From the Vatican

Pope Surprises Couple Officiating Their Marriage

Pope 071718By Robin Gomes

July 17, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis on Saturday surprised a Swiss guard and his would-be Brazilian wife, by appearing un-announced in the sacristy just ahead of the wedding ceremony and decided to marry them.


Neither the couple nor the few attending the ceremony knew about the Pope’s surprise move, said Brazilian priest Father Renato dos Santos, one of those present.   The priest entered the sacristy of the Church St Stephen of the Abyssinians in Vatican City, to prepare for the celebration when he was taken aback by a smiling pope seated there waiting for him.  The Holy Father took charge and went ahead.

"Never in my life, never would I have thought of finding the Pope in a sacristy," Fr.  dos Santos told Vatican News. The Brazilian priest noted the people inside the church were so surprised they were wondering if it was really Pope Francis.  "I saw him as a true parish priest who takes care for his own sheep in the parish,” Fr. dos Santos said. “He's always done it this way.”

Three verbs – success to marriage

The Holy Father’s homily was on three verbs: "to begin", "to stop", "to resume the journey" – which he explained are needed to be able to live their marriage in fullness.  “The Pope showed how dear to his heart marriage is,” Fr. dos Santos pointed out.  “The Pope has great love for this sacrament which helps start a family and which wants to put God at the center," Fr. dos Santo added.


Pope at Angelus: Two Characteristics of Missionary Disciples

Pope 071518By Christopher Wells

July 15, 2018 (Vatican Media) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis focused once again on the idea of missionary discipleship, taking the day’s Gospel as his starting point. In the Gospel reading, Jesus, after calling the disciples individually by name, goes on to send them out ahead of Him “two-by-two.” This, the Pope said, “is a kind of ‘internship’” in anticipation of their mission following the Resurrection.

Pope Francis said missionary discipleship, the missionary “style,” can be summarized in two points: “mission” has a center; and it has a “face.”

The first point recalls that the center of mission is the Person of Jesus Himself. When Jesus sends the Apostles on mission, they are not going forth to spread their own message, or to demonstrate their own abilities. Rather, like rays emanating from a center, the disciples proclaim the message of Jesus, and to bring His presence and His work into the world. They are called to speak and act as His messengers.

This Gospel passage, he said, applies to us too – and not only to priests, but to all Christians, who are called “to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus in every aspect of life. For us, too, he added, this mission “is only authentic” when it is focused on Jesus. This is “the mission of the Church, inseparably united to the Lord.” No Christian proclaims the Gospel on their own initiative, “but only when sent by the Church, which has received her mandate from Christ Himself.”

“The second characteristic of the missionary style,” Pope Francis said, is that the mission has “a face,” an aspect that it presents to the world. This “face” consists in “poverty of means.” The disciples were ordered to “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.” Pope Francis said this means Jesus wants His disciples to be free, depending only on “the love of Him who sends them, strengthened only by His Word which they proclaim.” Missionary disciples are not “all-powerful managers, or irreplaceable functionaries, or divas on tour.”


Pope at Mass: ‘Forgive, Love Our Enemies’

Pope 071118July 10, 2018 (Vatican Media) In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning, Pope Francis says Christians should forgive, love, and bless our enemies, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  The Pope said the mystery of Christian life is loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors.

He drew inspiration from the day’s Gospel (Mt 5:43-48), in which Jesus invites his followers to a higher standard of human relations, so as to be “perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The Holy Father said forgiveness, prayer, and love for those who seek to destroy us is the path Jesus has laid out for us.

Forgive to be forgiven

The challenge of Christian life, he said, is asking the Lord for the grace “to bless our enemies” and to love them.

“To pray for those who want to destroy me, my enemies, so that God may bless them: This is truly difficult to understand. We can recall events of the last century, like the poor Russian Christians who, simply for being Christians, were sent to Siberia to die of cold. And they should pray for the executing government that sent them there? How can that be? Yet many did so: they prayed. We think of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. Should they pray for the dictator who sought a ‘pure race’ and killed without scruple, even to pray that God should bless him? And yet many did so.”

