Friday, November 20, 2015

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VIS news - Holy See Press Office

-Francis receives the participants in the International Conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”

-Statistics of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic

-General audience: the Holy Door is the door of God's mercy

-Protecting children is a duty

-Holy Father's calendar for December 2015 and January 2016

-“Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of Mercy

-Other Pontifical Acts

Francis receives the participants in the International Conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”

Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international conference “The culture of salus and welcome in the service of man and the planet”, organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care), currently being held in the Vatican, which coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the dicastery and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of St. John Paul II's encyclical letter “Evangelium vitae”.

In this document, said the Holy Father, we find “the constitutive elements of the 'culture of salus': hospitality, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. They are Jesus' habitual attitudes towards the many people in need He encounters every day: people suffering sicknesses of every type, public sinners, the possessed, the marginalised, the poor and outsiders. … These attitudes are those that the encyclical calls the 'positive requirements' of the commandment regarding the inviolability of life, which with Jesus are revealed in all their breadth and depth, and today can, or indeed must characterise pastoral care in relation to health: 'they range from caring for the life of one's brother (whether a blood brother, someone belonging to the same people, or a foreigner living in the land of Israel) to showing concern for the stranger, even to the point of loving one's enemy'”.

“This closeness to the other, to the point of feeling that he is someone who belongs to me, overcomes every barrier of nationality, social extraction and religion … as the good Samaritan of the Gospel parable teaches us. It also overcomes that culture in a negative sense in which, both in rich and poor countries, human beings are accepted or refused according to utilitarian criteria, especially in terms of social or economic utility. This mentality is the parent of the so-called 'medicine of desires': an increasingly widespread custom in rich countries, characterised by the search for physical perfection at all costs, in the illusion of eternal youth; a custom that leads indeed to the rejection and marginalisation of all that is not 'efficient', that is seen as a burden or a hindrance, or is simply ugly”.

Similarly, being a neighbour to others, as Francis mentions in his encyclical “Laudato si'”, means also taking on binding responsibilities towards creation and our common home, which belongs to all and is entrusted to the care of all, also for generations to come. … This conversion … to the 'Gospel of creation” requires us to “make our own and become interpreters of the cry for human dignity, raised above all by by poorest and the excluded, as those who are sick and who suffer so often are”.

“I hope that in these days of study and debate, in which you also consider the environmental aspect in its aspects most closely linked to physical, mental, spiritual and social health of the person, you may contribute to a new development of the culture of salus, understood in its fullest sense. I encourage you, in this regard, always to keep in mind, in your work, the real situations faced by those populations who suffer as a result of the damages caused by environmental degradation, whose impact on health is often serious and permanent”, concluded the Pope.

Statistics of the Catholic Church in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic

Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – In view of Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic (25-30 November), the Central Church Statistics Office has published the statistics relating to the Catholic Church in the three countries, current as of 31 December 2014.

Kenya has a surface area of 580,367 km2 and a population of 42,961 .000 inhabitants, of whom 13,862,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 32.3% of the population. There are 26 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 925 parishes and 6,542 pastoral centres. There are currently 38 bishops, 2,744 priests, 6303 religious (798 male and 5,505 female), and 11,343 catechists. There are 5,501 seminarians. The Church has 12,195 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in Kenya there are 513 hospitals and clinics, 21 leper colonies, 117 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 1,173 orphanages and nurseries, 110 family advisory centres, 11 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 203 institutions of other types.

Uganda has a surface area of 241,038 km2 and a population of 36,497,000 inhabitants, of whom 17,148,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 47% of the population. There are 20 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 540 parishes and 6.900 pastoral centres. There are currently 32 bishops, 2180 priests, 4,266 religious (567 male and 3,699 female), and 15,864 catechists. There are 6.984 seminarians. The Church has 7,050 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in Uganda there are 298 hospitals and clinics, one leper colony, 16 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 62 orphanages and nurseries, 130 family advisory centres and other centres for the protection of life, 8 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 56 institutions of other types.

The Central African Republic has a surface area of 622,984 km2 and a population of 4.621.000 inhabitants, of whom 1,724,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 37.3% of the population. There are 9 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 119 parishes and 2,017 pastoral centres. There are currently 16 bishops, 350 priests, 387 religious (44 male and 343 female), and 6,279 catechists. There are 379 seminarians. The Church has 305 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to secondary level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in the Central African Republic there are 52 hospitals and clinics, 10 leper colonies, 11 homes for the elderly, sick or disabled, 18 orphanages and nurseries, 8 family advisory centres, 2 special centres for social education or rehabilitation and 17 institutions of other types.


Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience prelates from the Episcopal Conference of the Federal Republic of Germany, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Bishop Herwig Gossl, auxiliary of Bamberg;

- Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke, O.S.B., of Eichstatt;

- Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, with his auxiliary, Bishop Otto Georgens;

- Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann of Wurzburg, with his auxiliary Bishop Ulrich Boom;

- Bishop Matthias Konig and Bishop Hubert Berenbrinker, auxiliaries of Paderborn;

- Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr of Erfurt, with his auxiliary, Bishop Reinhard Hauke;

- Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen of Fulda, with his auxiliary, Bishop Karl Heinz Diez;

- Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg;

- Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg im Breisgau, with his auxiliaries Bishop Bernt Joachim Uhl and Bishop Michael Gerber;

- Cardinal Karl Lehmann, bishop of Mainz, with his auxiliary Bishop Udo Bentz;

- Bishop Gebhard Furst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, with his auxiliaries Bishop Johannes Kreidler and Bishop Thomas Maria Renz;

- Bishop Manfred Grothe, apostolic administrator of Limburg;

- Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg, with his auxiliary, Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke;

- Bishop Norbert Trelle of Hildesheim, with his auxiliaries Bishop Nikolaus Schwerdtfeger and Bishop Heinz-Gunter Bongartz;

- Bishop Franz-Josef Hermann Bode of Osnabruck, with his auxiliary, Bishop Johannes Wubbe;

- Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munchen und Freising, with his auxiliaries Bishop Bernhard Hasslberger and Bishop Wolfgang Bischof;

- Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg, with his auxiliaries Bishop Anton Losinger and Bishop Florian Worner;

- Bishop Stefan Oster, S.D.B., of Passau;

- Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg;

- Archbishop Heiner Koch, archbishop of Berlin, with his auxiliary Bishop Matthias Heinrich; and

- Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Gorlitz;

- Msgr. Andreas Kutschke, diocesan administrator of Dresden.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 19 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Anthony Bernard Paul as bishop of Melaka-Johor (area 20,364, population 3,696,000, Catholics 39,537, priests 36, permanent deacons 9, religious 45), Malaysia. The bishop-elect was born in Alor Star, Malaysia in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He has served in a number of role in the diocese of Penang, including parish vicar, pastor of various parishes, diocesan head of vocations and parish administrator. He is currently pastor of the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Penang and vicar for pastoral ministry. He succeeds Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, S.J., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

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General audience: the Holy Door is the door of God's mercy

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – As we approach the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of today's Wednesday general audience to the meaning of the “Holy Door”, which he will open on 8 December in St. Peter's Basilica. This great door is that of God's mercy, which welcomes our repentance and offers us the grace of forgiveness; a door which is opened generously but whose threshold must be crossed with courage.

