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Saturday, February 13, 2016

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2016


#PopeFrancis " I know that by looking into the eyes of the Blessed Virgin I am able..." FULL TEXT - Video in Mexico



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the Catholic Bishops of Mexico on Saturday, the first full day of his Apostolic visit to the country. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's prepared remarks, in their official English translation.
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I am pleased to have this opportunity of meeting you the day after my arrival here in this beloved country, which, following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I also have come to visit.
How could I not come!  Could the Successor of Peter, called from the far south of Latin America, deprive himself of seeing la Virgen Morenita?
I thank you for receiving me in this Cathedral, a larger casita (“little house”) and yet always sagrada (“sacred”), as the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe had requested.  I also thank you for your kind words of welcome. 
I know that here is found the secret heart of each Mexican, and I enter with soft footsteps as is fitting for one who enters the home and soul of this people; and I am deeply grateful for you having opened your doors to me.  I know that by looking into the eyes of the Blessed Virgin I am able to follow the gaze of her sons and daughters who, in her, have learned to express themselves.  I know that no other voice can speak so powerfully to me of the Mexican heart as the Blessed Mother can; she guards its highest aspirations and most hidden hopes; she gathers its joys and its tears.  She understands its various languages and she responds with a Mother’s tenderness because these men and women are her own children.
I am happy to be with you here, near Cerro del Tepeyac, in a way close to the dawn of evangelization in this continent.  Please allow la Guadalupana to be the starting point of everything I will say to you.  How I wish She herself would convey to you all that is dear to the Pope’s heart, reaching the depths of your own pastoral hearts, and through you, to each of the particular Churches present in this vast country of Mexico. 
The Pope for some time has nourished a desire to see la Guadalupana  just as Saint Juan Diego did, and successive generations of children after him.  And I have desired, even more, to be captured by her maternal gaze.  I have reflected greatly on the mystery of this gaze and I ask you to receive in these moments what pours forth from my heart, the heart of a Pastor.
A gaze of tenderness
Above all, la Virgen Morenita teaches us that the only power capable of conquering the hearts of men and women is the tenderness of God.  That which delights and attracts, that which humbles and overcomes, that which opens and unleashes, is not the power of instruments or the force of law, but rather the omnipotent weakness of divine love, which is the irresistible force of its gentleness and the irrevocable pledge of its mercy.
A rather inquisitive and famous literary figure of yours, Octavio Paz, said that in Guadalupe great harvests and fertile lands are no longer prayed for, but instead a place of rest where people, still orphaned and disinherited, may seek a place of refuge, a home.
With centuries having gone by since the founding event of this country and the evangelization of the continent, it may be asked: has the need been diluted or even forgotten for that place of rest so ardently desired by the hearts of Mexicans entrusted to your care?
I know the long and painful history which you have gone through has not been without much bloodshed, impetuous and heartbreaking upheavals, and violence and incomprehension.  With good reason my venerable and saintly predecessor, who felt at home here in Mexico, wished to remind us: “Like rivers that are sometimes hidden and plentiful, converge at times and at others reveal their complementary differences, without ever merging completely: the ancient and rich sensitivity of the indigenous peoples loved by Juan de Zumárraga and Vasco de Quiroga, whom many of these peoples continue to call fathers; Christianity, rooted in the Mexican soul; and modern rationality of the European kind, which wanted so much to exalt independence and freedom” (John Paul II, Address, Welcoming Ceremony, 22 January 1999).
And in this history, the maternal place of rest which continually brought life to Mexico, although sometimes seeming like “a net of a hundred and fifty-three fish” (cf. Jn 21:11), was never without fruit, was always able to heal the divisions which threatened.
For this reason I invite you to begin anew from that need for a place of rest which wells up from the spirit of your people.  The restful place of the Christian faith is capable of reconciling a past, often marked by loneliness, isolation and rejection, with a future, continually relegated to a tomorrow which just slips away. Only in that place of faith can we, without renouncing our own identity, “discover the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God” (John Paul II, Homily, Canonization of Juan Diego).
Bow down then, quietly and respectfully, towards the profound spirit of your people, go down with care and decipher its mysterious face.  The present, so often mixed with dispersion and festivity, is it not for God a preparatory stage, for him who alone is fully present?  Familiarity with pain and death, are they not forms of courage and pathways to hope?  And the view that the world is always and uniquely in need of redemption, is this not an antidote to the proud self-sufficiency of those who think they can do without God? 
Naturally, for this reason it is necessary to have an outlook capable of reflecting the tenderness of God.  I ask you, therefore, to be bishops who have a pure vision, a transparent soul, and a joyful face.   Do not fear transparency.  The Church does not need darkness to carry out her work.  Be vigilant so that your vision will not be darkened by the gloomy mist of worldliness; do not allow yourselves to be corrupted by trivial materialism or by the seductive illusion of underhanded agreements; do not place your faith in the “chariots and horses” of today’s Pharaohs, for our strength is in “the pillar of fire” which divides the sea in two, without much fanfare (cf. Ex 14:24-25).
The world in which the Lord calls us to carry out our mission has become extremely complicated.  And even the proud notion of cogito, which at least did not deny that there was a rock on the sand of being, is today dominated by a view of life which more than ever many consider to be hesitant, itinerant and lawless because it lacks a firm foundation.  Frontiers so passionately invoked and upheld are now open to the irony of a world in which the power of some can no longer survive without the vulnerability of others.  The irreversible hybridization of technology brings closer what is distant; sadly, however, it also distances what should be close. 
It is in this very world that God asks you to have a view capable of grasping that plea which cries out from the heart of your people, a plea which has its own calendar day, the Feast of crying out.  This cry needs a response: God exists and is close in Jesus Christ.  Only God is the reality upon which we can build, because, “God is the foundational reality, not a God who is merely imagined or hypothetical, but God with a human face” (Benedict VI, Address to CELAM, 13 May 2007).
Observing your faces, the Mexican people have the right to witness the signs of those “who have seen the Lord” (cf. Jn 20:25), of those who have been with God.  This is essential.  Therefore, do not lose time or energy in secondary things, in gossip or intrigue, in conceited schemes of careerism, in empty plans for superiority, in unproductive groups that seek benefits or common interests.  Do not allow yourselves to be dragged into gossip and slander.  Introduce your priests into a right understanding of sacred ministry.  For us ministers of God it is enough to have the grace to “drink the cup of the Lord”, the gift of protecting that portion of the heritage which has been entrusted to us, though we may be unskilled administrators.  Let us allow the Father to assign the place he has prepared for us (Mt 20:20-28).  Can we really be concerned with affairs that are not the Father’s?  Away from the “Father’s affairs” (Lk 2:48-49) we lose our identity and, through our own fault, empty his grace of meaning.
