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Pope Francis: Kiss the Crucifix

By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) — In his general audience address, Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of suffering and evil, explaining that it is a mystery which finds its answer in the passion and death of Jesus, who endured it for each of us.

Lauren Cater / Catholic News Agency
Pope Francis took part in a penitential service at St. Peter's Basilica, March 28, 2014.

“This week, it will do good for us all to look to the crucifix, kissing the wounds of Jesus, kissing the crucifix. He has taken upon himself the whole of human suffering,” the pope said in his April 16 Wednesday general audience.

Speaking to the thousands gathered for his weekly address, the pontiff began by drawing attention to the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts the betrayal of Judas, noting that this event marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion.

With his death on the Cross “Jesus reaches complete humiliation,” the pope observed, highlighting how “it involved the worst death; that which was reserved for slaves and criminals,” and that although “Jesus was considered a prophet,” he “died as a criminal.”

“Looking at Jesus in his passion, we see as in a mirror also the suffering of all humanity and find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of suffering, of death,” he said.

Noting that “many times we experience horror in the face of the evil and suffering that surrounds us, and we ask: why does God permit it?” the Pope said that “it’s a deep wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent!”

This wound especially stings “when we see children suffering ... it’s a wound in the heart. It’s the mystery of evil,” he said, “and Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering, upon himself.”

Often times we believe that “God in his omnipotence will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory,” he said. However instead he shows us “a humble victory that seems like a human failure to us.”

“We can say: God wins precisely in failure. The Son of God, in fact, appears on the cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is scorned and finally dies.”

Drawing attention to how “Jesus permits that evil crosses the line with him, and takes it upon himself to conquer it,” the pope emphasized that “his Passion is not an accident; his death — that death — was ‘written.’”

Referring to “the mystery of the great humility of God,” Pope Francis observed that, “Really, we don’t have many explanations; it’s a puzzling mystery. ‘For God has so loved the world that he gave his only son.’”

“This week we think so much of the pain of Jesus,” he said, “and we tell ourselves: ‘This is for me. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He would have done it.’”

“’He did it for me.’ And we kiss the crucifix and say: ‘For me. Thank you, Jesus. For me.’”

“And when all seems lost, when there is no one left because they will strike ‘the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” he said, “it is then that God intervenes with the power of the resurrection.”

News Roundup (April 10, 2014)

Here is a roundup of some things making headlines on April 10, 2014, as collected by the staff of The Northern Cross. Today, the Vatican and law enforcement work together on human trafficking, the U.S. bishops call for action on unemployment benefits, students at St. Thomas School in International Falls make the honor roll, and the USCCB offers resources on the Girl Scouts.

Pope Francis on Twitter today (Twitter)

@Pontifex: Jesus teaches us to not be ashamed of touching human misery, of touching his flesh in our brothers and sisters who suffer. (EG 270).  

Vatican, civil authorities join forces to oppose human trafficking (CNA, USCCB, CNS)

Church and law enforcement officials gathered in Rome to discuss methods for the eradication of human slavery, which Pope Francis called “a wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ“ and “a crime against humanity.” The Holy Father also met with victims. Read more >> What the USCCB is doing >> Watch >>

USCCB calls for action supporting unemployment insurance (USCCB)

A temporary extension of emergency unemployment benefits passed the U.S. Senate and is now in the House. Contact your representatives >>

St. Thomas School posts honor role (International Falls Journal)

Diocesan school announces list of academic achievers.

