(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed Heads of State and Heads of Government of European Union countries on Friday afternoon, the eve of the 60° anniversary of the signing of the treaties creating the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community – the first major structural steps toward creating the European Union.
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Please find below my selection of excerpts, and my emphases, from this address.
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The Bible, with its rich historical narratives, can teach us a basic lesson. We cannot understand our own times apart from the past, seen not as an assemblage of distant facts, but as the lymph that gives life to the present. Without such an awareness, reality loses its unity, history loses its logical thread, and humanity loses a sense of the meaning of its activity and its progress towards the future.
25 March 1957 was a day full of hope and expectation, enthusiasm and apprehension. Only an event of exceptional significance and historical consequences could make it unique in history. The memory of that day is linked to today’s hopes and the expectations of the people of Europe, who call for discernment in the present, so that the journey that has begun can continue with renewed enthusiasm and confidence.Continue reading “Pope Francis Addresses the EU Leaders”
Note: The text below was written in response to questions addressed to me over a year ago, by Rev. Dorin Druhora (now Rev. Dr. Druhora), from Los Angeles, US, while he was doing his doctoral research on Evangelical-Orthodox relations in the USA. In the mean time he has successfully defended his thesis and I will publish soon some details about it.
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Please define the uniqueness of the ecumenical dialogue here on the North American continent, in contrast with the dialogue in Europe or elsewhere? Do you see a paradigm that is specific to western culture (particularly in US, in the context of a pluralist Christian tradition or in the light of the dialogical development)? If your expertise is focused more on Europe, please address the question based on your experience.
DM – Although I never lived in the US, I traveled extensively there and I follow constantly the religious landscape there. Ecumenism is well and alive in the US. Yet, it involved more the Catholics and the mainline Protestants. Many of the American evangelical leaders do not strike me as very open ecumenically. That is true especially with the neo-reformed movement (the likes of Piper and Mohler), which is the new form of fundamentalism. However, there is a lot to appreciate also. Continue reading “A Short Dialogue on Ecumenism”
‘Francis defended the idea that continental Europe plays a particularly important role, while at the same time exhibited a rejection of colonial ideals. His vision is that of a Europe based on new ideas and discussions, a political and social model engaging all of the players on the global stage. Francis called for a “just distribution of the wealth of the earth,” as well as “more inclusive and equal economic models” and the transition “from a liquid economy to a social economy” in which the priority will be access to employment, rather than a speculative economy. His Europe is one that is sympathetic and open to youth, migrants and refugees.’
‘The power of ecumenism lies in beginning to open up beyond ourselves and our own, our communities and our churches. It is learning to speak the language of care and compassion. And it is giving priority to solidarity and service.’
Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!
Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and, above all, reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).
On this day, Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the “sign” of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he “is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). He is truly the Saviour, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts. This is something we all need! Continue reading “Pope Francis – Urbi et orbi 2015”
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
I extend greetings to you and all those participating in the Global Christian Forum Consultation, to be held in Tirana from 2 to 4 November 2015, as you reflect on the theme “Discrimination, persecution, martyrdom: following Christ together”.
In a particular way, I wish to greet our brothers and sisters of different Christian traditions who represent communities suffering for their profession of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. I think with great sadness of the escalating discrimination and persecution against Christians in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere throughout the world. Your gathering shows that, as Christians, we are not indifferent to our suffering brothers and sisters. In various parts of the world, the witness to Christ, even to the shedding of blood, has become a shared experience of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, which is deeper and stronger than the differences which still separate our Churches and Ecclesial Communities. The communio martyrum is the greatest sign of our journeying together.
At the same time, your gathering will give voice to the victims of such injustice and violence, and seek to show the path that will lead the human family out of this tragic situation. With these sentiments, I assure you of my spiritual closeness. May the martyrs of today, belonging to many Christian traditions, help us to understand that all the baptised are members of the same Body of Christ, his Church (cf. I Cor 12:12-30). Let us see this profound truth as a call to persevere on our ecumenical journey towards full and visible communion, growing more and more in love and mutual understanding.
As Vatican Council II drew to a close in 1965, 40 bishops met at night in the Domitilla Catacombs outside Rome. In that holy place of Christian dead they celebrated the Eucharist and signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the Pact of the Catacombs. The only place we have found its complete text transcribed is in the Chronicle of Vatican II by the Franciscan bishop Boaventura Kloppenburg. He titled the document Pact of the Servant and Poor Church. It is known that the bishops were led by Archbishop Helder Camara of Recife, Brazil, one of the widely respected 20th-century champions of justice and peace. Later on, Cardinal Roger Etchagaray, who served as honorary president of the Pontifical Council, Justice and Peace, also signed it. (Source HERE)
For World Vision the church is an indispensable partner in the work with the poor. Pope Francis, a leader of 1.2 billion Catholic Christians, made poverty an essential part of his ministry. From the very beginning of his election, he identified himself with the poor and has had a vision of the poor church for the poor.
