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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Working document for the Synod on Youth

Today, there was a Press Conference held at the Vatican Press Centre to present the Working Document outlining the initial working positions for October's global meeting of Catholic bishops on the needs of young people

The document focuses on considering how church leaders can better help the rising generation deal with unique 21st century challenges such as the part-time economy, digital dependency, and even so-called fake news.

The document (known as an Instrumentum Laboris or Working Document, which will guide the opening discussions of the October 3-28 Synod of Bishops in Rome, also takes a notably inclusive tone towards both young Catholics who express disagreement with church teachings and young gay people. Noting that some younger believers disagree with the church on contraception, abortion, or same-sex marriage, for example, it acknowledges that many of them also express the desire to remain part of the Church.

The text of the Instrumentum has been published in Italian.  A working translation in English will follow as soon as it is available.

Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment
Working Document

On 6 October 2016, the Holy Father announced the theme of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: Youth, faith and vocational discernment.

The synodal journey began immediately with the first draft of the Preparatory Document which was published on 13 January 2017 together with a Letter to youth written by the Holy Father.  The Preparatory Document included a questionnaire, which was principally addressed to Episcopal Conferences, the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches and to other ecclesial organizations, with fifteen questions in total: three specifically addressed to each continent and a request to share three best practices.

From 11 to 15 September 2017, an International Seminar was held concerning the conditions of young people, including the presence of many experts and a number of young people, who helped to focus the situation of young people in the world today from the scientific point of view.

Along with these initiatives which were aimed at involving the Church as a whole, there were several opportunities to listen to the voices of young people, for from the very beginning, it has been our intent to make them the protagonists.  First, an online questionnaire was prepared in various languages and translated by some Episcopal Conferences, who gathered responses from more than 100,000 young people.  The material that was gathered was immense.  In addition, a pre-synodal gathering was held in Rome (19-24 March 2018) which concluded on Palm Sunday.  The Holy Father received the final document from that gathering on that day.  Three hundred young people from the five Continents participated in that gathering as well as fifteen thousand young people who participated through social media.  The event, born of the Church's desire to listen to youth with no exclusions, has received noteworthy acceptance.

The material that was gathered from these four main sources - together with some observations which have been added directly by the Secretariat of the Synod - is certainly very vast.  It has been widely analyzed by some experts and finally it has been collected in the present working document which was approved during the XIV Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops which was conducted in the presence of the Holy Father.

The text of the document is in three parts and examines the themes in a functional way with respect to the Synodal assembly which will take place next October, according to the method of discernment: the first part, tied to the verb to recognize, gathers in five chapters which differ according to perspectives, various moments of listening to reality, examining the current state of youth today; the second part, oriented around the verb to interpret, offers in four chapters, some keys to reading the decisive questions presented for the discernment of the Synod; the third part, with the objective of arriving at a choice, in four chapters, gathers various elements to help the Synod Fathers to take positions in respect to the orientations and decisions that must be made.

The text concludes with a significant amount of attention paid to the theme of health, in order that the Synod Assembly may recognize the most beautiful face of the Church (GE, 9) and know how to propose it to the youth of today.

8 May 2018

Leonardo Cardinal Baldisseri
General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops

The goals of the Synod

1.  Caring for young people is not an optional task for the Church, but rather a substantial part of her vocation and her mission in history.  This is the root of the specific context of the upcoming Synod: like the Lord Jesus journeyed alongside the disciples of Emmaus (cf Lk 24:13-35), so the Church is invited to accompany all youth, with no exclusions, toward the joy of love.

With their presence and their words, young people can help the Church to rejuvenate her face.  An ideal thread links the Message to youth from the Second Vatican Council (8 December 1965) and the the Synod for the Youth (3-28 October 2018), which the Holy Father explained in his introduction to the pre-Synodal Meeting: I have in mind the splendid Message to young people from the Second Vatican Council ... It is an invitation to seek new paths and to travel them with audacity and trust, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit in order to rejuvenate the very face of the Church, by accompanying young people in their journey of vocational discernment in this changing era.

