Historic meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox head ‘getting closer’

A member of the congregation lights a candle during a midnight mass vigil at the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad’s ‘Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and the Royal Martyrs’ Church in London

The meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity

Monday 29 June 2015
An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is “getting closer every day,” a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.
The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054. “Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared,” Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. Next

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He said the meeting between the head of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church and the head of Russian Orthodox Church – which counts some 165 million of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians – would take place in a “neutral” country, not in Moscow or the Vatican. Austria or Hungary were possibilities, he said.Hilarion, one of the most influential people in world Orthodoxy, said he could not say if the meeting could take place as early as this year, but there was currently “a good dynamic” between the two Churches. One of the biggest bones of contention is the fate of many church properties that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome. (Getty Images)One of the biggest bones of contention is the fate of many church properties that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome. (Getty Images) Francis told reporters on the plane returning from a trip to Turkey last year that he had sent word to Kirill that he was willing to meet the Russian patriarch “wherever you want, you call me and I’ll come”. The Russian Orthodox Church has accused Catholics of using their new freedoms of religion following the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s to try to convert people from the Orthodox, a charge the Vatican has denied.

Read more: Putin keeps Pope waiting for over an hour Vladimir Putin: ‘There is no need to fear Russia’ Ukraine prepares for ‘full-scale Russian invasion along border’

One of the biggest bones of contention is the fate of many church properties that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome. Stalin gave the property to the Russian Orthodox Church but after the fall of communism, Eastern Rite Catholics took back many church properties, mostly in western Ukraine. REUTERS

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Mary Queen Of All Creation

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ENCYCLICAL LETTER

LAUDATO SI’

OF THE HOLY FATHER

FRANCIS

ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

….

VIII. QUEEN OF ALL CREATION

  1. Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.
  2. At her side in the Holy Family of Nazareth, stands the figure of Saint Joseph. Through his work and generous presence, he cared for and defended Mary and Jesus, delivering them from the violence of the unjust by bringing them to Egypt. The Gospel presents Joseph as a just man, hard-working and strong. But he also shows great tenderness, which is not a mark of the weak but of those who are genuinely strong, fully aware of reality and ready to love and serve in humility. That is why he was proclaimed custodian of the universal Church. He too can teach us how to show care; he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us.

….

Taken from: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

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Blessed be the Most Loving Heart and Sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the most glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, in eternity and forever. Amen.
….Only the Heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way —-From the Catechism. P:1439

From the depth of my nothingness, I prostrate myself before Thee, O Most Sacred, Divine and Adorable Heart of Jesus, to pay Thee all the homage of love, praise and adoration in my power.
Amen. – –
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior’s steps.– From the Catechism. P: 2669

 WB01539_.gif (682 bytes) Novena Prayer to Sacred Heart  of JesusWB01539_.gif (682 bytes) Prayer to the Wounded Heart of Jesus

WB01539_.gif (682 bytes)  Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart

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 WB01539_.gif (682 bytes)  Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary WB01539_.gif (682 bytes) A Solemn Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

WB01539_.gif (682 bytes)  The Daily Offering to the  Immaculate Heart of Mary

WB01539_.gif (682 bytes)  Exaltation of the Immaculate  Heart of Mary

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Pope Gives Putin an “Angel of Peace” Medallion

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Pope Francis tells Putin: ‘sincere’ peace efforts needed for Ukraine

Pair agree in Vatican on need to ‘restore climate of dialogue’ between Russia and Ukraine after pontiff expresses deep concern over ‘great humanitarian crisis’ in the region

Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin

The two also discussed the crisis in the Middle East and the persecution of Christians, a topic of great importance to Pope Francis. Photograph: Vatican

The meeting, for which Putin was more than an hour late – as he has been in other meetings with world leaders – included an exchange of gifts, with the pope giving Putin a medallion of an “angel of peace”. A similar gift stirred controversy when it was given to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

The Vatican said in a statement that both Pope Francis and Putin agreed on the need to “restore a climate of dialogue” and that Russia and Ukraine should implement a peace plan negotiated in Minsk. “The Holy Father affirmed that it is necessary to make a sincere and great effort to forge peace,” the Vatican said.