“Poverty calls us to sow hope… Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.” (Pope Francis, Meeting with Students, Rome, 2013)
Pope Francis has emphasised in a consistent way in his ministry a face of merciful and compassionate God. He has provoked questions for those who work with the poor.
In case you do not have time, or you do not care, to read the entire ‘Laudato Si’ encyclica, but you are still interested to know what it is about, here is a summary by Joe Carter, from The Gospel Coalition (a neo-reformed/neo-fundamentalist entity, in the US). The author says about this text:
‘Because the document was written by a global religious leader and addressed not only for the billion Catholics on Earth but for “every person living on the planet,” the evangelical community has a duty to consider his words and respond appropriately. Much of it we will agree with and much will cause us to cringe. But because of its importance, both as a current object of debate and as future historical document, we should be aware of what is in this encyclical.’
I would be curios to see what makes Joe Carter ‘cringe’ about this document. I bet I will ‘cringe’ at the things that make him, and his Gospel Coalition colleagues, ‘cringe. But we will hear from them soon, on this matter. I am sure of that.
So, here is the summary (a subjective account, as any such thing), for your information.
Tonight is a night of vigil. The Lord is not sleeping; the Watchman is watching over his people (cf Ps 121:4), to bring them out of slavery and to open before them the way to freedom.
The Lord is keeping watch and, by the power of his love, he is bringing his people through the Red Sea.
He is also bringing Jesus through the abyss of death and the netherworld.
This was a night of vigil for the disciples of Jesus, a night of sadness and fear. The men remained locked in the Upper Room. Yet, the women went to the tomb at dawn on Sunday to anoint Jesus’s body. Their hearts were overwhelmed and they were asking themselves: “How will we enter? Who will roll back the stone of the tomb?…” Continue reading “Pope Francis – Homily at Easter Vigil”
This was recorded during a ‘meeting on Oct. 10 and the lunch at the pope’s Vatican residence, Casa Santa Marta, was in honor of Francis’s friend Bishop Tony Palmer, an Anglican evangelical who was killed in a motorcycle accident in August’ (see more about this HERE).
You may download HERE the transcript of this discussion.
Depressed, weary, or frightened by stories of USIS and ISIS and other horrors, plus by debates over “religious extremism” and the role of Islam, we focus instead on the not-unimportant figure of Pope Francis, who makes news and inspires reflection. We recommend as a jumping off point Eamon Duffy’s review of three major books: “Who Is This Pope?” which is easy to access online (see “Sources” at the end of this column.)
For a change, we also word-searched “Protestants and Pope Francis” and were astonished to observe how many and how varied were the answers to Duffy’s question, “Who Is This Pope?”
Note first how acceptable this pope is among what many consider “standard-brand ecumenical Protestants,” who historically were on the front lines of engaging, interpreting, plus—until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and some aftermath operations—critiquing and opposing the Roman Catholic Church.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, is born for us, born in Bethlehem of a Virgin, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. The Virgin’s name is Mary, the wife of Joseph.
Humble people, full of hope in the goodness of God, are those who welcome Jesus and recognize him. And so the Holy Spirit enlightened the shepherds of Bethlehem, who hastened to the grotto and adored the Child. Then the Spirit led the elderly and humble couple Simeon and Anna into the temple of Jerusalem, and they recognized in Jesus the Messiah. “My eyes have seen your salvation”, Simeon exclaimed, “the salvation prepared by God in the sight of all peoples” (Lk 2:30).
Yes, brothers and sisters, Jesus is the salvation for every person and for every people! Today I ask him, the Savior of the world, to look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria, who for too long now have suffered the effects of ongoing conflict, and who, together with those belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, are suffering a brutal persecution. May Christmas bring them hope, as indeed also to the many displaced persons, exiles and refugees, children, adults and elderly, from this region and from the whole world. May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigors of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity. Continue reading “Urbi et orbi 2014 – Christmas Day Message of Pope Francis”
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.
We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the “great light”. By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon. Continue reading “Homily of Pope Francis on Christmas Eve – 24 December 2014”
Pope Francis with Vatican employees (Picture, Reuters)
After chastising the Curia in his Christmas message, Pope Francis also had an address to Vatican employees. The core of this message was about healing, which needs to be understood in the context of his previous message, addressed to the Cardinals that lead Vatican.
