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Pope issues message for World Day of the Poor (Vatican News)

In his message for the 8th World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis says: “God knows the sufferings of his children because he is an attentive and caring father.”

The Pope writes that the wealthy who “consider themselves to be powerful before men and women” are profoundly mistaken, because “they are poor in the eyes of God.”

The World Day of the Poor will be observed on November 17. The papal message, entitled “The prayer of the poor rises up to God,” was released by the Vatican on June 13.

Synodality should be permanent model for Church, Pope says (Vatican Press Office)

In a June 13 talk to leaders of ecclesial movements, Pope Francis expressed his high hopes for the Synod on Synodality, saying: “My hope is that following this Synod, synodality may endure as a permanent mode of working within the Church, at all levels.”

Telling the movement leaders that their own work should be based on synodality, he said that this would entail three important characteristics: “thinking as God thinks,” “overcoming exclusiveness,” and “cultivating humility.”

80 years after historic meeting with Pope, Irish regiment returns to the Vatican (Vatican News)

Eighty years to the day after Venerable Pius XII received the 38th (Irish) Brigade following liberation from Nazi occupation, members of the regiment met with Pope Francis.

Chris Trott, the UK’s ambassador to the Holy See, helped arrange the meeting and said he was “very moved” after Pope Francis unexpectedly asked members of the regiment’s band to play for him.

Chaldean Patriarch returns to Baghdad, ending dispute with government (Fides)

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako has returned to Baghdad, ending a self-imposed exile that began when the Iraqi government refused to recognize his status as the head of the Chaldean community.

Cardinal Sako had moved to Erbil in July 2023 after the government repealed a decree that had recognized the Patriarch of Baghdad. He returned after Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani acknowledged the “appointment” of Cardinal Louis Sako as Patriarch of the Chaldean Church “in Iraq and in the world,” with the authority to control the properties of the Chaldean Church.

Nebraska bishop writes pastoral letter on mental health (Diocese of Lincoln)

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, has written a pastoral letter on mental health. The letter has two parts: “My Story of Pursuing Mental Health” and “Pursuing Mental Health.”

Bishop Conley discussed his 2019-20 leave of absence after he was “medically diagnosed with PTSD, major depression, anxiety, and tinnitus ... I share my own story in the hopes that it will hasten the demise of the mental health stigma in our culture. I also pray it will inspire others to embrace Jesus as the Divine Physician.”

The second part of the letter has three sections: “seeking wholeness and holiness,” “the Catholic context for mental health,” and “you are not alone.”

“I would like to close with a simple practice, adapted from St. Francis de Sales, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, as well as a staunch advocate of the universal call to holiness,” he concluded. “Throughout the day, before beginning various tasks, let us do three things: acknowledge, offer, and accept ... Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, patroness of mental health, I pray for your wholeness and holiness.”

Spirit and Scripture combined cast light on life's problems, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians should read Scripture often, every day if possible, and look to the Spirit if reading the Gospel ever feels dry, Pope Francis said.

Even when one has repeatedly read a Scripture passage "without particular emotion," at the right time and in an atmosphere of faith and prayer ,"that text suddenly becomes illuminated, speaks to us, casts light on a problem we are experiencing, makes clear God's will for us in a certain situation," the pope said during his June 12 general audience.

"To what is this change due, if not an illumination of the Holy Spirit?" he asked. "The words of Scripture, under the action of the Spirit, become luminous."

To begin his audience, the pope rode into St. Peter's Square on the popemobile to the sound of bagpipes and drums played by the 38th (Irish) Brigade and the Royal Irish Regiment of the British army. The brigade visited the Vatican to mark the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Rome from Nazi occupation and its June 12, 1944, audience with Pope Pius XII.

A man plays a bagpipe.
A member of a delegation from the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment and 38 (Irish) Brigade plays a bagpipe before Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience at the Vatican June 12, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Continuing his catechesis series on the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis reflected on the role of the Spirit in revelation, which he said not only inspired Scripture but "explains it and makes it eternally alive and active."

He said that the church "is nourished by reading Sacred Scripture, that is, reading done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who inspired it."

At the center of the Gospel is the event of Christ's death and resurrection, the pope said, which "unveils all the hidden mysteries and offers the true key to the Bible."

"The death and resurrection of Christ is the light that illuminates the whole Bible and illuminates our life," he said.

Pope Francis encouraged Christians to dedicate time each day to the practice of "lectio divina," reading and meditating on the Gospel, and recommended they carry a pocket-sized copy of the Gospel with them to read in moments throughout the day.

