “slowly, quietly,” and that the Church also “has to learn how to wait.”

He said the fishermen “bring the mystery home,” adding “ordinary people always have room to take in the mystery.”

He cautioned against Catholics reducing “our way of speaking about mystery” to merely “rational explanations.”

“For ordinary people the mystery enters through the heart,” he said. “In the homes of the poor, God always finds a place.”

Pope Francis recounted that the fishermen “bundled up” the statue of Our Lady “as if she were cold and needed to be warmed.”

“God asks for shelter in the warmest part of ourselves: our heart. God himself releases the heat we need, but first he enters like a shrewd beggar.”

The fishermen were drawn by God’s beauty and mystery, the Pope said, and “they call their neighbors” to see the “rediscovered beauty” of the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida.

“The Church needs constantly to relearn the lesson of Aparecida,” Pope Francis reflected. “She must not lose sight of it. The Church’s nets are weak, perhaps patched … yet God wants to be seen precisely through our resources, scanty resources, because he is always the one who acts.”

The Pope said that pastoral work depends not on “a wealth of resources,” but rather “on the creativity of love.” While affirming the necessity of work and planning, “first and foremost we need to realize that the Church’s power does not reside in herself.”

“It is hidden in the deep waters of God, into which (the Church) is called to cast her nets.”

He added that if the Church will not speak of Mystery with simplicity, not only will “she herself remain outside the door of the mystery … she proves incapable of approaching” those who seek God in her.

“At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people,” the Pope reflected.

“Without the grammar of simplicity, the Church loses the very conditions which make it possible ‘to fish’ for God in the deep waters of his Mystery.”

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Religion is 'leaven' in society, Pope tells Brazil's leaders

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis told representatives of Brazil’s leadership this morning that governments should affirm the value of religion in society so that religions can contribute to open dialogue in the public square.

“Peaceful coexistence between different religions is favored by the laicity of the state, which ... respects and esteems the presence of the religious factor in society, while fostering its concrete expressions,” the Pope said July 27 to Brazilian leaders gathered at Rio de Janeiro's ornate Municipal Theatre.

He said the great religious traditions “play a fruitful role as a leaven of society and a life-giving force for democracy.”

Pope Francis’ audience included political, diplomatic, cultural, religious, academic, and business representatives of the people of Brazil. Pope Francis briefly opened his remarks in Portuguese, but asked their forgiveness for his continuing in Spanish, saying he wanted to “express more clearly what I carry in my heart.”

“I see in you both memory and hope,” he told them, citing especially the hope that the light of the Gospel will “continue to develop in full respect for the ethical principles grounded in the transcendent dignity of the person” in their nation.

The Pope said those in positions of responsibility must look at the future calmly and also seeing the truth. He said this “calm gaze” must recognize the distinctiveness of a culture, shared responsibility, and constructive dialogue.

Pope Francis affirmed Brazilian culture’s “dynamic and distinctive character.” He said the basic principles of a culture must rest on “an integral vision of the human person.”

He urged Brazil’s leaders to appreciate fully the “richness” of nourishment that “the Gospel through the Catholic Church” has given to Brazilian culture, especially its “vision of man and of life.”
This nourishment can “render fruitful a cultural process that is true to Brazilian identity and capable of building a better future for all,” he reflected.

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of an “integral humanism.” He said that promoting a full view of humanity and a “culture of encounter and relationship” is the “Christian way of promoting the common good, the joy of living.”

In promoting these, the Pope said, “faith and reason unite.” Thought and life are given a “new vitality,” instead of a “dissatisfaction and disillusionment” that spreads into “hearts … and streets.”

“Fraternal relations between people, and cooperation in building a more just society – these are not (from) some vague utopia, but (are) the fruit of a concerted effort on the part of all, in service of the common good,” he reminded them.

Pope Francis spoke about shared responsibility for society, advocating “a humanistic vision of the economy.” He said politics should allow the participation of all people, including “eliminating forms of elitism and eradicating poverty.”

Leaders are called to ensure that “basic needs  are met and that human dignity, brotherhood and solidarity are guaranteed on every level.” He lamented that since the time of the prophet Amos, hundreds of years before Christ, “the outcry, the call for justice,” continues to be heard “even today.”

The Pope emphasized that leaders must have “practical goals” and “specific means” to reach them. Leadership requires the “most just decision” in light of one’s personal responsibility and of concern for the common good.