Here is the essence of the pope’s message to the employees.
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“Care,” or “healing,” in fact, were the words Pope Francis chose as the main themes of his encounter with Vatican employees, reminding them of the need to:
Care for their spiritual life: the “backbone of all that we do and all that we are;”
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the heads and other senior officials of the departments of the Roman Curia on Monday, in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered Monday morning, the Holy Father focused on the need for those who serve in the curia – especially those in positions of power and authority – to remember and cultivate an attitude and a spirit of service.
“Sometimes,” said Pope Francis, “[Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.
“It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.
“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments: Continue reading “Pope Francis: Christmas Message to the Curia”
Today is the 78th birthday celebration of Pope Francis. As he declared in the recent interview for La Nacion, Missa Criola, by Ariel Ramirez, is one of his favourite pieces of music. Here is what he says: ‘When I heard ‘Misa Criolla’ for the first time I was a student, I think I was studying theology at that time, I can´t remember well. I really liked it! I enjoyed ´Lamb of God’, which is magnificent. I will never forget that I heard Mercedes Sosa singing it.’ Here it is, in celebration of Pope Francis, one of my heroes, and also for your enjoyment.
Anglican theologian NT Wright was another Protestant invited by Pope Francis to address the Humanum 2014 gathering at the Vatican. Here is his address, delivered in recorded form.
By the way, if you wondered, although he affirms the biblical complementarity of men and women, as created by God, NT Wright is NOT what is called, with an obvious misnomer, a ‘complementarian’, which is, in fundamentalist wooden language, the politically correct label for the hierarchical/patriarchal view of the family.
You may find HERE recordings of other addresses at the Humanum 2014 gathering.
Rev Rick Warren was one of the non-Catholic leaders invited by Pope Francis to address the Humanum 2014 gathering at the Vatican, following the Catholic Synod on the family, last month. Here is the recording of his address.
(Vatican Radio) Meeting this week in the Vatican with a delegation from the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and its partner “First Step Forum”, Pope Francis has been awarded the annual Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award for his tireless commitment to build a more peaceful and reconciled world.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to WEA President, Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, who explained the main reason for the meeting was to talk about areas of potential collaboration, to address global issues of common concerns to both the evangelical community and the Catholic Church.
Here is verbatum the question he received, and here is the actual response he gave.
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Q. You know that recently the U.S. forces have started bombing the terrorists in Iraq, to prevent a genocide, to protect minorities, including Catholics who are under your guidance. My question is this: do you approve the American bombing?
A. Thanks for such a clear question. In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit.
But we must also have memory. How many times under this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor the powers [that intervened] have taken control of peoples, and have made a true war of conquest.
One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War there was the idea of the United Nations. It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him? Only that, nothing more.
Secondly, you mentioned the minorities. Thanks for that word because they talk to me about the Christians, the poor Christians. It’s true, they suffer. The martyrs, there are many martyrs. But here there are men and women, religious minorities, not all of them Christian, and they are all equal before God.
To stop the unjust aggressor is a right that humanity has, but it is also a right that the aggressor has to be stopped so that he does not do evil.
‘Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down in 1980 while celebrating Mass. He had spoken out against repression by the Salvadoran army at the beginning of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war between the right-wing government and leftist rebels.
Francis told journalists traveling home from South Korea that Romero’s case had previously been “blocked out of prudence” by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith but has now been “unblocked.” He said the case had passed to the Vatican’s saint-making office.
The congregation launched a crackdown on liberation theology under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, fearing what was deemed as Marxist s excesses. The movement holds the view that Jesus’ teachings imbue followers with a duty to fight for social and economic justice.
Francis said of Romero’s case that “it is important to do it quickly,” but that the investigation must take its course.
As Bishop Munib Younan prepares to attend the prayer service at the Vatican with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres, he has asked that our friends and partners around the world pray for peace based on justice for both nations and peoples:
“We Christians have the power of prayer. Prayer will change us – it will not change the mind of God, which is the mind of peace – but it will change us and change the minds of our leaders. It will show our leaders that our people in both Palestine and Israel don’t want any more hatred, they don’t want any more violence, they don’t want any more separation, they don’t want any more occupation, they don’t want any more blood shed. They want to live with their children and grandchildren lives of peace with justice.
I would ask all the Lutherans in the world support us in their prayers during Sunday services that God will change the minds of our leaders and people towards peace.” Continue reading “Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan Requests Prayers for Peace in the Holy Land”