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St. Timothy's relics moved to Rome for Week of Christian Unity

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2020 / 10:28 am (CNA).- The relics of St. Timothy are in Rome this week for veneration during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The relics of St. Paul’s “beloved disciple” will remain in a side altar of the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls through Jan. 25, when Pope Francis will visit the basilica to pray vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

On Jan. 26, Timothy’s relics will be moved to St. Peter’s Basilica for the papal Mass celebrating the first Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis as a day to promote knowledge and love of Scripture.

St. Timothy has come to be considered a symbol of unity, particularly among Orthodox Christians and Catholics. In 2011, Russian Orthodox and Catholic bishops met in Termoli, Italy to pray and venerate Timothy’s relics together.

“The fact that Timothy is a reference for the brothers of the Eastern churches opens us to a specific and special vocation to ecumenism as a desire to meet each person and to communicate to that person the love and closeness of God,” Bishop Gianfranco De Luca of Termoli-Larino, Italy said when the relics were moved from Termoli to Rome Jan. 17.

St. Timothy’s relics were discovered in Termoli in 1945 during restoration work on the crypt of the cathedral.

Covered by a marble tombstone, the restorers found an inscription in the marble tile stating: “In the year of the Lord 1239. Here rest in peace the body of the blessed Timothy disciple of the blessed Apostle.”

The Church celebrates the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus on Jan. 26.

The son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Timothy came from Lystra in present-day Turkey. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are known to have joined the Church, and Timothy himself is described as a student of Sacred Scripture from his youth.

After St. Paul’s visit to Timothy’s home region of Lycaonia, around the year 51, the young man joined the apostle and accompanied him in his travels. Timothy remained in the city of Berea to help the local church after religious strife forced Paul to leave. Paul later sent him to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution.

The two met up again in Corinth, and Timothy eventually journeyed to Macedonia on Paul’s behalf. Problems in the Corinthian Church brought Timothy back for a time, after which he joined Paul and accompanied the apostle in subsequent travels.

Like Paul, Timothy endured a period of imprisonment in the course of his missionary work. His release is mentioned in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews.

Around the year 64, Timothy became the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus. During that same year, he received the first of two surviving letters from St. Paul. The second, written the next year, urges Timothy to visit St. Paul in Rome, where he was imprisoned before his martyrdom.

Ancient sources state that St. Timothy followed his mentor in dying as a martyr for the faith. In the year 93, during his leadership of the Church in Ephesus, he took a stand against the worship of idols and was consequently killed by a mob. The pagan festival he was protesting was held Jan. 22, and this date was preserved as St. Timothy’s memorial in the Christian East.

Suspension revoked for Vatican’s financial watchdog authority

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2020 / 07:30 am (CNA).- The new head of the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) announced Thursday that the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog’s suspension from an international group has been revoked, and the AIF can resume collaboration with foreign financial intelligence units.

“This is a very important step, one which demonstrates the confirmed trust of the Egmont Group in the financial information system of the Vatican,” AIF President Carmelo Barbagallo said Jan. 23.

The Egmont Group, through which 164 financial intelligence authorities share information and coordinate their work, suspended the AIF Nov. 13 following a raid on the Vatican offices of the Secretariat of State and the AIF by the Vatican gendarmes. Barbagallo said that the President of the Egmont Group decided to revoke this decision on the night of Jan. 22.

“This decision follows the explanations provided by AIF to Egmont concerning the extraordinary nature of the facts that gave rise to the suspension and AIF’s assurances that the information received from the Egmont circuit will be treated in a manner that is consistent with the rules that apply to that circuit, partly thanks to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Promoter of Justice,”  he said.

Barbagallo, an auditor and Italian banking consultant, was appointed president of the AIF following the resignation of René Brüelhart in Nov. 2019.

Before being readmitted to the Egmont Group’s secure communications network, the Vatican Tribunal had to guarantee the processing of confidential intelligence data that had been acquired in the course of investigations into the purchase and sale of a London property, according to ACI Stampa.

