Saturday, April 1, 2023

Sunday Saint of the Day


St. Francis of Paola

Francis was born at Paola, Italy and was educated at the Franciscan friary of San Marco there, and when fifteen became a hermit near Paola. In 1436, he and two companions began a community that is considered the foundation of the Minim Friars. He built a monastery where he had led his eremitical life some fifteen years later and set a Rule for his followers emphasizing penance, charity, and humility, and added to the three monastic vows, one of fasting and abstinence from meat; he also wrote a rule for tertiaries and nuns. He was credited with many miracles and had the gifts of prophesy and insight into men's hearts. The Order was approved by Pope Sixtus IV in 1474 with the name Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi (changed to Minim Friars in 1492). Francis established foundations in southern Italy and Sicily, and his fame was such that at the request of dying King Louis XI of France, Pope Sixtus II ordered him to France, as the King felt he could be cured by Francis. He was not, but was so comforted that Louis' son Charles VIII, became Francis' friend and endowed several monasteries for the Minims. Francis spent the rest of his life at the monastery of Plessis, France, which Charles built for him. Francis died there on April 2nd and was canonized in 1519. His feast day is April 2.

We have arrived at Palm Sunday; the beginning of Holy Week


Palm Sunday - April 2nd, 2023

Holy Day of Obligation

Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of Lent, the beginning of Holy Week, and commemorates the triumphant arrival of Christ in Jerusalem, days before he was crucified.

Palm Sunday is known as such because the faithful will often receive palm fronds which they use to participate in the reenactment of Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. In the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a young donkey, and to the lavish praise of the townspeople who threw clothes, or possibly palms or small branches, in front of him as a sign of homage. This was a customary practice for people of great respect.

Palm branches are widely recognized symbol of peace and victory, hence their preferred use on Palm Sunday.

The use of a donkey instead of a horse is highly symbolic, it represents the humble arrival of someone in peace, as opposed to arriving on a steed in war.

A week later, Christ would rise from the dead on the first Easter.

During Palm Sunday Mass, palms are distributed to parishioners who carry them in a ritual procession into church. The palms are blessed and many people will fashion them into small crosses or other items of personal devotion. These may be returned to the church, or kept for the year.

Because the palms are blessed, they may not be discarded as trash. Instead, they are appropriately gathered at the church and incinerated to create the ashes that will be used in the follow year's Ash Wednesday observance.

The colors of the Mass on Palm Sunday are red and white, symbolizing the redemption in blood that Christ paid for the world.

Continental Synod phase complete for Africa


Continental Synodal Assembly of the Churches of Africa from 1 to 6 March 2023 in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaContinental Synodal Assembly of the Churches of Africa from 1 to 6 March 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

Synod Continental Stage comes to conclusion

The second stage of the synodal process, the worldwide Continental Stage, has come to a conclusion, but dialogue with the People of God continues. The General Secretariat of the Synod elaborated on the process in a statement to mark the final day of the Continental Stage, Friday, 31 March 2023.

By Vatican News

The broad-based consultation of the People of God around the world has officially finished its "continental stage," consisting of a time of listening, dialogue, and discernment among the Churches of the same geographical area. This process came after the "Local Stage" of diocesan and national meetings. Both experiences represent a new style of dialogue, engagement, and involvement of the faithful presented by this synodal process.

Listening and discernment

Seven continental assemblies have taken place, marking a unique process of listening and discernment on a continental level. All looked at the key question at the center of the synodal process, how the 'walking together' that enables the Church to proclaim the Gospel in accord with its mission can be achieved today at all levels, from local to universal.

Various levels of Church involvement assisted the process, following the principle of subsidiarity. Local organizing committees helped prepare and bring to fruition the continental assemblies with the onsite accompaniment and presence of heads of the Vatican's General Secretariat of the Synod or the General Rapporteur of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This presence has served as a sign of the closeness and desire of the Holy See to listen to the local Churches.

Open discussions

The seven continental assemblies took place over February and March 2023, bringing together members at all levels of the Church: bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the laity.  They discussed and responded to three key synod questions in the continental stage document. The questions regarded what topics in the document resonated most with them, and the others to identify areas of tension and priorities.

