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Archive of April 3, 2014

Vatican Radio releases digital archive of papal voices

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican Radio presented Tuesday its digital archive of “The Voice of the Popes,” a collection of more than 8,000 audio recordings of every Pope since Pius XI which makes their message more easily accessible.

“This is moving; this initiative of Vatican Radio has made me very happy that we can listen to their discourses,” said Cardinal Giovanni Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, in an interview with CNA following the April 1 presentation.

“It's beautiful that these Popes remain among us with their voice, though the most important thing is that they are in our hearts.”

In addition to Cardinal Re, the launch launch was participated in by Guido Gusso, butler to Bl. John XXIII; Gianfranco Svidercoschi, Vaticanista; Sandro Piervenanzi, technical director of Vatican Radio; and Fr. Federico Lombardi, Holy See press officer.

“Our oldest recording was made on a dictaphone, and dates to 1884,” Piervenanzi told CNA. “It is a recording of Leo XIII, and was not made by Vatican Radio, but was a gift from Catholics in America.”

Leo XIII is heard reading his encyclical “Humanum Genus,” on freemasonry. Piervenanzi discussed the recording, made on a wax cylinder, in the context of the challenges facing Vatican Radio in digitizing such recordings.

Vatican Radio was founded in 1931, and establishes, protecting, and manages the archive of papal pronouncements so as to safeguard them and to protect the Holy See's intellectual property.

The digitization allows a more widespread diffusion of the Popes' speech; prior to this, few but employees of Vatican Radio were able to hear all the recordings. The archives are open to the public in a limited way, but can be accessed for historical publications or as the object of study.

The archive has documented more than 23,000 events, and the digital archive is formed of more than 37,000 distinct files. That the archive might be published in the future on the internet has not be excluded.

Fr. Lombardi emphasized the importance of the archive, noting in particular Bl. John XXIII's “speech to the moon,” an impromptu discourse from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace to crowds in St. Peter's Square on the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

“When the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council was celebrated, journalists search for its transcription on the Vatican web-site, but could find only L'Osservatore Romano's synthesis,” he reflected.

At the time, the Pope's words “were not customarily transcribed in their entirety.”

“We searched for the original in the Vatican Radio archives, transcribed it, and published it,” he said. The full speech is now available in Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish on the Vatican's website.

Fr. Lombardi also praised the work of Italian journalist Angela Ambrogetti, who has published two works – “Companions in Travel” and “In the Air with Pope Benedict” – with Libreria Editrice Vaticana on the news conferences held by Bl. John Paul II and Benedict XVI during their international flights, for which she used the Vatican Radio archives.

The press officer announced that Ambrogetti is now working on a third work utilizing the archives – this time on Bl. John Paul II's conversations at lunch.
 
In 2011, when “Companions in Travel” was published, transcriptions of Bl. John Paul II's conferences on his flights were not provided.

“I wanted to render the atmosphere of that era,” Ambrogetti told CNA March 31. When he presented the book, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, a one-time director of Vatican Radio, said of the archive: “we had a treasure, but were not even aware of it.”

The custom of new conferences held on papal flights began in 1979, with Bl. John Paul II's trip to Mexico.

When he went to greet the journalists, Wilton Wynn of “Time” asked if he intended to visit the U.S. The Pope responded, and journalists have since been able to question the Pope on his international flights.

“Wynn's question gave rise to a new journalistic era,” Ambrogetti underscored.

She noted that the archives show each Pope as he is: “John Paul II used to speak about human rights, social justice, the presence of the Church in the world… themes that are the natural outcome of the announcement of the Gospel, even if the outcome seemed more newsworthy than the motivation.”

Benedict XVI, she reflected, “explained once again to the world the reason why the Catholic Church speaks about human rights, peace, and social justice,” even if “the media did not seem ready to address these issues.”

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Cardinal encourages business schools to form principled leaders

Houston, Texas, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Peter Turkson has encouraged business school faculty to teach their students about the Church's social teaching and to form them in ethics, morals, and stewardship.

During his April 1 address, the cardinal pointed to the Church's social doctrine and its use in business, asking "that your graduates develop themselves to be 'principled leaders,' not merely market technicians, with their guidance provided by a 'faith with works' philosophy."

Cardinal Turkson, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was speaking at the 2014 Business Ethics Conference for deans of Catholic schools of business, held in Houston, Texas.