Francis referred to the recent Synod of Bishops, “which gave all families and all the Church as strong impetus to meet at the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go forth with the Lord towards His sons and daughters who walk together, at times uncertain, at times lost, in these difficult times. Christian families, in particular, have been encouraged to open the door to the Lord Who waits to enter, bringing His blessing. But the Lord never forces the door; He asks permission to enter through ours, although His doors are always open”.

“There are still places in the world where doors are not locked, but there are also many where reinforced doors have become normal. We must not accept the idea of having to apply this system to our whole life, to life within the family, in the city, in society, and far less so in the life of the Church. … An inhospitable Church, like a family closed in on itself, mortifies the Gospel and makes the world arid. No more reinforced doors in the Church!” he exclaimed.

“The symbolic management of doors – thresholds, passages, frontiers – has become crucial. The door must protect, certainly, but not repudiate. The door must not be forced: on the contrary, it is necessary to ask permission to enter, as hospitality shines in the freedom of welcome, and darkens in the arrogance of invasion. The door is opened frequently, to see if there is anyone waiting outside, who perhaps does not have the courage or even the strength to knock. How many people no longer trust … to knock on the door of our Christian heart, at the doors of our Churches. … We have lost their trust; please, we must not let this happen. The door says many things about the house, and also the Church”.

“We ourselves are the guardians and servants of the Door of God, Who is Jesus”, affirmed Francis. “Jesus is the door that lets us enter and leave. Because God's flock is a refuge, not a prison. … We must pass by the door and listen to Jesus' voice; if we hear His tone of voice, we are safe and sound. … If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens, and he lets in all the sheep that the Shepherd brings, all of them, including those lost in the woods, that the Good Shepherd has gone to find. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, but rather by the Good Shepherd. The guardian too obeys the voice of the Shepherd. The Church is the door to the house of the Lord but she is not the proprietor of the house of the Lord”.

The Pope concluded his catechesis by reiterating that the Holy Family of Nazareth knew well what was meant by an open or closed door for someone awaiting the birth of a child, for those who do not have shelter, and for those who must flee danger. May Christian families make the threshold of their home a little sign of the great Door of God's mercy and welcome. It is precisely in this way that the Church must be recognised, in every corner of the earth, “as the guardian of a God Who knocks to enter, with the welcome of a God Who does not close the door in your face with the excuse that you do not belong to the household”.

“With this spirit”, he concluded, “we approach the Jubilee: there will be the Holy Door, but it is the door of God's great mercy. There will also be the door of our heart, to receive all God's forgiveness and to give ours in turn, welcoming all those who knock on our door”.

Protecting children is a duty

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – After today's catechesis the Pope recalled that Thursday 20 November will be the Universal Children's Day. “It is a duty of all to protect children and to place their well-being before any other criterion, so that they are never subjected to forms of servitude or mistreatment”, he said. “I hope that the international community may keep careful watch over the living conditions of children, especially where they are at risk of recruitment by armed groups, and may help families guarantee to every boy and girl the right to schooling and education”.

He also mentioned that on 21 November the Church commemorates the Presentation of Mary in the Temple and therefore asks the grace of the gift of the vocation of men and women who, in monasteries and hermitages, have dedicated their lives to God. So that cloistered communities may fulfil their important mission, in prayer and in active silence, let us ensure they do not lack our spiritual and material closeness”.

Francis cordially welcomed pilgrims from Poland, especially the representatives of the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarnosc”. “For thirty-five years your union has been engaged in the world of work, both physical and intellectual, as well as in the protection of the fundamental rights of the person and society. Be faithful to this commitment, so that political or economic interests do not prevail over the values that constitute the essence of human solidarity. I entrust you and all the members of the Union to the protection of your patron, Blessed Don Jerzy Popieluszko, and I impart to you my heartfelt blessing”.

Holy Father's calendar for December 2015 and January 2016

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has published the following calendar of liturgical celebrations at which the Holy Father will preside in the months of December 2015 and January 2016:


Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Tuesday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the image of Mary Immaculate.

Saturday 12: Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 9.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Sunday 13: “Gaudete Sunday” Third of Advent. At 10.30 a.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door, presided by Cardinal James Harvey.

Thursday 24: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. At 9.30 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12 p.m., “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

Sunday 27: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass for Families.

Thursday 31: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers and Te Deum, in Thanksgiving for the past year.


Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. 49th World Peace Day. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Friday 1: Solemnity of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. At 5 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Holy Mass and opening of the Holy Door.

Wednesday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Holy Mass.

Sunday 10: Sunday after the Epiphany: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel. Holy Mass and baptism of babies.

“Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of Mercy

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon at 6.30 p.m. the ceremony was held for the “Recognitio” of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica. After a prayer, the cardinal archpriest Angelo Comastri, who led the procession of the Basilica Chapter, and the admonition of the Master of Ceremonies, four workers broke down the wall sealing the Holy Door inside the Basilica, extracting the metal chest held since the moment of closing the door during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 and containing the “documents” of the last Holy Year, including the key to the Holy Door, the handles, the parchments, the paving stones and commemorative medals.

After praying at the Altar of Confession, the procession reached the chapter house where the metal chest extracted from the door was opened using a blowtorch, in the presence of the Master of liturgical ceremonies of His Holiness, Msgr. Guido Marini, who took delivery of the documents and the objects of the “Recognitio”, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.

On Monday 16 November the same ceremony was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and it will take place tomorrow in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and on Monday 23 November in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 18 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Feira de Santana, Brazil, presented by Archbishop Itamar Vian, O.F.M. Cap., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Msgr. Zanoni Demettino Castro, coadjutor archbishop of the same archdiocese.

- appointed Bishop Juan Antonio Menendez Fernandez, auxiliary of Oviedo, Spain, as bishop of Astorga (area 11,535, population 262,741, Catholics 253,178, priests 214, religious 293), Spain. He succeeds Bishop Camilo Lorenzo Iglesias, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Bishop Manfred Scheuer of Innsbruck, Austria, as bishop of Linz (area 8,261, population 307,500, Catholics 224,800, priests 52, permanent deacons 13, religious 49), Austria. He succeeds Bishop Ludwig Schwarz, S.D.B., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Msgr. Nelio Domingos Zortea as bishop of Jatai, (area 38,997, population 598,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 38, permanent deacons 14, religious 79), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Irai, Brazil in 1963 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including bursar and rector of the minor seminary, member of the Presbytery and director of an interdiocesan centre of theology. He is currently parish priest in the Cathedral of the same diocese.

