Pope Francis: Advent calls us to enlarge our horizons

Pope Francis greets the faithful at the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday. - REUTERS

Pope Francis greets the faithful at the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday. – REUTERS

27/11/2016 12:47
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis marked the beginning of the new liturgical year at the Angelus for the First Sunday of Advent.
On this Sunday, he said, the Gospel introduces us to one of the most “evocative” themes of the Advent season: the visit of the Lord to humanity. Pope Francis pointed out three visits of the Lord: the first, in the past, with the Incarnation, and Birth of Jesus at Christmas; the second, in the present, as Jesus visits us continually, every day; and the final visit, in the future, when Jesus “will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
Advent encourages us to reflect on the contrast between our daily routine and the unexpected coming of the Lord. The Gospel, the Pope said, is not trying to frighten us, but “to open our horizons” to further dimensions, giving meaning even to everyday occurrences.
This perspective, he continued, is also an invitation to “sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world” but rather to keep them in their proper place. If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be overpowered by a concern for material things, we will not be able to perceive what is much more important: our final encounter with the Lord. And so, the Pope said, Advent is “an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart.”
During Advent, Pope Francis concluded, “we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life that is presented each day with its newness. In order to do this we need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own established plans, because the Lord comes in the hour which we don’t imagine.”
Listen to Christopher Wells’ report: 

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Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/11/27/pope_francis_advent_calls_us_to_enlarge_our_horizons/1275187

Pope: Full text of homily for Solemnity of Christ the King

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20/11/2016 10:30

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

20 November 2016

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy. The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of his saving work, and it does so in a surprising way. “The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King” (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: he is on the cross, where he seems more to be conquered than conqueror. His kingship is paradoxical: his throne is the cross; his crown is made of thorns; he has no sceptre, but a reed is put into his hand; he does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of his tunic; he wears no shiny rings on his fingers, but his hands are pierced with nails; he has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver.
Jesus’ reign is truly not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (cf. Col 1:13-14). For the grandeur of his kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. Christ lowered himself to us out of this love, he lived our human misery, he suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; he experienced death, the tomb, hell. And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being. He did not condemn us, nor did he conquer us, and he never disregarded our freedom, but he paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:7). This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.
Dear brothers and sisters, today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, his very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8). We joyfully share the splendour of having Jesus as our King: his rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.
It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept his way of being King. The people presented to us in today’s Gospel, however, help us. In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.
First, the people: the Gospel says that “the people stood by, watching” (Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer. The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening. They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance. Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus’ kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of his humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us. We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with him. A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow his way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: “What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?”
There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers and a criminal. They all mock Jesus. They provoke him in the same way: “Save yourself!” (Lk 23:35,37,39). This temptation is worse than that of the people. They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world’s ways: to come down from the cross and destroy his enemies! If he is God, let him show his power and superiority! This temptation is a direct attack on love: “save yourself” (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself. Claim triumph for yourself with your power, with your glory, with your victory. It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel. When confronted with this attack on his very way of being, Jesus does not speak, he does not react. He does not defend himself, he does not try to convince them, he does not mount a defence of his kingship. He continues rather to love; he forgives, he lives this moment of trial according to the Father’s will, certain that love will bear fruit.
In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to him. How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world. How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works. This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission. Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.
In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in his kingdom. He was not closed in on himself, but rather – with his errors, his sins and his troubles – he turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God’s mercy: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v. 43). As soon as we give God the chance, he remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because his memory – unlike our own – does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.
Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory. Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope. As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others. Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.
So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamour of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord. We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy. Let us go forward on this road together. May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle. Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus’ disciple as her son. She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to his merciful eyes, will find an answer.

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Taken from: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/11/20/pope_full_text_of_homily_for_solemnity_of_christ_the_king/1273568

Pope Francis dismisses critics of his teachings

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David Gibson Religion News Service | Nov. 18, 2016

Vatican City — Pope Francis is firing back at foes of his efforts to make the Catholic church more open and pastoral in its ministry, telling an interviewer that “they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions.”

The pontiff’s lengthy interview in Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian hierarchy, was published Friday and followed days of news coverage of demands by four hard-line cardinals who have grave concerns about Francis’ approach.

The four say that focusing on ministering to people in their particular circumstances is eroding the church’s doctrinal absolutes and that Francis must dispel any ambiguities or face serious consequences.

