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.