The AIF was established by Benedict XVI in 2010 to oversee Vatican financial transactions; it is charged with ensuring that internal banking policies comply with international financial standards.

After the Vatican gendarmes raid of the AIF on Oct. 1, a total of five employees and officials were suspended and blocked from entering the Vatican, including Tommaso Di Ruzza, the director of the AIF.

Aboard the papal plane from Tokyo to Rome Nov. 26, Pope Francis confirmed that Di Ruzza remained suspended because of suspected “bad administration.”

“It was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence,” Pope Francis said.

MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, will carry out a scheduled inspection of the Vatican in spring 2020.

‘Follow me:’ How John Paul II and Benedict XVI led a Catholic back to the faith

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- “Follow me.”

Angelo Ciappelloni heard those words while he stood in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo on April 8, 2005.

With hundreds of thousands of people in the Eternal City, and millions more around the world, he was watching the Requiem Mass of Pope John Paul II.

“‘Follow me’ – this lapidary saying of Christ can be taken as the key to understanding the message which comes to us from the life of our late beloved Pope John Paul II,” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in his homily from St. Peter’s Square.

“I was so touched by the profundity and, at the same time, the simplicity of the words,” Ciappelloni said.

“And from there I started down the right path.”

In fact, Ciappelloni’s return to the Catholic faith had its beginning some days prior, on the day of St. John Paul II’s death, he told CNA.

At the beginning of 2005, Ciappelloni, then 47 years old, thought he was “missing nothing” in his life, from a material point of view, he said.

“I had work, a house, friends, loved ones… but nothing that gave me meaning.”

Like many Italians, Ciappelloni had grown up Catholic, but he had abandoned the sacraments and the faith. He had no disrespect for the Catholic Church, but the faith did not interest him, he explained.

“I was not participating in the life of the Church.”

“Among other things, I was also using light narcotics, and I was living a fun life, going out, dancing at clubs with friends, and living a libertine life from the sexual perspective,” he stated. “But I was not content, I was not happy. I did not feel peaceful, calm.”

And then, he said, Pope John Paul II fell ill. Ciappelloni was surprised to find himself paying attention.

“The illness of Pope John Paul II upset me greatly, because I was 20 years old when he became pope, and so he was, a little bit, the pope of my youth.”

“Living in Rome in the last period of his life and seeing on television that this pope was suffering moved me a lot.”

Then, the news came that the pope had died.

“When I heard the news, when they gave the news that he had died... I burst into tears,” Ciappelloni recounted, adding that his unexpected tears at the death of the pope touched him.

He said, “there was already something that was happening [inside of me].”

A salesman at a clothing store, Ciappelloni returned to his life and work. One evening that first week of April, he was riding his bicycle home from work, when he passed the Church of Santa Maria in Via Lata in the center of Rome.

Inside a group of religious sisters were holding Eucharistic adoration. “That evening, as I was passing the church, I felt the need to stop,” Ciappelloni recalled. “I locked up my bicycle, entered the church – it had been years since I had entered a church – I got on my knees because there was the Blessed Sacrament, and I burst into tears.”

“From one day to the next I changed my life.”

He said he returned to the sacrament of reconciliation, started going to Mass, and began praying, something he said he had not done for nearly four decades.

“It was something I could not resist, because even if I didn’t understand exactly what had happened, I understood that it was a good thing,” Ciappelloni said.

After visiting the body of John Paul II laid out in state in St. Peter’s Basilica, Ciappelloni saw a rare shooting star in the night sky. He said it felt like another sign to him.

“I can say with certainty that St. John Paul II practically took me, brought me, grabbed me by the hand and placed me in the arms of Christ and in the arms of the Church,” he reflected.

Then, at the funeral Mass, he heard Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, speak for the first time.

Soon after, he signed up for a three-year weekly theology course for lay people.

“Let’s say that if John Paul II brought me inside the Church, Pope Benedict XVI made me fall in love with the Word of God,” Ciappelloni explained. “He helped me a lot, because his teachings were clear, logical, with a coherence of life…simply living as a Christian, a Catholic.”