The method of discernment

2.  In discernment, we recognize a way of being in the world, a style, a fundamental attitude and at the same time a method of working, a path to be walked together that consists in looking at the social and cultural dynamics in which we are immersed with the view of a disciple.  Discernment leads to recognizing and tuning into the action of the Spirit, in authentic spiritual obedience.  In this way, there is greater openness to novelty, courage to go out, resistance to the temptation to reduce all that is new to something that is already known.  Discernment is an authentically spiritual attitude.  In obedience to the Spirit, discernment is first of all a process of listening, which can also become a propelling motive for our actions, a capacity for creatively trusting in the mission which has always been entrusted to the Church.  Discernment is thus a pastoral instrument, able to identify individual paths which are meant to be proposed to young people today, and to offer orientations and suggestions for the mission that are not pre-packaged, but the result of a journey that permits us to follow the Spirit.  Such a structured path invites us to openness and not to being closed in, to ask questions and to provoke inquiry without suggesting pre-established answers, to envisage alternatives and to dream of opportunities.  In this perspective, it is clear that the Synodal assembly next October needs to be faced with the proper dispositions for a process of discernment.

The structure of the text

3.  The Instrumentum laboris gathers and synthesizes the contributions provided by the pre-Synodal process in a document that is composed in three parts, which specifically recalls the articulation of the process of discernment articulated in Evangelii gaudium, 51: to recognize, to interpret, to choose.  The parts are therefore not independent, but rather they constitute a path.

To recognize.  The first passage is that of looking and listening.  It requires us to pay attention to the realities of young people today, in the diversity of conditions and contexts in which they live.  It requires humility, closeness and empathy, so as to be in tune with them, to perceive their joys and their hopes, their sadnesses and their anxieties (cf Gaudium et spes, 1).  This same looking and this same listening, full of care and concern, should be directed toward those who live in ecclesial communities that are present in the midst of young people throughout the world.  In this first passage, attention is focused on grasping the characteristic traits of reality: the social sciences offer an irreplaceable contribution, however well represented in the sources used, but their contribution is taken up and re-read in the light of the faith and experience of the Church.

To interpret.  The second passage is a return to what has been recognized by using criteria of interpretation and valuation beginning with looking at faith.  The categories of reference must be biblical, anthropological and theological, expressed by the key words of the Synod: youth, vocations, vocational discernment and spiritual accompaniment.  It is therefore strategic to construct an appropriate framework from the theological, ecclesiological, pedagogical and pastoral points of view, whcih can represent an anchor that is capable of subtracting the assessment from the volatility of the impulse, while recognizing that in the Church, there are various legitimate ways to interpret many aspects of the doctrine and the Christian life (Gaudete et exultate, 43).  This is the reason why it is indispensable that we assume an open spiritual dynamism.

To choose.  Only in the light of an accepted vocation is it possible to understand what concrete steps the Spirit calls us to, or in which new directions in order to respond to His call.  In this third phase of discernment it is necessary for us to examine pastoral instruments and practices, and to cultivate the necessary interior freedom in order to choose those who best enable us to reach the goal and abandon those who are revealed to be less able to do so.  It is therefore an operative evaluation and a critical verification, not a judgment on the value or the significance that those same means were able to or may have had in various circumstances and eras.  This passage can identify where reform is necessary, a change in ecclesial or pastoral practices in order to avoid the risk of crystallization.

Part I - To recognize: the Church listening to reality
4.  Reality is more important than the idea (cf Evangelii gaudium, 231-233): in this first Part we are invited to listen and to look to young people in the true conditions in which they find themselves, and the actions of the Church toward them.  It is not a matter of accumulating sociological data and evidence, but of assuming the challenges and the opportunities that emerge in various contexts in the light of faith, allowing them to touch us deeply in order to provide a basis of concreteness for the path that follows (cf Laudato si', 15).  Obvious reasons of space limit the discussion of broad and complex questions to a few hints: the Synod Fathers are called to recognize the appeals of the Spirit.