Pope Francis to visit the Synagogue of Rome

Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today announced that, following an invitation from the Chief Rabbi and Jewish Community of Rome, Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Great Synagogue in the afternoon of Sunday 17 January 2016. It will be the third visit by a Pope to the Great Synagogue of Rome, following John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The visit will take the form of a personal encounter between the Pope and the representatives of Judaism and the members of the Community. A more detailed programme of the visit will be published in due course.

The culture of Salus and welcome at the service of man and the planet

Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the 30th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Pastoral on the theme “The culture of Salus and welcome at the service of man and the planet” (Vatican City, 19-21 November).

The speakers at the conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care); Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of the same dicastery; Dr. Antonio Maria Pasciuto, president of the Italian Association for Environmental Medicine and Health, Italy; and Dr. Lilian Corra, president of the Argentine Association of Doctors for the Environment, Argentina.

Archbishop Zimowski explained that the Conference is inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical “Laudato si'”, and seeks to identify methods and indications for a pastoral response to the needs, in many cases urgent, expressed in the document. He also noted the event's proximity to the climate conference in Paris and the opening of the Jubilee Year, which will offer an opportunity to reflect on love for others and for the Lord's work. In addition, this year the Pontifical Council celebrates the 30th anniversary of its establishment and the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

The profound bond between the world of sickness and healthcare with the Mother of Jesus, as shown in the celebration of World Day of the Sick on 11 February, the liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes, also inspires the theme of this Day in 2016, to be celebrated in Nazareth on the theme “Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like Mary: do whatever he tells you”.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (Health Pastoral Care) reported that the 30th International Conference will be attended by 500 people from around 60 countries of the five continents: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Zimbabwe. The event will also involve contributions from theologians, biblical scholars, doctors, scientists, diplomats and legal experts of international standing.

The conference will begin with Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, presided by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace”, and on the same morning Pope Francis will receive in audience all the participants.

Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu explained that the Conference, taking as its starting point the encyclical “Laudato si'”, will consider climate change and the defence of biodiversity, information and technological pollution, animal experimentation and genetic modification, environmental stress and working medicine, pathologies linked to climate change and international legislation on environmental issues.

He continued, “Special attention will be dedicated to the theme of the challenges to be faced nowadays at world summits: the right of access to clean drinking water, denied to many; sanitation problems in urban areas and especially on the outskirts of cities. Projects for development and business initiatives, particularly in poor countries, have an impact on the environment that is not infrequently neglected or underestimated. It is therefore urgent to ensure that development plans respect life and the environment, and are therefore far from the devastating aims of mere profit”.

“Finally”, he added, “reflection on the anthropological roots of the ecological crisis would be timely in view of a hoped-for ecological conversion, deriving from an increased awareness of the responsibilities of each person, in order to inspire change in the direction of a rediscovered harmony between man and the environment”.

Dr. Corra commented that a recent press release from the World Health Organisation indicates that “few risks affect health as much as air contamination, which poses by far the most serious danger to health. It is responsible for one in every eight deaths, is the cause of more than 80% of mortality in countries with medium to low income, and has particularly worrying effects on fertility and neurological development, which can manifest themselves as behavioural disorders and impaired intellectual performance”.


Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience Bishop Nunzio Galantino, general secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 17 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Jorge Carlo Patron Wong, archbishop-bishop emeritus of Papantla, Mexico, as secretary for seminaries of the Congregation for the Clergy.

- Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, as member of the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

- Professor Stefania Nanni, associate lecturer in modern history at the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, as consultor of the Congregation for Causes of Saints.

#PopeFrancis “rediscover the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.” Text -

Pope Francis meets with German bishops in Rome on their ad limina visit. - REUTERS
Pope Francis meets with German bishops in Rome on their ad limina visit. - REUTERS
20/11/2015 11:
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday told the bishops of Germany the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy offers the opportunity to “rediscover the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.”
The bishops were meeting with the Holy Father during their ad limina visit to Rome.
In a speech handed to the bishops at the meeting,  Pope Francis noted a sharp decline in sacramental participation among the Catholics in Germany.
“Whereas in the 1960’s the faithful almost everywhere attended Mass every Sunday, today it is often less than 10 percent,” he said.
“The Sacraments are always approached less often,” the Pope continued.
“The Sacrament of Penance is often missing.  Fewer and fewer Catholics receive the Sacrament of Confirmation or contract a Catholic marriage,” he continued. “The number of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life has significantly diminished. Given these facts, one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany.”
Pope Francis said the solution to the crisis depends upon overcoming “paralyzing resignation,” and cannot be based upon an attempt to “rebuild from the wrecks of ‘the good old days’ in the past,” but it can be inspired by the life of the early Christians.
He turned the bishops attention to the biblical figures of Priscilla and Aquila, the married couple who witnessed with their words and lives to the love of Christ.
“The example of these ‘volunteers’ can help us reflect, given the trend towards a growing institutionalization,” Pope Francis said.
“We always inaugurate new facilities, from which, in the end, the faithful are missing,” Pope Francis said.
“It is a sort of new Pelagianism, which puts its trust in administrative structures, in perfect organizations” – the Pope continued – “excessive centralization, rather than helping, complicates the life of the Church and her missionary dynamics.”
He told the bishops to give more attention to Confession during the Jubilee of Mercy, since “in Confession is the beginning of the transformation of each individual Christian and the reform of the Church.”
“It is also necessary to highlight the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood,” the Holy Father said.  
“The precious collaboration of the laity, especially in those places where vocations are missing, cannot become a surrogate for the ministerial priesthood, or give it the semblance of being simply optional,” he said. “If there is no priest, there is no Eucharist.”
The Pope also said a task of the Bishop which is always underappreciated is the commitment to life.
“The Church must never get tired of being the advocate of life, and should never step back from proclaiming that human life must be protected unconditionally from conception to natural death,” he said.
He said any compromise on this issue makes one guilty of being part of a “throwaway culture,” noting the wounds caused in society due to the suffering of the weakest and most defenseless: The unborn, the elderly, and the sick.
“All of us in the end will suffer the painful consequences,” he said.
Pope Francis also spoke about the refugee crisis affecting Europe, and thanked the Churches and individual citizens who have offered their help in accommodating those “seeking refuge from war and persecution” with their assistance, on both a material and human level.
“In the spirit of Christ, we must continue to meet the challenge of the great number of people in need,” he said. “At the same time, we support all humanitarian initiatives to ensure that the living conditions in the countries of origin become more bearable.”