The four critics, led by U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Rome-based prelate and longtime opponent of the pontiff’s policies, had written privately to Francis in September.

They asked the pontiff to state whether passages in a landmark document on ministering to families that he had issued in April could be interpreted to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion in some cases.

Joy-of-the-Family-Guide.jpgExplore Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family. Download our free study guide.

On Monday, the cardinals went public with the letter because they learned that Francis was not going to respond to their demands that he answer five specific questions about the document, an exhortation called Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love.”

The cardinals said he had to answer their questions in order to clear up their doubts about whether the document undermined the church’s teaching on sin and the permanence of marriage.

Then in an interview published Tuesday in the National Catholic Register, Burke raised the stakes by saying that if Francis did not offer a clarification, the next step would be to make “a formal act of correction of a serious error” — a phrase that some believe is tantamount to accusing the pope of heresy.

Avvenire’s interview with Francis focused largely on ecumenism and Catholicism’s relations with other churches.

But the pope also took the opportunity to push back against his critics — he did not name them — who view the faith through the lens of “a certain legalism, which can be ideological.”

“Some people — I am thinking of certain responses to Amoris Laetitia — continue to misunderstand,” Francis said. “It’s either black or white [to them], even if in the flow of life you have to discern.”

Asked about critics who accuse the pope of “Protestantizing” the Catholic church — an objection often raised by conservative Catholics in the U.S. — Francis said, “I don’t lose sleep over it.”

He insisted that he is following the model of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s that set the church on a path to internal reform and greater engagement with the world.

“As for opinions of others,” he said, “we always have to distinguish the spirit in which they are given. When not given in bad faith, they help with the way forward. Other times you see right away that the critics pick bits from here and there to justify a pre-existing viewpoint; they are not honest, they are acting in bad faith to foment divisions.”

“You see right away that a certain ‘rigorism’ is born out of a lack of something, from a desire to hide inside the armor of one’s own sad dissatisfaction,” he said.

The papal document Amoris Laetitia was Francis’ summation of two extraordinary Vatican meetings of the world’s bishops, held in 2014 and 2015, that sought to reorient the church’s approach away from a focus on doctrinal formulations and the reiteration of rules and toward accompanying people in difficult or unusual circumstances.

But the document has become a flashpoint for an increasingly open struggle between old guard hard-liners and supporters of Francis.

One of the three American prelates that Francis is to elevate to the rank of cardinal on Saturday — along with 14 other churchmen — pushed back against Burke’s campaign in unusually strong language, calling the effort “troublesome.”

Cardinal-designate Joseph Tobin, who is going to head the Archdiocese of Newark, told The Tablet of London that Amoris Laetitia cannot simply be reduced to a question of ‘yes or no’ in a specific pastoral situation.”

He said that the challenge by the four cardinals “is at best naive.”

Related stories:
•Four cardinals openly challenge Francis over ‘Amoris Laetitia’
•Bishops need shared approach to ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ new cardinal says
•New Cardinal Farrell: Amoris Laetitia is ‘the Holy Spirit speaking’
•Little attention paid to ‘Amoris Laetitia’ at bishops’ fall meeting
•US Church must become agent of healing post-trump, says Cardinal-elect Tobin (see second half of story)

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Taken from: https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-francis-dismisses-critics-his-teachings