If our vision does not witness to having seen Jesus, then the words with which we recall him will be rhetorical and empty figures of speech.  They may perhaps express the nostalgia of those who cannot forget the Lord, but who have become, at any rate, mere babbling orphans beside a tomb.  Finally, they may be words that are incapable of preventing this world of ours from being abandoned and reduced to its own desperate power.
I think of the need to offer a maternal place of rest to young people.  May your vision be capable of meeting theirs, loving them and understanding what they search for with that energy that inspired many like them to leave behind their boats and nets on the other side of the sea (Mk 1:17-18), to leave the abuses of the banking sector so as to follow the Lord on the path of true wealth (cf. Mt9:9).
I am particularly concerned about those many persons who, seduced by the empty power of the world, praise illusions and embrace their macabre symbols to commercialize death in exchange for money which, in the end, “moth and rust consume” and “thieves break in and steal” (Mt 6:19).  I urge you not to underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the Church.
The magnitude of this phenomenon, the complexity of its causes, its immensity and its scope which devours like a metastasis, and the gravity of the violence which divides with its distorted expressions, do not allow us as Pastors of the Church to hide behind aondyne denunciations.  Rather they demand of us a prophetic courage as well as a reliable and qualified pastoral plan, so that we can gradually help build that fragile network of human relationships without which all of us would be defeated from the outset in the face of such an insidious threat.  Only by starting with families, by drawing close and embracing the fringes of human existence in the ravaged areas of our cities and by seeking the involvement of parish communities, schools, community institutions, political communities and institutions responsible for security, will people finally escape the raging waters that drown so many, either victims of the drug trade or those who stand before God with their hands drenched in blood, though with pockets filled with sordid money and their consciences deadened.
A vision that can build
In the mantle of the Mexican spirit, God, with the thread of mestizocharacteristics, has woven and revealed in la Morenita the face of the Mexican people.  God does not need subdued colours to design this face, for his designs are not conditioned by colours or threads but rather by the permanence of his love which constantly desires to imprint itself upon us.
Therefore, be bishops who are capable of imitating this freedom of God who chooses the humble in order to reveal the majesty of his countenance; capable of reproducing this divine patience by weaving the new man which your country awaits with the fine thread made of the men and women you encounter.  Do not be led by empty efforts to change people as if the love of God is not powerful enough to bring about change. 
Rediscover the wise and humble constancy that the Fathers of faith of this country passed onto successive generations with the language of divine mystery.  They did this by first learning and then teaching the grammar needed to dialogue with God; a God concealed within centuries of searching and then brought close in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, who is our future and who is recognized as such by so many men and women when they behold his bloody and humiliated face.  Imitate his gracious humility and his bowing down to help us.  We will never comprehend sufficiently how, with the mestizothreads of our people, God has woven the face by which he is to be known.  We can never be thankful enough.
I ask you to show singular tenderness in the way you regard indigenous peoples and their fascinating but not infrequently decimated cultures.  Mexico needs its American-Indian roots so as not to remain an unresolved enigma.  The indigenous people of Mexico still await true recognition of the richness of their contribution and the fruitfulness of their presence.  In this way they can inherit that identity which transforms them into a single nation and not only an identity among other identities.
On many occasions, much has been said about a supposedly failed future of this nation, about a labyrinth of loneliness in which it is imprisoned by its geography as well as by a fate which ensnares it.  For some, all of this is an obstacle to the plan for a unified face, an adult identity, a unique position among the concert of nations and a shared mission.  
For others, the Church in Mexico is also regarded as being either condemned to suffer the inferior position to which it was relegated in some periods of its past, as for example when its voice was silenced and efforts were made to eradicate it; or condemned to venture into expressions of fundamentalism thus holding onto provisional certainties while forgetting to nest its heart in the Absolute and be called in Christ to unite everyone and not just a portion (cf. Lumen Gentium 1:1).
On the other hand, never cease to remind your people of how powerful their ancient roots are, roots which have allowed a vibrant Christian synthesis of human, cultural and spiritual unity which was forged here.  Remember that the wings of your people have spread on various occasions to rise above changing situations.  Protect the memory of the long journey undertaken so far and know how to inspire the hope of attaining new heights because the future will bear a land “rich in fruit” even if it involves considerable challenges (Num13:27-28).
May your vision, always and solely resting upon Christ, be capable of contributing to the unity of the people in your care; of favouring the reconciliation of its differences and the integration of its diversities; of promoting a solution to its endogenous problems; of remembering the high standards which Mexico can attain when it learns to belong to itself rather than to others; of helping to find shared and sustainable solutions to its misfortunes; of motivating the entire nation to not be content with less than what is expected of a Mexican way of living in the world. 
A vision that is close and attentive, not dormant           
I urge you to not fall into that paralyzation of standard responses to new questions.  Your past is a source of riches to be mined and which can inspire the present and illumine the future.  How unfortunate you are if you sit on your laurels!  It is important not to squander the inheritance you have received by protecting it through constant work.  You stand on the shoulders of giants: bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful unto the end, who have offered their lives so that the Church can fulfil her own mission.  From those heights you are called to turn your gaze to the Lord’s vineyard to plan the sowing and wait for the harvest.
I invite you to give yourselves tirelessly and fearlessly to the task of evangelizing and deepening the faith by means of a mystagogical catechesis that treasures the popular religiosity of the people.  Our times require pastoral attention to persons and groups who hope to encounter the living Jesus.  Only the courageous personal conversion of our communities can seek, generate and nourish todays disciples of the Lord (cf. Aparecida, 226, 368, 370).
Hence it is necessary for us Pastors to overcome the temptation of aloofness and clericalism, of coldness and indifference, of triumphalism and self-centredness.  Guadalupe teaches us that God is known by his countenance, and that closeness and humble bowing down are more powerful than force.
As the wonderful Guadalupana tradition teaches us, la Morenita gathers together those who contemplate her, and reflects the faces of those who find her.  It is essential to learn that there is something unique in every person who looks to us in their search for God.  We must guard against becoming impervious to such gazes but rather gather them to our hearts and guard them.
Only a Church able to shelter the faces of men and women who knock on her doors will be able to speak to them of God.  If we do not know how to decipher their sufferings, if we do not come to understand their needs, then we can offer them nothing.  The richness we have flows only when we encounter the smallness of those who beg and this encounter occurs precisely in our hearts, the hearts of Pastors.