Saint November 20 : St. Edmund the Martyr : Patron of: against Plague, Kings, torture victims, wolves

St. Edmund the Martyr
Feast: November 20
Feast Day:
November 20
841 probably at Nuremburg, Germany
Hoxne, Suffolk, England 20 November 870
Patron of:
against plague, kings, torture victims, wolves

Though from the time of King Egbert, in 802, the Kings of the West-Saxons were monarchs of all England, yet several kings reigned in certain parts after that time, in some measure subordinate to them. One Offa was King of the East-Angles, who, being desirous to end his days in penance and devotion to Rome, resigned his crown to St. Edmund, at that time only fifteen years of age, but a most virtuous prince, and descended from the old English-Saxon kings of this isle. The saint was placed on the throne of his ancestors, as Lydgate, Abbo, and others express themselves, and was crowned by Humbert, Bishop of Elman, on Christmas Day, in 855, at Burum, a royal villa on the Stour, now called Bures, or Buers. Though very young, he was by his piety, goodness, humility, and all other virtues, the model of good princes. He was a declared enemy of flatterers and informers, and would see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears, to avoid being surprised into a wrong judgment, or imposed upon by the passions or ill designs of others. The peace and happiness of his people were his whole concern, which he endeavoured to establish by an impartial administration of justice and religious regulations in his dominions. He was the father of his subjects, particularly of the poor, the protector of widows and orphans, and the support of the weak. Religion and piety were the most distinguishing part of his character. Monks and devout persons used to know the psalter without book, that they might recite the psalms at work, in travelling, and on every other occasion. To get it by heart St. Edmund lived in retirement a whole year in his royal tower at Hunstanton (which he had built for a country solitude), which place is now a village in Norfolk. The book which the saint used for that purpose was religiously kept at St. Edmundsbury till the dissolution of abbeys.

The holy king had reigned fifteen years when the Danes infested his dominions. Hinguar and Hubba, two brothers, the most barbarous of all the Danish plunderers landing in England, wintered among the East-Angles; then, having made a truce with that nation, they in summer sailed to the north, and landing at the mouth of the Tweed, plundered with fire and sword Northumberland, and afterwards Mercia, directing their march through Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Cambridgeshire. Out of a lust of rage and cruelty, and the most implacable aversion to the Christian name, they everywhere destroyed the churches and monasteries; and, as it were in barbarous sport, massacred all priests and religious persons whom they met with. In the great monastery of Coldingham, beyond Berwick, the nuns, fearing not death but insults which might be offered to their chastity, at the instigation of St. Ebba, the holy abbess, cut off their noses and upper lips, that appearing to the barbarians frightful spectacles of horror, they might preserve their virtue from danger; the infidels accordingly were disconcerted at such a sight, and spared their virtue, but put them all to the sword. In their march, amongst other monasteries, those of Bardney, Crowland, Peterborough, Ely, and Huntingdon were levelled with the ground, and the religious inhabitants murdered. In the Cathedral of Peterborough is shown a monument (removed thither from a place without the building) called Monks'-Stone, on which are the effigies of an abbot and several monks. It stood over the pit in which fourscore monks of this house were interred, whom Hinguar and Hubba massacred in 870. The barbarians, reeking with blood, poured down upon St. Edmund's dominions, burning Thetford, the first town they met with, and laying waste all before them. The people, relying upon the faith of treaties, thought themselves secure, and were unprepared. However, the good king raised what forces he could, met the infidels, or at least a part of their army near Thetford, and discomfited them. But seeing them soon after reinforced with fresh numbers, against which his small body was not able to make any stand, and being unwilling to sacrifice the lives of his soldiers in vain, and grieving for the eternal loss of the souls of his enemies, who would be slain in a fruitless engagement, he disbanded his troops and retired himself towards his castle of Framlingham, in Suffolk. The barbarian had sent him proposals which were inconsistent both with religion and with the justice which he owed to his people. These the saint rejected, being resolved rather to die a victim of his faith and duty to God, than to do anything against his conscience and religion. In his flight he was over taken and surrounded by infidels at Oxon, upon the Waveney: he concealed himself for some short time, but, being discovered, was bound with heavy chains and conducted to the general's tent. Terms were again offered him equally prejudicial to religion and to his people, which the holy Icing refused to confirm, declaring that religion was dearer to him than his life, which he would never purchase by offending God. Hinguar, exasperated at this answer, in his barbarous rage caused him to be cruelly beaten with cudgels, then to be tied to a tree and torn a long time together with whips. All this he bore with invincible meekness and patience, never ceasing to call upon the name of Jesus. The infidels were the more exasperated, and as he stood bound to the tree, they made him a mark wantonly to shoot at, till his body was covered with arrows like a porcupine. Hinguar at length, in order to put an end to the butchery, commanded his head to be struck off. Thus the saint finished his martyrdom on the 20th of November, in 870, the fifteenth of his reign, and twenty-ninth of his age; the circumstances of which St. Dunstan learned from one who was armour-bearer to the saint and an eye-witness. The place was then called Henglesdun, now Hoxon, or Hoxne; a priory of monks was afterwards built there which bore the name of the martyr.
The saint's head was carried by the infidels into a wood and thrown into a brake of bushes; but miraculously found by a pillar of light and deposited with the body at Hoxdon. These sacred remains were very soon after conveyed to Bedricsworth, or Kingston, since called St. Edmundsbury, because this place was St. Edmund's own town and private patrimony; not on account of his burial, for in the English-Saxon language signified a court or palace. A church of timber was erected over the place where he was interred, which was thus built according to the fashion of those times. Trunks of large trees were sawn lengthways in the middle and reared up with one end fixed in the ground, with the bark or rough side outermost. These trunks being made of an equal height and set up close to one another, and the interstices filled up with mud or mortar, formed the four walls, upon which was raised a thatched roof. Nor can we be surprised at the homeliness of this structure, since the same was the fabric of the royal rich abbey of Glastonbury, the work of the most munificent and powerful West-Saxon kings, till in latter ages it was built in a stately manner of stone. The precious remains of St. Edmund were honoured with many miracles. In 920, for fear of the barbarians under Turkil the Dane, in the reign of King Ethelred, they were conveyed to London by Alfun, bishop of that city, and the monk Egelwin, or Ailwin, the keeper of this sacred treasure, who never abandoned it. After remaining three years in the Church of St. Gregory, in London, it was translated again with honour to St. Edmundsbury in 923. The great church of timberwork stood till King Knute, or Canutus, to make reparation for the injuries his father Swein, or Sweno, had done to this place and to the relics of the martyr, built and founded there, in 1020, a new most magnificent church and abbey in honour of this holy martyr. The unparalleled piety, humility, meekness, and other virtues of St. Edmund are admirably set forth by our historians. This incomparable prince and holy martyr was considered by succeeding English kings as their special patron, and as an accomplished model of all royal virtues. The feast of St. Edmund is reckoned among the holidays of precept in this kingdom by the national council of Oxford in 1222; but is omitted in the constitutions of Archbishop Simon Islep, who retrenched certain holidays in 1362.