“And then with attendance at Church for some time, with Pope Francis I understood the mercy of God.”

He remembers his old life, he said, but he knows he belongs in the Church. Thinking of his old life, he told CNA: “I haven’t thought once about going back.”

 

Taiwan president appeals to Pope Francis over China’s 'abuse of power'

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis describing China’s aggression and persecution of religion as “obstacles to peace,” and detailing the Communist regime’s “abuses of power.”

“The crux of the issue is that China refuses to relinquish its desire to dominate Taiwan. It continues to undermine Taiwan's democracy, freedom, and human rights with threats of military force and the implementation of disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and diplomatic maneuvers,” Tsai wrote in a letter to the pope published by her office Jan. 21.

Tsai sent the letter in response to Pope Francis’ message for the 2020 World Day of Peace, the pope’s annual letter sent to all foreign ministers around the world to mark the new year.

This year, the pope’s letter entitled: “Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion," called on “the conscience of humanity” to rise up in the face of “every desire for dominance and destruction.”

The newly reelected president of Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China, told Pope Francis of her desire to “peacefully resolve the differences across the Taiwan Strait.”

“I am in complete accord with your statement that walking the path of peace requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbors or against God's creation,” Tsai said.

The president of Taiwan then detailed a list of China’s actions that she said constitute “abuses of power,” describing violence toward Hong Kong protesters, the recent controversy over an NBA coach voicing criticism of the Communist regime, and persecution of religious believers seeking to follow their conscience:

“Authorities dispatching armed police to fire tear gas and suppress and arrest people expressing the wish to pursue democracy and human rights; internet celebrities or athletes being threatened with termination of contracts or bans from competitions when they speak up in defense of freedom of speech; religious practitioners facing detention and persecution by public security officers when they, following their conscience, refuse to be coerced into signing documents to join an organization that violates their religious doctrines — all these constitute what you refer to in your message as abuses of power and reflect the notion of diversity as an obstacle. Indeed, they only serve to fuel conflict.”

Tsai quoted directly from Pope Francis’ peace message, which states: “War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle.”

She also responded to the pope’s call to care for our common home in his encyclical Laudato Si by highlighting the Taiwanese government’s efforts to “transform Taiwan into a green energy development hub in Asia” through multiple green energy and sustainable water initiatives.

Taiwan’s first female president, Tsai was reelected on Jan. 11 with a campaign pledge to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty from Chinese control, as concerns grew among Taiwanese watching the Hong Kong protests in 2019.

The Chinese state media attempted to sway Taiwan’s presidential election with online disinformation campaigns attacking Tsai. China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, has threatened Taiwan, saying in 2019 that Chinese Communist Party reserves the right to use force to bring the democratic island under control.

The split between China and Taiwan dates back to 1949, following the communist military success in China’s civil war that led Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalist forces to retreat to the island. Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China, while the government on the mainland is the People’s Republic of China.

“I strongly identify with Your Holiness's magnanimous vision and appeal to all of humanity to renounce the desire to dominate others, show mutual respect, and learn to see one another as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters, so as to break the spiral of vengeance,” Taiwan’s president wrote to Pope Francis.

“Many of the international conflicts today can be attributed to the desire to dominate others. When one party tries to impose its will on another, genuine dialogue becomes impossible,” she said.

The Holy See has recognized the Taiwanese government, the Republic of China, since 1942, and does not currently have formal diplomatic relations with the government of the People’s Republic of China, which consolidated control of the mainland at the conclusion of a civil war in 1949.

In 2018, Beijing and Vatican officials signed a provisional agreement on bishop appointments. The China-Vatican deal was intended to unify the underground Church and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

China has previously demanded that other countries end diplomatic recognition of Taiwan -- which it regards as a rebel province, not as a sovereign nation -- as a price for increased economic or political cooperation.