The first face I ask you to guard in your hearts is that of your priests.  Do not leave them exposed to loneliness and abandonment, easy prey to a worldliness that devours the heart.  Be attentive and learn how to read their expressions so as to rejoice with them when they feel the joy of recounting all that they have “done and taught” (Mk 6:30).  Also, do not step back when they feel humiliated and can only cry because they “have denied the Lord” (cf.Lk 22:61-62), and offer your support, in communion with Christ, when one of them, disheartened, goes out with Judas into “the night” (cf. Jn 13:30).  As bishops in these situations, your paternal care for your priests must never be found wanting.  Encourage communion among them; seek the perfection of their gifts; involve them in great ventures, for the heart of an apostle was not made for small things.
The need for familiarity abides in the heart of God.  Our Lady of Guadalupe therefore asks for a casita sagrada, a “small holy home”.  Our Latin American populations know well the diminutive forms of expression and use them willingly.  Perhaps they need to use the diminutive forms because they would feel lost otherwise.  They have adapted themselves to feeling small and have grown accustomed to living modestly.
When the Church congregates in a majestic Cathedral, she should not fail to see herself as a “small home” in which her children can feel comfortable.  We remain in God’s presence only when we are little ones, orphans and beggars.
A “small home”, casita, is familiar and at the same time “holy”, sagrada, for it is filled by God’s omnipotent greatness.  We are guardians of this mystery.  Perhaps we have lost the sense of the humble ways of the divine and are tired of offering our own men and women the casita in which they feel close to God.   On occasion, a disregard for the sense of omnipotent greatness has led to a partial loss of reverential fear towards such great love.  Where God lives, man cannot enter without being invited in and he can only enter “taking off his shoes” (cf. Ex 3:5), so as to confess his unworthiness.
Our having forgotten this “taking off our shoes” in order to enter, is this perhaps not the root cause of that lost sense of the sacredness of human life, of the person, of fundamental values, of the wisdom accumulated along the centuries, and of respect for the environment?  Without rescuing within the consciences of men and women and of society these profound roots and the generous efforts to promote legitimate human rights, the vital sap will be lacking; and it is a sap that comes only from a source which  humanity itself cannot procure.
A holistic and unified vision
Only by looking at la Morenita can Mexico be understood in its entirety.  And so I invite you to appreciate that the mission which the Church entrusts to you demands a vision embracing the whole.  This cannot be realized in an isolated manner, but only in communion.
La Guadalupana has a ribbon around her waist which proclaims her fecundity. She is the Blessed Virgin who already has in her womb the Son awaited by men and women. She is the Mother who already carries the humanity of a newborn world.  She is the Bride who prefigures the maternal fruitfulness of Christ’s Church.  You have been entrusted with the mission of enrobing the Mexican nation with God’s fruitfulness.  No part of this ribbon can be despised.
The Mexican episcopate has made significant strides in these years since the Council; it has increased its members; it has promoted permanent formation which is consistent and professional; there has been a fraternal atmosphere; the spirit of collegiality has matured; the pastoral efforts have had an influence on your local Churches and on the conscience of the nation; the shared pastoral initiatives have been fruitful in vital areas of the Church’s mission, such as the family, vocations, and the Church’s presence in society.
While we are encouraged by the path taken during these years, I would ask you not to lose heart in the face of difficulties and not to spare any effort in promoting, among yourselves and in your dioceses, a missionary zeal, especially towards the most needy areas of the one body of the Mexican Church.  To rediscover that the Church is mission is fundamental for her future, because only the “enthusiasm and confident admiration” of evangelizers has the power to attract.  I ask you, therefore, to take great care in forming and preparing the lay-faithful, overcoming all forms of clericalism and involving them actively in the mission of the Church, above all making the Gospel of Christ present in the world by personal witness.
Of great benefit to the Mexican people will be the unifying witness of the Christian synthesis and the shared vision of the identity and future of its people.  In this sense, it is important for the Pontifical University of Mexico to be increasingly involved in the efforts of the Church to ensure a universal perspective; for without this, reason, which tends to compartmentalize, will renounce its highest ideal of seeking the truth. 
The mission is vast, and to carry it forward requires multiple paths.  I strongly reiterate my appeal to you to preserve the communion and unity that exist among you.  Communion is the essential form of the Church, and the unity of her Pastors offers proof of its truth.  Mexico and its vast, multifaceted Church, stand in need of bishops who are servants and custodians of that unity built on the word of God, nourished by his Body and guided by his Spirit who is the life-giving breath of the Church.
We do not need “princes”, but rather a community of the Lord’s witnesses.  Christ is the only light; he is the well-spring of living water; from his breath comes forth the Spirit, who fills the sails of the ecclesial barque.  In the glorified Christ, whom the people of this country love to honour as King, may you together kindle the light and be filled by his presence which is never extinguished; breathe deeply the wholesome air of his Spirit.  It falls to you to sow Christ in this land, to keep alive his humble light which enlightens without causing confusion, to ensure that in his living waters the thirst of your people is quenched; to set the sails so that the Spirit’s breeze may fill them, never allowing the barque of the Church in Mexico to run aground.
Remember: the Bride knows that the beloved Pastor (cf. Song 1:7) will be found only where there are verdant pastures and crystal clear streams.  She does not trust those companions of the Bridegroom who, sometimes out of laziness or inability, lead the sheep through arid lands and areas strewn with rocks.  Woe to us pastors, companions of the Supreme Pastor, if we allow his Bride to wander because we have set up tents where the Bridegroom cannot be found! 
Allow me a final word to convey the appreciation of the Pope for everything you are doing to confront the challenge of our age: migration. There are millions of sons and daughters of the Church who today live in the diaspora or who are in transit, journeying to the north in search of new opportunities.  Many of them have left behind their roots in order to brave the future, even in clandestine conditions which involve so many risks; they do this to seek the “green light” which they regard as hope.  So many families are separated; and integration into a supposedly “promised land” is not always as easy as some believe.                               
Brothers, may your hearts be capable of following these men and women and reaching them beyond the borders.  Strengthen the communion with your brothers of the North American episcopate, so that the maternal presence of the Church can keep alive the roots of the faith of these men and women, as well as the motivation for their hope and the power of their charity.  May it never happen, that, hanging up their lyres, their joys become dampened, they forget Jerusalem and are exiled from themselves (cf. Ps 136).  I ask you to witness together that the Church is the custodian of a unifying vision of humanity and that she cannot consent to being reduced to a mere human “resource”.  
Your efforts will not be in vain when your dioceses show care by pouring balm on the injured feet of those who walk through your territories, sharing with them the resources collected through the sacrifices of many; the divine Samaritan in the end will enrich the person who is not indifferent to him as he lies on the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25-37).
Dear brothers, the Pope is sure that Mexico and its Church will make it in time to that rendezvous with themselves, with history and with God.  Perhaps some stone on the way may slow their pace and the struggle of the journey may call for rest, but nothing will make them lose sight of the destination.  For how can someone arrive late when it is their mother who is waiting?  Who is unable to hear within themselves that voice, ‘am I not here, I who am your Mother’?