Saint November 19 : St. Mechtilde : Benedictine

St. Mechtilde
Feast: November 19
Feast Day:
November 19
1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony
19 November, 1298

Benedictine; born in 1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony; died in the monastery of Helfta, 19 November, 1298. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, while here sister was the saintly and illustrious Abbess Gertrude von Hackeborn. Some writers have considered that Mechtilde von Hackeborn and Mechtilde von Wippra were two distinct persons, but, as the Barons of Hackeborn were also Lords of Wippra, it was customary for members of that family to take their name indifferently from either, or both of these estates. So fragile was she at birth, that the attendants, fearing she might die unbaptized, hurried her off to the priest who was just then preparing to say Mass. He was a man of great sanctity, and after baptizing the child, uttered these prophetic words: "What do you fear? This child most certainly will not die, but she will become a saintly religious in whom God will work many wonders, and she will end her days in a good old age." When she was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, then a nun in the monastery of Rodardsdorf, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents yielded to her entreaties and, acknowledging the workings of grace, allowed her to enter the alumnate. Here, being highly gifted in mind as well as in body, she made remarkable progress in virtue and learning.
Ten years later (1258) she followed her sister, who, now abbess, had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta given her by her brothers Louis and Albert. As a nun, Mechtilde was soon distinguished for her humility, her fervour, and that extreme amiability which had characterized her from childhood and which, like piety, seemed hereditary in her race. While still very young, she became a valuable helpmate to Abbess Gertrude, who entrusted to her direction the alumnate and the choir. Mechtilde was fully equipped for her task when, in 1261, God committed to her prudent care a child of five who was destined to shed lustre upon the monastery of Helfta. This was that Gertrude who in later generations became known as St. Gertrude the Great. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Mechtilde also possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music over which she presided as domna cantrix. All her life she held this office and trained the choir with indefatigable zeal. Indeed, Divine praise was the keynote of her life as it is of her book; in this she never tired, despite her continual and severe physical sufferings, so that in Hisrevelations Christ was wont to call her His "nightingale". Richly endowed, naturally and supernaturally, ever gracious, beloved of all who came within the radius of her saintly and charming personality, there is little wonder that this cloistered virgin should strive to keep hidden her wondrous life. Souls thirsting for consolation or groping for light sought her advice; learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. At the beginning of her own mystic life it was from St. Mechtilde that St. Gertrude the Great learnt that the marvellous gifts lavished upon her were from God.
Only in her fiftieth year did St. Mechtilde learn that the two nuns in whom she had especially confided had noted down the favours granted her, and, moreover, that St. Gertrude had nearly finished a book on the subject. Much troubled at this, she, as usual, first had recourse to prayer. She had a vision of Christ holding in His hand the book of her revelations, and saying: "All this has been committed to writing by my will and inspiration; and, therefore you have no cause to be troubled about it." He also told her that, as He had been so generous towards her, she must make Him a like return, and that the diffusion of therevelations would cause many to increase in His love; moreover, He wished this book to be called "The Book of Special Grace", because it would prove such to many. When the saint understood that the book would tend to God's glory, she ceased to be troubled, and even corrected the manuscript herself. Immediately after her death it was made public, and copies were rapidly multiplied, owing chiefly to the widespread influence of the Friars Preachers. Boccaccio tells how, a few years after the death of Mechtilde, the book of her revelations was brought to Florence and popularized under the title of "La Laude di donna Matelda". It is related that the Florentines were accustomed to repeat daily before their sacred images the praises learned from St. Mechtilde's book. St. Gertrude, to whose devotedness we owe the "Liber Specialis Gratiae" exclaims: "Never has there arisen one like to her in our monastery; nor, alas! I fear, will there ever arise another such!" -- little dreaming that her own name would be inseparably linked with that of Mechtilde. With that of St. Gertrude, the body of St. Mechtilde most probably still reposes at Old Helfta thought the exact spot is unknown. Her feast is kept 26 or 27 February in different congregations and monasteries of her order, by special permission of the Holy See.There is another honour, inferior certainly to that of sanctity, yet great in itself and worthy of mention here: the homage of a transcendent genius was to be laid at the feet of St. Mechtilde. Critics have long been perplexed as to one of the characters introduced by Dante in his "Purgatorio" under the name of Matelda. After ascending seven terraces of a mountain, on each of which the process of purification is carried on, Dante, in Canto xxvii, hears a voice singing: "Venite, benedicti patris mei"; then later, in Canto xxviii, there appears to him on the opposite bank of the mysterious stream a lady, solitary, beautiful, and gracious. To her Dante addresses himself; she it is who initiates him into secrets, which it is not given to Virgil to penetrate, and it is to her that Beatrice refers Dante in the words: "Entreat Matilda that she teach thee this." Most commentators have identified Matilda with the warrior-Countess of Tuscany, the spiritual daughter and dauntless champion of St. Gregory VII, but all agree that beyond the name the two have little or nothing in common. She is no Amazon who, at Dante's prayer that she may draw nearer to let him understand her song, turns towards him "not otherwise than a virgin that droppeth her modest eyes". In more places than one the revelations granted to the mystics of Helfta seem in turn to have become the inspirations of the Florentine poet. All writers on Dante recognize his indebtedness to St. Augustine, the Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Bernard, and Richard of St. Victor. These are precisely the writers whose doctrines had been most assimilated by the mystics of Helfta, and thus they would the more appeal to the sympathies of the poet. The city of Florence was among the first to welcome St. Mechtilde's book. Now Dante, like all true poets, was a child of his age, and could not have been a stranger to a book which was so popular among his fellow-citizens. The "Purgatorio" was finished between 1314 and 1318, or 1319 --just about the time when St. Mechtilde's book was popular. This interpretation is supported by the fact that St. Mechtilde in her "Book of Special Grace" (pt. I, c. xiii) describes the place of purification under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain. The coincidence of the simile and of the name, Matelda, can scarcely be accidental. For another among many points of resemblance between the two writers compare "Purgatorio", Canto xxxi, where Dante is drawn by Matelda through the mysterious stream with pt. II, c. ii. of the "Liber Specialis Gratiae". The serene atmosphere which seems to cling about the gracious and beautiful songstress, her virgin modesty and simple dignity, all seem to point to the recluse of Helfta rather than to the stern heroine of Canossa, whose hand was thrice bestowed in marriage. Besides, in politics Dante, as an ardent Ghibelline, supported the imperial pretensions and he would have been little inclined to sing the praises of the Tuscan Countess. The conclusion may therefore be hazarded that this "Donna Matelda" of the "Purgatorio" personifies St. Mechtilde as representing mystic theology.