“To act responsibly is to see one’s own actions in the light of other people’s rights and God’s judgment,” he said.

Pope Francis said “constructive dialogue” is “essential” for Brazil, which has been rocked by massive protests in recent months.

“Between selfish indifference and violent protest there is always another possible option: that of dialogue,” the Pope taught.

He emphasized that dialogue must be a process of give and take, always while “remaining open to the truth.” Dialogue helps increase respect for others’ rights and grows understanding between cultures and religion.

Dialogue is “the only way for individuals, families and societies to grow, the only way for the life of peoples to progress.”

He said this is part of the “culture of encounter” in which everyone has something good to give and something good to receive in turn.

 “Others always have something to give me,” he said, “if we know how to approach them in a spirit of openness and without prejudice.”

 “Today, either we stand together with the culture of encounter, or we all fall.”

Pope Francis concluded by asking that his audience accept his words as an expression of his “concern” as Pastor of the Church and as an expression of “my love for the Brazilian people.”

“I encourage you in your commitment to the common good, a commitment which demands of everyone wisdom, prudence and generosity,” he said.

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The Church a unity of diversities, Pope tells Brazil's bishops

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis told an assembly of the Brazilian bishops that the Church must be founded on unity in the abundance of diversity, rather than a narrow uniformity.

“The Church in Brazil … needs a network of regional 'testimonies' which speak the same language and in every place ensure not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity, Pope Francis told the more than 300 bishops gathered at the John Paul II building of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro July 27.

The Bishop of Rome opened his remarks to his brother bishops, the bulk of which he delivered in Spanish, by making known his wish to “enjoy this moment of repose, exchange of ideas and authentic fraternity” with them, adding that “I want to embrace each and every one of you,” especially the bishops emeritus.

He spoke at length about the story of Our Lady of Aparecida, emphasizing that “only the beauty of God” can attract man's heart, and that the Church's power resides not in herself but is “hidden in the deep waters of God.”

Having said this, Pope Francis thanked them for their efforts as pastors, and began to look forward to what God is asking of them.

The Pope urged them not to yield to “disillusionment, discouragement and complaint” in the face of situations which “appear to be failures.” He noted the situation of persons leaving the Church who, “under the illusion of alternative ideas, now think that the Church … can no longer offer them anything meaningful,” comparing them to the disciples of the Emmaus story.

For these people, he advised, the Church must be unafraid of entering into “their night” and be capable of “meeting them on their way … entering into their conversation” and having dialogue with them.

The Pope lamented that globalization and urbanization have contributed to alienation and “personal dissolution,” and that in these situations people have sought “shortcuts” around the lofty vision of man proclaimed by the Church. 

They seek out, he said, “a poor imitation” of the Church, and go astray with “disappointed hearts.”

The Church cannot respond to this situation by complaining, Pope Francis said, but by realizing that “the reasons why people leave also contain reasons why they can eventually return.”

Pope Francis encouraged a return to the Church’s roots in Scripture, catechesis, sacraments, community, friendship with the Lord, Mary and the apostles.

“Are we still able to speak of these roots in a way that will revive a sense of wonder at their beauty?”

Many have left the Church, the Pope said, because they were promised something more lofty, powerful, and fast. Yet the Church is called to show that nothing is loftier than the cross of Jesus, and nothing more powerful than “the strength hidden within the weakness of love, goodness, truth and beauty.”

Pope Francis added that there is actually a need for slowness and calmness – for repose.

“Is the Church herself caught up in the frantic pursuit of efficiency?”

In light of all that, the Pope looked at the challenges facing the Church in Brazil, noting the priority of formation; collegiality and solidarity in the bishops’ conference; a permanent state of mission and pastoral conversion; the Church in society; and the importance of the Amazon Basin.

He said the first priority is to train priests who are “capable of warming people’s hearts, of walking with them in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness.”

Minister must be formed, the Pope taught, to be able to accompany people through darkness and hurt in their lives without themselves being “overcome by the darkness.”

He also addressed the importance of collegiality across the nation, saying that there must not be “unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity,” with “a greater appreciation of local and regional elements.”

Pope Francis said the Church must rediscover “the maternal womb of mercy,” without which “we have little chance … of becoming part of a world of 'wounded' persons” in need of forgiveness and love.

He added that the family is essential to the Church and advised, “let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community.”

The Church has a responsibility to society, the Pope said, to offer its understanding of humanity to address issues of education, health, and social harmony.