USCCB releases resource guide on Girl Scouts for Catholic parishes (CNS)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been in dialogue with the Girl Scouts over various controversies and has now issued some guidelines. Read more >>

Vatican launches media center for Easter and canonization celebrations (Vatican News)

Broadcasters are gearing up to bring two of the biggest events of the year — Easter in Rome and the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II — to millions of viewers worldwide. Read more >> More from the USCCB >>

News Roundup, April 9

News Roundup, April 9

‘Nobody like you!’ (CNS)

How did the pope respond when a man in the crowd shouted to him that there was no one like him? Watch >>


Pope honors Jesuit priest killed in Syria with plea for end to violence (CNS)

Pope Francis says the killing of a 75-year-old Dutch priest in Syria who was loved and esteemed by Christians and Muslims alike and stayed in the war-torn country to help the poor and homeless “filled me with deep sadness.” Read more >> 

Love coffee? Thank a 16th century pope (Catholic Exchange)

A columnist for Catholic Exchange writes that while coffee is an Islamic invention, Pope Clement VIII’s blessing paved the way for it to become a favorite in Christian Europe and beyond. Read more >> 

Pope Francis begins new catechesis series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (CNS)

In his general audience today, Pope Francis began a series of talks on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, beginning with the gift of wisdom: “seeing the world, situations, circumstances and problems with God’s eyes.” Read story >> Full text >>

News Roundup: April 8

Here are some of the things making headlines in the church and the world today today.

House, Senate agree on minimum wage increase (Duluth News Tribune)

Under new legislation the minimum wage in the state of Minnesota would get a major hike, up to $9.50/hr for large businesses by 2016. Read more ....

Pope: Cross isn’t an ornament, Christianity isn’t a do-gooder’s guide (CNS)

The cross ... “isn’t an ornament” that is just placed in churches and on altars, and “it’s not a symbol” of identification, Pope Francis said.

“The cross is the mystery, the mystery of God’s love, who lowers himself, who makes himself ‘nothing’” and takes on humanity’s sins, he said. Read more ....

Supreme Court declines to hear religious freedom photography case (CNA)

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a case involving a small New Mexico photography business that was sued over refusing to work a same-sex commitment ceremony in 2006. This allows to stand a lower-court decision that said compromising one’s religious beliefs is “the price of citizenship.” Read more ....

March for Marriage set for June 19 (USCCB)

The second March for Marriage, organized by the National Organization for Marriage to defend marriage between a man and a woman, will be held in Washington, D.C., on June 19. Read more ....

On Holy Thursday, pope will wash feet of elderly and disabled (Zenit)

Last year on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of prisoners in a juvenile prison in Rome. Today it was announced that he will wash the feet of the elderly and disabled in the same part of the city. Read more ....

Logo for papal visit, Credit: Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea

Vatican announces logo, motto for papal trip to Korea (CNA)

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit South Korea in August — the first time a pope has visited the country in 25 years — and the Holy See has released the logo and motto for the trip. Read more ....


News Roundup, April 7, 2014

Here are some of the things making headlines across the Catholic world.

Pope Francis: God's mercy lovingly heals the wounds of sin

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Pope, at Angelus, reminds faithful of Jesus’ promise that ‘whoever lives and believes in me will never die’

“Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face — often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! — and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.”

Church helping Rwanda heal, 20 years after genocide

Twenty years after the African nation of Rwanda was ripped apart by genocide, the church is still involved in efforts to bring peace and reconciliation. Perpetrators say that apologizing and receiving forgiveness has lifted a burden from their heart and allowed them to rest, while victims say that granting forgiveness allows them to heal and move forward with their lives.

Blessed John Paul II saw prayer as first duty of pope

 Italian Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who worked closely with Blessed John Paul II, says the late pontiff saw praying for the church and the world was his main duty as pope.

Mozilla head's resignation over marriage stance sparks outcry

Brendan Eich, inventor of JavaScript and co-founder of Mozilla, the organization that makes the Firefox Web browser, resigned after a brief term as CEO of the organization due to pressure from groups upset he donated money for California’s Prop 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.


Pope, Britain's Queen Elizabeth have informal meeting at Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their first overseas trip in three years, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met April 3 with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The 30-minute visit of the 87-year-old queen and her 92-year-old husband demonstrates "the importance that she places on this relationship with the Holy See and on getting to know Pope Francis," said Nigel Baker, the British ambassador to the Holy See.

Read more ...