Yet the best way to engage with the Gospel is through the liturgy, he said, in which "we see how an event or teaching given in the Old Testament finds its full realization in the Gospel of Christ."

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience.
Pope Francis speaks to visitors in St. Peter's Square during his general audience at the Vatican June 12, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Homilies are then meant to transfer the Gospel reading "from the book to life," the pope said, telling priests to keep their homilies under eight minutes.

"After that time, people lose attention, people fall asleep and they're right" to do so, he said. Pope Francis noted that priests often "talk so much and no one understands what they're talking about," and he encouraged them to communicate to their congregants a thought, a feeling and a proposal for concrete action in their homilies.

In Gospel passages read during Mass or in the Liturgy of the Hours there is always a word or message "intended especially for us," the pope said. "Embraced in our hearts, it can illuminate our day and animate our prayer. It is a matter of not letting it fall away."

In his greetings to visitors, Pope Francis asked for prayers for Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar and the "many countries that are at war."

"War is always, from day one, a defeat," he said. "Let us pray for peace, that the Lord may give us strength to always fight for peace."

Pope to priests: Keep homilies short!

Pope to priests: Keep homilies short!

 

A look at Pope Francis' advice to priests about homilies June 12.

Pope encourages priests to reach out to those who are 'invisible'

ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis encouraged priests to seek out those who are "invisible" in society and he warned against "ideologies" in the church.

According to Italian news reports, one of the ideologies he specified was a gay culture, referring to it, however, by using the same derogatory slang term in Italian that he reportedly used in a closed-door meeting with members of the Italian bishops' conference in May when describing some seminaries as being marked by a gay culture. 

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Pope Francis meets with a group of priests ministering in the Diocese of Rome for a dialogue at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome June 11, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

During a closed-door meeting June 11 with about 160 priests from the Diocese of Rome at the Pontifical Salesian University, the pope said it would not be prudent to admit young men with homosexual tendencies to seminaries as candidates for the priesthood, according to the Italian news agencies, ANSA and Adnkronos, citing unnamed individuals who attended the meeting with the pope.

These young men are "good kids," but they will encounter difficulties that will then show up in the exercise of their ministry, the pope said, sources told the two agencies.

The pope was not condemning gay people, and he reiterated that the church is open to everyone, ANSA reported.

What he was warning against was a kind of "lobby" that turns a homosexual lifestyle into an ideology, sources told Adnkronos. ANSA reported sources said the pope used the derogatory term when talking about the Vatican, saying that "in the Vatican there is an air of" a gay culture, and that it is not easy to guard against this trend.

The meeting at the Salesian University included priests ordained 11-39 years ago, and it was the third and last of a series of meetings with clergy from the Diocese of Rome. The pope met May 14 with some 70 priests who have been ordained 40 years or more, and he met May 29 with priests ordained 10 years or less. 

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Pope Francis speaks with a group of priests ministering in the Diocese of Rome during a meeting at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome June 11, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The Vatican press office said the pope "spoke about the danger of ideologies in the church and returned to the issue of the admission into seminaries of people with homosexual tendencies, reiterating the need to welcome and accompany them in the church and the prudential recommendation of the Dicastery for the Clergy regarding their admission to a seminary."

Among the many issues discussed during the question-and-answer dialogue with priests, the press office said, was the need for parishes to expand their welcome "to everyone, everyone, everyone!"

In response to comments about addressing people's suffering, the pope said people should be accompanied with closeness, compassion and tenderness, which are three qualities of God.

The importance of pastoral care in hospitals and the difficulties of life in the city of Rome, such as the housing crisis, the spread of drugs and loneliness, were also discussed, the press office said.

"Our job as priests is to go and look for these people" who are "invisible" in society because "the church is either prophetic or it is clerical: it is up to us to choose," he said.

Responding to the housing crisis, the pope invited religious congregations that own buildings and facilities to be generous, the press hall said. According to ANSA, the pope had been criticizing religious who, despite their vow of poverty, are focused on making money and are speculating on rent prices with the upcoming Jubilee. 

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Pope Francis listens to a question during a meeting with priests ministering in the Diocese of Rome at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome June 11, 2024. Seated next to the pope is Rome Auxiliary Bishop Baldo Reina. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Assets are for the community and not for speculation, the pope reportedly said, according to ANSA.

According to the Vatican press office, the dialogue between the pope and priests also touched on the tragedy of the wars underway and the huge amounts of money nations spend on weapons and birth control and that individuals spend on veterinary care and cosmetic surgery.

