From the Vatican

Pope Francis:  Joy, Prayer and Gratitude

Pope 12171917 Dec 2017 (Vatican Radio) On the Third Sunday of Advent - called "Gaudete Sunday" in reference to the introit traditionally sung at the Mass of the day, which begins, "Gaudete in Domino semper", Pope Francis prayed the traditional Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace. We bring you the full text of the remarks the Holy Father prepared for the faithful, to be read ahead of the prayer.

Over the last Sundays, the liturgy has underlined what it means to be in a vigilant attitude and what concretely involves preparing the way of the Lord. On this third Sunday of Advent, called the "Sunday of Joy", the liturgy invites us to grasp the spirit with which all of this takes place, that is – joy.

Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord by assuming three attitudes: constant joy, persevering prayer and continual thanksgiving.

The first attitude is constant joy: "Always be happy" (1 Thess 5:16), the St Paul exhorts us. That is to say always remain in joy, even when things do not go according to our desires. Anxieties, difficulties and sufferings permeate our lives, and so many times the reality around us seems to be inhospitable and arid, like the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resounded, as the Gospel of today recalls (cf. , 23). But the words of the Baptist reveal that our joy rests on the certainty that this desert is inhabited: "Among you there is one whom you do not know".

This is Jesus, the envoy of the Father who comes, as Isaiah underlines, "to bring the good news to the poor, to bind the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim the freedom of slaves, the release of prisoners, to promulgate the year of grace of the Lord "(61,1-2). These words, which Jesus will make his own in the discourse of the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4: 16-19), clarify that His mission in the world consists in the liberation from the personal and social sin and slavery that it produces. He came to earth to give back to men the dignity and freedom of the children of God, which only He can communicate.

The joy that characterizes the expectation of the Messiah is based on persevering prayer: this is the second attitude. "Pray unceasingly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), says Paul. Through prayer we can enter into a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. The joy of the Christian comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness. The more we are rooted in Christ, the more we find inner serenity, even in the midst of everyday contradictions.

That is why the Christian, having met Jesus, cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and a herald of joy. A joy to share with others; a contagious joy that makes life's journey less tiring.

The third attitude indicated by Paul is the continuous yield of graces, that is, the grateful love of God. He is indeed very generous with us, and we are invited to always recognize His gifts, His merciful love, His patience. and goodness, thus living in an endless state of thanksgiving.

Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas in an authentic way. In this last part of Advent, we entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is "the cause of our joy", not only because she is the Mother of Jesus, but because she continually leads us to Him.

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Pope at Mass: The Tenderness of God is Father and Mother

Pope 12141714/12/2017 (Vatican Radio) The tenderness of God, as his defining trait, was at the heart of the Pope’s homily this morning at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The theme was taken from the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and the psalm where God says of himself: "... his tenderness expands over all creatures".

The image presented by Isaiah is that of a God who speaks to us as a father with his child, imitating his voice to make it as similar as possible to his. And first of all he reassures him by caressing him: "Do not be afraid, I will come to your aid".

“It seems that our God wants to sing us a lullaby. Our God is gifted at this. His tenderness is this: he is a father and a mother. Many times he said: "But if a mother forgets her son, I will not forget you. He carries us in his deep within. He is the God who with this dialogue makes himself small to make us understand, to make us trust in him and we can tell him with the courage of Paul who changes the word and says: ", Abba Father". Father ... It's the tenderness of God.”

The great that becomes small and the small that is great

It is true, said Pope Francis, sometimes God raps us over the knuckles, He is great, but with his tenderness he approaches us and saves us. And this is a mystery and one of the most beautiful things:

“He is the great God who makes himself small and in his smallness he does not stop being great. And in this great dialectic he is small: there is the tenderness of God. The great that makes himself small and the small that is great. Christmas helps us to understand this: in that manger ... the little God. A phrase from St. Thomas comes to mind in the first part of Summa [Theologica]. Wanting to explain this: "What is divine? What is the most divine thing? ", He says:" “to the maximum tamen continents at the minimum divinum est", that is, do not be frightened of big things, but keep small things in mind. This is divine, both together.”

But where, in particular, is the tenderness of God shown?

God not only helps us, but he also makes us promises of joy, of a great harvest, to help us move forward. God, repeated Pope Francis, is not just father but a Dad:

“Am I able to speak with the Lord like this or am I afraid? Everyone answers. But someone can say, he can ask: "But what is the theological place of God's tenderness? Where can the tenderness of God be found? What is the place where God's tenderness is best manifested? "-" The wounds ". My wounds, your sores, when you meet my wound with his wound. We have been healed in their wounds.

And the Pope recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan: there, someone bent over the man who had stumbled upon brigands and helped him by cleaning his wounds and paying for his recovery. Here is "the theological place of God's tenderness: our wounds". And the Pope concludes by exhorting us to think about the Lord's invitation during the day: "Come on, come on: show me your wounds. I want to heal them ".