"Faith is incomplete without a vision of the world and our place within it – our works," the cardinal said, explaining that Catholic social teaching is built upon the truth that Christ “looked for more than faith alone” – for Christians to follow him in action, as well.

The principles underlying the Church's social teaching are human dignity, the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, and stewardship, he explained.

These principles can be applied to the business world, and when taught to students "these same beacons or lenses will help them to make sound judgements and act accordingly."

Cardinal Turkson emphasized that "multidimensional business enterprise contributes to the larger common good by fulfilling its threefold purpose of good goods, good work, and good wealth”: focusing on "truly good" service, "good and productive work," and being "good stewards of the resources given to them."

Business should "not to be reduced to a single objective, such as maximizing profit or enhancing shareholder wealth, just as marriage should not be reduced to sentiment between partners, or education to credentials for a career."

He warned that morality is often separated from business, adding that "education and formation is much larger than the objectives of a few ethics courses."

By focusing only upon the market, students learn "that the marketplace and business decisions are morally neutral," and the consequences of this attitude – such as the financial crisis of 2007-08 – "can be ruinous."

To relegate ethics to a course and have the rest of the courses be 'non-ethical' is to foster the divided life – deformation rather than formation."

The cardinal said to the Catholic business school leaders that by attending a Catholic school, students "have an opportunity to learn that respecting everyone, whether employee, shareholder, supplier, client, or other stakeholder, provides the foundations for long-term success."

Cardinal Turkson encouraged the educators to present students with ethical case-studies that they will meet in their daily lives, and teach students how to act "when confronted with decisions that are immoral."

He challenged the educators to "shape business through research and by forming future business leaders."

The current economic system holds ethical and systemic problems, Cardinal Turkson said, and business leaders can help form a solution "grounded in fundamental truth about our human nature and destiny."

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Atlanta archbishop apologizes for $2.2 million residence

Atlanta, Ga., Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has apologized for constructing a new $2.2 million residence, saying the plan was well-intended, but he failed to consider the example it set.

“To all of you, I apologize sincerely and from my heart,” he wrote in a March 31 column for The Georgia Bulletin, the Atlanta archdiocesan newspaper.

“Our intention was to recreate the residence I left behind, yet I know there are situations across the country where local ordinaries have abandoned their large homes, some because of financial necessity and others by choice, and they continue to find ways to interact with the families in their pastoral care without the perception, real or imagined, of lavish lifestyles.”

The archbishop became the target of criticism for constructing the 6,200 square foot mansion, paid for through a bequest from Joseph Mitchell, the nephew and heir of “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell.

Archbishop Gregory said he had agreed to sell his original residence to the Cathedral of Christ the King so that its priests could use it as their rectory. He had thought that refusing to give up this residence would be perceived as “selfish and arrogant” by the cathedral’s parishioners.

In his search for a new residence, he said, “I took my eye off the ball.”

He planned to build the same kind of facility as his previous residence, with separate living quarters and common spaces, a large kitchen for catering, and room for receptions and other gatherings.

“What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed.”

Archbishop Gregory noted that even before Pope Francis’ election, bishops “were reminded by our own failings and frailty that we are called to live more simply, more humbly, and more like Jesus Christ who challenges us to be in the world and not of the world.”

“The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don’t share our communion.”

He said that although he and his advisors were able to justify this project, “I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia.”

“I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services.”

He also said he failed to consider that he had placed his auxiliary bishops, priests, and others in a “difficult position” to respond to criticisms and inquiries from the Catholic faithful.

Archbishop Gregory opened his column with an email from a Catholic mother who said she was “disturbed and disappointed to see our church leaders not setting the example of a simple life as Pope Francis calls for.” She said the archbishop was “living extravagantly” and that her teenage sons did not understand “the message you are portraying.”

The archbishop said, “I failed to consider the example I was setting” for the woman’s sons. He said such indictments are “stinging and sincere,” adding, “I should have seen them coming.”

He also apologized to those who might have hesitated to advise against the plan “perhaps out of deference or other concerns.” He said he intends “to do a better job of listening than I did before.”

He said he will meet with the archdiocese’s Council of Priests and its pastoral council and he will consult the archdiocese’s finance council to seek “their candid guidance on how best to proceed.”

If they advise to sell the new residence, he will seek to purchase or rent “something appropriate.”

“I promise you that my service to you is the reason I get up each day – not the house in which I live or the zip code to which my mail is sent,” the archbishop’s column closed.