The General Secretariat of the Synod noted with satisfaction that participants in the various continental assemblies all found areas they could relate to in the document as well as paths forward for the Church, despite the wide-ranging ecclesial and cultural differences and diversity of perspectives.

The fruit of these discussions features in the Final Document that each Assembly produced and that will contribute to the work of the first session of the Synod of Bishops, which is set for 4-29 October 2023.

Time of grace

The Synod General Secretariat in its statement noted how all the assemblies have marked a time of grace for the Church, reflecting a great desire for renewal by walking together in unity with Christ. The continental process brought out the deep joy and love of so many faithful for their Church, the People of God, despite its shortcomings and weaknesses, as well as the importance of listening as an instrument and ongoing dynamic of ecclesial life. The assemblies also confirmed the method of “spiritual conversation” as a way to foster authentic listening and community discernment to arrive at ecclesial consensus.

Implementing synodal reforms

In conclusion, the Synod General Secretariat in its release expressed its heartfelt gratitude to all those who make this process happen and bear fruit. It also notes how this consultation will continue, focusing now on implementing the "synodal reforms" in the daily life of the local Church, with the awareness that much of what has been discussed and identified so far at the local level does not require the discernment of the universal Church or the intervention of the Magisterium of Peter.

The Final Documents published so far are available here.

Pope Francis calls neocolonialism a crime and threat to peace


2019.01.14 Siccità, Africa, acqua, povertà, villaggio in Uganda

Pope: Modern neocolonialism is a crime and a threat to peace

In a message addressed to a workshop in the Vatican on neocolonialism, Pope Francis warns against modern economic and ideological colonialism and again, apologizes for those Christians who contributed to the colonization of Africa and the Americas.

By Lisa Zengarini

“No power - political, economic, ideological - is entitled to unilaterally determine the identity of a nation or social group,” Pope Francis told a forum of judges for social rights gathered this week in the Vatican for an African and American intercontinental workshop on modern neocolonialism.

“The subjugation and plunder of peoples through the use of force or cultural and political penetration is a crime (…) because there are no chances for peace in a world that discards populations and oppresses to loot,” the Pope wrote in a message to the participants.

The  legacy of the colonial system in Africa and the Americas 

The workshop, titled “Colonization, Decolonization and Neocolonialism in the Perspective of Justice and the Common Good”, was organized from March 30-31  by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, the Commission of  Pan American judges for Social Rights and Franciscan Doctrine and the University of Massachusetts, U.S.A..

Participants reflected on the legacy of the colonial system in Africa and the Americas  focusing on today’s global inequalities and social injustices, unsustainable development, unchecked climate change, and mass migration, and discussed the role of institutions and the justice system in reversing these developments.

Although in the 21st century we can no longer technically speak of "colonized" countries, says Pope Francis, the same cannot be said with regards  to the economic and ideological aspects. Indeed, colonialism has changed in its forms, methods and justifications: “it is virtualised, camouflaged, hidden, making it difficult to identify and eliminate”.

Economic and ideological colonization

The Pope cited by way of example the Democratic Republic of Congo, which he visited earlier this year along with South Sudan. He noted, that despite the DRC being independent for over seventy years, its rich resources continue to be exploited and contended by several stakeholders resulting in conflicts which heavily affect its territory, population and the common good.

Equally relevant, he continued, is the phenomenon of “ideological colonialism”, which “stifles the natural bond between peoples and their values, trying to eradicate their traditions, history and religious beliefs”.

“Ideological colonization tends to standardize everything. It obeys a mentality that does not tolerate differences and focuses only on the present, on individual needs and rights, often neglecting duties towards the weakest and most fragile.”

No chances for peace in a world that discards and oppresses peoples

Pope Francis said he is particularly concerned by these new forms of colonialism. “It seems like several centuries of bloody and inhumane historical strife haven’t served to develop a global idea of liberation, self-determination and solidarity between nations and between human beings”, he remarked.

Instead, colonialism is still there, but it is more “refined” and “subtle”, and justifies the new practices of domination “with claimed ‘natural’ deficiencies of the colonized”. In this context, the “frontal warfare” of old colonial times has been replaced today by “asymmetric conflicts and lawfare.”  