Vatican City is the only remaining country in Europe that recognizes Taiwan as a country. However, the nunciature in Taipei has not been led by a nuncio since Oct. 25, 1971, when the United Nations ceased to recognize the Taipei-based government as the government of China.

Taiwan’s government has repeatedly invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan both before and after the Holy See’s provisional deal with China.

Tsai expressed her hope for “the continued growth of the Catholic Church” and said that the virtue of hope leads toward peace and overcoming adversity.

“I firmly believe that as long as people in Taiwan and around the world embrace hope and remain open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion and manipulation, true peace can be achieved,” Tsai wrote.

Pope Francis sent new year’s greetings to Asian nations during his Wednesday audience Jan. 22. Lunar New Year is the biggest annual holiday in East Asia in which millions travel to celebrate with family.

“I invite everyone to pray also for peace, for dialogue and for solidarity between nations: gifts that are ever more necessary for today's world,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: Christians can unite in welcoming migrants, each other

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2020 / 03:21 am (CNA).- Welcoming other Christians and showing hospitality to strangers, especially migrants, is an opportunity for unity and for sharing Christ’s love, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

“Hospitality is important; it is also an important ecumenical virtue,” the pope said in the Pope Paul VI hall Jan. 22. “First of all, it means recognizing that other Christians are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

He explained that hospitality “it is not an act of one-way generosity, because when we host other Christians, we welcome them as a gift that is given to us.”

The first step in welcoming Christians of other traditions is showing them God’s love and welcoming what God has accomplished in their lives, Francis said.

According to the pope, “ecumenical hospitality requires willingness to listen to other Christians, paying attention to their personal stories of faith and the history of their community.” It also involves the desire to know other Christians’ experience of God.

Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on the theme of hospitality as part of the Church’s celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The pope will mark the end of the week with the praying of vespers Jan. 25 for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes from a line in the 28th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: “They treated us kindly.”

Acts 27 recounts the story of the storm and shipwreck of St. Paul and his companions as they attempted to travel to Italy by boat, eventually landing on the island of Malta.

The pope told the story, explaining that “the ship on which Paul travels is at the mercy of the elements.”

“For fourteen days, fourteen days, they have been at sea, drifting, and since neither the sun nor the stars are visible, the travelers feel disoriented, lost. Below them, the sea breaks violently against the ship and they fear that it will break under the force of the waves. From above they are lashed by the wind and rain,” he said.

“But Paul knows it is not so. Faith tells him that his life is in the hands of God,” he continued. “Therefore, Paul addresses his traveling companions and, inspired by faith, announces to them that God will not allow a hair of their head to be lost.”

The passengers all survive the ship’s rough landing on the coast of the island of Malta, where they are welcomed by the inhabitants.

“These people, foreign to them, are attentive to their needs. They light a fire to warm up, offer them shelter from rain and food. Even if they have not yet received the Good News of Christ, they manifest the love of God in concrete acts of kindness,” the pope said.

“The hospitality of the Maltese islanders is rewarded by the healing miracles God works through Paul,” he added, highlighting that if the Maltese people were a sign of God’s providence for St. Paul, he was also a witness of God’s merciful love for them.

Francis went on to note that the sea which shipwrecked Paul and his companions is the same sea men and women from around the world risk crossing to “escape violence, war, and poverty.”

Not only do migrants face the indifference and hostility of the desert or sea, he said, but they also risk exploitation by traffickers or being considered a threat by some government leaders: “Sometimes hospitality refuses them like a wave.”

He urged Christians to “work together to show migrants the love of God revealed by Jesus Christ” and to testify “that every person is precious to God and loved by him.”

The divisions among Christians “prevent us from being fully the sign of God’s love,” he stressed.

“Working together to live hospitality, especially towards those whose life is more vulnerable, will make all of us Christians – Protestants, Orthodox, Catholics, all Christians – it will make us better human beings, better disciples and a more united Christian people. It will bring us closer to unity, which is God’s will for us.”

Pope Francis condemns clerics who engage in simony

Vatican City, Jan 21, 2020 / 10:07 am (CNA).- In a homily Tuesday, Pope Francis condemned priests and bishops who use money to advance their careers.