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Historic encounter between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia: Orthodox and Catholics are brothers, not competitors


Vatican City, 13 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father Francis yesterday began his twelfth apostolic trip with an historic encounter at the Jose Marti airport of Havana, Cuba, with His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, at the end of which the two leaders signed a joint declaration.


The Pope, after a twelve-hour flight, arrived in Cuba shortly after 2 p.m. (local time; 8 p.m. in Rome) in Havana, where he was received by the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, in the presence of, among others, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of San Cristobal de La Habana, Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The encounter with the Patriarch Kirill took place in a room in the airport, and was also attended by the Metropolitan Hilarion, president of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Russia, and Cardinal Koch. His Holiness Kirill has been a member of the Orthodox Holy Synod Commission for Christian Unity since 1979. In 2006 he consecrated the first Russian Orthodox church in Rome and in 2008 he inaugurated the Cathedral of the Virgin of Kazan in Havana, the first Orthodox church in Cuba. He was elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in 2009 by a large majority and was enthroned in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of Moscow, a ceremony attended on behalf of the Holy See by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the then-president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.


After an intense two-hour meeting, the Pope and the Patriarch proceeded to another room in the airport, where they were awaited by President Castro, in order to sign a Joint Declaration divided into thirty points in which it is recognised that Catholics and Orthodox share the same spiritual tradition of the first millennium of Christianity, despite the division cause by the wounds of conflicts in both distant and recent past, and the differences inherited from ancestors in the understanding and explanation of their faith in God. In the text the bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow express their hope that their meeting may contribute to achieving the unity commanded by God and for which Christ prayed, and emphasised that Catholics and Orthodox must learn to carry forward joint witness to the truth in the areas where this is possible and necessary.

It also makes reference to the Christians persecuted in various regions of the world and launches an appeal to the international community for immediate measures to avoid further displacement of Christians in the Middle East. It expresses joy at the rebirth of Christian faith in Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe following the fall of the atheist regimes, and shares concerns regarding the destiny of millions of migrants and refugees who knock on the doors of wealthier countries, and for the crisis in the family in some countries. It reiterates an appeal in favour of the inalienable right to life and the mission that unites Orthodox and Catholics of preaching the Gospel of Christ in the contemporary world, and expresses the hope that the division between the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may be overcome so that all may live in peace and harmony, and that the country's Catholic communities may be able to contribute to this.

Following the signing of the Declaration, the Pope gave a brief, heartfelt extemporaneous address: "We speak as brothers, we have the same Baptism, we are bishops. We speak of our Churches, and we agree that unity is achieved by walking forwards. We speak clearly, without ambiguity, and I must say I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in our conversation. I give thanks for Your Holiness’ humility, your fraternal humility, and your real desire for unity.

"We have taken up a series of initiatives which I believe are viable and can be realised. Thus I wish to thank Your Holiness, once again, for your warm welcome, as well as those collaborating with us – and I mention but two: His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion and His Eminence Cardinal Koch, who with their colleagues worked towards this moment.

"I do not wish to leave without expressing my sincere gratitude to Cuba, to the great Cuban people and to their President here with us. I thank you for your concrete willingness to help. If Cuba continues in this way, it will become the capital of unity.

"And may all this be for the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, for the good of the whole faithful People of God, under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God".

The encounter ended with an exchange of gifts between the Pope and the Patriarch. Francis gave the Patriarch a reliquary of St. Cyril and a chalice, and His Holiness Kirill gave the Pope an original copy of the icon of the Virgin of Kazan.

The following is the full text of the Joint Declaration:

“'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you'.

1. By God the Father’s will, from which all gifts come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit Consolator, we, Pope Francis and Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, have met today in Havana. We give thanks to God, glorified in the Trinity, for this meeting, the first in history.

It is with joy that we have met like brothers in the Christian faith who encounter one another 'to speak face to face', from heart to heart, to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches, the crucial problems of our faithful, and the outlook for the progress of human civilisation.

2. Our fraternal meeting has taken place in Cuba, at the crossroads of North and South, East and West. It is from this island, the symbol of the hopes of the “New World” and the dramatic events of the history of the twentieth century, that we address our words to all the peoples of Latin America and of the other continents.

It is a source of joy that the Christian faith is growing here in a dynamic way. The powerful religious potential of Latin America, its centuries–old Christian tradition, grounded in the personal experience of millions of people, are the pledge of a great future for this region.

3. By meeting far from the long-standing disputes of the 'Old World', we experience with a particular sense of urgency the need for the shared labour of Catholics and Orthodox, who are called, with gentleness and respect, to give an explanation to the world of the hope in us.