Pope Francis and Medjugorje

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Pope dismisses Madonna ‘visions’ as shrine decision nears

                    

 

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis gave a hint Tuesday about his take on the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the Medjugorje shrine in southern Bosnia, dismissing a reliance on regular visions of the Madonna as mere “novelty-seeking” for the faithful.
Francis spoke during his morning homily, three days after making a day trip to Sarajevo. En route home, Francis told reporters the Vatican would soon decide whether to formally recognize the Medjugorje phenomenon as authentic.
In his homily, Francis dismissed those “who always need novelty in their Christian identity” and say: “But where are the visionaries who tell us today about ‘The letter that the Madonna will send tomorrow at 4 p.m.?'”
“This isn’t Christian identity,” he said. “God’s last word is called Jesus and nothing more.”
The Medjugorje apparition has been disputed since 1981, when six youths said they had regularly seen visions of the Virgin there. Unlike Fatima in Portugal or Lourdes in France, the Vatican has been cautious about calling the sightings authentic. Neither Rome nor the local diocese has approved Medjugorje as an official shrine site and the Vatican has told dioceses not to organize official pilgrimages there.
That hasn’t stopped the remote village 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest of Sarajevo from thriving from the financial boost brought by more than 30 million faithful who have visited since 1981.
The local church itself has cast doubt on the sightings, in part because one of the visionaries says the apparitions have continued regularly for over a quarter century.
In 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI formed an international commission to study the Medjugorje phenomenon. On Saturday, Francis said commission’s report had been taken up by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, although the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said it hadn’t yet been discussed.
Lombardi acknowledged that Francis was probably referring to Medjugorje in his homily but he stressed that his brief mention was not the Vatican’s final word. Francis’ off-the-cuff comments “are not an official pronouncement that gives a wide-ranging and articulated doctrinal or pastor indications,” he said.
___
Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield

Ruling on Medjugorje Near: The Pope has said the Vatican is “about to make decisions” on the controversial apparitions

by Christine Niles  •   June 7, 2015

MEDJUGORJE, June 7, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Holy Father has said a ruling on Medjugorje is near.
On the papal plane Saturday, Pope Francis said the case was now in front of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and that “[w]e are about to make decisions … .”
Medjugorje has been steeped in controversy, as alleged visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary have reportedly been taking place like clockwork in the Bosnian town for more than three decades, with thousands of messages from Our Lady, some of which are doctrinally questionable.
Both bishops of the diocese with jurisdiction over the reported apparitions have condemned the visions as false. Bishop Ratko Peric, current bishop of Mostar, said

During my official visit to the Holy Father Benedict XVI, I not only expressed my doubts but also my disbelief in the “apparitions” of Medjugorje. The Holy Father, who prior to his election was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, replied with this thought: “We at the Congregation always asked ourselves how a believer could possibly accept as authentic, apparitions that occur every day for so many years?”

The most recent official message from the Vatican on the topic occurred in October 2013, in a letter from Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano. He issued a message to every U.S. diocese on behalf of the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith forbidding the faithful to participate in any events where “the credibility of such ‘apparitions’ would be taken for granted.”
The Vatican also reaffirmed that

with regard to the credibility of the “apparitions” in question, all should accept the declaration, dated 10 April 1991, from the Bishops of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, which asserts: “On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations.”

The letter was sent in response to a speaking tour of one of the seers, Ivan Dragicevic, who was scheduled to speak in various American parishes. The letter clarified that the faithful were not permitted to attend such events. To this day, dioceses and parishes are not allowed to organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, and several of the Franciscan priests at the heart of the Medjugorje phenomenon have been suspended for disobedience.
For our FAQ on Medjugorje, visit our resource page.
Watch Michael Voris’ presentation on Medjugorje here.

Christine Niles is a staff writer, producer and anchor for ChurchMilitant.com

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1

Corpus Christi: Pope honors persecuted Christians

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Celebrating Corpus Christi feast, pope honors persecuted Christians