To be a priest or bishop, like being a Christian, is a free and undeserved gift of God, not something to be bought, he said Jan. 21 during Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse.

“We have paid nothing to become Christians. We priests, bishops have paid nothing to become priests and bishops,” he continued, “at least I think so.”

Francis went on to note there are those who try to move upward in their “so-called ecclesiastical career,” who “look for influences to get here, there...” as well as those “who behave in a simoniac manner.”

He said that anyone who does that “is not a Christian. Being Christian, being baptized, being ordained priests and bishops is pure gratuitousness. The gifts of the Lord cannot be bought.”

The same thing can happen in “ordinary life,” he said, such as in business, when people try to get ahead at their work by asking for favors.

He recalled that it is by the Lord’s free anointing that someone is a Christian, rejecting the argument that one’s Christian identity comes from being from a Christian family or coming from a Christian culture.

“Many people from a Christian family and Christian culture reject the Lord,” he noted. “But how come we are here, elected by the Lord? For free, without any merit, for free.”

“What is the great gift of God?” he continued. “The Holy Spirit! When the Lord elected us, he gave us the Holy Spirit. And this is pure grace, it is pure grace. Without our merit.”

We must have an attitude of humility in the face of this gift, Pope Francis urged. “This is holiness. The other things are not needed.”

He said if bishops or priests forget their flock or feel they are more important than others, they are denying God’s gift, and the same goes for Christians who forget others, both believers and non-believers.

“It is like saying to the Holy Spirit: ‘But you go, go, go quietly into the Trinity, take a rest, I will manage it by myself,’” he said.

“And this is not Christian. This is not safeguarding the gift,” he argued. “We ask the Lord today, thinking of David, to give us the grace to give thanks for the gift he has given us, to be aware of this gift, so great, so beautiful, and to safeguard it – this gratuitousness, this gift – to safeguard it with our fidelity.”

Put good of human person at center of public policy, Pope Francis says

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan 21, 2020 / 04:56 am (CNA).- In a message to the global delegates of the 2020 World Economic Forum, Pope Francis stressed the duty of governments and businesses to place the good of the human person above power or profit.

“The overriding consideration, never to be forgotten, is that we are all members of the one human family,” he said in the Jan. 21 message.

“The moral obligation to care for one another flows from this fact, as does the correlative principle of placing the human person, rather than the mere pursuit of power or profit, at the very centre of public policy,” he stated.

The pope decried views which treat others as a means to an end and are lacking in solidarity and charity, resulting in injustice.

Integral human development only flourishes, he argued, “when all members of the human family are included in, and contribute to, pursuing the common good.”

He stressed that “all too often materialistic or utilitarian visions, sometimes hidden, sometimes celebrated, lead to practices and structures motivated largely, or even solely, by self-interest.”

“In seeking genuine progress, let us not forget that to trample upon the dignity of another person is in fact to weaken one’s own worth.”

The 2020 World Economic Forum takes place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from Jan. 21-24.

The annual meeting has 3,000 participants from around the world. The aim is “to give concrete meaning to ‘stakeholder capitalism,’ assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress towards the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and facilitate discussions on technology and trade governance,” according to the meeting’s website.

Pope Francis’ message was addressed to Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and delivered by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Vatican.

In his message, the pope claimed that the meeting’s theme, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” points to the need to address the many issues facing humanity.

Over the last 50 years there have been significant changes at the geopolitical level, he noted, adding that “many of these developments have benefitted humanity while others have had adverse effects and created significant development lacunae.”
 
While today’s challenges are different than those half a century ago, a number of principles remain the same, such as the primacy of the human person,” he said.

“As a result, it is necessary to move beyond short-term technological or economic approaches and to give full consideration to the ethical dimension in seeking resolutions to present problems or proposing initiatives for the future.”

 

Pope Francis denounces ‘barbaric resurgence’ of anti-Semitism  

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday condemned the “barbaric resurgence” of cases of anti-Semitism in the world, and urged the need to respect each person’s human dignity.