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Pope Tells Christians That Mass Gives Meaning to Sundays

Pope 1213172017-12-13 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis told the faithful on Wednesday that missing out on Mass on Sundays means missing out an encounter with the Lord.

Speaking to those present in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience, the Pope reflected on the question: “why go to Mass on Sunday?”

Continuing his catechesis on the Eucharist Pope Francis reminded Christians that we go to Mass on Sunday to meet the resurrected Lord – or better still – “to let ourselves be welcomed by Him, to hear His word, eat at His table, and by his grace fulfill our mission as members of the Mystical Body of the Church.”     

Sunday is a holy day

He said Sunday is a holy day for Christians, and it is rendered holy by the celebration of the Eucharist which is the living presence of the Lord amongst us.

“Thus, it is the Mass that defines Sunday for Christians” he said: “what sort of Sunday can it be if it is lacking an encounter with the Lord?”.

The Pope turned his thoughts to persecuted Christian communities are not able to celebrate Mass every Sunday and who do their best to gather in prayer on this holy day.

He also mentioned some swathes of secularized society “that have lost that Christian sense of Sunday that is illuminated by the Eucharist: ‘this is a real shame’ he said reflecting on the need to recuperate this need.

2nd Vatican Council

He recalled how the Second Vatican Council asked us to celebrate the Lord’s Day as a day of joy and rest from servile work as a sign of our dignity as children of God. 

“Without Christ we are condemned to be weighed down by the fatigue of everyday life, with its worries and fear of tomorrow” he said.

Our Sunday meeting with the Lord, he continued, gives us the strength to live today with trust and courage and to go forth with hope.

He explained that in the Eucharist we receive a foretaste of the eternal bliss and repose to which we are called in which there will be no more fatigue, nor pain, nor grief nor tears; only the joy of living fully and forever with the Lord.

Eucharist: source of grace and energy for Christians

The Pope finally acknowledged that the quality of Christian life is measured by our capacity to love the other, but, he said “how can we practice the Gospel without drawing from the energy provided by the inexhaustible source of the Eucharist?”

We go to Mass, he concluded, not to give something to God, but to receive from him the grace and strength to remain faithful to his word, to follow his commandments and, through his living presence within us, to be witnesses of his goodness and love before the world.

Reported by Linda Bordoni

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Pope at Mass: Have Courage to Let Go of Grudges and Complaints

Pope 1211172017-12-11 (Vatican Radio) At his morning Mass at Santa Marta on Monday, Pope Francis said we must learn to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, leaving behind our grudges and complaints.

Reflecting on the day’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah, he said the Lord has come to console us. Just as the first disciples could hardly believe the joy of the Resurrection, we often find it hard to let ourselves be consoled by the miracles that God performs in our lives.

It is easier for us to console others, than to let ourselves be consoled, the pope said. So often, we are attached to the negative sins and scars in our hearts and we prefer to remain there on our sick bed, like the paralyzed man in St Luke’s Gospel, not wanting to hear Jesus telling us to ‘Get up and walk!’

We prefer to stew in our own juice

Pope Francis continued by explaining that we prefer to bear grudges and to stew in our own juice because in that way we are masters of our own hard hearts. Like the paralyzed man, we prefer the ‘bitter root’ of original sin than the sweetness of God’s consolation.

Such bitterness always leads us to complain, the pope said, with a constant whining as the soundtrack to our lives. He described the prophet Job as the Nobel prize winner of whiners, who complained about everything that God did.

Have courage to let go of complaints

Pope Francis also recalled an elderly priest he knew who complained so much that his companions joked about what he would say to St Peter, upon arriving in heaven. They said his first thoughts would be to ask about hell and to complain that there were too few people denied salvation.

Faced with such bitterness, anger and complaining, the pope said, the Church repeats that we must have courage, just like the friends of the paralyzed man, who didn’t think about the reaction of the scribes, but only about helping their friend in need.

Let ourselves be consoled by the Lord

The message of today’s liturgy, Pope Francis concluded, is to let ourselves be consoled by the Lord, to be stripped of all our bitter egoisms and complaints. Let us examine our consciences and look into our hearts, he urged, asking if there is any sadness or bitterness there. Do we praise God, or do we always have something to complain about? Let us pray for the grace of courage, he said, asking the Lord to come and console us.

Reported by Philippa Hitchen

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Pope Francis Appeals for Nuclear Disarmament and Climate Change Action

Pope 121017(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday said he is close to the Indian communities of Tamil Nadu and Kerala States in the wake of Cyclone Okhi, and in particular to the families of the many fisherman who have gone missing since the cyclone swept those coastal areas.

Cyclone Okhi

Over 500 fisherman are missing and feared dead since the cyclone struck on November 29th.  The Catholic Archdiocese of Trivandrum and Tamil Nadu’s Kottar Diocese told Vatican Radio they are  “very much engaged in the rescue operation and relief work” in collaboration with the state and central governments, and are appealing to draw attention to the emergency which has not received the attention of the international and national media.