In this regard, Pope Francis remarked that we should never forget that the concrete expressions of justice and the common good mature in peoples, each with “stories, origins, traditions, religions”, which must be respected as such.

“This is why”, he said, no power – political, economic, ideological – is legitimized to unilaterally determine the identity of a nation or a social group”. Subjugating peoples by force or through cultural and political penetration is to be considered a crime “because there are no chances for peace in a world that discards peoples and oppresses to loot”, the Pope stressed.

After reiterating the important role of scholars and scientific research in raising awareness on the fight against ongoing neocolonial practices, racism and segregation, Pope Francis highlighted the crucial importance of including native peoples and displaced ethnic groups in political decision-making processes, by giving them a fair representation in representative bodies in their countries.

“We are asked to make the necessary effort to put an end to neocolonial practices and their derived expressions of racism and social segregation sooner rather than later. There will be no peace if, in the representative political systems, there is no real integration of the excluded peoples.”

Apologies for believers' contribution to colonialism

For his part, the Pope once again apologized “for the acts of some Christian  believers who in the past “directly or indirectly contributed to the processes of political and territorial domination of various peoples in America and Africa. “I also ask for an apology for any errors or omissions that have occurred or are occurring in the present”, he concluded.

Papal interview to Argentine media


An image from Pope Francis' interview with Canal 5 de Noticias, ArgentinaAn image from Pope Francis' interview with Canal 5 de Noticias, Argentina 

Pope gives interview to Argentine television network

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his pontificate, Pope Francis gives an extensive interview to Argentina's television network, Canal 5 de Noticias, where he addresses a wide range of topics, from memories of his election in 2013 to events in his country, from peace to Church issues.

By Sebastián Sansón Ferrari

Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to Argentina's Canal 5 de Noticias television network, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of his pontificate. The Pope addressed a host of issues, some already addressed in other interviews he has given in recent weeks for the anniversary. In addition to subjects such as promoting world peace, the war in Ukraine, the Church's efforts to combat abuse, and the importance of patriotism, he also delved into issues relating to his homeland, Argentina.

Internal struggles

Journalist Gustavo Sylvestre asked the Pope about what he said at the General Audience on 15 March 2023. The Pope thanked Argentine government leaders and opposition parties for coming together to sign a letter of greetings for him, while he also urged them to always agree to come together to talk, discuss, and work for the progress of the nation. He went on to say that often people like to see other people's infighting or to argue about anything, but he warned that "our infighting is harmful, it is stronger than the sense of belonging, it destroys political affiliation," and you end up with "different political parties that have no political power of bringing people together."

Regarding the rise of extremist parties, the Pope said the antidote is social justice. "There is no other," he added. "If you want to discuss with a politician, an ultra-right thinker, talk about social justice, talk horizontally," he advised, as a way to bring people together on the theme that needs addressing.

Striving for Justice

With respect to the instrumentalization of justice, the Pope said that "lawfare begins through the media, which denigrates and insinuates suspicion of a crime committed. Huge investigations are created and the volume of these investigations is enough to condemn, even if the crime [violation of the law] is not found". In this regard, the Pope said that "we need to raise our voices, we need to say: there is an irregularity here... politicians have this mission to unmask a justice that is not fair." 

Church, home for all

Regarding pastoral care of homosexuals, the Pope reiterated that in the Church we are children of God and all must be accompanied on their journey. When asked about the celibacy of priests, he replied by saying that it is not a dogma but a discipline that could be changed, while noting that there are already married priests in the Eastern Church.

The Pope then answered a question on the Church's fight against abuse, recalling the commitment of Benedict XVI that continues today. 

He also recalled how it is necessary to fight for peace because war is a tragedy that destroys us. And he concluded by reiterating that if people stopped producing weapons even for a year, it would end world hunger.

Pope Francis leaves hospital


Pope Francis waves from a car as he leaves Rome's Gemelli hospital in RomePope Francis waves from a car as he leaves Rome's Gemelli hospital in Rome 

Pope Francis returns home after brief hospital stay

Pope Francis is discharged from the A. Gemelli University hospital on Saturday morning.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Pope Francis was released from Gemelli Hospital on Saturday morning following a brief hospital stay that involved scheduled tests and treatment for bronchitis.