“It is troubling to see, in many parts of the world, an increase in selfishness and indifference, lack of concern for others and the attitude that says life is good as long as it is good for me, and when things go wrong, anger and malice are unleashed,” Pope Francis said Jan. 20.

“This creates a fertile ground for the forms of factionalism and populism we see around us, where hatred quickly springs up,” he said. “Even recently, we have witnessed a barbaric resurgence of cases of anti-Semitism. Once more I firmly condemn every form of anti-Semitism.”

Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The pope recalled his visit to the Nazi concentration camp in Poland in 2016:

“I went there to reflect and to pray in silence. In our world, with its whirlwind of activity, we find it hard to pause, to look within and to listen in silence to the plea of suffering humanity.”

“If we lose our memory, we destroy our future. May the anniversary of the unspeakable cruelty that humanity learned of 75 years ago serve as a summons to pause, to be still and to remember. We need to do this, lest we become indifferent,” Pope Francis said.

Between 1940 and 1945, the Nazi regime murdered 1.1 million people in Auschwitz concentration camp, many killed in the gas chambers immediately upon arrival at the camp. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in Los Angeles, is dedicated to Holocaust research and education, as well as combatting contemporary anti-Semitism. It was founded by Rabbi Marvin Hier in 1977.

Named for Holocaust-survivor and famed Nazi-hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, the center operates musuems in California and Israel, and produces educational documentary films.

“Your center, active throughout the world, seeks to combat all forms of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred towards minorities. For decades, you have maintained contacts with the Holy See, in a shared desire to make the world a better place in respect for human dignity,” Pope Francis said.

“This dignity is due to every person in equal measure, regardless of his or her ethnic origin, religion or social status. It is essential to teach tolerance, mutual understanding and freedom of religion, and the promotion of peace within society,” he said.

Pope Francis pointed to the Second Vatican Council declaration Nostra Aetate, which affirms the great spiritual patrimony shared among Christian and Jewish believers.

“I feel that we, above all, are summoned, especially today, to such service: not to take the path of distance and exclusion, but that of proximity and inclusion; not to force solutions, but to initiate ways of drawing closer together,” the pope said, calling for cooperation among Catholics and Jews in defence of the most vulnerable.

The pope said that in order to combat the root causes of anti-Semitism today “we must commit ourselves also to tilling the soil in which hatred grows and sowing peace instead.”

Anti-Semitic violence and harassment has been on the rise in Europe, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Pope Francis has frequently spoken out against anti-Semitism. In March 2019, he said it is important to be “vigilant” against anti-Semitic attitudes, to prevent another event like the Holocaust.

“I stress that for a Christian any form of anti-Semitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: To know Christ better, contemplate his 'holy face'

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2020 / 06:26 am (CNA).- Meditating on the Gospel and on Christ’s holy face is a good way to know Jesus better, especially as the Lamb of God who sacrificed himself for the sins of the world, Pope Francis said Sunday.

Reflecting on John the Baptist’s testimony in the Gospel of John is an invitation “to start afresh on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father has given for us,” he said Jan. 19.

“We learn from the Baptist not to presume that we already know Jesus, that we already know everything about him,” he continued. “It is not so. Let’s stop on the Gospel, perhaps even contemplating an icon of Christ, a ‘holy face.’

The Holy Face of Manoppello, held in a church in an Italian village, is believed to be an image of the face of Christ, perhaps from the Veil of Veronica.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, celebrated Mass at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello Jan. 19. At the conclusion of the Mass, the cardinal led a procession with the image.

The Mass and procession were to mark the feast of “Omnis Terra,” which recalls Pope Innocent III’s procession with the Holy Face in 1208, when the image was held at the Vatican.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the protectors of the Holy Face of Manoppello, were also present at the Mass and procession with Cardinal Koch.

At his Angelus address, Pope Francis said we contemplate Christ with the eyes but even more so with the heart. We “let ourselves be instructed by the Holy Spirit, who tells us inside: It is He! He is the Son of God made lamb, immolated for love,” he said.