The Pope’s words of closeness and concern came after the recitation of the Angelus Prayer in St. Peter’s Square.

Nuclear disarmament

Francis also mentioned that the anti-nuclear weapons group chosen to receive the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize will be presented with the award today.

“This recognition takes place in coincidence with UN Day for Human Rights” the Pope said, “highlighting the strong tie that exists between human rights and nuclear disarmament”.

He went on to say that “the commitment towards upholding the dignity of all people, in particular the weakest and most vulnerable, means also working with determination to build a world without nuclear arms”.

“God gives us the capacity to collaborate in building our common home: we have freedom, intelligence and the capacity to use technology, to limit our power in the service of peace and true progress” he said.

Climate change

Pope Francis also looked ahead to a Summit in Paris on Tuesday: “Our Planet Summit” which he said comes two years after the Paris Climate Accord.

“I strongly hope that his Summit, like others of its kind, may favor the clear awareness on the necessity to implement decisions that are truly effective in contrasting climate change, and in the same time fighting poverty and promoting human development” he said. 

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Pope at Angelus: ‘Mary is Evergreen Oasis of Humanity’

Pope 1208172017-12-08 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at his Angelus address on Friday, December 8th, as the Church celebrates the Marian Solemnity.

Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis said the words of the angel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke contain the key to understanding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

The Pope said Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”, even before pronouncing her name.

In this way, he said, God “reveals the new name, which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents.”

The Holy Father said “full of grace” means that “Mary is full of the presence of God”.

“And if she is entirely pervaded by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is extraordinary,” he said, “because unfortunately the whole world is contaminated by evil.”

Mary alone, he continued, is the “ever-green oasis” of humanity. She is “the only uncontaminated person, immaculately created to welcome fully – with her ‘yes’ – God who came into the world”.

Pope Francis went on to say that, when we call Mary “full of grace”, we are paying her “the greatest compliment, which is the same offered her by God.”

Because Mary is without sin, he said, she is immune to ageing, since “sin makes one old, not age”, and worthy of the name tota pulchra, or “all fair” or “completely beautiful”.

“Since her youth depends not on age, her beauty consists not on external appearances. Mary, as the day’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance. She is from a simple family; she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown place.”

Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the secret of the “beautiful life” lived by Mary, “full of grace”.

“In many paintings [of the Annunciation] Mary is depicted as seated before an angel with a little book. This book is the Scriptures. So Mary often listened to God and reflected with Him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, He took on flesh in her womb.”

The Holy Father invited all to ask for the grace “to remain young by saying ‘no’ to sin and to live a beautiful life by saying ‘yes’ to God.

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Pope Appeals for Wisdom and Prudence to Prevail over Jerusalem

Pope 1206172017-12-06 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for respect for Jerusalem’s status quo according to the pertinent United Nations Resolutions regarding the city.

Speaking after his catechesis to the crowds in the Paul VI Hall during the weekly General Audience, the Pope said “my thoughts go to Jerusalem and I cannot keep silent my deep concern for the situation that has been created in the past days”.

“At the same time, he continued, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal for everyone’s commitment to respect the city’s status quo, in conformity with the pertinent United Nations Resolutions”.

The Pope’s words of concern came on Wednesday ahead of an expected announcement by US President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Arab leaders have warned the move will create turmoil and trigger violence. 

Describing Jerusalem as unique city which is “Holy for Jews, Christians and Muslims, who venerate the Holy Sites of their respective religions”, the Pope said it has a special vocation for peace. 

“I pray to the Lord that its identity is preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the whole world and that wisdom and prudence prevail to prevent new elements of tension from being added to a global context already convulsed by so many cruel conflicts” he said.

Earlier in the morning the Pope called for dialogue that respects the rights of everyone in the Holy Land and expressed his hope for "peace and prosperity" for the Palestinian people during a previously scheduled meeting with a Palestinian delegation of religious and intellectual leaders in the Vatican.

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Pope Mass: Being Humble Means Accepting Humiliation like Christ

Pope 1205172017-12-05 (Vatican Radio) In the life of a Christian, humility is an indispensable quality that is needed in order to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to grow.  This was the reflection of Pope Francis in his homily at Mass, Tuesday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.  Drawing inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope said that every Christian is like "a small shoot on which the Spirit of the Lord rests, the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” "These,” the Pope said, “are the gifts of the Holy Spirit which grow from the smallness of the bud to the fullness of the Spirit. This is the promise, this is the Kingdom of God” and "the life of the Christian," he stressed.

Humility

The Pope said that the task of a Christian is to be aware that each of us is a “sprout of that root which must grow with the power of the Holy Spirit, to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us.” And our task, he said is to safeguard this sprout, this growth which is the Spirit.  The Holy Father said this is done by adopting a lifestyle of a Christian that resembles Christ, which is the path of humility. 