Chapter 1: Being young today

Chapter 2: Experiences and languages

Chapter 3: In the throw-away culture

Chapter 4: Anthropological and cultural challenges

Chapter 5: Listening to young people

Part II - To interpret: faith and vocational discernment

Chapter 1: The blessing of youth

Chapter 2: A vocation in the light of faith

Chapter 3: The dynamism of vocational discernment

Chapter 4: The art of accompaniment

Part III - To choose: pastoral and missionary journeys and conversions

Chapter 1: An integrated perspective

Chapter 2: Immersed in the fabric of daily life

Chapter 3: An evangelized and evangelizing community

Chapter 4: Animation and organization of the pastoral work

Prayer for the Synod

Lord Jesus,
your Church, on its way toward the Synod
turns her eyes to all the young people of the world.

We pray that with courage,
we may take our lives in hand,
reflecting on the most beautiful and profound things
and always maintain an open heart.

Accompanied by wise and generous leaders,
help them to respond to the call
that you address to each of them,
to achieve their own life plans 
and to achieve happiness.

Keep their hearts open to great dreams
and make them attentive to the good of their brothers and sisters.

Like the beloved Disciple,
may they too stand under the Cross
to welcome your Mother, receiving her as a gift from You.

May they be witnesses to your Resurrection
and be able to recognize your living presence standing beside them
proclaiming joyfully that You are Lord.


Human Development at work in Guatemala

Following the eruption of the Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala, which - according to estimates which are still not definitive - has affected more than 1.7 million people, forcing about 13 million people to evacuate their homes and claiming more than 100 victims and leaving about 60 people wounded, in addition to extensive material damage, Pope Francis, via the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, has decided to send a first contribution of 100 thousand dollars in order the help the people in this emergency phase.

This amount, which is intended as an immediate expression of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement on the part of the Holy Father, will be distributed in collaboration with the Apostolic Nunciature, among the dioceses that have been affected most by the catastrophe and will be committed to the work of assisting people and areas most affected by the eruption.

This contribution, which is accompanied by prayer in an effort to support the beloved Guatemalan people, is part of the help that is being offered by the entire Catholic Church and which involves various Episcopal Conferences as well as other charitable organizations.

Greetings for Caritas

This morning, the Vatican Press Centre published a Message which the Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent to those who are participating in The Meal of Encounter, organized by Caritas Rome, Caritas International and Caritas Italy, at the San Giovanni Paolo II canteen in Rome, as part of the Share the Journey campaign, during the World Week of Action (17-24 June), which includes moments of exchange on the theme f migration and action of various kinds.

Message of His Holiness, Pope Francis

Dear brothers and dear sisters,

With this message, I wish to encourage you to continue your journey with migrants and refugees and to share a meal with them, such as the one that has been organized here by Caritas.

Like Caritas, you have accepted the invitation to launch an initiative of sensitization on a world scale of support for migrants and refugees: this is the campaign known as Let's share the journey, which we began together on 27 September.  Today, I wish to invite everyone - migrants, refugees, Caritas workers and institutions - to understand even better the features of this journey that have marked you the most: what hopes does this path point to?  Try to share these thoughts and to celebrate everything that we have in common.

Finally, I want to encourage you who are part of Caritas, the community of the faithful and your pastors, and all people of good will to always create new spaces for sharing, for it is through our encounters that we can plant the seeds of renewed fraternity with migrants and refugees.

With all my heart, I bless your meal and I hope that you enjoy your lunch.

From the Vatican
19 June 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

After the discussion about International Migration

Today the Vatican Press Centre published the conclusions reached as a result of the Holy See - Mexico Colloquium on international migration, organized by the Secretariat of State's Section for Relations with States and the Embassy of Mexico to the Holy See, with the collaboration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Dicastery for Integral Human Development's Section for Migrants and Refugees.  The Colloquium took place last Thursday, 14 June, at the Vatican, at the Casina Pio IV.

Conclusions from the Colloquium on International Migration

The Holy See - Mexico Colloquium on International Migration which was held today is a continuation of the discussion that developed at the Mexican Chancellery in July 2014 on the topic of International Migration and Development, at the conclusion of which, it was agreed that this further meeting would be held at the Vatican.