By Cindy WoodenCatholic News Service

ROME (CNS) — The Eucharist is the seal of God’s covenant, uniting Christians and giving them the strength to bring God’s love to others, even when faith carries a high price, Pope Francis said. Celebrating the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ with an evening Mass outside Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran June 4, Pope Francis said the church and its members will never cease being in awe of the Eucharist. As the sun began to set, the Mass was followed by a traditional Corpus Christi procession from St. John Lateran to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, one mile away. Pope Francis asked the faithful as they walked through the city with the Eucharist to remember “our many brothers and sisters who do not have the freedom to express their faith in the Lord Jesus.” “Let us be united with them; let us sing with them, praise with them, adore with them,” he said. “And, in our hearts, let us venerate those brothers and sisters who were asked to sacrifice their lives out of fidelity to Christ. May their blood, united to the Lord’s, be a pledge of peace and reconciliation for the whole world.” The Eucharist, he said, “sanctifies us, purifies us and unites us in a marvelous communion with God. In that way we learn that the Eucharist is not a prize for the good, but strength for the weak; for sinners it is pardon; it is the viaticum that helps us move forward, to walk.” In the main part of his homily, Pope Francis quoted from one of the texts in the Liturgy of the Hours for the feast day: “Eat this sacred food, so that your bond of unity with Christ may never be broken. Drink this sacred blood, the price he paid for you, so that you may never lose heart because of your sinfulness.” Division and losing heart are “a danger, a threat,” he said, but the gift of Christ’s presence in his body and blood give Christians the strength to resist them. “We scatter when we are not docile to the Lord’s word, when we do not live in brotherhood, when we compete to occupy the best places — being climbers, you know — when we do not find the courage to give a witness of charity, when we are unable to offer hope,” he said. But the Eucharist is “the bond of communion” and the constant sign of the love of Christ who died on the cross “so that we would remain united,” he said. “Christ, present among us under the sign of bread and wine, demands that power of love overcome every fracture and, at the same time, become communion with the poor, support for the weak and fraternal concern for those who struggle to bear the weight of daily life and are in danger of losing their faith,” Pope Francis said. Christians lose heart when they lose sight of their dignity as Christians, he said, and instead worship “the idolatries of our time: appearances, consumption and placing the ‘I’ at the center of everything.” Being competitive, thinking that arrogance is a charming personal quality or that you are never wrong are other symptoms, the pope said. “All of this devalues us, makes us mediocre, tepid, insipid Christians, pagans.” As Christians, he said, we will always be “poor sinners, but the blood of Christ will free us from our sins and restore our dignity.” “Not by our own merits and with sincere humility, we can bring our brothers and sisters the love of our lord and savior,” Pope Francis said. “We will be his eyes searching out Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene; we will be his hands that help those sick in body and spirit; we will be his heart that loves those in need of mercy, reconciliation and understanding.” As he did last year, Pope Francis celebrated the Mass and then rode in a car to St. Mary Major to meet the Corpus Christi procession as it arrived and to officiate at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist had been carried on a flatbed truck with two deacons kneeling alongside it. Thousands of Catholics — members of confraternities, dozens of cardinals and bishops, plus hundreds of sisters and priests — accompanied the truck, carrying candles as darkness fell. The truck bore the Vatican license plate “SCV 1,” the special plate usually reserved for the pope.
END

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Third World War being fought piecemeal’: Pope Francis slams global ‘atmosphere of war’

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Published time: June 06, 2015 18:32

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Francis received a joyous welcome from around 100,000 people who lined the streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital, as his motorcade made its way to the national stadium, where the pontiff celebrated mass for a mainly Catholic audience of around 65,000, speaking in Italian.

Pope Francis arrives at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)
Pope Francis arrives at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)

 

Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately,” he added, attacking those who want to foster division for political ends or profit from war through arms dealing.

Pope Francis waves from his 'Popemobile' along a street in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)

Pope Francis waves from his ‘Popemobile’ along a street in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Stringer)
 

“But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement, destroyed houses, streets and factories: above all countless shattered lives.”
“You know this well having experienced it here,” he added, alluding to the wars that preceded the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Pope Francis (C) celebrates a Holy Mass at the stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Dado Ruvic)
Pope Francis (C) celebrates a Holy Mass at the stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 6, 2015. (Reuters / Dado Ruvic)
 

Security was tight, with thousands of police officers lining the route taken by the pope. Shops and cafes were closed, while local residents were told not to open their windows or stand on their balconies.
Just prior to the visit, Islamists claiming to be members of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) called for Muslims to take-up jihad in the Balkans. In the video, a Kosovo Albanian, introduced as Abu Muqatil Al-Kosovo, said that “misbelievers” in the Balkans would face “horrible days.”