The Holy Father said it takes faith and humility to believe that this bud, this small gift will grow to the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  He said, it takes humility to believe that the Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, as the day’s Gospel says, has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones.  Humility means to be small, like the sprout that grows little by little to the fullness of life through the power of Holy Spirit.

Humiliation

The Pope further explained that being humble does not mean being polite, courteous or closing one’s eyes in prayer.  Being humble means being able to accept humiliations.  “Humility without humiliation,” he stressed, “is not humility.”  A humble man or a woman is one who is able to endure humiliations like Jesus whom the Pope described as “the great humiliated.”

Pope Francis recalled the example of many saints "who not only accepted humiliations but asked for them" in order to resemble Jesus.  The Pope concluded his homily urging that the Lord “grant us this grace to safeguard this smallness towards the fullness of the Spirit without forgetting the root and by accepting humiliation.”

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Angelus: Pope Marks Advent and Recalls Papal Journey

Pope 1203172017-12-03 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis was back in St Peter’s Square for the traditional recitation of the Angelus on Sunday following his return from a journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh. From the window of his studio the Holy Father thanked all those who accompanied him there in prayer.

He told all those gathered in the square that he was impressed by the many noble and smiling faces he witnessed despite their hardships and he expressed his closeness to them.

The Pope also remembered in his prayers the nation of Honduras which has witnessed violent protests as a result of a disputed Presidential election. Pope Francis said, “I remember especially the people of Honduras, and pray they can overcome the current moment of difficulty in a peaceful way.”

Advent

Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer the Holy Father focused his attention on this first Sunday of Advent saying, it is the time “that is given to us to welcome the Lord who comes to meet us, to verify our desire for God, and  to look ahead and prepare for the return of Christ. “

Referring to the Gospel readings of the day, the Pope explained, “Jesus exhorts us to pay attention and to watch, to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return.”

The person who pays attention, he continued,  is the one who, “in the noise of the world, does not let him or herself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with a concern directed above all to others.”

With this attitude, Pope Francis noted, “we become aware of the tears and needs of others”.

The attentive person, he added, tries to counter the indifference and cruelty in the world and rejoices in the treasures of beauty that also exist in it.

The Holy Father underlined that the vigilant person is the one that welcomes the invitation to watch, and is not overwhelmed by the weariness of discouragement, a lack of hope or disappointment;

Being alert and vigilant, Pope Francis concluded are the preconditions that help us to stop "wandering away from the ways of the Lord", lost in our sins and in our infidelities; “these are the conditions that allow God to break into our existence, in order to restore meaning and value to it full of goodness and tenderness.”

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Pope Francis In-flight Press Conference: full text

Pope on Plane2017-12-03 Pope Francis on Saturday returning to Rome following his visit to Myanmar Bangladesh held his traditional in flight press conference.

Among the topics of discussion were the Rohingya people, nuclear arms, globalization and future travel plans.

This is the full text of the press conference:

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holy Father. First of all, thanks. You have chosen two interesting countries to visit. Two very different countries but with something in common, that is, in each of these countries is a small but very active Church, full of joy, full of young people and full of the spirit of service for all of society. We certainly have seen a lot, we have learned a lot, but we’re interested also in what you have seen and what you have learned.

Pope Francis: Good evening, if we think of here, or good afternoon if we think of Rome, and thank you so much for your work… as Greg said, two very interesting countries, with very traditional, deep, rich cultures. For this, I think that your work has been very intense. Thank you so much.

Greg Burke: The first question is from Sagrario Ruiz de Apodarca, from Spanish National Radio.

Sagrario Ruiz (Radio Nacional Espanola): Good evening, Holy Father. Thank you. I’m asking the question in Spanish with the permission of my Italian colleagues because I don’t yet trust my Italian, but if you would answer in Italian, that would be perfect. The crisis of the Rohingya has tempered a large part of this trip. Yesterday, they were called by name finally in Bangladesh. Do you wish you would have done the same in Burma, named them with this word, Rohingya? And, what did you feel yesterday when you asked forgiveness?

Pope Francis: It’s not the first time. I had said it publicly already in St. Peter’s Square, in an Angelus, in an Audience… and it was already known what I thought about this thing and what I had said. Your question is interesting because it brings me to reflect on how I seek to communicate. For me, the most important thing is that the message arrives and for this I seek to say the things, step by step, and listen to the answers so that the message may arrive. An example in daily life: a boy, a girl in the crisis of adolescence can say what they think but throwing the door in the face of the other… and the message doesn’t arrive. It closes. I was interested that this message would arrive, for this I saw that if in the official speech I would have said that word, I would have thrown the door in a face. But I described it, the situations, the rights, no one excluded, the citizenship, to allow myself in the private conversations to go beyond. I was very, very satisfied with the talks that I was able to have, because it is true that I haven’t, let’s say it this way, had the pleasure throwing the door in a face, publicly, a denouncement, but I did have the satisfaction of dialoguing and letting the other speak and to say my part and in that way the message arrived and to such a point did it arrive that it continued and continued and finished yesterday with that, no? And this is very important in communicating, the concern is that the message arrives. Often, denouncements, also in the media, but I don’t want to offend, with some aggressive (tactics) close the dialogue, close the door and the message doesn’t arrive. And you who are specialists in making messages arrive, also to me, understand this well.