In a brief statement Saturday morning, the Holy See Press Office noted that, before his departure, the Holy Father greeted the leadership of the hospital, including Franco Anelli, the Rector of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart; Marco Elefanti, the General Director of the Policlinic; and the General Ecclesiastical Assistant for the hospital, Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, as well as the medical team and healthcare workers who assisted him during his convalescence.

The Agostino Gemelli University Policlinic, the largest hospital in Rome, is the teaching hospital for the Catholic University’s medical school. The hospital is named for Franciscan Friar Agostino Gemelli, a physician and psychologist, who was also the founder and first rector of the University.

As he left the hospital, Pope Francis stopped his car briefly to greet those present, pausing for a moment to embrace and pray with a couple who had lost their daughter during the night.

Visit to Santa Maria Maggiore

The Holy Father then headed for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where he prayed before the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, for all the sick and those suffering due to the illness or loss of loved ones. He prayed in a special way for the children he met yesterday in the hospital's paediatric oncology and children's neurosurgery ward, entrusting them to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Special Papal Prayer Intention for April 2023


The Pope's Monthly Intentions for 2023


For a culture of peace and non-violence
We pray for the spread of peace and non-violence, by decreasing the use of weapons by States and citizens.

The first Saint of the Day for the month of April


St. Ludovico Pavoni

Feastday: April 1
Patron: Sons of Mary Immaculate & Trade schools
Birth: September 11, 1784
Death: April 1, 1849
Beatified: 14 April 2002 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized: October 16, 2016, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis

Ludovico Pavoni was born in Brescia on September 11, 1784, the first of five brothers, Alexander and Lelia marriage Poncarali.

He lived in a time of profound political and social changes: the French Revolution (1789), the Jacobina (1797), the Napoleonic rule with different names and finally, since 1814, the Austrian. But the 'political' Ludovico Pavoni, ordained in 1807, was always and only the politics of love. Renouncing achieve high church officials, who seemed to be called when the Bishop Bishop Gabrio Maria Nava loves him as his secretary (1812), was able to engage creatively generous who had more need: young people and the poorest among them. For them he opened a training center, his "Oratorio" (1812). At the same time, surrender, as highlighting the bishop, "in support of the pastors to teach, catechize through homilies, catechesis, spiritual exercises, especially the youth and especially the poorest who had greatest need, with very good results. " On March 16, 1818 he was appointed Canon of the Cathedral and was entrusted with the stewardship of the Basilica of S. Barnabas.

Noting, then, that many of the kids in his oratory, especially the poor, decaying in their efforts and led astray when they had to enter the world of work, which unfortunately did not guarantee a healthy moral and Christian atmosphere Ludovico Pavoni decided to establish a "School of the Arts Institute or a charitable and private sectors, where at least the orphans or abandoned by their own parents were received, maintained, free, Christian educated and trained to perform some art, in order to form ones for religion, and useful to society and the state. " Thus was born in 1821, the Institute of S. Barnabas.

Among the arts, the most important was the typography, dear Pavoni as "Printing School" can be considered the first school in Italy chart and soon becomes a real publisher. With the passage of time multiply trades taught in S. Barnabas, in 1831, eight offices Pavoni existing lists: typography, book binding, paper, silversmiths, locksmiths, carpenters, turners, shoemakers.

The Institute of S. Barnabas first joined the educational aspect, the care and professional, but the deeper features "the idea feature" of the new Institute was that "poor boys abandoned by their parents and their closest relatives, they found everything they had Lost: ... not only ... bread, clothing and education in the humanities and the arts, but also the father and mother, the family, whom misfortune has deprived them, and the father, mother, everything a family could receive poor and enjoy. "

During the cholera of 1836, "with a simple invitation Municipal, and without the hope of receiving any financial contribution, are hosted for free on the Pius school, fed and educated with true fatherly love. ... many, many boys still unable. " Thus we read in the minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Municipality of Brescia's August 21, 1841.

Pavoni also thought farmers and projected an Agricultural School. In 1841, the Institute welcomes the Deaf.