“I humbly and contritely ask your prayers for me, and I assure you, as always, of mine for you.”

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New Bible exhibit evangelizes through history of scripture

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Featuring ancient biblical artifacts from all over the world, the Verbum Domini II exhibition has officially opened at the Vatican, and is something organizers hope will inspire faith in those who come.

“It shows that the transmission of God’s word is real. It shows the amazing impact of the Bible,” the Museum of the Bible’s Chief Operating Officer Cary Summers told CNA on during a March 28 interview.

The Museum of the Bible, whose goal is to engage people with the Bible through traveling exhibits of biblical artifacts, has organized Verbum Domini II as a sequel to the original exhibit, Verbum Domini, that was debuted in the Vatican in 2012 and which contained rare biblical texts and artifacts representing the Christian, Orthodox and Jewish faith traditions.

Entitled "Verbum Domini II: God's Word Goes Out to the Nations," the exhibit officially opened to the public on April 2, and will be on display until June 22 and is free of charge. It is located in the Braccio di Carlo Magno in St. Peter’s Square, and is open Mon. through Sat.

Containing numerous pieces from the Green Collection, named after the family who founded U.S. arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby and which is one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts, the exhibit also features elements from the Vatican Museums as well as several other institutional and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Referring to the motivation prompting a second exhibit, Summers explained that a key factor was the interest generated by the original Verbum Domini, which was inspired by Benedict XVI’s post-apostolic exhortation on the topic, and which drew viewers from over 84 countries in just the first two days of opening.

“This year, with all of the special events that are going on between now and June, the belief is that over 100,000 people will come through and see this exhibit,” Summers noted, highlighting that since entrance is free and open to the public, “many people who would not necessarily go into a church will come into this exhibit.”

In many cases, he observed, people get “get to see for the first time God’s Word,” also “in their own language, which is quite unique.”

Reflecting on how the exhibit is able to serve as a means of evangelizing those who are not necessarily Catholic or Christian, Summers recalled how the exhibit’s section on China displays “how God’s word went into China through the Jews, which is a very unusual story.”

He also recounted how a secular anthropologist affirmed that when the Bible went into Ecuador, which at the time was “one of the most violent” places on Earth, “the only thing that changed in that society was the introduction of the Bible, and it totally changed them, changed those people.”

“So God’s word is alive and well, and that’s what you see in this exhibit, is the power of it, and that’s what we hope to show. It’s not only the transmission of the Word, but the impact of the Word.”

Going on, Summers also drew attention to the fact that the exhibition has helped to unify different faith traditions, stating that the effect in this area has “been tremendous.”

Looking back to the trip that Benedict XVI made to Cuba in 2012, the museum operator explained that during a luncheon with bishops, the pontiff “said that maybe, the Bible exhibit that was at the Vatican, could be brought to Cuba, so that the people of Cuba could see God’s Word.”

“We’re a protestant group, but here’s the Pope himself” who suggested they bring it, Summers expressed, adding that “we did that, by the way.”

“There are so many more likeness than dislikeness between the faiths, certainly between Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism,” he continued, pointing out how there has been “tremendous cooperation” between the faiths throughout history.

“Now we all have the tendency to lock in on the stories of the conflicts that went on and so forth. And those do occur, but the overwhelming history shows the cooperation, and how God’s Word was used to unify people.”

Summers went on to describe a new Bible Museum which is being erected in Washington D.C., and which will be on permanent display, as well as a new curriculum on the Bible which they hope to introduce into public schools by 2015.

The initial curriculum that is currently being developed is intended for the ninth grade he observed, adding that “about one third of the curriculum is based on the history of the Bible, a third on the impact of the Bible, and a third on the historical events of the Bible.”

“We’ll do a beta test run this fall, and then roll it out to the larger community in the start of 2015” as an elective course which students can sign up for.

“Our goal would be hopefully that the school systems throughout the US would see the value in this, and the creativity of it, and the kids wanting to learn. So that’s the reason we’re spending a lot of time right now developing it,” he stated.

Returning to the exhibit, Summers expressed that their greatest hope is that “people will come” and that “people will come and take time to…look, and read or hear the exhibit.”

“We hope that they leave the exhibit saying, maybe there is a God. And for those who already know him, oh, maybe I need to learn more about him. And those who are already committed to a relationship with God himself, they would walk away inspired and encouraged even more in their faith.”