Then, something I heard yesterday… This wasn’t planned like this. I knew that I would meet the Rohingya. I didn’t know where or how, but this was the condition of the trip and they were preparing the ways, and after so much management also from the government, with Caritas… the government allowed this trip, of these who came yesterday. Because the problem for the government who protects them and gives them hospitality - and this is big. What Bangladesh does for them is big, an example of welcoming. A small, poor country that has received 700,000. I think of the countries that close the doors. We must be grateful for the example that they’ve given us - The government must move through the international relations with Burma, with permits, dialogue, because they are in a refugee camp with a special status. But in the end they come scared, they didn’t know. Someone there had told them, “You greet the Pope, don’t say anything,” someone who wasn’t from the government of Bangladesh, people who were working on it. At a certain point after the inter-religious dialogue, the inter-religious prayer, this prepared the hearts of us all. We were very open religiously. I at least felt that way. The moment arrived that they were coming to greet me, in a straight line, and I didn’t like that. One, the other... but then they immediately wanted to send them away from the scene and there I got mad and a chewed them out a bit. I’m a sinner. I told them so many times the word “respect, respect. Stay here.” And they stayed there. Then, having heard them one by one with an interpreter who spoke their language, I began to feel things inside, but (I said to myself) “I cannot let them go without saying a word.” I asked for the microphone. And I began to speak. I don’t remember what I said. I know that at a certain point I asked forgiveness, twice. I don’t remember. Your question is what did I feel. In that moment I cried. I tried not to let it be seen. They cried, too. And then I thought the we were in an inter-religious meeting and the leaders of the other religious traditions were there. “Why don’t you come too?” These were all of our Rohingya. They greeted the Rohingya and I didn’t know what more to say. I watched them. I greeted them. And I thought, all of us have spoken, the religious leaders, but one of you must make a prayer and one who I believe was an Imam or let’s say a “cleric” of their religion, made that prayer. They also prayed there with us, and seeing all that happened and the whole path, I felt that the message had arrived. I don’t know if I satisfied your question but part was planned, but the majority came out spontaneously. Then, I was told that today a program was made by one of you, I don’t know if they’re here or… from the TG1, a really long program, who did it…

Greg Burke: TG1 is still there in Bangladesh.

Pope Francis: Because it was replayed by TG4 and - I don’t know. I haven’t seen it, but some who are here have seen it - it’s a reflection that the message had arrived not only here. You have seen the front pages of the newspapers today. All have received the message and I haven’t heard any criticism. Maybe they are there but I haven’t heard them.

Ruiz: Thank you.

Greg Burke: The next question is from George Kallivayalil, an Indian who has made the trip for the Deepika Daily.

George Kallivayalil (Deepika Daily): Holy Father, your trip to South Asia was huge success, we know that you wish to go to India, too, in this trip. What exactly was the reason not to visit India in this trip? Indians in India, millions of the faithful still hope that Holy Father visit India next year. Can we expect you to be in India in 2018?

Pope Francis: The first plan was to go to India and Bangladesh, but then the process to go to India was delayed and the time was pushing so I chose these two countries: Bangladesh and next door Myanmar. And it was providential because to visit India, you need one single trip, because you’ve got to go to the south, the center, the east, the northeast, to the north for the different cultures of India. I hope to do it in 2018 if I’m alive! But the idea was India and Bangladesh, then the time forced us to make this choice. Thanks.

Greg Burke: And now from the French group, Etienne Loraillere of KTO, the French Catholic Television.

Etienne Loraillere (KTO): Holiness, there is a question from the group of journalists from France. Some are opposed to inter-religious dialogue and evangelization. During this trip you have spoken of dialogue for building peace. But, what is the priority? Evangelizing or dialoguing for peace? Because to evangelize means bringing about conversions that provoke tension and sometimes provoke conflicts between believers. So, what is the priority, evangelizing or dialoguing? Thanks.

Pope Francis: First distinction: evangelizing is not making proselytism. The Church grows not for proselytism but for attraction, that is for testimony, this was said by Pope Benedict XVI. What is evangelization like? Living the Gospel and bearing witness to how one lives the Gospel, witnessing to the Beatitudes, giving testimony to Matthew 25, the Good Samaritan, forgiving 70 times 7 and in this witness the Holy Spirit works and there are conversions, but we are not very enthusiastic to make conversions immediately. If they come, they wait, you speak, your tradition… seeking that a conversion be the answer to something that the Holy Spirit has moved in my heart before the witness of the Christians.

