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VATICAN CITY, January 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis was surprised that his words on responsible parenthood were not widely taken in the sense that he intended them, a Vatican official related in an interview on Thursday.
Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, Substitute at the Secretariat of State, also told Avvenire, the Italian bishops' publication, on Jan. 22 that the Pope was saddened at the misunderstanding.
“The Pope is truly sorry that it created such disorientation. He absolutely did not want to disregard the beauty and the value of large families,” Archbishop Becciu stated.
“Seeing the headlines, the Holy Father, with whom I spoke yesterday, smiled and was a bit surprised that his words were not fully contextualized with regards to a very clear passage of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood,” Archbishop Becciu stated.
Bl. Paul VI's 1968 encyclical on the regulation of birth said that “responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.”
In the in-flight press conference back from Manila Feb. 19, Pope Francis said, “some think that -- excuse the language -- that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits,” an stressed that it was instead important to exercise “responsible parenthood.”
Archbishop Becciu said the Pope's statement “must be interpreted in the sense that the procreative act of humans cannot follow the logic of the animal instict, but it is instead the fruit of a responsible act that is rooted in love and in the mutual gift of the self.”
He then lamented that “unfortunately, very often the contemporary culture tends to diminish the authentic beauty and high value of conjugal love, with all the negative consequences that follow.”
During the press conference, Pope Francis had also said he is saddened when people say three children per family is too much, citing that three children per couple “is the number experts say is important to keep the population going.”
Many interpreted this as a proclamation as a normative number of children for each Christian couple, but Archbishop Becciu dismissed this interpretation.
“The number three only refers to the minimum number that would assure the stability of population, as indicated by sociologists and demographers. In no way did the Pope want to say that it represented the 'just’'number of children for each married couple,” Archbishop Becciu said.
He then explained that “every Christian couple, in light of grace, is called to discern according to a variety of divine and human parameters the number of children they should have.”
The archbishop said the correct interpretation of Pope Francis' words comes from the teaching of Bl. Paul VI and from the ancient tradition of the Church, which Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casti connubii reiterated: that “even if the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual act must never be separated,” the act “must always be included in the logic of love” with regard to the “capacity of each person to open to the mystery of the gift of self in the bonds of marriage.”
VATICAN CITY, January 24 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis told a group of religious men and women that they are the forerunners in working towards Christian unity, which is something that first requires personal conversion, holiness and prayer.
“There is no unity without conversion. Religious life reminds us that at the center of every search for unity, and therefore of every ecumenical effort, there is before all else the conversion of heart,” the pontiff told the participants of an Ecumenical Colloquium of Religious Men and Women on Jan. 24.
Pope Francis’ address to the group, which took place in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, fell on the second to last day of the Jan. 22-25 colloquium.
Organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the gathering was dedicated to prayer for Christian unity, and was held on the occasion of the Year for Consecrated Life, which opened in November.
Conversion, the pontiff said, “involves the request and the granting of forgiveness” on each side, and requires both parties “to look at one another in God,” and to make the effort of seeing themselves from the point of view of the other.
This, he said, is “a double challenge related to the search for unity, both within religious communities, and among Christians of different traditions.”
Religious men and women have frequently been the pioneers of ecumenism, the Roman Pontiff noted, explaining because they are so “deeply rooted in the will of Christ and in the common tradition of the undivided church,” consecrated persons have a “particular vocation to promote this unity.”
He pointed to the French Taizé Community and the Italian Monastic Community of Bose as contemporary examples of communities who specifically work toward fostering an environment of encounter for Christians from different traditions.
Religious life is also a sign that it is not our own efforts which bring about unity, the Pope observed, but that such unity is rather “a gift of the Holy Spirit, who creates unity in diversity.”
The Holy Spirit, he said, “reveals to us that this unity can only be accomplished if we walk together, if we follow the path of fraternity in love, service and reciprocal welcome.”
In addition to conversion, prayer is also needed in order to achieve true ecumenical unity, the pontiff noted, saying that committed efforts to build this unity are both a response to the prayer of Jesus and at the same time are themselves based on prayer.
Pope Francis then recalled an image illustrating the bond between ecumenism and religious life generated by Father Paul Couturier, who said that all those who pray for unity are an “invisible monastery.”
As consecrated persons, religious men and women “are the first animators of this ‘invisible monastery,’” the Pope explained, and encouraged colloquium participants to pray for unity and to “translate this prayer into attitudes and daily gestures.”
The Bishop of Rome also noted the importance of personal holiness in everyday life as key to ecumenical dialogue, saying that “there is no unity without holiness of life.”
Consecrated persons, he said, are also a sign of this universal call to holiness, which each person receives at their baptism.
Pope Francis concluded his address by thanking the religious men and women present for their witness to the Gospel and their service in the cause for unity.
He prayed for each of them, that the Lord “abundantly bless your ministry and inspire you to work tirelessly for the peace and reconciliation among churches and Christian communities.”
The colloquium, which coincides with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, will close Sunday evening when Pope Francis brings the week of prayer to an end by praying Vespers with representatives of Orthodox and Anglican Churches.
Set to take place at the papal basilica St. Paul Outside the Wall, the Vespers service also falls on the feast day marking the apostle’s conversion.
On the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which falls on Monday, Feb. 2, Pope Francis will celebrate a special Mass for Day of Consecrated Life. The Mass, which is also a special initiative for the Year for Consecrated Life, will be held inside St. Peter’s Basilica at 5:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON D.C., January 25 (CNA) .- Pro-life Democrat politicians are fast becoming an endangered political species, but their pro-life presence is necessary for the movement to succeed, both Republicans and Democrats agreed.
“I think if the pro-life movement becomes confined to just the Republican Party, it’s going to hurt the movement,” Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) told CNA at the 2015 March for Life. He added that if more pro-life Democrats get elected, “the Republican Party then can’t take the pro-lifers more for granted.”
The 2015 March for Life drew some 200,000 pro-lifers from all over the country. Young people showed up in droves with high school, college, and diocesan groups. Seminarians and members of religious orders were also well-represented.
Only one Democrat joined the three Republican members of Congress onstage at the official rally on the National Mall. Rep. Lipinski admitted that the past few years have been “tough” for pro-life Democrats but insisted that their presence is vital to the success of the pro-life movement.
The chair of the Republican National Committee also said that the pro-life issue is not just a Republican one.
“I think that a lot of people in this country without party labels agree that we need to be pro-life, and lives are worth saving,” Reince Priebus told CNA at the 2015 March for Life.
“I’m here to support the March for Life because I think they do great work and it provides great awareness for the issue,” he continued.
Janet Robert, the president of the board of Democrats for Life, told CNA that the pro-life movement has to expand its coalition to get beyond the stereotype of conservative Christian pro-lifers.
“It is important that we rebuild the movement by focusing on every person, regardless of their faith, their creed, their nationality, and their other beliefs,” Robert said. “Unite us so that we can get things done.”
The right to life has to be seen as a “human right” and not just a religious issue, she added. The United Nations and NARAL, among other groups, have been calling abortion a “human right” and pro-lifers must counter that.
“We’ve got to stop that thinking, it’s very destructive,” she said.
Robert spoke for the brand-new Pro-Life Alliance, a coalition of “non-traditional” pro-life groups such as Democrats and atheists, created to build bridges with those factions around the right to life as a fundamental “human right.”
The coalition wishes for “people to understand that the pro-life movement is basically an anti-violence, pro-woman, anti-sexual abuse, pro-peace movement, which it really is,” she said.
“Because it’s fundamentally about protecting human life and about human rights. It is the most important human right, the right to life.”
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