The present gathering (2018) of the Colloquium has deepened three principal themes:

  • progress and implications relating to the World Pact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration;
  • migration and the development from the prospective of the World Pact; and
  • Migration and global media in the light of the World Pact.
Having completed the Colloquium, we can together point out the following conclusions:
  • In his Message addressed to the participants, the Holy Father, Pope Francis encouraged us in the task and our efforts so that responsibility for the global and shared oversight of international migration may find its strength in the values of justice, solidarity and compassion.  The Holy Father highlighted the fundamental attitude of going out to meet the other person, in order to welcome him, welcome him and recognize him.
  • The Governor of Mexico reaffirms his commitment to making the World Pact for a Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration an instrument for transforming short-term and introspective visions to broad and human perspectives.
  • For it's part, the Catholic Church in Mexico has decided to commit itself in favour of migrants, putting into practice four verbs that were launched by Pope Francis in his 2018 Message for the World Day of Migrants - to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate - thereby promoting a culture of encounter.
  • We agree on the importance of understanding the complexity of contemporary migratory movements that obey multiple causes, and which many times are determined by situations of conflict, natural disasters, poverty and the search for better living conditions and opportunities.  Children are those who most often suffer the consequences of forced migration.  The challenges presented by these movements of people must be effectively met by balancing the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and co-responsibility.
  • We agree about the need to insist on the centrality of the human person in every political exercise, including those directed toward migratory flows, reaffirming the inviolability of human rights and the dignity of every human being.
  • We agree about providing opportunities to commit to global governance of migratory flows, founded on the co-responsibility of all institutional and private actors, in order to ensure a safe, orderly and regulated migration for the benefit of all those concerned, and that it helps to generate conditions for migration to be a voluntary decision and not a necessity.
  • For this reason, we wish to continue actively contributing to the process that will lead the United Nations to adopt a World Pact for Safe, Orderly and Regulated Migration in the course of this year.  Equally, considering the complexity of contemporary migratory flows, we believe it is important to insist upon the opportunity to harmonize the Pact with the World Refugee Pact.
  • We are committed to promoting the fulfillment of the conditions necessary in order for all migrants to be able to enrich their receiving societies with their talents and abilities and, at the same time, contributing to sustainable development at local, national, regional and global levels.
  • We ask all forms of media to contribute, according to their own abilities, to disseminate reliable and proven information concerning the flow of migrants and to dispel all sources that only create negative perceptions of migrants.
Vatican City
14 June 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Scattering seeds in the field

Here is the reflection I shared with those who gathered to pray with us this morning, inspired by the life of a priest who served for many years in our diocese, who has now returned to the Father's House.

Sowing seeds

We received word this week of the sudden death of Monsignor David Cresswell, a priest of our diocese.  Monsignor Cresswell has served various parishes throughout our diocese since his Ordination in 1963, including Our Lady of Fatima in Elliot Lake and Saint James the Greater in Blind River.  For the last sixteen (16) years, he has been living in Coniston and exercising his priestly ministry among the parishioners at Saint Paul the Apostle parish.

The work of a priest is to live among the people of God, doing as Jesus did: scattering seeds on the land (Mk 4:26).  In various parishes throughout the diocese and during the time he spent in Gualan, Guatemala (from June 1965 until March 1971), Monsignor Cresswell scattered the seeds of faith.  Like the farmer in the gospel, he never knew whether those seeds would take root, but he continued to share the gift of his own faith with those he met, always encouraging them to discover the love of God in their own lives.

This is how it is for all of us.  Our task is to sow seeds.  We sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed sprouts and grows, we know not how (Mk 4:27).  It is God who inspires within our hearts the desire to know him and it is He who continues, night and day, the process of helping the seeds that we have planted to grow.  Like good gardeners, we are called to care for the seeds of faith that are sown in the hearts of those we encounter: to water them regularly with our prayer and to help them to grow through the example of our faith.

Saint Paul tells us that we must always be courageous in this task (cf 2 Cor 5:6).  It takes courage to speak about God to those around us, and it takes even more courage to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), yet this is what we strive to do every day.  We must never allow the lights of this world to blind us to the truths that we have discovered, otherwise, we will run the risk of losing our way.  Instead, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, knowing that heaven is our ultimate goal, our true homeland.