The Green family, whose private collection comprises a large section of the exhibit, is currently involved in a lawsuit against the U.S. government regarding the federal contraception mandate that would require it to provide contraception and other related products that would violate their religious convictions.

Having officially presented their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Green family is awaiting the final verdict, which is expected to be given later this summer.

 

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Pope, Queen enjoy casual tea during first meeting

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although short, the April 3 encounter between Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth in the Vatican has been described as cordial and informal, during which the two exchanged gifts and casual conversation.

Taking place in the papal office of the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the official tea between the Bishop of Rome and the British Monarch came after the Queen’s lunch with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and lasted only 17 minutes.

During the visit, Queen Elizabeth was accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The two were in Rome only for the day, following an initial invitation extended to Her Majesty by President Napolitano last year, which she was not able to accept due to poor health.

Upon their arrival, the Queen apologized for being late, saying “Sorry to keep you waiting. We were having a very pleasant lunch with the president.”

Following the initial greetings, the Pope led the royal couple to the office where they were to have tea, and when he attempted to usher them forward first, Prince Philip responded by telling him “You go first.  You need to show us where to go.”

While meeting, the Pope and the Queen exchanged gifts, the Queen offering the pontiff two signed copies of a photo of herself and her husband, telling him “I'm afraid you have to have a photograph. It's inevitable.”

Among the other gifts given to Pope Francis by the Queen was a large basket filled with traditional English goods, which Her Majesty described as including “something from all our estates which is for you personally.”

Pointing to the floor, Queen Elizabeth added that she also brought “two extra bits which would not fit in the basket,” and which consisted of a bottle of whiskey and apple cider.

Drawing attention to a bottle of honey sitting in the basket, the Duke explained that “this is some honey. It's from Buckingham palace,” after which the Queen expressed that it is “from my garden” and that “I hope it will be unusual for you.”

Pope Francis offered the Monarch an orb of blue stone with a silver Cross on top for her great grandson, Prince George, which also contained a silver base with the English engraving in all capital letters “Pope Francis to His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.”

“This is for the little boy,” the Pope told the Queen in Spanish, so which she responded “That is very nice. He will be thrilled by that when he's a little older.”

The Bishop of Rome also gifted to the Queen a copy of the original 1679 decree adding St. Edward of England’s feast day to the Church calendar, which is celebrated every year on Oct. 9, as well as a set of three large medals marked with the face of Pope Francis, one of gold, one of silver, and one of bronze.

Upon receiving the gifts, the Duke of Edinburgh jested, saying of St. Edward, “Oh, he was canonized, wasn't he?” and of the medals, “Oh, it’s the only gold medal I've ever won.”

Queen Elizabeth’s audience with Pope Francis today marks the 87 year old’s fifth encounter with Roman Pontiff, the first being with Pope Pius XII while she was still a princess in 1951, the year before her ascension to the throne.

The second time she met with a Bishop of Rome was in 1961 when she came to the Vatican to meet with Pope John XXIII, who is slated to be canonized by Pope Francis at the end of the month.

Her Majesty became the first monarch since the Reformation to welcome a pope to Britain when she received Bl. John Paul II during his pastoral visit to the country, and in 2010 she also received Benedict XVI in his visit to the United Kingdom.

Present with Pope Francis for the brief encounter was Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary for the Affairs with the States Msgr. Doninique Mamberti, as well as his undersecretary Msgr. Antoine Camilleri.

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Jerusalem Patriarch condemns monastery vandalism

Jerusalem, Israel, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem has lamented the recent anti-Christian vandalism of a Catholic monastery and shrine near Jerusalem as “madness.”

The patriarch, visiting the monastery April 1, said that other Christians, like the monastery's nuns, “will continue to pray for these sick minds, so that the Lord takes away their ignorance and their narrowness of mind.”

“However, we must not be silent and we will do everything to ensure that justice is done and that these vandals and fanatics are prosecuted,” he said, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem's website.

The vandals struck Deir Rafat Monastery and Marian shrine near Beit Shemesh, a city to the west of Jerusalem. They committed the vandalism sometime before Monday evening March 31.

They scrawled anti-Christian slurs on the monastery walls, written in Hebrew. Some graffiti disparaged Christ and Mary, including "Our Lady Queen of Palestine" and "Jesus is an ape and Mary is a cow."

Police are investigating the incident, which also left all vehicles parked on the property damaged.