Pope Francis said Jesus’ “difficult logic” is contained in his prayer for those who put him to death on the Cross.

Jesus asks God to forgive them, he said.

“There is an infinite distance between us – we who frequently refuse to forgive even small things – and what the Lord asks of us, which he has exemplified for us: To forgive those who seek to destroy us. It is often very difficult within families, for example, when spouses need to forgive one another after an argument, or when one needs to forgive their mother-in-law. It’s not easy… Rather, [we are invited] to forgive those who are killing us, who want us out of the way… Not only forgive, but even pray that God may watch over them! Even more, to love them. Only Jesus’ word can explain this.”

Perfect like the Father

Finally, Pope Francis said it is a grace “to understand this Christian mystery and be perfect like the Father, who gives good things to the good and the bad.”

“It would do us well, today, to think of our enemy – I think all of us have one – someone who has hurt us or wants to hurt us. The Mafia’s prayer is: ‘You’ll pay me back.’ The Christian prayer is: ‘Lord, give them your blessing, and teach me to love them.’ Let us think of one enemy, and pray for them. May the Lord to give us the grace to love them.”


US Bishops: ‘No Villains’ in Immigration Crisis

usccb logoBy Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

July 3, 2018 (Vatican Media) Speaking at a press conference at Our Lady of San Juan del Valle Basilica, 5 US Bishops speak about their 2-day visit to immigration facilities on the US/Mexico border, saying there are ‘no villains’ in the immigration crisis.

A team of US Bishops spent two days visiting personnel and structures providing services to migrants entering the US on its border with Mexico. On Monday they paid a visit to Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley's Humanitarian Respite Center. The next day they visited Casa Padre Center, a government-run resettlement center for children. There they met with approximately 250 children, toured the facility and celebrated Mass with them. Later they visited a facility where migrants are processed.

No villains

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo opened the press conference saying the visit was a pastoral one. He characterized the two days as full, beautiful, and painful at times. They did find challenges and can now make recommendations, he said. “But what we want to emphasize after we’ve had our meetings is that there are no villains.” Cardinal Dinardo went on to say that they met with cooperation at every site they visited, and all the personnel were helpful. “The children who were separated from their families, their parents, need to be reunited. That’s already begun…. We’re pleased with that... But it’s certainly not finished yet, and there may be complications, and its urgent.”

Reunification of children a priority

Archbishop José Gomez, Vice-President of the US Bishop’s Conference and Archbishop of Los Angeles, said it was difficult for him to see the children on their own. “It was a special blessing to be there and help them and give them some hope”. The Archbishop said that, during the homily at Mass, they spoke of God’s presence and encouraged the children to help each other. “The urgency of the reunification of the families” is the primary concern that the Archbishop was left with after the 2-day visit. “It’s so important that these children be reunited with their parents”. The Archbishop ended by saying that he is impressed at seeing the efforts of Catholic Charities and the USCCB in the reunification of families.

Humane application of law

Responding to a reporter’s question regarding reconciling conservative Catholic views with conservative political stances on the issue, Cardinal DiNardo said the Catholic Faith “is not just a system of concepts”. It needs to be applied to persons. While on the one hand the country has the right to protect its borders, “we need to keep in mind a humane approach to these things”, he said.

What can be done

Petitioning Congress is one of the ways that people can help the situation, Cardinal DiNardo explained. “We have to petition Congress. We have to talk to them, and we have to make it really intense – not nasty – but really intense”.

Bishop Flores of Brownsville, TX said Bishops on both sides of the border are in communication with each other. Many of those entering the US are doing so because their children’s lives are in danger in their countries of origin, he said. There are success stories taking place in Latin America in areas where neighborhoods are being rebuilt and revitalized. “The wider conversation addressing the hemispheric reality is also part of our responsibility”, he said.