At some level, we all know this to be true, but we still face the temptation to doubt when we look around us and see that there are less and less people choosing to associate themselves with organized religion.  When we are tempted to doubt, it might help to take a step back and to remember that this is God’s church, that he is always at work, planting and transplanting the tender shoots (cf Ez 17:22) of faith he has planted within our hearts so that others can also come to know and love Him.

The funeral Mass for Monsignor David Cressell will be celebrated at Saint Paul the Apostle parish in Coniston on Wednesday morning, June 20 beginning at 10:00am.  May the Lord who called him to serve as a priest in this Diocese now welcome him home and grant him the gift of eternal life in His presence, and may the members of his family and those who are saddened by his sudden departure be comforted in the knowledge that the day he has longed for has finally come to pass.

Semer des grains

Il y a quelques jours, nous avons été informés de la mort soudaine de Mgr David Cresswell, un prêtre de notre diocèse. Monseigneur Cresswell a desservi diverses paroisses à travers notre diocèse depuis son ordination en 1963, y compris Our Lady of Fatima à Elliot Lake et Saint James the Greater à Blind River. Depuis seize (16) ans, il vit à Coniston et exerce son ministère sacerdotal auprès des paroissiens de la paroisse Saint Paul, Apôtre en ce lieu.

Le travail d'un prêtre est de vivre parmi le peuple de Dieu, en faisant ce que Jésus a fait: jetant en terre la semence (Mc 4, 26). Dans diverses paroisses du diocèse et pendant son séjour à Gualan au Guatemala (du mois de juin 1965 jusqu’en mars 1971), Mgr Cresswell a semé les grains de la foi. Comme le fermier dans l'évangile, il n'a jamais su si ces grains prendraient racine, mais il a continué à partager le don de sa foi avec ceux et celles qu'il a rencontrés, en les encourageant toujours à découvrir l'amour de Dieu dans leurs propres vies.

C'est comme ça pour nous tous. Notre tâche est de semer des grains. Nuit et jour, nous nous dormons et nous nous levons, la semence germe et grandit, nous ne savons pas comment (Mc 4, 27). C'est Dieu qui inspire dans nos coeurs le désir de lui connaître et c'est Lui qui continue, nuit et jour, de promouvoir à la croissance des grains que nous avons plantées. Comme de bons jardiniers, nous sommes appelés à prendre soin des grains de la foi qui sont semées dans le cœur de ceux que nous rencontrons: les arrosants régulièrement avec notre prière et les aidants à grandir à travers l'exemple de notre foi.

Saint Paul nous dit que nous devons toujours avoir confiance en accomplissant cette tâche (cf 2 Cor 5, 6). Il faut du courage pour parler de Dieu à ceux qui nous entourent, et il faut la confiance pour cheminer dans la foi et non dans la claire vision (2 Co 5,7), mais c'est ce que nous nous efforçons de faire chaque jour. Nous ne devons jamais laisser les lumières de ce monde nous aveugler sur les vérités que nous avons découvertes, sinon nous courrons le risque de perdre notre chemin. Au lieu de cela, nous devons garder nos yeux fixés sur Jésus, sachant que le paradis est notre but ultime, notre véritable patrie.

À un certain niveau, nous savons tous que cela est vrai, mais nous sommes toujours tentés de douter quand nous regardons autour de nous et voyons qu'il y a de moins en moins de gens qui choisissent de s'associer à la religion organisée. Lorsque nous sommes tentés de douter, il peut être utile de prendre du recul et de nous rappeler que ce n’est pas notre Église, c’est l'Église de Dieu, qu'il est toujours à l'œuvre, qu'il cueille et qu'il plante les tiges toutes tendres (cf Ez 17:22) de la foi qu'il a semée dans nos cœurs afin que d'autres personnes puissent aussi le connaître et l'aimer.

La messe funéraire de Mgr David Cressell sera célébrée en l’église Saint-Paul, Apôtre, à Coniston, le mercredi 20 juin, à partir de 10 h. Que le Seigneur qui l'a appelé à servir comme prêtre dans ce diocèse l'accueille maintenant et lui accorde le don de la vie éternelle en sa présence, et que les membres de sa famille et ceux qui se trouvent en deuil à cause de son départ soudain soient réconfortés par la connaissance que le jour qu'il a toujours désiré est enfin arrivé.