The graffiti included anti-American phrases such as “America is Nazi Germany” and “price to pay (for the) peace agreement.” The latter phrase possibly refers to peace negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Kerry had demanded the release of Palestinian detainees.

Patriarch Twal noted that the monastery's nuns “devote themselves to fast and pray day and night for peace.” He voiced regret “that the imminent visit of Pope Francis, a man of peace, is marred in this way.”

"Such acts are bad for us Christians, but also for Israel.I don't believe this is a proper way to receive the Holy Father here next month. But they are also bad for those who do such things."

He said that in light of such acts, it is necessary in Israel "to institute a new kind of education imbued with greater openness and respect towards others."

“In this Holy Land we do not need these actions. Especially these actions against a monastery where we have sisters just praying for peace. They are not involved in any politics so this really is a bad sign and we regret it very much.”

Patriarch Twal told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that the sisters in the monastery pray for peace, and are "completely apolitical," adding that "I came here to encourage the sisters to have no fear. I will also ask them to pray for the perpetrators."

The monastery is home to 12 nuns of the Sisters of Bethlehem, a contemplative community. The shrine is served by three Servite priests.

Fr. Roch Boulanger, one of the Servites, said they were praying for the vandals, adding that "perhaps their sin will provide an opportunity for them to change their ways."

Similar vandalism attacks have been attributed to Israeli extremists who support settlements in Palestinian territory. In 2013, more than 20 Christian sites of the Latin Patriarchate were attacked by vandals.

In September 2012, vandals set fire to the door of the Abbey of Latroun after spray painting blasphemous phrases in Hebrew. In October 2012, vandals attacked the Convent of St. Francis on Mt. Zion, located near the Cenacle complex traditionally regarded as the location of the Last Supper.

In addition to churches, the vandals have targeted mosques, Israeli peace groups, and Israeli military bases, the Associated Press reports.

The attacks have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

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La. House passes abortion clinic regulations to protect women

Shreveport, La., Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Louisiana House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved new safety regulations requiring that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, rules which could lead most abortion clinics in the state to close.

“We are thrilled that the Louisiana House of Representatives overwhelming passed H.B. 388 to protect the health and safety of women,” Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said March 31.

“This piece of common-sense legislation will ensure that women who may experience complications from a surgical or drug-induced abortion receive the best treatment available.”

The House voted to pass the bill Monday by a bipartisan vote of 85-6.

Democratic State Rep. Katrina Jackson, who authored the legislation and is chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, said the bill is about “the safety of women.”

The bill also has the backing of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert.

The bill requires that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

In addition, it clarifies that informed consent protections also apply to abortions procured with the RU-486 pill. Doctors who perform more than five abortions per year must also maintain proper licensing.

Under the provisions, drug-induced abortions must also be reported anonymously to the Department of Health and Hospitals, which already tracks surgical abortions, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

The bill drew opposition from abortion clinics and several abortion advocacy groups.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Louisiana director Melissa Flournoy predicted that at least three of the five abortion clinics in Louisiana could close if the bill becomes law, Reuters reports. This would leave two abortion clinics in the area of Shreveport, La.

The Louisiana bill now heads to the state Senate.

At least six other states have considered laws requiring admitting privileges at hospitals.

On March 27, a federal appeals court upheld safety provisions of a Texas law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The provisions have the same language as the Louisiana bill.

The Texas law has contributed to the closure of about one-third of that state’s abortion clinics, leaving 19 remaining open, Reuters says.

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Pope: Real prayer is courageous, frank dialogue with God

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his daily Mass Pope Francis reflected on the prayer of Moses to God in the first reading, saying that true prayer should be like speaking to a friend – with boldness and without fear.

“The Bible says that Moses spoke to the Lord face to face, like with a friend. This is how prayer should be: free, insistent, with debate. And also scolding the Lord a little,” the Pope said April 3.

Speaking to those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff centered his address on the encounter between Moses and God in the day's first reading, taken from Exodus, in which Moses intercedes for the people of Israel, asking the Lord not to destroy them as he threatens for worshipping idols.

Moses’ prayer he noted, “is a real struggle with God. A struggle (on the part of) the leader of a people to save his people, who are the people of God.”

The Pope went on to express how when Moses prayed, he did so freely, courageously and with insistence, stating that prayer ought to be a “negotiation with God” to which we bring our “arguments.”