On June 3, 1844 was decorated by the Emperor of Austria with the title of Knight of the Iron Crown.

To sustain and continue the Institute, Ludovico Pavoni and walked for a long time to mature the idea of ??forming their most fervent youth "a congregation, which together with the close ties of love, and based on the evangelical virtues, devotes himself to accept and educate abandoned children, and also expand their care for free for the Houses of Industry, perhaps for lack of teachers and scholars working in the arts, felt prejudices and grievances ": so early as 1825 wrote to the Emperor Francis I, visiting Brescia.

Retrieved praise the end of the Congregation, by decree of March 31, 1843 by Pope Gregory XVI, arrives at last the imperial approval December 9, 1846.

Luchi Bishop, Vicar General Chapter, using the authority granted by the Holy See erected canonically the Congregation of the Sons of Mary, on August 11, 1847. After giving the formal resignations November 29th Chapter of the Cathedral, December 8, 1847, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, her perpetual profession Pavoni issues.

About the appearance of the new religious family, contemporaries are unanimous in recognizing the novelty and originality, it is composed of religious priests for spiritual guidance, discipline and administrative work of religious and laity to conduct workshops and education young people. Looks like the new figure of the religious worker and educator pavoniano coadjutor brother, inserted directly into the specific mission of the Congregation, with equal rights and duties of priests.

The day after the outbreak of the insurrection against the Austrians, called "Ten Days", Saturday March 24, 1849, Ludovico Pavoni boys accompanied her Salan Hill, twelve miles from Brescia, to make them safe from looting and fires caused by the revolt, right on the square of S. Barnabas had set up a barricade. Not very good health, aggravated March 26 and at dawn on April 1, 1849, Palm Sunday, he dies.

The beatification of Ludovico Pavoni decree confirms that the June 5, 1947 emanated Pius XII on the heroic virtues, which is called "other Philip Neri ... precursor of John Bosco ... perfect emulator S. Joseph Cottolengo ".

While in hospital the Pope baptized little Miguel Angel


Pope Francis baptises baby at Gemelli HospitalPope Francis baptises baby at Gemelli Hospital 

Pope feeling better, visits young patients and baptises baby in hospital

The Director of the Holy See Press Office says Pope Francis is scheduled to be released from hospital on Saturday, and is expected to be present at the Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square. On Friday afternoon he visited some of the little patients at the Hospital and baptized a baby.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis on Friday spent time with children who are being treated at the same Rome Hospital where he is receiving treatment for bronchitis.

A statement released by the Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni, said the Pope visited the children who are receiving treatment in the Gemelli Hospital's paediatric oncology ward.

"He brought them rosaries, chocolate easter eggs and copies of an Italian book for children about Jesus, born in Jerusalem of Judaea,” the statement said.

Bruni also said that during his visits, which lasted about half an hour, the Pope also baptized a little boy called Miguel Angel.

Afterwards, the Holy Father encouraged the baby's mother to tell the parish where the Baptism will be registered to say "the Pope baptised him!"

Pope Francis baptises baby boy during his stay at Rome's Gemelli Hospital

Expected to preside at Palm Sunday Mass

Earlier on Friday, Bruni announced that "As he is scheduled to leave the hospital tomorrow, Pope Francis is expected to be present in St. Peter's Square for the Eucharistic celebration of Palm Sunday, Passion of the Lord."

He also updated the press on the Pope's condition, noting that "the day passed well yesterday, following a normal clinical course."

"In the evening Pope Francis had dinner, eating pizza, together with those who are assisting him during these days of his hospital stay," including the doctors, nurses, assistants, and staff of the Gendarmerie.

The statement also said that this morning, after having breakfast, the Pope read some newspapers and resumed work.

"His Holiness," the statement concluded, "is expected to return to the Santa Marta home tomorrow, upon the outcome of the results of the last examinations this morning."

In a Thursday evening statement, Bruni conveyed that doctors at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome where the Pope was admitted on Wednesday afternoon, said he had been diagnosed with viral bronchitis that requires the administration of an antibiotic therapy administered by infusion, that “has resulted in a marked improvement in his state of health.”