#PopeFrancis "The House of God is a shelter, it is not a prison, and the door is called Jesus!" FULL TEXT-Video at Audience

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
With this reflection we have arrived at the threshold of the Jubilee, it is close. Before us is the door, but not only the Holy Door, the other – the great door of God’s Mercy, and it is a beautiful door! – which receives our repentance, offering the grace of His forgiveness. The door is generously open; a bit of courage is needed on our part to cross the threshold. Each one of us has within himself things that burden him. All of us. We are all sinners! Let us take advantage of this moment that is coming and cross the threshold of this mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving, never tires of waiting for us! He looks at us, He is always beside us. Courage! Let us go in through this door!
From the Synod of Bishops, which we held in the course of the month of October, all families and the entire Church received great encouragement to meet one another on the threshold of this open door. The Church was encouraged to open her doors, to go out with the Lord to encounter sons and daughters on the way, sometimes uncertain, sometimes lost, in these difficult times. Christian families in particular were encouraged to open the door to the Lord who waits to come in, bringing His blessing and His friendship. And if the door of God’s mercy is always open, the doors of our churches, of our communities, of our parishes, of our institutions, of our dioceses, must also be open, so that we can all go out to bring God’s mercy. The Jubilee signifies the great door of God’s mercy but also the small doors of our churches open to let the Lord come in – or many times to let the Lord go out – prisoner of our structures, of our egoism and of so many things.
The Lord never forces the door: He even asks permission to come in. The Book of Revelation says: ”Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (3:20). But let us imagine the Lord who knocks on the door of our heart! And, in the last great vision of this Book of Revelation, the City of God is prophesied thus: “its gates shall never be shut by day,” which means forever because “there shall be no night there” (21:25). There are places in the world where the doors are not locked, they still exist; but there are so many where armour-plated doors have become normal. We must not yield to the idea of having to apply this system to our whole life, to the life of the family, of the city, of the society, and even less so to the life of the Church. It would be terrible! An inhospitable Church, just as a family shut-in on itself, mortifies the Gospel and hardens the world. No armour-plated doors in the Church, none! Everything open!
The symbolic management of the “doors” – of the thresholds, of the passages, of the borders – has become crucial. A door must protect, certainly, but not push away. The door must not be forced, on the contrary, permission must be asked, because hospitality shines in the freedom of a welcome, and it is darkened in the arrogance of invasion. A door is often opened to see if someone is outside who is waiting, and perhaps does not have the courage -- perhaps not even the courage -- to knock. How many people have lost confidence, do not have the courage to knock on the door of our Christian heart, on the doors of our churches ... And they are there, they do not have the courage, we have taken away their confidence: please, let this not happen any more. The door says many things about a house, and also about the Church. The management of the door requires careful discernment and, at the same time, it must inspire great confidence. I would like to say a word of gratitude to all custodians of doors: of our condominiums, of civic institutions, of the churches themselves. Often the prudence and the kindness of the porter are capable of offering an image of humanity and welcome to the whole house, already from the entrance. We must learn from these men and women, who are custodians of places of encounter and welcome of the city of man! To all of you custodians of so many doors, be it doors of habitations, be it doors of churches, thank you so much! But always with a smile, always showing the hospitality of that house, of that church, thus the people feel happy and welcome in that place.
In truth, we know well that we ourselves are the custodians and servants of God’s Door, and how is God’s Door called? Jesus! He illumines us on all the doors of life, including those of our birth and of our death. He himself affirmed it: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9). Jesus is the door that makes us go in and out. Because God’s sheepfold is a shelter, it is not a prison! The House of God is a shelter, it is not a prison, and the door is called Jesus! And if the door is closed, we say: “Lord, open the door!” Jesus is the door and He makes us come in and go out. They are thieves who seek to avoid the door. It is curious, thieves always seek to enter another way, by the window, by the roof, but they avoid the door, because they have evil intentions, and they sneak into the sheepfold to deceive the sheep and to take advantage of them. We must pass through the door and listen to Jesus’ voice: if we hear His tone of voice, we are safe; we are saved. We can enter without fear and go out without danger. In this very beautiful discourse of Jesus, there is also talk of the guardian, who has the task to open to the Good Shepherd (cf. John 10:2). If the guardian hears the voice of the Shepherd, then he opens and has all the sheep enter that the Shepherd brings, all, including those lost in the woods, which the Good Shepherd went to bring back. The sheep are not chosen by the guardian, they are not chosen by the parish secretary or the parish’s secretariat; the sheep are all invited, they are chosen by the Good Shepherd. The guardian also obeys the voice of the Shepherd. See, we can well say that we must be like that guardian. The Church is the doorkeeper of the Lord’s House; she is not the proprietor of the Lord’s House.
The Holy Family of Nazareth knows well what it means to have an open or closed door, for one expecting a child, for one in need of shelter, for one who must escape from danger. May Christian families make the threshold of their home a small great sign of the Word of God’s Mercy and His welcome. It is in fact thus that the Church must be recognized, in every corner of the earth: as the custodian of a God that knocks, as the welcome of a God that does not close the door in your face, with the excuse that you are not of the house. We approach the Jubilee with this spirit: There will be the Holy Door, but it will be the door of God’s great mercy! May it also be the door of our heart for us all to receive God’s forgiveness and for us in turn to forgive, welcoming all those that knock on our door.
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Observed day-after-tomorrow will be the World Day of Children’s Rights. It is a duty of everyone to protect children and to put their good before any other criteria, so that they are no longer subjected to forms of slavery and mistreatment and also forms of exploitation. I hope that the International Community will carefully look after the life conditions of children, especially where they are exposed to recruitment by armed groups; and that it may also help families and guarantee every boy and girl the right to school and education.
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On November 21, then, the Church recalls the Presentation of Mary Most Holy in the Temple. In this context, we thank the Lord for the gift of the vocation of men and women who, in monasteries and hermitages, have dedicated their lives to God. Let us not be lacking in spiritual and material closeness, so that cloistered communities can carry out their important mission in prayer and in active silence.
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[Summary in English:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters: As the extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy approaches, today we consider the great open door of God’s mercy, symbolized by the Holy Doors which will open in Churches throughout the world. The recent Synod of Bishops on the Family encouraged families in a particular way to enter this door of mercy and to open the doors of their hearts to others. Jesus tells us that he stands knocking at our door, asking that we open it to him (Rev3:20). How important it is for us to be good doorkeepers, capable of opening our doors and making our homes places of encounter and welcome, especially to our brothers and sisters in need! Jesus also tells us that he himself is the door (Jn 10:9) which leads to salvation; if we pass through him, we will find lasting security and freedom. As guardians of that door, we in the Church are called to be welcoming to all who seek to enter the fold of the Good Shepherd. May the doors of our Christian homes be signs and symbols of the door of God’s mercy, a door ever open to all who knock and desire to meet Jesus.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England and the United States of America. My special greeting goes to the El Shaddai prayer fellowship and the orthopaedic surgeons of the Ivins Society. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all!
[Greeting in Italian:]
A cordial welcome goes to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I am happy to receive the priests of Gubbio, accompanied by their Bishop, Monsignor Ceccobelli.
I greet the Italian Thalidomide Association, the participants in the National Congress organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi; the Association Love Bridges of Churches and the Saint Mary of the Road Association of Messina.
On this day, in which we celebrate the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, I hope that the visit to the tombs of the Apostles will reinforce in all the joy of the faith.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people and students, in particular of Afragola and of Rome, may the testimony of the Apostles, who left everything to follow Jesus, enkindle in you the desire to love Him with all your strength and to follow Him; dear sick, may the glorious sufferings of Saints Peter and Paul give comfort and hope to your offering; dear newlyweds, may your homes be temples of that Love from whom no one will be able to separate you.
[Translation by ZENIT]