Pope Francis and Our Lady of Fatima

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By Father Peter West

With Pope Francis’ announcement that his pontificate will be consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, it is fitting to join the Holy Father in recalling the significance of Fatima, and the importance of repentance if we are to know true peace as a society.
Pope Francis joins his predecessors in acknowledging the importance of Fatima. When the Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children almost 100 years ago, it was shortly after an urgent prayer to the Blessed Virgin as the Queen of Peace by Pope Benedict XV for the end of World War I.
Blessed John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life after an assassination attempt on May 13, 1981. In a 2010 visit to Fatima, Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the (then) seven years until the 100th anniversary of the apparitions would “hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”

There is also precedent in the Old Testament for what Pope Francis and previous pontiffs ask of us in calling for repentance and for intercession: the Book of Esther. Indeed, many scholars over the years have portrayed Queen Esther as a prefigurement of Mary, and the Book of Esther as a prefigurement of the Book of Revelation.
You will recall that the king of Persia was asked by a scheming administrator to destroy the Jewish people since the administrator had been personally offended by Mordecai, Esther’s uncle who was also a servant of the king. The king, unaware that his young and exceptionally beautiful wife Esther was Jewish, consented to the attack. Before she dared to approach the king to ask that her people be spared, Queen Esther clothed herself in sackcloth and ashes, and asked her people to join her in fasting from food and water for three days.
When Esther entered into the king’s presence, something she was forbidden to do without invitation, he extended his scepter, thus sparing her life. Esther also rather audaciously invited the King and Haman to a banquet, where she revealed that she was a Jew and begged the King to spare the life of her people.
The King was angered by his administrator’s schemes against Mordecai and the Jewish people, and dealt with the administrator accordingly. But since royal orders could not be annulled, the attack was allowed to continue, though the Jewish people were allowed to defend themselves and defeated their enemies in battle. The Jews celebrate this triumph each year as their Feast of Purim.
The date set for destruction of the Jews had been the 13th of the month of Adar, a month that corresponds more or less to February, which is when Purim is now remembered. This date is also significant in Jewish history for another reason: It is the day that the Maccabees liberated Israel after a four-year battle with the Seleucid Empire.
The significance of this for faithful and pro-life Catholics who seek greater understanding in what Scott Hahn calls Catholics’ “away game” of the Old Testament, is this: Just as the Jewish people were saved through the intercession of Queen Esther, so Mary intercedes for the Church throughout history, and now.
The Book of Revelation foretells a great persecution of Christians at the end of time, but it also speaks about the Ark of the Covenant (an image scholars have long used to portray Mary, who bore the Word in her womb) appearing in the sky and the Woman crushing the head of the dragon (cf.  Revelation 12).
When the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima, she wore around her neck the Star of Esther. And like Esther, Our Lady of Fatima came as a queen to spare her people from war and persecution. Through the child seers, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, she asked the faithful to repent of sin, pray the Rosary, go to confession, and receive the Eucharist worthily.
On July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to Lucia:

I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. … In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and an era of peace will be granted to the world.

As if to put an exclamation mark on the Fatima prophecies, Sister Lucia died on February 13, 2005, the feast of Purim. Our Lady of Fatima’s first appearance to the three shepherd children was May 13, 1917. Her last appearance was October 13 of the same year.
With all of the talk about prophecies lately, especially those centering around the papacy and the persecution of the Church, sometimes it helps to step back and look at the long view of history. Surely Pope Francis is not counseling panic over interpretations of impending doom. This message should not be reduced to a fearful apocalyptic foreboding any more than we can take Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate his papacy as a validation of any particular scenario. That being said, however, the attention that the popes have given to the message of Fatima deserves our notice.
Our Lord certainly speaks to us through Holy Scripture, as well as through history and sometimes through private revelation.  It is certainly wise to heed a message so many popes have taught is worthy of our belief and soberly embark on a more urgent effort to grow in faith. Countless saints from St. Thomas More to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta counseled the wisdom of keeping “the last things” in mind, to be mindful of our mortality, the consequences of sin and the great mercy of God the Father.
These gifts of revelation, and our own responses in faith, can have dire real world consequences. Had the requests of Our Lady of Fatima been heeded, the world would have been spared the horrors of World War II, in which over 50 million people were killed, as well as countless other wars and persecutions provoked by Communists throughout the world.
In 1920, Russia was also the first country to legalize abortion, following Lenin’s 1913 demand for “the unconditional annulment of all laws against abortions or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures.” There can be little doubt that these and other “errors” of Russia have spread and continue to spread, destroying countless lives and even our ability to live together in society.
Great evils threaten our world. Sin increases. So many hearts are hardened.
Queen Esther asked her people to pray and do penance with her, and the Mother of Mercy continues this call today, with her call echoed by popes, bishops, priests, religious, and the lay faithful. With the Holy Father, we need to call on the Queen of Heaven for her intercession.
Pray and do penance, and ask her to intercede with her Son Jesus Christ that He might spare us, our nation, and our world.

Father Peter West is the vice president for missions at Human Life International.
Articles by Fr. West:
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