During the lunch I had with the young people at World Youth Day in Krakow, 15 or so young people from the entire world, one of them asked me this question: what do I Have to say to a classmate at the university, a friend, good, but he is atheist… what do I have to say to change him, to convert him? The answer was this: the last thing you have to do is say something. You live your Gospel and if he asks you why you do this, you can explain why you do it. And let the Holy Spirit activate him. This is the strength and the meekness of the Holy Spirit in the conversion. It is not a mental convincing, with apologetics, with reasons, it is the Spirit that makes the vocation. We are witnesses, witnesses of the Gospel. 'Testimony' is a Greek word that means martyr. Every day martyrdom, martyrdom also of blood, when it arrives. And your question: what is the priority, peace or conversion? But when you live with testimony and respect, you make peace. Peace starts to break down in this field when proselytism begins and there are so many ways of proselytism and this is not the Gospel. I don’t know if I answered.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. And now the Anglophone group. Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter.

Joshua McElwee (National Catholic Reporter) : Thanks so much, Holiness. A change of theme. During the Cold War, Pope Saint John Paul II said that the world policy of nuclear deterrence was judged as morally acceptable. Last month, you said to a conference on disarmament that the very possession of nuclear arms was to be condemned. What has changed in the world that led you to make this change? What role have the episodes and the threats between President Trump and Kim Jong Un had on your decision? What would you say to politicians that do not want to renounce their nuclear arsenals nor decrease them?

Pope Francis: I would prefer if the questions on the trip were done first, I say this to everyone, but I'll make an exception because you asked a question. Now we'll do the questions on the trip, then I'll say something about the trip, and then the other questions will come. What has changed? Irrationality has changed (has increased). The encyclical Laudato Si comes to mind, the care of the created, of creation, from the time of John Paul II to all this many years have passed. How many? Do you have the date? (82)  82, 92, 2002, 2012...34 years. In the nuclear field, in 34 years it has gone beyond, beyond, beyond, beyond, and today we are at the limit. This can be a matter for discussion, it's my opinion, but I am convinced of my opinion: we are at the limit of liceity to have and use nuclear arms. Because today, with the nuclear arsenal so sophisticated, we risk the destruction of humanity or at least a great part (of it). This with Laudato Si.

What has changed? This: the growth in nuclear armament, it has also changed in that they are sophisticated and even cruel, they are also capable of destroying people, leaving...without touching structures, but we are at the limit, and because we are at the limit I ask myself this question: and this not as a pontifical magisterium, but it is the question a Pope makes. Today is it licit to maintain the arsenal of nuclear weapons as they are, or today, to save creation, to save humanity, is it not necessary to go backward? I go back to something I had said from Guarini, it's not mine, (but) there are two forms of culture:

First, the inculturation that God has given us, to create the culture through work, through investigation. We think of medical science, so much progress, so much culture, so many mechanical things. And man has the mission to create the culture received by the inculturation, but we arrive at a point where man has in hand with this culture the capacity to make another "inculturation," we think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This 60/70 years ago, the destruction and also this happened when also atomic energy can not have all the control. Think of the incidents in Ukraine. For this returning to arms, that are to conquer and destroy, I say we are at the limit of liceity.

Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Now they have given me the signal that the questions that we have about the trip are others. So, if you’d like to say something about the trip…

Pope Francis: I would like some more about the trip, because (otherwise) it would seem that the trip wasn’t that interesting.

Greg Burke: (Come, come) We’ve found another about the trip. Come now, Delia Gallagher of CNN.

Delia Gallagher (CNN): Holiness, I don’t know how much you’d like to respond, but I’m very curious about your meeting with General Haling because I’ve learned a lot about this situation being here and I’ve understood that, well, apart from Aung San Suu Kyi, there is also this military man that is very important in the crisis and you have met him in person. What type of meeting was it? How are you able to speak with him? Thanks.

Pope Francis: Clever the question… eh.. good, good. But I would distinguish between the two meetings, two types of meetings. Those meetings during which I went to meet people and those in which I received people. This general asked me to speak. And I received him. I never close the door. You ask to speak and enter. Speaking you never lose anything, you always win. It was a beautiful conversation. I couldn’t say because it was private, but I didn’t negotiate the truth. But I did it in a way that he understood a bit that the path as it was during the nasty times renewed again today isn’t viable. It was a good meeting, civilized and also there the message arrived.

Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. I think that Gerard O’Connell.

Gerard O’Connell (America Magazine): Mine is a bit of a development of the questions from Delia. You met Aung San Suu Kyi, the president, the military, the monk who makes a bit of difficulty and then in Bangladesh you met the prime minister, the president, the Islamic leaders there and the Buddhist leaders in Myanmar. My question: what do you take away from all of these meetings? What prospects are there for the future of a better development in these two countries, in the situation also of the Rohingya?