#BreakingNews Priest Killed after being set on Fire - RIP Fr. Erastus Pliego de Jesus of Mexico - Please PRAY

AMERICA/MEXICO – The missing priest's body found, he had been set on fire

Puebla (Agenzia Fides) - The Archdiocese of Puebla informs the violent death of Fr. Erastus Pliego de Jesus, pastor of St. Mary of the Nativity in the small town of Cuyuaco, who had been missing for a few days (see Fides 17/11/2015). In a brief statement, sent to Fides, the Archdiocese announced that the authorities reported that yesterday morning, 17 November, in the countryside surrounding the site of the kidnapping, the lifeless body of the priest was found.
"The Archdiocese deeply regrets that a priest, whose life was devoted to God and to the service of others, was the victim of violence", the statement said.
According to reports from the local press, the body was burned, and had a deep wound to the head. It is assumed that the reasons of his death is due to a robbery which ended in murder, but authorities continue to investigate.
"We thank the authorities for all the support in this unfortunate event. To the family and to his parish community we assure you of our support and solidarity", concluded the statement of the Archdiocese.
According to the Catholic Multimedia Mexican Center eleven priests have been killed since 2013 and two more are still missing. In 2014 two priests were abducted and killed in the state of Guerrero. One of them was found on December 25 with a bullet in the head, while in November the body of a Ugandan priest was found in a ditch, who had disappeared months before. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 18/11/2015)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. November 18, 2015

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 499

Reading 12 MC 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”

Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
“Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
“What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king’s command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 17:1BCD, 5-6, 8B AND 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

AlleluiaSEE JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.’”

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Feast November 18 : Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul

Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter & Paul
Feast: November 18
Feast Day:
November 18

The Vatican Church, dedicated in honour of St. Peter, is the second patriarchal church at Rome, and in it reposes one half of the precious remains of the bodies of SS. Peter and Paul. The tombs of the great conquerors and lords of the world have been long since destroyed and forgotten; but those of the martyrs are glorious by the veneration which the faithful pay to their memory.
The body of St. Peter is said to have been buried immediately after his martyrdom, upon this spot, on the Vatican hill, which was then without the walls and near the suburb inhabited by the Jews. The remains of this apostle were removed hence into the cemetery of Calixtus, but brought back to the Vatican. Those of St. Paul were deposited on the Ostian Way, where his church now stands. The tombs of the two princes of the apostles, from the beginning, were visited by Christians with extraordinary devotion above those of other martyrs. Caius, the learned and eloquent priest of Rome, in 210, in his dialogue with Proclus the Montanist, speaks thus of them: "I can show you the trophies of the apostles. For, whether you go to the Vatican hill, or to the Ostian road, you will meet with the monuments of them who by their preaching and miracles founded this church."
The Christians, even in the times of persecution, adorned the tombs of the martyrs and the oratories which they erected over them, where they frequently prayed. Constantine the Great, after founding the Lateran Church, built seven other churches at Rome and many more in other parts of Italy. The first of these were the churches of St. Peter on the Vatican hill (where a temple of Apollo and another of Idaea, mother of the gods, before stood) in honour of the place where the prince of the apostles had suffered martyrdom and was buried and that of St. Paul, at his tomb on the Ostian road. The yearly revenues which Constantine granted to all these churches, amounted to seventeen thousand seven hundred and seventy golden pence, which is above thirteen thousand pounds sterling, counting the prices, gold for gold; but, as the value of gold and silver was then much higher than at present, the sum in our money at this day would be much greater. These churches were built by Constantine in so stately and magnificent a manner as to vie with the finest structures in the empire, as appears from the description which Eusebius gives us of the Church of Tyre; for we find that the rest were erected upon the same model, which was consequently of great antiquity. St. Peter's Church on the Vatican, being fallen to decay, it was begun to be rebuilt under Julius II in 1506, and was dedicated by Urban VIII in 1626, on this day; the same on which the dedication of the old church was celebrated The precious remains of many popes, martyrs, and other saints, are deposited partly under the altars of this vast and beautiful church, and partly in a spacious subterraneous church under the other. But the richest treasure of this venerable place consists in the relics of SS. Peter and Paul, which lie in a sumptuous vault beyond the middle of the church, towards the upper end, under a magnificent altar at which only the pope says mass, unless he commissions another to officiate there. This sacred vault is called The confession of St. Peter, or The threshold of the Apostles (SOURCE:

Saint November 17 : St. Elizabeth of Hungary : Patron of Brides, Nurses, Homeless, Bakers

St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Feast: November 17
Feast Day:
November 17
1207 at Presburg, Hungary
17 November 1231, Marburg, Germany
1235, Perugia, Italy
Major Shrine:
Elisabeth Church (Marburg)
Patron of:
hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lacemakers, tertiaries and widows