He also stressed that the Amazon Basin should be a place of mission and be made a “garden” rather than a place which is “indiscriminately exploited.”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging the bishops in hope, and reminding them that “the Church is never uniformity, but diversities harmonized in unity.”

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WYD prayer vigil to share youths' stories of faith amid pain

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - This evening during World Youth Day’s vigil prayer several young people from around the world will share their personal stories of suffering and faith, the event’s organizers say.

Those who have been through difficult situations in life and have found a reason to live their Catholic faith, will share their stories before Pope Francis on the main stage at Copacabana Beach as part of an artistic scene.

“These testimonies are interspersed between the construction of a church, which includes choreographic elements and scenes,” said Ulises Cruz, the artistic director.

Actor Tony Ramos will be the master of ceremony.

“The goal of this artistic act is to renew strengths and create a sense of action, create an experience that we can change,” said Cruz.

“Young people need to live this experience, be part of it, and not just be a spectator,” he added. “It’s important that the Vigil be from and with the youth, and not just for the youth.”

After Pope Francis leaves, around 200 young Brazilians who are recovering from drug addictions will go on stage to sing with the Italian band “Gen Rosso,” a group within the Catholic movement Focolare.

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Teen who walked across continent still hopes to meet Pope in Rio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A teen who crossed South America in hopes of meeting Pope Francis walked by foot because he had no money – and now he wants to return by foot “to thank those who helped him.”

“I met poor people that offer you everything and rich people that don’t offer you anything,” Facundo Antonio Sebastian Tolaba said. “Since they helped me, I want to help them now.”

“I want to return and tell the people I’ve met, ‘look, I’m back and I’ve brought you something’,” he told CNA July 27.

He also hopes to continue “infecting people” with Jesus and, as Pope Francis advises, to make a mess of things.

“He said go to your parish and make a mess and I really liked that sentence,” said Facundo, who still has not been able to meet the pontiff.

“If a priest doesn’t let you do something, do it, if you want to create a group in the Church, do it, if you want to go and be missionaries, do it.”

The 19-year-old came to Rio de Janeiro hoping to meet the Pope, crossing 1,829 miles by foot because he had no money for transport.

He left his home in Jujuy, Argentina on July 1 and arrived in Rio on July 18 – an experience he says gave him “peace by going through different cultures, towns, cities and seminaries.”

With only $20 when he arrived at the border with Brazil, he went hungry and felt scared. However, he learned that while “money just gives you security, Jesus gives you trust and hope.”

“I’ve already learned everything I need to learn, but I want to keep infecting people,” said Facundo.

He noted World Youth Day has taught him that “people are different everywhere and that Brazilians are very happy people.”

“I think that this week is helping a lot of young people, like what happened to a girl that I met,” said the teenager.

He told how he met a girl that was on her way to Rio de Janeiro at the Argentinian town of Itatí, in the province of Corrientes.

“She didn’t want to go to World Youth Day, she just wanted to enjoy the beaches and have fun, nothing to do with the Church,” said Facundo.

“Just yesterday I saw her again with all the people of Itatí and I saw her crying and so I asked her what was wrong,” he added.

He said she answered him, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I just saw the Pope and I began crying.”

“So I told her ‘see, I told you that you weren’t coming here to have fun’,” told Facundo.

“She told me ‘yes, I told you I was coming for fun but I don’t know what’s wrong, I’m crying’ and I replied ‘that is Jesus that is going inside of you, enjoy’,” he remarked.

The Argentinian said he heard the voice of Jesus telling him to come to Rio de Janeiro.

That was during the time that demonstrations across Brazil were taking place against the government and the province of Corrientes was flooded with water.

“Sometimes we let ourselves go to what people tell us and they would tell me that Rio de Janeiro is very dangerous,” Facundo stated.

“I closed my eyes to not see what was happening, I closed my ears to not hear what people would tell me and I opened my heart to hear Jesus,” he added.

According to the Argentinian, he felt Jesus tell him “Go to Rio de Janeiro, stop wasting time, you will make it, I trust in you.”

“People don’t listen to the voice of Jesus out of fear and because they think that the Church is for dumb people,” said Facundo.

He has two brothers, one aged 20, who was born with a twin sister that died during birth, and one aged 11.

During World Youth Day, Facundo is staying with the Angelic Sisters at Sao Paolo School in Rio de Janeiro.