Pope Francis: It won’t be easy to move ahead in a constructive development and it will not be easy for someone who wishes to go back. We are at a point where they have to study things. Someone - I don’t know if this is true - has said that the Rakhine state is one of the richest in precious stones and that possibly there are interests, being a land a little without people to work… but I don’t know if it’s true. These are just hypotheses that are said, also about Africa they say so many… but I believe that we are at a point where it won’t be easy to go ahead in the positive sense and it won’t be easy to go back, because of the awareness of humanity today… the fact of the return of the Rohingya, which the United Nations have said that the Rohingya are the most persecuted religious and ethnic minority in the world today. Well, this is a point that whomever has to go back must do so quickly. We are at a point there… that that dialogue… beginning with a step, another step, maybe a half step back and two ahead, but as human things are done, with benevolence, dialogue, never with violation, never with war. It isn’t easy. But is a turning-point. Is this turning-point being done for the good? Or is this a turning-point to go back? But yes, I don’t lose hope! But why? Sincerely, if the Lord has allowed this that we’ve seen yesterday, that we’ve experienced in a very reserved way, except for two speeches… the Lord promises something to promise another. I have Christian hope. And it’s known….

Greg Burke: Something yet about the trip? Valentina.

Valentina Alazraki (Televisa): On the trip, a question that we wished to asked before and then it didn’t go. We would like to know: a Pope that speaks about asylum seekers, refugees, immigrants every day… did you want to go to a Rohingya refugee camp? And why didn’t you go?

Pope Francis: I would have liked to go. I would have liked to go, but it wasn’t possible. The things are studied and it wasn’t possible for various factors, also the timing and the distance… but other factors as well. The refugee camp came with a representation, but I would have liked to, that is true. But it wasn’t possible.

Greg Burke: Enzo?

Enzo Romeo (TG2) : Holiness, thank you. I would like to ask you two things quickly. One is on globalization: we’ve seen especially in Bangladesh, and it is a reason for the question tied to the trip, that the nation is trying to get out of poverty but with systems that seem for us quite tough. We saw the Rana Square, the place where the building that was used for industrial textiles fell. 1100 people dead. 5,000 wounded. For 60 Euros per day they worked and in our restaurant to eat a plat of pasta and a pizza cost 50 Euro. No this seems incredible, right? In your opinion, from what you have seen and what you have heard, is it possible to get out of this mechanism? And then another thing is this that we’ve all thought: on the issue of the Rohingya, it seemed that there was also the will to intervene by jihadist groups (Al Qaida, ISIS) who right away, it appears, tried to make themselves the tutors of this people, of the freedom of this people. It’s interesting that the head of Christendom has shown himself more a friend in some way than these extremist groups. Is this sensation right?

Pope Francis: I’ll go from the second. There were groups of terrorists there who sought to take advantage of the situation of the Rohingya, who are a people of peace. This is like all the ethnicities, in all the religions there is always a fundamentalist group. We Catholics also have them. The military justify their intervention because of these groups. I try not to speak with these people. I try to speak with the victims, because the victims were the Rohingya people who on the one hand suffered that discrimination and on the other were defended by terrorists - and the government of Bangladesh has a very strong campaign, this is what I was told by ministers, of zero tolerance for terrorism not only for this, but to avoid other points - But these who are enrolled in ISIS are not Rohingya, but a fundamentalist, extremist, little group. But these make the ministers justify the intervention that has destroyed the good and the bad.

Greg Burke: Globalization, the first question…

Enzo Romeo: Bangladesh is seeking to go out from globalization, but at a very high price with the people exploited for little money.

Pope Francis: It’s one of the most serious problems. I’ve spoken about this in the private meetings. They are conscious of this. They are also conscious that liberty up until a certain point is conditioned, not only by the military, but also by the big international trusts and they have put focus on education and I believe that it has been a wise choice. And there are plans for education. They’ve shown me the percentages for the last years of how illiteracy has decreased. Quite a bit. And this is their choice, and I hope it goes well. They believe that with education the nation will go ahead.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness. Jean Marie Guenois from Le Figaro.

Jean Marie Guenois (Le Figaro): So, today Burma is the nation from which you come… before this you went to Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka. It gives the impression that you are going around China. So, two questions on China: is a trip to China being prepared? And, second question, what have you learned from this trip of the Asian mentality and also in light of this project from China? What is the Asian lesson for you?

Pope Francis: Today, the lady chancellor of the State of Burma has gone to Beijing. It can be seen that they are in dialogue there. Beijing has a great influence on the region, it is natural. I don’t know how many kilometers of border Burma has with (China)... also at the Masses there were Chinese who had come and I believe that these countries that surround it, China, also Laos, Cambodia, have a need for good relations. They are close and I see as wise, politically constructive, it can move ahead. It is true that China today is a world power. If we see it from this side it can change the picture, but it will be the political experts to explain it. I can’t and I don’t know. It seems natural that they would have good relations.