4. We thank God for the gifts received from the coming into the world of His only Son. We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity. The witnesses of this Tradition are the Most Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints we venerate. Among them are innumerable martyrs who have given witness to their faithfulness to Christ and have become the 'seed of Christians'.

5. Notwithstanding this shared Tradition of the first ten centuries, for nearly one thousand years Catholics and Orthodox have been deprived of communion in the Eucharist. We have been divided by wounds caused by old and recent conflicts, by differences inherited from our ancestors, in the understanding and expression of our faith in God, one in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are pained by the loss of unity, the outcome of human weakness and of sin, which has occurred despite the priestly prayer of Christ the Saviour: 'So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you … so that they may be one, as we are one'.

6. Mindful of the permanence of many obstacles, it is our hope that our meeting may contribute to the re–establishment of this unity willed by God, for which Christ prayed. May our meeting inspire Christians throughout the world to pray to the Lord with renewed fervour for the full unity of all His disciples. In a world which yearns not only for our words but also for tangible gestures, may this meeting be a sign of hope for all people of goodwill!

7. In our determination to undertake all that is necessary to overcome the historical divergences we have inherited, we wish to combine our efforts to give witness to the Gospel of Christ and to the shared heritage of the Church of the first millennium, responding together to the challenges of the contemporary world. Orthodox and Catholics must learn to give unanimously witness in those spheres in which this is possible and necessary. Human civilisation has entered into a period of epochal change. Our Christian conscience and our pastoral responsibility compel us not to remain passive in the face of challenges requiring a shared response.

8. Our gaze must firstly turn to those regions of the world where Christians are victims of persecution. In many countries of the Middle East and North Africa whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated. Their churches are being barbarously ravaged and looted, their sacred objects profaned, their monuments destroyed. It is with pain that we call to mind the situation in Syria, Iraq and other countries of the Middle East, and the massive exodus of Christians from the land in which our faith was first disseminated and in which they have lived since the time of the Apostles, together with other religious communities.

9. We call upon the international community to act urgently in order to prevent the further expulsion of Christians from the Middle East. In raising our voice in defence of persecuted Christians, we wish to express our compassion for the suffering experienced by the faithful of other religious traditions who have also become victims of civil war, chaos and terrorist violence.

10. Thousands of victims have already been claimed in the violence in Syria and Iraq, which has left many other millions without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and terrorism and, at the same time, to contribute through dialogue to a swift return to civil peace. Large–scale humanitarian aid must be assured to the afflicted populations and to the many refugees seeking safety in neighbouring lands.

We call upon all those whose influence can be brought to bear upon the destiny of those kidnapped, including the Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul and John Ibrahim, who were taken in April 2013, to make every effort to ensure their prompt liberation.

11. We lift our prayers to Christ, the Saviour of the world, asking for the return of peace in the Middle East, 'the fruit of justice', so that fraternal co–existence among the various populations, Churches and religions may be strengthened, enabling refugees to return to their homes, wounds to be healed, and the souls of the slain innocent to rest in peace.

We address, in a fervent appeal, all the parts that may be involved in the conflicts to demonstrate good will and to take part in the negotiating table. At the same time, the international community must undertake every possible effort to end terrorism through common, joint and coordinated action. We call on all the countries involved in the struggle against terrorism to responsible and prudent action. We exhort all Christians and all believers of God to pray fervently to the providential Creator of the world to protect His creation from destruction and not permit a new world war. In order to ensure a solid and enduring peace, specific efforts must be undertaken to rediscover the common values uniting us, based on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

12. We bow before the martyrdom of those who, at the cost of their own lives, have given witness to the truth of the Gospel, preferring death to the denial of Christ. We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians. It is to you who suffer for Christ’s sake that the word of the Apostle is directed: 'Beloved … rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly' (1 Pet 4:12–13).

13. Interreligious dialogue is indispensable in our disturbing times. Differences in the understanding of religious truths must not impede people of different faiths to live in peace and harmony. In our current context, religious leaders have the particular responsibility to educate their faithful in a spirit which is respectful of the convictions of those belonging to other religious traditions. Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are altogether unacceptable. No crime may be committed in God’s name, 'since God is not the God of disorder but of peace'.

14. In affirming the foremost value of religious freedom, we give thanks to God for the current unprecedented renewal of the Christian faith in Russia, as well as in many other countries of Eastern Europe, formerly dominated for decades by atheist regimes. Today, the chains of militant atheism have been broken and in many places Christians can now freely confess their faith. Thousands of new churches have been built over the last quarter of a century, as well as hundreds of monasteries and theological institutions. Christian communities undertake notable works in the fields of charitable aid and social development, providing diversified forms of assistance to the needy. Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side. Giving witness to the values of the Gospel they attest to the existence of the shared spiritual foundations of human co–existence.

15. At the same time, we are concerned about the situation in many countries in which Christians are increasingly confronted by restrictions to religious freedom, to the right to witness to one’s convictions and to live in conformity with them. In particular, we observe that the transformation of some countries into secularised societies, estranged from all reference to God and to His truth, constitutes a grave threat to religious freedom. It is a source of concern for us that there is a current curtailment of the rights of Christians, if not their outright discrimination, when certain political forces, guided by an often very aggressive secularist ideology, seek to relegate them to the margins of public life.

16. The process of European integration, which began after centuries of blood–soaked conflicts, was welcomed by many with hope, as a guarantee of peace and security. Nonetheless, we invite vigilance against an integration that is devoid of respect for religious identities. While remaining open to the contribution of other religions to our civilisation, it is our conviction that Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots. We call upon Christians of Eastern and Western Europe to unite in their shared witness to Christ and the Gospel, so that Europe may preserve its soul, shaped by two thousand years of Christian tradition.

17. Our gaze is also directed to those facing serious difficulties, who live in extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases. We cannot remain indifferent to the destinies of millions of migrants and refugees knocking on the doors of wealthy nations. The unrelenting consumerism of some more developed countries is gradually depleting the resources of our planet. The growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of the injustice of the international order that has emerged.

18. The Christian churches are called to defend the demands of justice, the respect for peoples’ traditions, and an authentic solidarity towards all those who suffer. We Christians cannot forget that 'God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, that no human being might boast before God'.

