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Pope Francis prays for victims of Sierra Leone mudslide

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his “closeness” to those who have loved ones in the tragic mudslide that struck Sierra Leone.

A telegram signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy Father is praying for all those who have died; and that he invokes “divine blessings of strength and consolation” on their grieving family and friends.

The telegram assures rescue workers of Pope Francis’ solidarity and support.

The full text of the telegram, addressed to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown, can be read below:

Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: Listen to the Lord not horoscopes or fortune tellers

(Vatican Radio)"When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square.

He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Audience: ‘Divine mercy is foundation of Christian hope’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope with pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, saying that God’s mercy as embodied by Jesus both transforms us and renews our hope.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

In his address to pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about God’s mercy and forgiveness as the driving force or the “motor” of Christian hope.

He reflected on the passage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 7:44-50) in which Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and a precious ointment.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ merciful action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of his time. Jesus, he said, embraced sinners and the “untouchables” of his day, rather than rejecting them as was commonplace.

“Jesus, faced with human pain, feels mercy; Jesus’ heart is merciful. Jesus feels compassion. Literally: Jesus feels a tremor within.”

The Pope said Jesus’ astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy.

And this gives a sure foundation to our hope.

Pope Francis then invited all present to reflect on the cost of sin.

“Jesus does not go to the cross because He heals the sick, preaches charity, or proclaims the beatitudes. The Son of God goes to the cross above all because He forgives sins, and because He wants the total and definitive liberation of the human heart.”

Finally, Pope Francis said God’s mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.

“[W]e are all poor sinners, in need of the mercy of God Who has the strength to transform us and to restore our hope every day.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis decries attack on Nigerian churchgoers, violence in CAR

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to “every form of hatred and violence”, especially those “perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray”.

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

Listen to our report:

At his General Audience, Pope Francis said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.”

At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope also decried an incident which occurred on Wednesday in the Central African Republic.

“And, unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community.”

He expressed his desire that attacks on places of worship should cease.

“I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

After a brief pause, the Holy Father invited all present to think about “our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic” and to pray for them.

He then led the crowd in the recitation of the Hail Mary.

Pope Francis already on Monday sent a telegramme of condolences to Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi following the attack on the church in his diocese.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope sends video message to Church in Peru

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to Catholics in Peru, ahead of his planned pastoral visit there next January. The short video message was published on the website of the archdiocese of Lima by Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne.

Listen to our report: 

In the message Pope Francis talks about the wealth of human resources that characterize the past and present of the Church in the South American nation. Peru has many great saints, he says, who have contributed to the building up of the Church, helping it to move from fragmentation to unity.

Saints work for unity

A saint, the pope continues, is someone who always work to create unity, just as Jesus did, and a saint must always follow in his footsteps.

In the video the pope invites all Peruvians to follow on this path and to work for unity, looking to the future with hope, rather than with bitterness or skepticism. A Christian always looks ahead with hope, he concludes, because he or she always hopes to see the realization of what the Lord has promised.

Pope to visit Chile and Peru

Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Chile and Peru from January 15th to 21st, visiting the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, as well as the capital Lima.

(from Vatican Radio)