The boy says that many people staying there have offered to help him return home after the event, but he insists returning on foot once he reaches Iguazú, the border with Argentina.

He hopes to study veterinary and said smiling “if I reached Rio de Janeiro, why can’t I study? God will provide.”

He also hopes to start a group in his home-town that combines prayer with action, based on the “Good Samaritan” group he met in Corrientes.

Facundo explained that to listen to Jesus, all young people have to do is go to a calm place and ask him what he wants of them.

“Maybe he doesn’t respond you there, but he will later on and you just have to let yourself go,” he advised.

He hopes that Pope Francis “will continue being strict with priests and cardinals that live the good life so that they go to the streets and aren’t scaredy-cats.”

He also hopes that the next World Youth Day takes place in Africa so that “even the poor can participate.”

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The field of faith is your own heart, Pope tells WYD pilgrims

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis told the crowd of pilgrims at World Youth Day's Saturday night prayer vigil that the “field of faith” is found in their own hearts, which Christ wishes to till.

“This, dear young people, means that the real ‘Campus Fidei,’ the field of faith, is your own heart, it is your life,” the Pope told the pilgrims gathered in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of a vigil July 27. The prayer vigil was held on Copacabana beach rather than “Campus Fidei” in Guaratiba, which was rained out.

He stressed that the deepest meaning of “Campus Fidei” is not a geographical place, like the massive plain east of Rio that was closed to pilgrims after heavy rains. Rather, the field of faith is, most profoundly, the human heart.

“It is your life that Jesus wants to enter with his word, with his presence. Please, let Christ and his word enter your life, blossom and grow.”

Pope Francis examined his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, as a model of Christian life. The saint was called to rebuild Christ's house, and realized that his call was not merely “a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church.”

Just as St. Francis was called to “make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly” in the Church, so “today too,” he told the young people, God is “calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries.”

Taking the intended site of his speech as an inspiration, the Pope used the image of a field in three ways: a place for sowing seeds; a training ground; and a construction site.

The human heart is the field where Christ sows the seed of God's word, Pope Francis taught, using the imagery of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. “What kind of ground are we? What kind of terrain do we want to be?”

At times, he said, “we are like the path,” not allowing the word of God to change our lives because we have “let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention” instead of resting in calmness and slowness with the Lord.

We can also fail to bear fruit by faltering in the face of difficulties when “we don't have the courage to swim against the tide;” or at times “negative feelings” choke God's word in us.

Pope Francis encouraged the pilgrims, saying that “today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil.”

He contrasted “good soil” with a desire to be Christian “part-time,” “superficially,” or “for show.”

“Do not be Christians of the facade, be Christians who are authentic!” he said. “Ask for the Lord to sow his seed in your heart.”

“I am sure that you don’t want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads,” he added.

Pope Francis encouraged them to be “aiming high,” resolving to maintain the lofty standards of truth, goodness, and beauty.

The Bishop of Rome's next image considered the field of faith as an athletic training ground, saying that being a disciple of Christ is much like joining a soccer team. Both require discipline and training.

He referred to St. Paul's writing that “athletes deny themselves all sorts of things” in order to “win a crown of leaves that withers,” and then added that “Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup,” soccer's international tournament which is to be held next summer in Brazil.

Christ offers “the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; he also offers us a future with him, an endless future, eternal life,” Pope Francis preached.

“But he asks us to train, 'to get in shape,' so that we can face every situation in life undaunted, bearing witness to our faith.”

Such spiritual exercises, the Pope said, include talking with him in prayer, “our daily conversation with God." Do we really seek time in conversation with God, he asked, calling prayer also a "dialogue" with God.

Other spiritual exercises Pope Francis mentioned were the sacraments and loving one another, “yearning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting and to help others, everybody, with no one excluded or ostracized.”

Finally, Pope Francis spoke of a field as a construction site, saying God constructs the Church of “living stones,” and that “we are never alone” as we journey “on the same path.”

“Jesus is asking us to build up his Church, but not as a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone!”

Christ says “to me, to you, to each of us,” Pope Francis reflected: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

“Tonight, let us answer him: Yes, I too want to be a living stone; together we want to build up the Church of Jesus!”

The desire, so characteristic of young people, to build up a more just, fraternal society, Pope Francis said, must begin with each person becoming more just and fraternal.

Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world.”

Mary is the model for building a beautiful Church and better world, he assured the pilgrims as he concluded.