19. The family is the natural centre of human life and society. We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries. Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of the family, and are called to witness that it is a path of holiness, testifying to the faithfulness of the spouses in their mutual interaction, to their openness to the procreation and rearing of their children, to solidarity between the generations and to respect for the weakest.

20. The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman. It is love that seals their union and teaches them to accept one another as a gift. Marriage is a school of love and faithfulness. We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union, while the concept, consecrated in the biblical tradition, of paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.

21. We call on all to respect the inalienable right to life. Millions are denied the very right to be born into the world. The blood of the unborn cries out to God.

The emergence of so-called euthanasia leads elderly people and the disabled begin to feel that they are a burden on their families and on society in general.

We are also concerned about the development of biomedical reproduction technology, as the manipulation of human life represents an attack on the foundations of human existence, created in the image of God. We believe that it is our duty to recall the immutability of Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual called into being according to the Creator’s plan.

22. Today, in a particular way, we address young Christians. You, young people, have the task of not hiding your talent in the ground, but of using all the abilities God has given you to confirm Christ’s truth in the world, incarnating in your own lives the evangelical commandments of the love of God and of one’s neighbour. Do not be afraid of going against the current, defending God’s truth, to which contemporary secular norms are often far from conforming.

23. God loves each of you and expects you to be His disciples and apostles. Be the light of the world so that those around you may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Raise your children in the Christian faith, transmitting to them the pearl of great price that is the faith you have received from your parents and forbears. Remember that 'you have been purchased at a great price', at the cost of the death on the cross of the Man–God Jesus Christ.

24. Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission entails mutual respect for members of the Christian communities and excludes any form of proselytism.

We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to learn to live together in peace and love, and to be 'in harmony with one another'. Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another, denying them their religious freedom and their traditions. We are called upon to put into practice the precept of the apostle Paul: 'Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another's foundation'.

25. It is our hope that our meeting may also contribute to reconciliation wherever tensions exist between Greek Catholics and Orthodox. It is today clear that the past method of 'uniatism', understood as the union of one community to the other, separating it from its Church, is not the way to re–establish unity. Nonetheless, the ecclesial communities which emerged in these historical circumstances have the right to exist and to undertake all that is necessary to meet the spiritual needs of their faithful, while seeking to live in peace with their neighbours. Orthodox and Greek Catholics are in need of reconciliation and of mutually acceptable forms of co–existence.

26. We deplore the hostility in Ukraine that has already caused many victims, inflicted innumerable wounds on peaceful inhabitants and thrown society into a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. We invite all the parts involved in the conflict to prudence, to social solidarity and to action aimed at constructing peace. We invite our Churches in Ukraine to work towards social harmony, to refrain from taking part in the confrontation, and to not support any further development of the conflict.

27. It is our hope that the schism between the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine may be overcome through existing canonical norms, that all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident.

28. In the contemporary world, which is both multiform yet united by a shared destiny, Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, 'so that the world may believe'. This world, in which the spiritual pillars of human existence are progressively disappearing, awaits from us a compelling Christian witness in all spheres of personal and social life. Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times.

29. May our bold witness to God’s truth and to the Good News of salvation be sustained by the Man–God Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who strengthens us with the unfailing promise: 'Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom'.

Christ is the wellspring of joy and hope. Faith in Him transfigures human life, fills it with meaning. This is the conviction borne of the experience of all those to whom Peter refers in his words: 'Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have received mercy'.

30. With grace–filled gratitude for the gift of mutual understanding manifested during our meeting, let us with hope turn to the Most Holy Mother of God, invoking her with the words of this ancient prayer: 'We seek refuge under the protection of your mercy, Holy Mother of God'. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, through her intercession, inspire fraternity in all those who venerate her, so that they may be reunited, in God’s own time, in the peace and harmony of the one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity!".

Francis
Bishop of Rome
Pope of the Catholic Church

Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

12 February, Havana, Cuba


Pope Francis arrives in Mexico: pray to Our Lady for those who love you and those who have done you harm


Vatican City, 13 February 2016 (VIS) – After signing the Joint Declaration with Patriarch Kirill, the Pope departed by air for Mexico. During the trip he spoke briefly with journalists, expressing his joy at the encounter with the Patriarch and the willingness of President Raul Castro to host the meeting.


The Pope revealed that he had spoken with the Cuban president at his previous meeting and that the latter had expressed his full availability to facilitate the meeting between the bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia in Havana. Francis thanked President Castro for this gesture and spoke about his experience with His Holiness Kirill.

"In all honesty, I felt I was in front of a brother, and he said the same to me too. Two bishops who talk about the situation of their Churches, first of all, and the situation of the world … of wars that now risk becoming not only piecemeal but which instead involve all; and of the situation of Orthodoxy. … Finally we established a programme of possible joint activities, because unity is built by walking together. Once I said that if unity is created through study, by studying theology and so on, perhaps the Lord will come and we will still not have achieved unity. Unity is built through progress: this way the Lord, when He comes, will at least find us walking together".

"Finally, we signed the Declaration. … There will be many interpretations. ... But it is not a political declaration, nor is it a sociological declaration. It is a pastoral declaration, even when it refers to secularism and explicit issues such as bio-genetic manipulation and all these things. But it is pastoral: it is the work of two bishops who met each other with pastoral concern. And I am happy".

After a further three-hour flight, the Pope arrived at 7.30 p.m. local time (2.30 a.m. in Rome) at Mexico City's Benito Juarez airport, where he was received by President Enrique Pena Nieto, in the presence of the state authorities and representatives of the Permanent Council of Mexican Bishops. It was however an informal welcome, without protocol ceremonies or official discourses, although the Pope and the president spoke briefly in the Presidential Hall.


From the airport, Francis made a nineteen-kilometre journey by popemobile to the apostolic nunciature, where he will stay while in Mexico City, and where he was awaited by hundreds of people. He appeared later on to greet them, and before giving his blessing, he asked them to pray at home to Our Lady both for the people who love them and for those who have done them harm, so that the Mother of God would give them her blessing.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 13 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Jacek Kicinski, C.M.F., as auxiliary of Wroclaw (area 8.850, population 1,199,332, Catholics 1,152,710, priests 892, religious 1,174), Poland. The bishop-elect was born in Turek, Poland in 1968, gave his religious vows in 1993 and was ordained a priest in the same year. He holds a doctorate in spiritual theology from the Catholic University of Lublin and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including head of vocational pastoral ministry for his congregation, superior of the house of formation and prefect for spirituality in Wroclaw, and member of the Council for Consecrated Life and the presbyteral council. He is currently episcopal vicar for religious and professor at the Pontifical University of Theology in Wroclaw.

- Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, formerly apostolic nuncio in the Russian Federation and in Uzbekistan, as Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Specialist Institutions in Geneva and at the World Trade Organisation.

- Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells, recently appointed apostolic nuncio in South Africa and Botswana, as apostolic nuncio in Lesotho and Namibia.
i

 2016

#BreakingNews Catholic #Nuns robbed in #Bangladesh - Please Pray

Bangladesh, another robbery of Catholic nuns: "It is not an isolated incident"

by Sumon Corraya
A dozen people have raid clinic run by religious, threatening them and stealing phones, cash and gold chains. Resident Muslims and Catholics, warned by the pastor, captured two thieves. The episode takes place four days after a similar attack in another province. Secretary of Justice and Peace: "These attacks are premeditated and intended to harm our Christian community."

 
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - It is the second attack on Catholic nuns in four days.  On the night between February 10 and 11 in Tumilia, a village 47 km from the capital Dhaka, about 12 criminals broke into St. Mary's Catholic Mother Care Center, a hospital clinic run by religious Associate of Mary, Queen of the Apostles (SMRA), a local congregation founded in 1933.
The attack ended without violence and with some stolen items . Two thieves were captured and taken to the police, who have opened an investigation.
On the night between February 6 and 7, a similar incident happened in Chuadanga district, 161 km west of the capital, raising the suspicion that the attacks on Catholic nuns are not just isolated cases.
The Tumilia robbery took place in the buildings housing patients of the Centre, the nuns and nurses. Sister Mary Pronoti, director of the facility, says that at night (local time at 2:30) three men came climbing over the wall. Other accomplices were waiting outside the convent.
After gagging the guards, the three criminals went in search of cash. "They broke down the door of my room - says Sister Mary - and were armed. They threatened me and asked where I held the money. I had no other choice I gave them all the cash we had 700 taka (about 9 Euros) ".
Another nun, Mary Chamaly, noticed that someone had entered the hospital of the convent and immediately called the superior general of the congregation, who resides in Dhaka. The Superior contacted the Tumilia parish priest, Fr. Dominic Rozario, who began to ring the bells of the church, rallying the community. Muslims and Christians flocked to church, where they caught two thieves and the police took them to the station. The other criminals managed to escape.
"They also stole two cell phones - says Sister Mary Book - and several gold chains of hospital nuns."
The secretary of the parish, Philip Corraya, went to the police station to file a complaint.
Theophil Nokrek, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, said the two recent attacks "are not isolated incidents. Some groups are trying to harm our Christian community. They are doing so with premeditated actions. "
"The government should protect us adequately," he said, adding that a few days ago in the same district a Christian micro credit bank was also robbed. Shared from Asia News IT

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Sat. February 13, 2016


Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 222


Reading 1IS 58:9B-14

Thus says the LORD:
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD’s holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with maliceB
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Responsorial PsalmPS 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (11ab) Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Verse Before The GospelEZ 33:11

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

GospelLK 5:27-32

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

#PopeFrancis "Today I come as a missionary of mercy and of peace..." #Welcome in Mexico - FULL TEXT - Video

Pope Francis entering the National Palace in Mexico City with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto. In his first major speech on this Apostolic Voyage, Pope Francis addressed the leaders of civil society.  - REUTERS
Pope Francis entering the National Palace in Mexico City with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto. In his first major speech on this Apostolic Voyage, Pope Francis addressed the leaders of civil society. - REUTERS
13/02/2016 17:45


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered an address to Mexican civil authorities and the Diplomatic Corps in Mexico on Saturday, the first full day of his Apostolic visit to the country. Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's prepared remarks, in their official English translation
*******************************************************
I thank you, Mr President, for your words of welcome. I am happy to set foot on Mexican soil which holds a special place in the heart of the Americas.  Today I come as a missionary of mercy and of peace but also as a son who wishes to pay homage to his mother, the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, and place himself under her watchful care.
Endeavouring to be a good son, following in our mother’s footsteps, I wish in turn to pay my respects to this people and to this land which is so rich in culture, history, and diversity. Through you, Mr President, I would like to greet and embrace the Mexican people in its numerous expressions and in the most diverse of situations it experiences. Thank you for welcoming me to your land.
Mexico is a great country. It is blessed with abundant natural resources and with an enormous biodiversity that extends across its vast territory.  Its privileged geographical position makes it a reference point for America; and its indigenous, mestizo and criollo cultures endow it with its own identity that facilitates a cultural richness not always easy to find and, particularly, to value. The ancestral wisdom shown by your multiculturalism is, by far, one of your greatest biographical resources. It is an identity that learned gradually how to shape itself amid diversity and that now constitutes, without any doubt, a rich patrimony to be valued, encouraged and protected. 
I believe and I dare to say that Mexico’s principal richness today has a young face; yes, this richness is your young people. Just over half of the population is made up of youth. This makes it possible to contemplate and plan for a future, for a tomorrow. This offers hope and future prospects.  A people with a youthful population is a people able to renew and transform itself; it is an invitation to look to the future with hope and, in turn, it challenges us in a positive way here and now. This reality inevitably leads us to think about one’s own responsibilities when it comes to constructing the kind of Mexico we want, the Mexico that we want to pass on to coming generations. It also leads us to the realization that a hope-filled future is forged in a present made up of men and women who are upright, honest, and capable of working for the common good, the “common good” which in this twenty-first century is not in such great demand. Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development.
The Mexican people anchors its hope in an identity which has been shaped in the trying and difficult moments of its history. It was forged by the wonderful witness of citizens who understood that, in order to overcome situations born of the obstinacy of individualism, it was necessary to have agreement between the political, social and financial institutions, and of all men and women committed to the common good and the promotion of the dignity of the human person.
An ancestral culture together with encouraging human resources such as yours, should be a stimulus to find new forms of dialogue, negotiation, and bridges that can lead us on the way of committed solidarity. Starting with those who call themselves Christians, it is a commitment to which all of us must give of ourselves, for the construction of a “political life on a truly human basis” (Gaudium et Spes, 73), and a society in which no one feels a victim of the culture of waste.   
Leaders of social, cultural and political life have the particular duty to offer all citizens the opportunity to be worthy contributors of their own future, within their families and in all areas where human social interaction takes place. In this way they help citizens to have real access to the material and spiritual goods which are indispensable: adequate housing, dignified employment, food, true justice, effective security, a healthy and peaceful environment.   
This is not just a question of laws which need to be updated and improved – something always necessary – but rather a need for urgent formation of the personal responsibility of each individual, with full respect for others as men and women jointly responsible in promoting the advancement of the nation. It is a task which involves all Mexicans in different spheres, public or private, collective or individual. 
I assure you, Mr President, that in this effort, the Government of Mexico can count on the cooperation of the Catholic Church, which has accompanied the life of this nation and which renews its commitment and willingness to serve the great causes of mankind: the building of the civilization of love.
I am ready to travel around this beautiful and wide country as a missionary and as a pilgrim who wishes to renew with all of you the experience of mercy as a new horizon of opportunity which inevitably brings justice and peace. I also entrust myself to the gaze of Mary, the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe,  so that by her intercession, the merciful Father may grant that these days and the future of this land be an opportunity for encounter, unity and peace. Thank you