Highlighting how “the Lord repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to His people” thanks to Moses’ intercession, Pope Francis asked the question “But who changed here? Has the Lord changed? I think not.”

“The one who is changed, is Moses, because Moses believed that the Lord would do this, believed that the Lord would destroy the people and he searches, in his memory, for how good the Lord had been with his people, how he had taken out them out of slavery in Egypt and brought them forward with a promise.”

With these arguments the prophet attempts to persuade God “but in this process he regains the memory of the people, and finds the mercy of God,” the Pope observed.

“This Moses, that was afraid, afraid that God would do this, eventually comes down from the mountain with a great thing in his heart: our God is merciful. He pardons. He goes back on his decisions. He is a Father.”

Explaining how Moses knew all of these things already, Pope Francis pointed out that he only “vaguely knew it,” and that “he rediscovers it in prayer. This is what prayer does to us: it changes our heart.”

“Prayer changes our heart. It makes us understand better how our God is. But, for this it is important to speak with the Lord, not with empty words – Jesus says 'As the pagans do.'”

“No, no: speak with reality,” the Pope insisted, encouraging those present to say in prayer “'But, look, Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my son, with this or that...What can be done? But look, you can't leave me like this!'”

“This is prayer!” he exclaimed, asking “But does this prayer take a long time? Yes, it takes time,” he noted, adding that the time it takes is the time we need in order to know God better and to be able to speak to him as a friend.

Drawing attention to how the scripture passaged describes Moses as speaking to God “face to face, like a friend,” the pontiff observed “This is how prayer should be: free, insistent, with debate, and should also scold “the Lord a little: 'But, you promised me this, and you haven't done it...'”

“Open the heart to this prayer,” he implored of those in attendance, stating that after his encounter with God “Moses came down from the mountain invigorated: 'I have known the Lord more.'”

“With that strength that gave him prayer, he resumes his task of leading the people to the Promised Land. Because prayer renews: renews. The Lord gives grace to all of us, because prayer is a grace.”

Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis noted how the Holy Spirit “is in every prayer,” and that “You cannot pray without the Holy Spirit. It is He who prays in us, He makes us change our heart, it is He who teaches us to call God ‘Father.’”

“Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path.”

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Pope sends message of condolence after earthquake rocks Chile

Santiago, Chile, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis sent a letter to Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, Chile, after the country was hit by an 8.2 magnitude earthquake on April 1, which reportedly killed six people and caused significant damage.

“I wish to send all Chileans my affection and closeness,” the Pope said in his letter.

He told Chileans that he was “deeply saddened upon learning the news of the earthquake that has resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as material damage, and that has displaced a large number of people in that beloved country.”

“I pray that God will grant eternal rest to the people who died, consolation to those who experienced the effects of such misfortune and, at the same time, inspire hope in everyone to face adversity,” the Pope wrote.

He asked Christian communities, civil society groups and all people of good will to offer their assistance, “with a generous spirit and fraternal charity,” to all those affected by the quake. The Pope concluded his message by invoking the protection of Our Lady of Carmel on the Chilean people and imparting to them his blessing.

Bishop Guillermo Vera, who was recently installed in the Diocese of Iquique, visited areas hit by the earthquake on the morning of April 2, according to the national bishops’ conference.   

“Our people, who are living temples of the Lord, are the first priority at this time,” he said.

Bishop Vera evacuated his own home during the earthquake and spent the following hours visiting with victims and surveying the diocese’s parishes, schools and churches for damage.

According to news reports, a 7.6-magnitude aftershock struck the region later on April 2.

In La Serena, also located in northern Chile, Archbishop Rene Rebolledo called for prayers for those affected by the quake, “especially those who lost family members and who are living in uncertainty.”

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Pope entrusts Rwandan reconciliation to Our Lady of Kibeho

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Meeting with the Rwandan bishops for their ad limina visit Thursday, Pope Francis urged them to be be agents of reconciliation, commending them to the Marian apparition at Kibeho, in the country's south.

“Rwanda will in a few days commemorate the 20th anniversary of the horrible genocide which has brought such suffering and wounds, which are still far from healed,” the Pope said April 3 at the Vatican.

“I join with all my heart in mourning, and I assure you of my prayers for yourselves, for your often torn communities, for all victims and their families, for all Rwandans, without distinction of religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation.”

April 7, 1994 was the first of 100 days during which Hutus in Rwanda massacred their Tutsi neighbors. Up to 1 million Rwandans were killed, most of them Tutsi.

