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Pope Francis to meet EU leaders in Vatican

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis is set to receive 27 European Union heads of State and government at a private audience in the Vatican’s Sala Regia on Friday evening.

The encounter takes place on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

Leaders will be joined at the audience by representatives of EU institutions.

These include Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.

Pope Francis will address the group after speeches made by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Antonio Tajani.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope recognizes Fatima children miracle ahead of May visit

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has officially recognized the miracle attributed to the intercession of two Fatima children - Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta Marto. He also approved the canonizations of 30 Brazilian and 3 Mexican martyrs.

The Pope will visit Fatima in Portugal on 12-13 May. Click here to see the schedule of his visit.

During an audience on Thursday with Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decrees:

- the miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Angelo da Acri (né Luca Antonio Falcone), professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, born 19 October 1669 and died 30 October 1739);

- the miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Francisco Marto, born on 11 June 1908 and died on 4 April 1919, and Blessed Jacinta Marto, born 11 March 1910 and died 20 February 1920, children of Fátima;

- the martyrdom of Servants of God José Fernández Sánchez and 32 companions, priests and coadjutor brothers of the Congregation of the Mission, alongside six laypeople of the Association of the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady, killed in hatred of the faith during the Spanish civil war;

- the martyrdom of Servant of God Regina Mariam Vattalil (née Rani Maria), professed sister of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, killed in hatred of the faith on 25 February 1995;

- the heroic virtues of Servant of God Daniele da Samarate (né Felice Rossini), professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, born 15 June 1876 and died 19 May 1924;

- the heroic virtues of Servant of God Macrina Raparelli (né Elena), founder of the Congregation of the Basilian Sisters, daughters of Saint Macrina, born 2 April 1893 and died 26 February 1970;

- the heroic virtues of Servant of God Daniela Zanetta, layperson, born 15 December 1962 and died 14 April 1986.

The Holy Father also approved the favourable votes of the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops, member of the Congregation, regarding the canonization of the following Blesseds:

- André de Soveral, and Ambrósio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, and Mateus Moreira, layperson, alongside 27 companions, martyrs, killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on 16 July 1645 and 3 October 1645;

- Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan, adolescent martyrs, killed in hatred of the faith in Mexico in 1529.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: We are "Catholic Atheists" if we have hardened hearts

(Vatican Radio) Listen to the Word of God to avoid the risk of a hardened heart. That was Pope Francis’ message in his homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday. The Pope pointed out that when we turn away from God and are deaf to His Word, we become unfaithful or even “Catholic atheists.”

Pope Francis drew inspiration from the First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah to meditate on the importance of listening to the Word of God. “When we do not stop to listen to the voice of the Lord we end up moving away, we turn away from Him, we turn our backs. And if we do not listen to the voice of the Lord, we listen to other voices.”

The Holy Father suggested that if we do not listen to God’s voice, then in the end we listen to the voices of idols. He noted bitterly that eventually, “we become deaf: deaf to the Word of God.”

“And all of us, if we stop a little today and look at our hearts, we will see how many times – how many times! – we close our ears and how many times we have become deaf. And when a people, a community, but we can also say a Christian community, a parish, a diocese, when they close their ears and become deaf to the Word of the Lord, they search for other voices, other lords, and it ends with idols, the idols of the world, the worldliness that society offers. That community distances itself from the living God.”

If the heart hardens, we become “Catholic pagans”, even “Catholic atheists.” As we move away from the Lord, the Pope added, our hearts harden. When someone “does not listen, the heart becomes harder, more closed in on itself, hard and unable to receive anything; not only is it closed: there is a hardness of heart.” That person lives “in that world, that atmosphere that doesn’t do him good. He moves further away from God every day.”