#PopeFrancis " ``Look at the Virgin and remember these faces..." in #Mexico Arrival - Video - Text

Pope Francis' skullcap goes flying upon his arrival in Mexico as he meets with President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and first lady Angelica Rivera (L) - EPA
Pope Francis' skullcap goes flying upon his arrival in Mexico as he meets with President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and first lady Angelica Rivera (L) - EPA
13/02/2016 07:00


(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis arrived in Mexico Friday evening after an historic meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba.  This is his 12th Apostolic Journey and is the third Pope to visit the country. Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick is with the Pope in Mexico. She sends us this report on his arrival Friday evening.
Listen to the report:
 
The Pope’s arrival in Mexico City was supposed to be a straightforward affair without particular protocol.  In reality it had more the feeling of a ‘fiesta’ verging on a television show.
There was a stadium crowd, mariachi, folk dancers in colourful traditional dresses and singers of all ages including children. But then as we know Mexicans love fiestas.
And perhaps Pope Francis does too. He certainly looked relaxed and happy as he always does when he’s back among his people.
On a more official note the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto was there to greet him together with his wife, the ‘primera dama’.  
And there were children who ran all together into his arms to hug him while the crowds yelled “ Quedan que el papa nos benedica’, requesting he bless them.
Eventually he did bless them and then waved in a friendly manner and on a more profane note he donned a black and gold Mexican mariachi hat for a moment.
And then he climbed into his pope mobile and covered the nineteen kilometres into town amid a tunnel of cheering crowds lighting up the night with their smart phones or torches.
Definitely a homecoming…
With Pope Francis in Mexico City, I’m Veronica Scarisbrick
Vatican Radio) After arriving in Mexico City on Friday night, Pope Francis made a brief appearance outside the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy), where he will be staying while in the Mexican capital. He told the people they “needed to rest” ahead of the weekend’s festivities, and accepted two white roses from well-wishers. He also led the crowd in a Hail Mary. Finally, he left them with these word: ``Look at the Virgin and remember these faces: The people who love us, those we love, those we do not like, those who do not like us, and are envious of us.''

Saint February 13 : St. Catherine de Ricci : #Mystic and #Counselor to Future #Popes


(In baptism, Alessandra Lucrezia Romola), a Dominican nun, of the Third Order, though enclosed, born in Florence, 23 April, 1522; died 2 February, 1590. She is chiefly known to the world for her highly mystical and miraculous life, and especially as the subject of a marvellous, but fully and most carefully authenticated ecstasy, into which she was rapt every week, from Thursday at noon till 4 p.m. on Friday, for several years. In this state she went through all the stages of Our Lord's Passion, actually realizing, and showing forth to others with wonderful vividness, all that His Blessed Mother suffered in witnessing it. Her father, Pier Francesco de' Ricci, was one of an old and respected family of bankers and merchants. Her mother of the Ricasoli family — died when she was a small child, and she was brought up by a devoted stepmother, Fiammetta da Diacceto. The latter soon observed the child's unusual tendency to holiness — particularly to solitary prayer — and did her utmost to foster and develop it. Whilst still a child, Alessandra resolved to join some strictly observant religious order; but the state of relaxation just then was so universal that it was long before she could find what she desired. Her vocation was finally decided during a stay at Prato, where she made acquaintance with the Dominican Convent of San Vincenzio, founded in 1503 by nine ladies who had been devoted followers of Savonarola. Alessandra there found the spirit of religious fervour high enough to satisfy even her ideal; and, after some difficulties with her father, she entered the novitiate, was clothed in 1535 (taking the name of Catherine), and professed in 1536.
 Both during her novitiate and for four or five years after profession, she was subjected to humiliating trials from the community, owing to their misunderstanding of some of the high supernatural favours she received; but her holiness and humility eventually triumphed. She was then appointed to one important office after another, finally remaining prioress or sub prioress till her death. During all these years, whilst conscientiously fulfilling every religious duty, she was feeling and showing keen interest in all her relations — especially her brothers — and in numerous friends and "spiritual children". The great "Ecstasy of the Passion", above referred to, happened for the first time in February, 1542, and was renewed every week afterwards for twelve years, when it ceased in answer to the prayers of Catherine herself and the community. The fame of it was bringing so many people of every rank and calling to Prato that the peace and strict observance of the convent were suffering. Catherine de' Ricci lived in an age of great saints; among her contemporaries were St. Charles Borromeo, St. Philip Neri, and St. M. Magdalen de Pazzi. With the two last named she is said to have held in different ways, miraculous intercourse, never having met them in a natural way. She was beatified in 1732 by Clement XII, after many delays in the process, and canonized by Benedict XIV in 1746 on both occasions amid great rejoicings at Prato, where her memory is always kept fresh. The lineal descendants of her community still inhabit the convent of San Vincenzio (now commonly called Santa Caterina), and there her body still reposes. Her feast is kept on the 13th of February.
Catholic Encyclopedia
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