“All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!”

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Volunteers ask WYD pilgrims to give sleeping bags to Rio homeless

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A group of World Youth Day volunteers hope the event's innumerable pilgrims will donate their sleeping bags to the homeless to start living the Pope’s call to charity.

One volunteer, Inés San Martín, told CNA July 27 that the idea is important because it is “a concrete response to start putting into practice, from this moment, what Pope Francis has been preaching these days.”

The volunteers have publicized their idea on their new blog called “Contá con nosotros,” or “Count on us.” They hope that the more than one million youths gathered in Brazil will give their sleeping bags to the thousands of homeless in Rio de Janeiro instead of taking them home.

“During one week we interrupt the homeless with our singing when we return home,” San Martín said. “Giving them a sleeping bag is the perfect excuse to come close to them and explain them why!”

World Youth Day organizers had originally planned today’s vigil with Pope Francis to take place in Guaratiba, 30 miles away from Copacabana beach.

Pilgrims were expected to take public transport and then walk eight miles to the 34,000-acre field Campus Fidei within Guaratiba with their sleeping bags.

Nearly 5,000 portable bathrooms and 3.2 million gallons of water were expected to be available there for the pilgrims to spend the night and participate in the Mass with the Pope tomorrow morning.

But due to the constant rainy weather throughout the week, the site became a gigantic mud hole. Organizers thought it would be dangerous for the pilgrims and changed the venue for the prayer vigil and final Mass to Rio’s Copacabana Beach.

San Martín thought it likely that pilgrims will “just take their sleeping bags home and keep them stored for two or three years without even using them.

“This is a great chance to put them to good use,” she said.

Local media reports over 3 million people attendeed Saturday night's prayer vigil.

Pope Francis has spoken out on the need to help the poor.

When he visited the slum of Varginha he said “I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources.”

“Never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity!” he exclaimed. “No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world!”

The pontiff said that the culture of selfishness that prevails in society does not lead to a more habitable world.

“Rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so,” said Pope Francis. “The culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters.”

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Wheelchair-bound man moves three million hearts in Copacabana

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The young Brazilian Felipe Passos moved the hearts of three million World Youth Day participants, including Pope Francis himself, when he told the story of how he became bound to a wheelchair and discovered “the Cross.”

Felipe, 23, spoke at the World Youth Day prayer vigil July 27 at Copacabana Beach.

He told how at the end of the past World Youth Day, held in Madrid in 2011, he made two spiritual promises. He promised to stay chaste until marriage and to work hard so his prayer group of Ponta Grossa, in Brazil’s southern state of Paraná, could participate in this year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

With few resources, Felipe and his friends began saving money by working several hard jobs at the same time that they prepared themselves spiritually: praying, adoring the Blessed Sacrament, fasting and doing works of solidarity.

Then a horrible thing happened.

“In January of this year, two days before turning 23, two youths entered my house, armed, to rob the money we had gathered with so much sacrifice,” said Felipe.

“I thought of the months of great efforts, of my family’s sacrificing, of my friends and colleagues… in what would have been snatched from us and I decided I would not give it,” he added July 27.

Felipe saved the savings of the group, but received a gunshot wound that almost ended his life.

“I was clinically dead, I had several cardiac arrests, and the doctor told my parents in the hospital ‘this boy has no hope,’ but I’m here and my community is here because of God’s mercy,” remarked Felipe.

In front of a shocked crowd and in front of Pope Francis, who looked at him attentively, the Brazilian told how he was in coma, breathing through a tube, while his community offered prayer intentions and sacrifices so he would heal.

Finally, when he became conscious, the first thing he did was ask for the Eucharist and after receiving it, he recovered rapidly.

But Felipe, who was then bound to a wheelchair, stated, “this is my cross, the cross the Lord sent me to come closer to him, to live more openly his grace and love.”

When the three million youths broke out clapping, Felipe interrupted them.

“Silence!” he said. “Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit!”

The 23-year-old then asked each of the youths present to take the cross they had hung around their neck, to hold it and look at it.

Felipe invited them to meditate in silence on the questions: “What is the cross that the Lord has given me? What is the cross that he wants me to carry for his love?”

Everyone present, including bishops and cardinals, contemplated their own cross around their neck. The wheelchair-bound young man’s words created a unique moment of profound silence along the entire Copacabana beach.

Felipe finished his testimony asking for prayers as well as for Pope Francis’ blessing.

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