The trip to China is not being prepared. Be calm. For the moment, it is not being prepared. But, returning from Korea, when they told me that we were flying over Chinese territory, I wanted to say something: I would so much like to visit China. I would like to. It is not a hidden thing. The negotiations with China are at a high level, cultural. Today, for example, in these days there’s an exhibition of the Vatican Museums there. Then, there will be one or there has been one, I don’t know, of the Chinese museums in the Vatican. There are cultural, scientific relations, professors, priests who teach in Chinese state universities. Then, it’s mostly political dialogue for the Chinese Church, with that issue of the Patriotic Church, the underground church, which must go step by step delicately, as it is doing, slowly… I believe that in these days, today, tomorrow a sitting will start in Beijing of the mixed commission. Patience is needed. But the doors of the heart are open. And I believe that a trip to China will do well. I would like to do it.

Greg Burke: Thanks, Holiness. Now a question more or less about the trip, if we remain on the trip. ABC News.

James Longman (ABC): My apologies, I don’t speak any Italian. Thank you very much for having me on your--  I just want to ask if you have seen how much criticism Aung San Suu Kyi, and if you think that she received not having spoken enough about the Rohingya is fair.

Pope Francis: I heard all that, I heard the critics, also I heard the criticism of not being brought to the province of Rakhine, then you went a half day, more or less. But in Myanmar it is difficult to evaluate a criticism without asking, was it possible to do this? Or how will be possible to do this? In this I don’t want to say that it was a mistake to go or not to go. But in Myanmar the political situation… is a growing nation, politically in growth, and a nation in transition, (made up) of so many cultural values, in history, but politically it is in transition and because of this the possibilities should be evaluated also from this view. In this moment of transition would it have been possible or not to do this or that other (thing)? And to see if it was a mistake or it was not possible? Not only for the State’s Chancellor, but also for the president, for the deputies, the parliament. In Myanmar, you always have to have the construction of the country in front (of you), and from there you take, as I said at the beginning, two steps forward, one back, two forward, two back…History teaches us this. I do not know how to respond in another way, (this is) the little knowledge that I have on this place and I would not want to fall into what that Argentinian philosopher did who was invited to give conferences to countries in Asia one week and when he returned he wrote a book on the reality of that country. This is presumptuous.

Greg Burke: Thank you, Holiness! On the trip, Pullella.

Phil Pullella (Reuters): Yes, I would like to return to the trip if it’s possible. The meeting with the general was originally scheduled for Thursday morning. Instead you had to first meet Aung San Suu Kyi. When the general asked to see you first, the day of your arrival, it was a way of saying: I am in charge here, you have to see me first...in that moment did you feel that he or they wanted to manipulate you?

Pope Francis: The request was because he had to travel to China. If these things happen in every case, if I can move an appointment I do it...I don’t know the intentions, but I was interested in dialogue. A dialogue asked for by them and which they came to, it wasn’t scheduled in my visit. And I think that the most important thing...it’s clear that the suspicion is exactly what you said: we are in charge here, we are the first.

Pullella: Can I ask if -- you said that you cannot tell what is said in private encounters, but can I ask you if during that encounter you used the word Rohingya, with the general?

Pope Francis: I used the words to get to the message and when I saw that the message was accepted, I dared to say everything I wanted to say. ‘Intelligenti pauca’ (Editors note: this refers to a Latin phrase meaning “few words are enough for the one who understands”).

Greg Burke: Thank you, Your Holiness.

Pope Francis: The lady asked me first. It’s the last.

Alicia Romay (Gestiona Radio): Good evening Holiness! For my part I have a question because yesterday when we were with the priests who were ordained, I thought about whether they are afraid to be Catholic priests at this time because of the Catholic life in the country, and whether they had asked you, Your Holiness, what can they do when fear arrives and they don’t know what to do?

Pope Francis: It’s your first trip, eh, you are the friend of Valentina. I always have the habit that five minutes before the ordination, I speak with them in private. And to me they seemed calm, serene, aware. They were aware of their mission. Normal, normal. A question that I asked them: do you play soccer? Yes, all of them. It’s important. A theological question. But I didn’t perceive that fear. They know that they must be close, close to their people, that yes, they feel attached to the people and I liked this. Then I spoke with the formators. Some bishops told me, before entering the seminary, that they make the presbytery so that they learn many things, and they also learn perfect English, to say something practical. They know English and they start seminary. I learned that ordination doesn’t happen at 23-24, but at 28-29...they seem like children, because they all seem so young, all of them, even the older ones...but I saw them secure. What they had...close to their people. And they care a lot. Because each one of them comes from an ethnicity and this...

I thank you, because they tell me that it’s past time. I thank you for the questions and for all that you have done. And what does the Pope think about the trip: to me the trip does me well when I am able to meet the people of the country, the People of God, when I am able to speak, to meet with them and greet them, the encounters with the people. We have spoken about the encounters with the politicians. Yes, it’s true, it must be done, with the priests, with the bishops...but with the people, this...the people, the people who are truly the depth of a country. When I find this, when I am able to find it I am happy. I thank you for your help. And thanks also for the questions and the things that I learned from your questions.

Thanks, and have a good dinner.

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