“And these two things – not listening to the Word of God and a hardened heart, closed in on itself – cause infidelity. You lose your sense of fidelity. The Lord says in the First Reading: ‘faithfulness is gone’, and we become unfaithful Catholics, Catholic pagans or, uglier still, Catholic atheists, because we have no reference to the love of the living God. To not listen and to turn our backs – that makes our hearts harden – takes us on the road to infidelity.

The Pope then asked, “This infidelity, how does it end?” He answered by referring to the Gospel passage from St Luke, in which Jesus is accused of healing people through the power of Beelzebul. “It ends in confusion; you do not know where God is or where He is not, you confuse God with the devil.”

His Holiness said we should ask ourselves whether we really listen to the Word of God or whether we harden our hearts. “This is blasphemy. Blasphemy is the final word on this path that begins with not listening, with the hardening of the heart.” This failure to listen and this hardening of the heart “leads to confusion, making you forget fidelity and, ultimately, blaspheming.”

To those who forget the wonder of the first meeting with Jesus, he said: “Each of us can ask ourselves today: ‘Have I stopped listening to the Word of God, taking the Bible in my hands and talking only to myself? Has my heart been hardened? Am I far from the Lord? Have I lost my fidelity to the Lord and do I live with the idols that offer me worldliness every day? Have I lost the joy of the wonder of my first meeting with Jesus?’. Today is a day to listen. ‘O that today you would listen to His voice! Harden not your hearts!’’. We ask for this grace: the grace to listen so that our hearts will not be hardened.”
 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis receives President of Cameroon

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis received Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, in a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday.

A communique from the Holy See Press Office said their discussions were "cordial".

"During the cordial discussions, the existing good relations between the Holy See and Cameroon were evoked, as was the important contribution the Church offers to the development of the country, especially in the fields of education and healthcare. Taking into consideration the peaceful co-existence and mutual respect between the various religious groups, attention was focused on the importance of promoting national cohesion, enhancing the richness of the various historic and cultural traditions of the country, with respect for human and minority rights."

The Pope and the president also exchanged "views on some themes of international interest, with particular reference to the current challenges affecting the region".

President Biya subsequently met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, who was accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: telegram of condolence for London attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his condolences to the victims of the terror attack at the House of Parliament in London on Wednesday, in which an attacker killed four people before armed police shot him dead.

Addressed to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, the telegram conveys the Holy Father's promises of prayers and spiritual closeness to the grieving families, as well as his spiritual solidarity with the whole people.

Below, please find the full text of the Telegram, in English

******************************************

His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy.  Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes divine strength and peace upon their grieving families, and he assures the nation of his prayers at this time.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope: 'current migration crisis greatest tragedy after WW2'

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has called for an ongoing commitment to welcome and integrate forced migrants and refugees and described the current migration phenomenon as the world’s greatest tragedy after the Second World War.
  
Speaking on Wednesday to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope also continued his catechesis on Christian hope and appealed to the faithful to ‘re-discover’ the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

In his appeal, launched after the catechesis, Pope Francis reminded all Catholic communities to participate in the upcoming “24 hours for the Lord” initiative on 23rd and 24th of March with Churches across the globe offering the Sacrament of Confession as a “privileged moment of grace” during our Lenten journey.

And speaking to an Italian association that offers services and help to migrants and refugees upon their arrival and a long-term process of integration, the Pope highlighted the rights and the responsibilities of those who receive and of those who are received, and described the current migration crisis as the greatest tragedy after World War 2.

His words come just days before EU Heads of State or Government convene in the city to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. 

In his catechesis meanwhile, Pope Francis reflected on a reading from Saint Paul which focusses on the attitudes of steadfastness and encouragement.

They are intimately connected to the reality of Christian hope because ours, he said, is a God of steadfastness as he loves us perseveringly and never tires of consoling us.

He is also a God of encouragement, he continued, who calls us to be close to the weak and the needy with whom he asks us to be strong and to be sowers of hope.

What’s more, the Pope continued, Christians are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering.  But we do so, he concluded, with the strength provided by the Lord, who is our unfailing source of hope.  

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)