Also called St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, born in Hungary, probably at Pressburg, 1207; died at Marburg, Hesse, 17 November (not 19 November), 1231. She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary (1205-35) and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth's brother succeeded his father on the throne of Hungary as Bela IV; the sister of her mother, Gertrude, was St. Hedwig, wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia, while another saint, St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal (d. 1336), the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz of that country, was her great-niece. In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange, as was customary in that age, a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This plan of a marriage was the result of political considerations and was intended to be the ratification of a great alliance which in the political schemes of the time it was sought to form against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarrelled with the Church. Not long after this the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him. The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived surrounded by poets and minnesingers, to whom he was a generous patron. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, the little girl grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life. In 1213 Elizabeth's mother, Gertrude, was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On 31 December, 1216, the oldest son of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment. The legend that arose later is incorrect in making Elizabeth's mother-in-law, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria, the leader of this court party. On the contrary, Sophia was a very religious and charitable woman and a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth. The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died, 25 April, 1217, unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in 1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year (1221) Ludwig and Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The marriage was in every regard a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils and often held Elizabeth's hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier. The Germans call him St. Ludwig, an appellation given to him as one of the best men of his age and the pious husband of St. Elizabeth. They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse, as in the war of the Thuringian succession she won Hesse for her son Heinrich I, called the Child; Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth's third child, was born several weeks after the death of her father; in after-life she became abbess of the convent of Aldenburg near Wetzlar.
Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the affairs of the empire. In the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the pest wrought havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the emperor and the empire. Under these circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs, distributed alms in all parts of the territory of her husband, giving even state robes and ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their wants; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life that has preserved Elizabeth's fame to posterity as the gentle and charitable Cheatelaine of the Wartburg. Ludwig on his return confirmed all she had done. The next year (1227) he started with the Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died, 11 September of the same year at Otranto, from the pest. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October, just after she had given birth to her third child. On hearing the tidings Elizabeth, who was only twenty years old, cried out: "The world with all its joys is now dead to me."
The fact that in 1221 the followers of St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) made their first permanent settlement in Germany was one of great importance in the later career of Elizabeth. Brother Rodeger, one of the first Germans whom the provincial for Germany, Caesarius of Speier, received into the order, was for a time the spiritual instructor of Elizabeth at the Wartburg; in his teachings he unfolded to her the ideals of St. Francis, and these strongly appealed to her. With the aid of Elizabeth the Franciscans in 1225 founded a monastery in Eisenach; Brother Rodeger, as his fellow-companion in the order, Jordanus, reports, instructed Elizabeth, to observe, according to her state of life, chastity, humility, patience, the exercise of prayer, and charity. Her position prevented the attainment of the other ideal of St. Francis, voluntary and complete poverty. Various remarks of Elizabeth to her female attendants make it clear how ardently she desired the life of poverty. After a while the post Brother Rodeger had filled was assumed by Master Conrad of Marburg, who belonged to no order, but was a very ascetic and, it must be acknowledged, a somewhat rough and very severe man. He was well known as a preacher of the crusade and also as an inquisitor or judge in cases of heresy. On account of the latter activity he has been more severely judged than is just; at the present day, however, the estimate of him is a fairer one. Pope Gregory IX, who wrote at times to Elizabeth, recommended her himself to the God-fearing preacher. Conrad treated Elizabeth with inexorable severity, even using corporal means of correction; nevertheless, he brought her with a firm hand by the road of self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization. Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, yet, on the other hand, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity and tenderness.
Up to 1888 it was believed, on account of the testimony of one of Elizabeth's servants in the process of canonization, that Elizabeth was driven from the Wartburg in the winter of 1227 by her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, who acted as regent for her son, then only five years old. About 1888 various investigators (Börner, Mielke, Wenck, E. Michael, etc.) asserted that Elizabeth left the Wartburg voluntarily, the only compulsion being a moral one. She was not able at the castle to follow Conrad's command to eat only food obtained in a way that was certainly right and proper. Lately, however, Huyskens (1907) tried to prove that Elizabeth was driven from the castle at Marburg in Hesse, which was hers by dower right. Consequently, the Te Deum that she directed the Franciscans to sing on the night of her expulsion would have been sung in the Franciscan monastery at Marburg. Accompanied by two female attendants, Elizabeth left the castle that stands on a height commanding Marburg. The next day her children were brought to her, but they were soon taken elsewhere to be cared for. Elizabeth's aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine nunnery of Kitzingen near Würzburg, took charge of the unfortunate landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of continence in case of his death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants. While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping bitterly, she buried the body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth's strength was consumed by her charitable labours, and she passed away at the age of twenty-four, a time when life to most human beings is just opening.
Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the church of the hospital, especially miracles of healing. Master Conrad showed great zeal in advancing the process of canonization. By papal command three examinations were held of those who had been healed: namely, in August, 1232, January, 1233, and January, 1235. Before the process reached its end, however, Conrad was murdered, 30 July, 1233. But the Teutonic Knights in 1233 founded a house at Marburg, and in November, 1234, Conrad, Landgrave of Thuringia, the brother-in-law of Elizabeth, entered the order. At Pentecost (28 May) of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the "greatest woman of the German Middle Ages" was celebrated by Gregory IX at Perugia, Landgrave Conrad being present. In August of the same year (1235) the corner-stone of the beautiful Gothic church of St. Elizabeth was laid at Marburg; on 1 May, 1236, Emperor Frederick II attended the taking-up of the body of the saint; in 1249 the remains were placed in the choir of the church of St. Elizabeth, which was not consecrated until 1283. Pilgrimages to the grave soon increased to such importance that at times they could be compared to those to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela. In 1539 Philip the Magnanimous, Landgrave of Hesse, who had become a Protestant, put an end to the pilgrimages by unjustifiable interference with the church that belonged to the Teutonic Order and by forcibly removing the relics and all that was sacred to Elizabeth. Nevertheless, the entire German people still honour the "dear St. Elizabeth" as she is called; in 1907 a new impulse was given to her veneration in Germany and Austria by the celebration of the seven hundredth anniversary of her birth. St. Elizabeth is generally represented as a princess graciously giving alms to the wretched poor or as holding roses in her lap; in the latter case she is portrayed either alone or as surprised by her husband, who, according to a legend, which is, however, related of other saints as well, met her unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy, and, so the story runs, the bread she was trying to conceal was suddenly turned into roses.

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Fri. November 20, 2015

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 501

Reading 11 MC 4:36-37, 52-59

Judas and his brothers said,
“Now that our enemies have been crushed,
let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it.”
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month,
that is, the month of Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law
on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it,
on that very day it was reconsecrated
with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven,
who had given them success.

For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar
and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices
of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields;
they repaired the gates and the priests’ chambers
and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people
now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel
decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar
should be observed with joy and gladness
on the anniversary every year for eight days,
from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.

Responsorial Psalm1 CHRONICLES 29:10BCD, 11ABC, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

AlleluiaJN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out
those who were selling things, saying to them,
“It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,
but you have made it a den of thieves
And every day he was teaching in the temple area.
The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile,
were seeking to put him to death,
but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose
because all the people were hanging on his words.

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