Angelus about sowing seeds

At noon today in Rome (6:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In today's gospel account (cf Mk 4:26-34), Jesus speaks to the crowds about the Kingdom of God and about the dynamism of its growth.  He does so by recounting two sort parables.

In the first parable (cf Mk 4:26-29), the Kingdom of God is compared to the mysterious growth of seeds, that have been thrown on the ground and then germinate, grow and produce the ear (of corn) regardless of how much care they receive from the farmer who waits until the end of the growing season to provide for the harvest.  The message that this parable gives us is this: through the preaching and actions of Jesus, the Kingdom of God is proclaimed, has burst onto the field of the world, like this seed; it grows and develops all by itself, by its own doing and according to criteria that are indecipherable to human beings.  As it grows and germinates throughout history, it is not so dependent on the work of mankind, but above all, it is an expression of the power and the goodness of God, of the strength of the Holy Spirit who carries on Christian life in the People of God.

Sometimes, history - with its events and heroes - seems to go in the opposite direction compared with the plan of our heavenly Father, who wishes justice, fraternity and peace for all his people.  But we are called to live these periods as seasons of trial, hope and vigilant waiting for the harvest.  In fact, yesterday and today, the Kingdom of God continues to grow in the world in a mysterious way, a surprising way, revealing the hidden power of the little seed, its victorious vitality.  Within the folds of personal and social events, and sometimes even seeming to mark the tragedies that hope encounters, we can and must remain confident in the quiet but powerful actions of God.  For this reason, in moments of darkness and difficulty, we should not give up, but rather we should remain firmly anchored to faith in God, to his presence which always saves us.  Remember this: God always saves.  He is our saviour.

In the second parable (Mk 4:30-32), Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed.  It is a very small seed, yet it develops so much that it becomes one of the greatest plants in the garden: unpredictable and surprising growth.  It is not easy for us to enter into this logic of God's unpredictability: to accept it in our lives.  But today, the Lord encourages us to develop an attitude of faith that looks beyond our plans, our calculations, our forecasts.  God is always the God of surprises.  The Lord always surprises us.  This is an invitation for us to open ourselves up more generously to the will of God, either his will for us personally or for our community.  In our communities, we need to pay attention to the small and the great opportunities for good that the Lord offers to us, allowing ourselves to get involved in the dynamics of love, welcome and mercy offered to all people.

The authenticity of the mission of the Church is not measured by the success or the gratification of the results, but by going forward with courage of trust and the humility of abandoning ourselves in God.  Going ahead in our confession of Jesus and with the strength of the Holy Spirit.  It is a matter of being aware that we are small and weak instruments, which in the hands of God and with his grace can accomplish great works, advancing his Kingdom of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17).  The Virgin Mary helps us to be simple, to be attentive, to collaborate with our faith and with our work in developing the Kingdom of god in our hearts and in the context of history.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday in Caracas (Venezuela), María Carmen Rendiíles Martiínez, the founder of the Sisters Servants of Jesus of Venezuela, was Beatified.  Mother Carmen, who was born and died in Caracas in the last century, together with her sisters, served lovingly in parishes, schools and close to those who are most in need.  Let us praise the Lord for this faithful disciple of his and let us confide to her intercession our prayers for the Venezuelan people.  And let us greet the new Blessed and the people of Venezuela with applause!

With much preoccupation, I am following the dramatic news concerning the people of Yemen, who have already been exhausted by years of conflict.  I call upon the international community to spare no effort to bring the parties involved urgently to the negotiating table and to avoid any worsening of the already tragic humanitarian situation.  Let us pray to Our Lady for Yemen:

Hail Mary ...