For this reason, more should be done to promote the church's social teachings, the common good and peace, the pope said.

The pope thanked the priests for their work and urged them to continue to listen to all those who turn to them and to engage in community discernment.

Rome Auxiliary Bishop Michele Di Tolve, who was present at the meeting, told Vatican News that the pope invited priests "to be strong and meek at the same time, to let the parish feel close to people, like a home among homes and where they can relive an experience of being a family."

Pope again warns against homosexual influence in clergy (CNA)

Pope Francis repeated his controversial warning against homosexual influence in the clergy during a meeting with priests of the Rome diocese on June 11.

According to several media reports, the Pope again used a derogatory term to describe homosexual behavior. The Vatican did not publish a transcript of the Pope’s remarks to the priests. The Vatican press office said that he spoke of the admission of seminary candidates “with homosexual tendencies,” and said they should be welcomed. However, according to the ANSA news service, the Pope qualified that remark by saying that seminarians should not show any tendency toward “fa•••try.”

Last week the Vatican press office issued a very rare apology for a similar remark that the Pontiff had made, saying that he “never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who felt offended by the use of a term, reported by others.”

Under olive tree planted as sign of peace, pope begs God to help Holy Land

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sitting in the Vatican Gardens with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica as a backdrop, Pope Francis told cardinals and diplomats, including the ambassadors of Israel and Palestine, "Every day I pray that this war will finally end."

With a representative of Rome's Jewish community and a representative of the city's Muslim community in attendance June 7, the pope repeated his call for a cease-fire, his appeal to Hamas to release all the hostages it kidnapped Oct. 7 and his plea that Israel protect civilians in Gaza and allow humanitarian aid to reach them.

The prayer service marked the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople praying for peace in the Holy Land with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the same spot in the Vatican Gardens.

In 2014 they had planted an olive tree; now it towered over the pope.

"We wish to ask the Lord to give continued growth to the olive tree we planted on that day, which has already become strong and flourishing because it has been sheltered from the wind and watered with care," the pope said. "Likewise, we must ask God that peace may spring forth in the heart of every person, in every people and nation, in every corner of the earth, protected from the winds of war and nourished by those who daily strive to live in fraternity."

Pope with ambassadors in the Vatican Gardens
Pope Francis stands with Raphael Schutz, the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Issa Kassissieh, the Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See, and representatives of Rome's Jewish and Muslim communities near an olive tree planted 10 years ago during a similar prayer service for peace in the Vatican Gardens June 7, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Holding a green watering can, the pope was joined at the tree by: Raphael Schutz, the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See; Issa Kassissieh, Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See; Rabbi Alberto Funaro of Rome's Jewish community; and Abdellah Redouane, secretary-general of the Islamic Cultural Center in Rome.

Rabbi Funaro told reporters that events like the pope's prayer service "somehow help us to go on. If there were one of these initiatives every day, who knows what could happen. We are all here in hope."

In his brief address, Pope Francis said he was thinking of all the people suffering in the Holy Land today.

"I think of how urgent it is that from the rubble of Gaza a decision to stop the weapons will finally arise, and therefore I ask that there be a ceasefire," he said. "I think of the families and of the Israeli hostages and ask that they be released as soon as possible."

"I think of the Palestinian population and ask that they be protected and receive all necessary humanitarian aid," he continued. "I think of the many who are displaced due to the fighting and ask that their homes be rebuilt soon so that they can return to them in peace."

The pope said he also was thinking of "those Palestinians and Israelis of good will who, amid tears and suffering, continue to hope for the coming of a new day and strive to bring forth the dawn of a peaceful world where all peoples 'shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.'"

Repeating the Vatican's longstanding position on the region, he encouraged everyone to work for "a lasting peace, where the State of Palestine and the State of Israel can live side by side, breaking down the walls of enmity and hatred."

And, he added, "we must all cherish Jerusalem so that it will become the city of fraternal encounter among Christians, Jews and Muslims, protected by a special internationally guaranteed status."

Pope Francis leads prayer in Vatican Gardens
Pope Francis speaks to cardinals and diplomats before praying for peace in the Holy Land during a ceremony in the Vatican Gardens June 7, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

At the same time, Pope Francis said, "peace is not made only by written agreements or by human and political compromises. It is born from transformed hearts and arises when each of us has encountered and been touched by God's love, which dissolves our selfishness, shatters our prejudices and grants us the taste and joy of friendship, fraternity and mutual solidarity."

"There can be no peace if we do not let God himself first disarm our hearts, making them hospitable, compassionate and merciful -- God is hospitable, compassionate and merciful," he said.