“I commend you all to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary,” Pope Francis told the nation's bishops. “I sincerely hope that the Shrine of Kibeho might radiate even more the love of Mary for her children, especially the poorest and most injured, and be for the Church in Rwanda, and beyond, a call to turn with confidence to Our Lady of Sorrows, who accompanies each of us on our way that we might receive the gift of reconciliation and peace.”

He noted that reconciliation and healing “certainly remain the priority of the Church in Rwanda. I encourage you to persevere in this endeavor, for which you have already taken a number of initiatives.”

“Forgiveness of sins and genuine reconciliation, which may seem impossible to human sight after such suffering, are however a gift of Christ that it is possible to receive, though a life of faith and prayer, even if the road is long and requires patience, dialogue, and mutual respect.”

Because of this, the Bishop of Rome said, the Church “has an importance place” in the rebuilding of Rwandan society, with hope “bearing witness to the truth.”

He noted the catholicity of the Church, saying it can “overcome prejudice and ethnic divisions” when it “speaks with a sole voice.”

Pope Francis noted the upcoming 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and the Holy See, highlighting the importance of building up the common good around the values of human dignity, justice, and peace.

“Do not be afraid to highlight the irreplaceable contribution of the Church to the common good,” he told them. “I know that the work done, in particular with regards to education and health, is considerable.”

“The education of youth is the key to the future in a country where the population is renewed quickly,” Pope Francis reflected. “It is therefore the duty of the Church to form children and young people in Gospel values, which they shall find especially in a particular familiarity with the Word of God, which will be for them like a compass indicating the route to follow.”

He added that it is thus important that Catholic schools combine their “educational mission and the explicit announcement of the Gospel,” saying “these should never be separated.”

The Pope encouraged good formation for the laity, saying they play a crucial role in evangelization and reconstruction, and for families, saying children must learn there “the authentic Christian values of integrity, fidelity, honesty and self-giving, which permit one to know true happiness, after the heart of God.”

He told the bishops to care particularly for their priests, and for the formation of their seminarians.

“Dear Brothers, I assure you again of my affection for you, for your diocesan communities, for all of Rwanda,” Pope Francis concluded.

Entrusting them to Mary, he reminded them that she “appeared in your country to children, reminding them of the efficacy of fasting and of prayer, in particular the recitation of the Rosary.”
 

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Archbishop offers prayers, support to Fort Hood victims

Washington D.C., Apr 3, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Archbishop for the Military Services, as well as President Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered their condolences and prayers to the victims of a shooting at the Fort Hood army base, and their families.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services expressed his condolences April 3 for the families of those who lost loved ones in the shooting, and added that as "believers we also pray for the repose of the souls of the victims and the assailant."

He added that he has also been in contact with the priests serving at Fort Hood.

"The remedy for this senseless violence can only be found in a more profound respect for human life, a deeper concern for our neighbors, a willingness to listen rather than to shout, and a reduction in the glorification of violence by our society.”

The shooting occurred April 2 at Fort Hood Army Base near Killeen, Texas. The shooter, later confirmed by Army Secretary John McHugh to be an Iraq War veteran, and was receiving psychiatric treatment on base. McHugh said during an April 3 press conference that the suspected shooter "had a clean record" and had "no major misbehaviors that we're yet aware of."

Four persons including the shooter were killed during the attack, and 16 were injured. The Army released an April 2 statement confirming a continuing investigation into the event.

This is the second shooting at the Texas base in five years, following a 2009 shooting which killed 13 and wounded 30 others.

"Today, Ft. Hood was once again stricken by tragedy," Perry said in an April 2 statement.

"Ft. Hood has proven its resilience before, and will again. Texas will support those efforts in any way we can, with any resources necessary. The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with everyone affected by this tragedy."

Obama said in an April 2 news conference that the shooting was troubling, and “reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago.”

"Obviously our thoughts and prayers were -- are with the entire community," he said, adding that "we are going to do everything we can to make sure that the community at Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with the current situation, but also any potential aftermath."

He declined further comment on the situation until further details are discovered, but said he "would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community at Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers."

"The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom," Obama stated. "Many of the people there have been on multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve with valor; they serve with distinction. And when they’re at their home base they need to feel safe."

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December 20, 2014

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Mt 21:23-27

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First Reading:: Judg 13: 2-7, 24-25A
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St. Romuald »

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Mt 21:23-27

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