“He alone suffered, atoned for sin, the sin of each of us, the sin of the world, and also my sins, all. He carried them all on himself and took them away from us, so that we could finally be free, no longer slaves to evil,” Francis stated. “Yes, we are still poor sinners, but not slaves, no, not slaves: children, children of God!”

The pope explained that the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is a continuation of the feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. It continues to speak about Jesus, who after his baptism was “consecrated by the Holy Spirit,” he said.

He urged Catholics to “be surprised again by God’s choice to be on our side, to be in solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking charge of it totally.”

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reminded Catholics that 2020 has been designated the “Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” by the World Health Organization.

“Nurses are the most numerous health workers, and midwives are perhaps the most noble of the professions,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them, so that they can do their best at the valuable work.”

The pope also expressed his desire that a high-level summit in Berlin on the crisis in Libya “will be the start of a path towards the cessation of violence and a negotiated solution that will lead to peace and the much desired stability of the country.”

 

Minn. young adults accompany, pray for bishops on ad limina visit to Rome

Vatican City, Jan 18, 2020 / 04:35 pm (CNA).- Young adults from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are accompanying their bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome this week, joining them at “the threshold of the apostles.”

The 25 young Catholics are in Rome Jan. 10-18, visiting the city as Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens make their “ad limina apostolorum” visit to the pope and Vatican with the other bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

“It’s really been incredible, it’s been fun to pray for [the bishops] as they meet with the Holy Father, to hear about their experiences,” Maddie Schulte, 23, told CNA.

On Jan. 15, the young adults - ranging in age from 21 to 34 - had their own opportunity to greet Pope Francis after his weekly general audience.

Enzo Randazzo, who organized the pilgrimage, works in the archdiocese’s evangelization office. He said St. Paul and Minneapolis have been blessed with a vibrant young adult community and seen a lot of fruit come from that ministry.

“We are here representing the people [Archbishop Hebda] shepherds back home,” Randazzo, 30, said.

During an ad limina, which typically takes place every five years, diocesan bishops prepare a report on the state of their diocese, which is presented to Pope Francis and to various offices inside the Vatican.

The bishops also celebrate Mass at the tombs of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and at the other two major papal basilicas. The young people have been present at each of these Masses.

“We really appreciate the fact that they are accompanying the bishops,” Archbishop Hebda told CNA. “They’ve really dedicated themselves to praying for Pope Francis and praying for us in the course of this ad limina. Just to have them at these ad limina liturgies is beautiful.”

“They’re young people with such hope, such joy, it’s a real pleasure to be with them,” he said.

Hebda and Cozzens have also joined the pilgrim group for dinners and on a daytrip to Assisi.

Twenty-two-year-old Mitchell Kohler said the bishops have taken the time to sit with them and listen to what they have to say.

“They’ve been very present throughout the pilgrimage. While they’ve had their own work to do, they’ve been having dinner with us, spending time with us, making sure to connect with us and show that as young adults from the archdiocese we are very valued,” he noted.

Schulte said the “succession of Peter” has come to life for her during this trip.

Fr. Tim Wratkowski, a newly ordained priest of the archdiocese and former student at the Pontifical North American College, has been present as chaplain.

Also taking part is Will Herrmann, 30, a convert who joined the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2019.

He said that as a young adult, he sometimes feels lonely in his faith, so he has appreciated the bishops’ efforts to be present during the pilgrimage, as well as the chance to build community with other young adults passionate about their faith.

“This community aspect has been wonderful,” he said. “I hope that I can really serve [the bishops] when we get back to the archdiocese, whether that’s directly through anything they ask of me or indirectly through my parish and the work I do locally there.”

From a Lutheran background originally, Herrmann said coming to Rome and encountering the saints has felt “like meeting the family, meeting all the relatives.”
 
“Some I’ve heard of; some I’ve never met… Just really feeling like I belong the more I’m here.”