Next Wednesday will be the World Day of Refugees, organized by the United Nations in order to draw attention to those of our brothers and sisters who are living, sometimes with great anxiety and suffering because they have been forced to flee their homelands due to conflict and persecution.  This is a day which, this year, falls in the midst of the consultations that are taking place among various governments who are working toward the adoption of a World Pact concerning Refugees, which should be adopted by the end of the year in order to ensure secure, ordered and regulated migration.  I hope that the States involved in these processes will be able to reach an agreement in order to ensure responsibly and humanely, assistance and protection to those who have been forced to leave their own countries.  But each of us is also called to be close to refugees, to find moments of encounter to be experienced with them, to value their contributions, so that they too can better incorporate themselves into the communities that receive them.  In such meetings and in such mutual respect and support, we can find solutions to many problems.

I greet all of you, dear Romans and pilgrims alike, in particular those who have come from Spain, from Malta, from Brazil - those Brazilians are noisy! - from the United States of America; the students from the London Oratory School and those from the Colegio Oratorio Festivo from Novelda (Spain).

I have heard that among you, there is a group from Argentina.  Remember that today in your country, it is Father's day, the day for daddies.  Remember your fathers in your prayers.

I greet the faithful from Teramo, Francavilla and Mare and the group from Catholic Action Trento; the young people from Campobasso who have recently celebrated Confirmation; the Italian Ecclesiastical Biblical Association and the group known as Un incontro, una speranza (One encounter, one hope) from Olbia.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Greetings for the Summer School in Astrophysics

At 11:00am this morning (5:00am EDT), in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the Astrophysics Summer School organized by the Vatican Observatory.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to those participating in the
Summer School in Astrophysics

Dear friends,

I offer a warm welcome to all of you, the professors and students of this summer course organized by the Vatican Observatory. Coming from many countries and cultures, you bring with you many different areas of expertise. You remind us that diversity can be united by a common goal of study, and that the success of that work depends on precisely this kind of diversity. By working together, from the variety of your backgrounds, you can help develop a common understanding of our universe.

Your topic this year concerns variable stars in the light of new, large astronomical surveys that are themselves the result of collaborative efforts by many nations and teams of scientists. As will become apparent in this course, only such teamwork can make sense of all these new data.

As our understanding of this vast universe gradually grows, so does our need to learn how to manage the flood of information we receive from so many different sources. Perhaps the way you yourselves manage such a torrent of data can offer hope to all those people in our world who feel overwhelmed by the information revolution of the internet and the social media!

Before all this information, and the vastness of our universe, we may be tempted to think of ourselves as small and insignificant. This fear is nothing new. More than two thousand years ago, the Psalmist could write: When I see your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man, that you care for him? He then went on to say: Yet you have made him little less than a god; with glory and honour you crowned him (Ps 8:4-6).

Whether as scientists or believers, it is always important to start by admitting there is much that we do not know. But it is equally important never to stop at a complacent agnosticism. Just as we should never think we know everything, we should never fear to try to learn more.

To know the universe, at least in part; to know what we know and what we don’t know, and how we can go about learning more; this is the task of the scientist. There is another way of seeing things, that of metaphysics, which acknowledges the First Cause of everything, hidden from tools of measurement. Then there is still another way of seeing things, through the eyes of faith, which accepts God’s self-disclosure. Harmonizing these different levels of knowledge leads us to understanding, and understanding – we hope – will make us open to wisdom.

The glory and honour of which the Psalmist speaks can also be understood in terms of the joy of intellectual work such as your own study of astronomy. It is through us, human beings, that this universe can become, so to speak, aware of itself and of its Maker. This is the gift, and the accompanying responsibility, given to us as thinking, rational creatures in this cosmos.

On the other hand, as human beings, we are more than thinking, rational beings. We are persons, with a sense of curiosity that drives us to know more; we are creatures, who work to learn and share what we have learned for the pure joy of doing so. And as people who love what we do, we can find in our love for this universe a foretaste of that divine Love which, in contemplating his creation, declared that it was good.

Dante famously wrote that it is love that moves the sun and the stars (cf Paradiso, XXXIII, 145). May your work likewise be moved by love: love of truth; love of the universe itself; and love for one another as you work together amid your diversity.

With these prayerful sentiments, I cordially invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings on you and upon your work. Thank you.
(Original text in Italian; translation by Libreria Editrice Vaticana)