Pope Francis: the Church’s mercy is for everyone

By Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2016 / 09:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims about how the mercy of God is for everyone, and how through the Church, we are all called to embrace and include everyone in the Body of Christ.
“The Gospel calls us to recognize in the history of humanity the design of a great work of inclusion, which fully respects the freedom of every person, every community, every people,” the Pope said Nov. 12.
And “calls everyone to form a family of brothers and sisters, in justice, solidarity and peace, and to be part of the Church, which is the body of Christ.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the final special general audience for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The extra audiences have been held once a month in addition to the Pope’s weekly audience for the duration of the Jubilee, which officially ends Nov. 20.
At the audience, the Pope’s catechesis centered on the “universal invitation” found in the words of Jesus in St. Matthew’s Gospel: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“No one is excluded from this call,” he said, “because the mission of Jesus is to reveal to everyone the Father’s love.” It is “up to us to open our hearts, trust in Jesus and accept this message of love, which makes us enter into the mystery of salvation.”
Reflecting on the Body of Christ as it is depicted on the crucifix, the Pope noted how Christ’s arms are “outstretched on the cross” showing that “no one is excluded from his love and his mercy.”
“How true are the words of Jesus who invites those who are tired and weary to come to Him to find rest!” he said.
How many weary and oppressed people we meet every day, in our neighborhood, at our school, at the doctor’s office, Francis continued. It is through our eyes that the gaze of Jesus “rests on each one of those faces.”
Pointing to the colonnades which surround St. Peter’s Square, The Pope explained how even the square was a visible representation of what the Church should be, an expression of Christ’s “embrace.”
Just as God includes and welcomes us through his forgiveness, we “all need to meet brothers and sisters to help us to go to Jesus, to open ourselves to the gift he has given us on the cross.”
“We do not exclude anyone!” he emphasized. “For God, in his plan of love, he does not want to exclude anyone, but wants to include everyone.”
It is through our Baptism that God makes us all his children in Christ and members of his body the Church, the Pope noted, “and we Christians are encouraged to use the same criteria.”
“Mercy is the way you act,” he said, it is the way in which we incorporate our lives with the lives of others, avoiding closing in on ourselves and our own “selfish securities.”
This aspect of mercy is manifested in the open arms of the Church, “open wide to welcome,” not exclude, he continued. The Church does not classify others “according to social status, language, race, culture, religion.”
“In front of us there is only one person to love as God loves.”
Let us all participate in this inclusion, being witnesses of the same mercy with which God “has accepted and welcomed all of us,” he said.
“In fact, with humility and simplicity let’s be instruments of inclusive mercy of the Father.” Just as our Holy Mother Church “prolongs in the world the great embrace of Christ dead and risen.”

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Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-the-churchs-mercy-is-for-everyone-46009/

Pope Francis reiterates a strong ‘no’ to women priests

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By Hannah Brockhaus

During a press conference Tuesday aboard the papal plane from Sweden to Rome, Pope Francis said the issue of women priests has been clearly decided, while also clarifying the essential role of women in the Catholic Church.
“On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains,” Pope Francis told journalists Nov. 1.
The question concerning women priests in the Catholic Church was asked during the flight back to Rome after the Pope’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1 trip to Sweden to participate in a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
While there, the Pope participated in ecumenical events alongside Swedish Lutheran and Catholic leaders, including the first female Lutheran archbishop in Sweden, Antje Jackelén. She is the head of the Church of Sweden, the largest denomination of Lutheranism in Europe.
After stating that the issue of female ordination is closed, the Pope added that women are very important to the Church, specifically from a “Marian dimension.”
“In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about,” he said. “The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church.”
Pointing out that the Holy Mother Church “is a woman,” Francis said that the “spousal mystery” of the Church as the spouse of Christ can help us to understand these two dimensions.
“I ask myself: who is most important in theology and in the mysticism of the Church: the apostles or Mary on the day of Pentecost? It’s Mary!” he said.
The Church “doesn’t exist” without this feminine dimension, or “maternity,” the Pope said, because the Church herself is feminine.
Pope Francis did express that he thinks women “can do so many things better than men, even in the dogmatic field,” but he clarified how it is still a separate dimension from that of priests and bishops in the Petrine dimension.
From the beginning of his papacy, Francis has been clear on the issue of women priests, while still emphasizing the unique and important role of women in the Church.
In a press conference returning from Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5, 2013, he answered the same question: “with reference to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says, ‘No.’ John Paul II said it, but with a definitive formulation. That is closed, that door.”
He said that on the theology of woman he felt there was a “lack of a theological development,” which could be developed better. “You cannot be limited to the fact of being an altar server or the president of Caritas, the catechist … No! It must be more, but profoundly more, also mystically more.”
On his return flight from Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 28, 2015, the Pope again said that women priests “cannot be done,” and reiterated that a theology of women needs to “move ahead.”
“Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly,” that female ordination is not possible, he said.
Among concerns surrounding the Pope’s trip to Sweden, and the hope for continued progress on the path to communion between Lutherans and Catholics, was the issue of female ordination.
This is alongside other social and ethical issues, such as homosexuality and abortion, which are points of division not only between Catholics and Lutherans, but also within the global Lutheran community.

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http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=14514