Pope Francis then read the same prayer for peace he had read 10 years ago in the presence of the Orthodox patriarch and the presidents of Israel and Palestine.

"Lord God of peace, hear our prayer," he said. "We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our weapons. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried. But our efforts have been in vain. Now, Lord, come to our aid!"

 

Rome's true nature is to be welcoming, caring for all, pope says

ROME (CNS) -- Rome is unique and has a vocation as a universal city, Pope Francis said.

Rome has "a universal spirit" that aims to be at the service of charity, hospitality and welcome, he told the city's mayor and government officials in Rome's City Hall. 

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Pope Francis delivers his speech in the Julius Caesar Hall during his visit to Rome's City Hall June 10, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

"Pilgrims, tourists, migrants, those in serious difficulty, the poorest, the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned and the excluded are the most authentic witnesses of this spirit," which is why the pope will be opening a holy door in a prison for the Holy Year 2025, he said in his speech in the city's Julius Caesar Hall June 10.

Authority is only fully realized "when it serves everyone, when it uses its legitimate power to meet the needs of the citizens, particularly the weakest and the least," he said. This applies not only to political figures, but also to priests and bishops, who must be "close to the people of God in order to serve them, to accompany them." 

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Pope Francis and Rome's Mayor Roberto Gualtieri overlook the Roman Forum from the Campidoglio balcony during the pope's visit to Rome's City Hall June 10, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Making his second official visit to Rome's City Hall five years after his first, Pope Francis was accompanied by Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri from his vehicle to look out over the Roman Forum from an archway at the city government's headquarters.

Ancient Roman culture undoubtedly exhibited a number of "good values," the pope told city officials. But it was also seeking something more and "Mount Olympus was no longer enough," referring to where the Greeks and Romans believed their pagan gods lived.

"A larger and deeper message of fraternity, love, hope and liberation" was found in Christ and his Gospel, he said. And the Christian faith "would in time permeate and transform the lives of people and institutions themselves."

Institutions and customs evolved "to a higher level, abandoning little by little, for example, … slavery," which even educated and empathetic people had seen as natural and as a given.

Slavery is a very significant example of how "even refined civilizations can present cultural elements that are so ingrained in the mentality of people and society as a whole that they are no longer perceived as contrary to the dignity of the human being," the pope said.

This also happens today, he said, "when, almost unconsciously, we sometimes risk being selective and partial in the defense of human dignity, marginalizing or discarding certain categories of people, who end up finding themselves without adequate protection."

The pope expressed his hope that "Rome continue to manifest its true nature, a welcoming, hospitable, generous and noble face."

"The enormous influx of pilgrims, tourists and migrants into the city, with all that it entails in terms of organization, could be seen as a burden, an obstacle that hinders the normal flow of things. In reality, all of this is Rome, its uniqueness in the world, its honor, its great attraction and its responsibility toward Italy, the church and the human family," he said. 

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Visitors gather in Campidoglio Square as Pope Francis and Rome's Mayor Roberto Gualtieri greet them from the loggia of the senatorial building during the pope's visit to Rome's City Hall June 10, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

"The immense treasure of culture and history lying in the hills of Rome is the honor and obligation of its citizenry and leaders, and it expects to be properly valued and respected," he said.

As the city prepares to host the Holy Year 2025, it will attract even more people of faith for "a prayerful and penitential pilgrimage" and tourists "who come to admire its immense treasure of works of art and the grandiose traces of past centuries," he said.

In fact, "the upcoming Jubilee can also have a positive impact on the very face of the city, improving its decorum and making public services more efficient, not only in the center but fostering a connection between the center and the outskirts," he said.

"That is why I like to go and visit the outlying parishes, so that they feel that their bishop is close to them," he said. 

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Pope Francis signs the guest book during his visit to Rome's City Hall June 10, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope also signed the guest book quoting from the Aeneid by the Roman poet, Virgil, with "et sublato patre montem petivi" (carrying my father, I took to the hills). The verse, which the pope refers to often, describes Troy's hero, Aeneas, leaving his sacked city with his father and son -- representing his past and future -- to eventually settle in Italy, south of Rome.

With this decision to leave Troy, the pope wrote, referring to the Roman legend, "Rome was born, born from afar, born on a journey."

Pope champions Rome's universal spirit at Campidoglio

Pope champions Rome's universal spirit at Campidoglio

Pope Francis visited the Campidoglio, the historic center of Rome's government, where he was welcomed by Rome's mayor and other city officials.