Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Why Francis and Benedict have one Green mind.

Later this week the Church expects to receive Pope Francis’ latest encyclical letter celled “Laudato Si – on the environment.” Here’s a interesting article that shows Pope Francis’ thinking is really nothing radical, but an extension of what Pope Benedict started.

pope-environment

Mythology and media narratives to the contrary, Pope Francis has far more in common with Pope Benedict XVI than whatever separates them. Francis probably could be better understood as “Benedict 2.0,” supplying a warmer and more populist package for the same basic positions espoused by his more cerebral predecessor.

The release on Thursday of Pope Francis’ highly anticipated encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Si, may well be the latest proof of the point.

First of all, it’s hardly as if embracing the cause of fighting climate change, saving the rainforests, and otherwise protecting the environment is somehow a break with Benedict. On the contrary, Benedict was famously the pope who installed solar panels atop a Vatican audience hall and signed an agreement to make the Vatican Europe’s first carbon-neutral state in order to back up his strong ecological concerns.

In a speech to the German parliament in 2011 – a speech, by the way, that probably meant more to the German pontiff than most he delivered during his eight-year reign – Benedict said the rise of Germany’s Green movement in the 1970s was “a cry for fresh air, a cry that cannot be ignored or put aside.”

Yet Benedict also tried to paint a distinctly Catholic shade of green in the way he approached environmental questions, and Francis recently provided a hint he’s thinking the same way.

In brief comments to reporters aboard the papal plane returning from last Saturday’s trip to Bosnia, Francis said his forthcoming environmental encyclical will deal, among other topics, with relativism, which he described as a “cancer of society.” (In the same breath, Francis also called consumerism a “cancer.”)

Relativism is a philosophical position that holds there are no absolute moral rules, because everything is relative to particular circumstances and individuals. At the popular level, it refers to an “anything goes” morality opposed to traditional Catholic teaching.

It might seem odd for Francis to use an environmental tract to bring up a debate over moral philosophy, but that’s where understanding the mind of Benedict XVI helps.

For Benedict, secular environmentalism is the most promising route for recovery of a strong sense of “natural law,” meaning the idea that right and wrong, truth and falsehood, are real qualities which exist in nature, and which human beings can discover using their reason and conscience.

Many Catholic thinkers, prominently including Benedict XVI, worry that natural law has been supplanted in the popular mind either by relativism or by positivism, the idea that moral rules are imposed by human authority and thus more akin to the speed limit than to gravity – something invented, instead of being given in nature.

Benedict believes that environmentalism is leading people back to the idea of natural law, because it proves that limits on what human beings can do without paying a price aren’t just arbitrary but absolutely, objectively real.

“Everyone can see today that … we can’t simply do whatever we want with this earth that has been entrusted to us, we have to respect the inner laws of creation, of this earth, if we want to survive,” Benedict said in 2007.

From there, Benedict said, we may learn to listen to human nature as well, discovering moral laws that stand above our own ego. Benedict called all this a “secular path” to the formation of conscience.

His comments on relativism last Saturday indicate Francis is likely to make a similar point, treating environmentalism not just as an important social cause, but also a moral teaching moment.

One could go on cataloguing the links between Francis and Benedict. This week, for instance, Francis devoted one of his morning homilies to insisting that Christians must not “weaken or water down” their identity, warning against the influence of “modern Gnostics” and an “insipid religion of just prayers and ideas.”

Through the history of salvation, Francis said, God has led the Church progressively from “ambiguities” to “certainties.” Close your eyes, and you easily could have believed you were hearing Benedict XVI.

In most of the ways that matter, what’s changed from Benedict to Francis isn’t the lyrics, but the music. Instead of Wagner, people today seem to hear a saucy Latin rhythm when the pope speaks, often making the message easier to take.

Last week, for example, Francis met the bishops of Puerto Rico in the Vatican, presenting them with a speech blasting gay marriage and “gender theory” in exactly the same terms Benedict XVI would have used. Francis did it, however, while inviting the bishops to join him for lunch, joking that “a little wine will loosen the tongue and you can tell me the truth.”

The real difference between the two pontiffs may lie in reach and effectiveness, not content. Francis has succeeded in convincing a wide swath of people, especially those outside the Church, that he values their experiences and cares about their perspectives. That impression makes them more inclined to view his take on things with sympathy rather than skepticism.

Warmth, in other words, isn’t just about packaging and tone. It also translates into power, meaning the ability to shape opinion and to win hearts and minds where others have failed.

Laudato Si seems destined to be the latest chapter in this bond between Benedict and Francis, with the key question being whether Francis’ more enchanting presentation once again allows his “2.0” version of the message to pack a greater punch.

Letter for Vocations

Next Sunday, 26th April, sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday” is the 52nd world day of prayer for vocations when the church throughout the world looks towards fostering those who may have a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.

Pope Lamp

In recognition of that day, Pope Francis has issued a pastoral letter which may be read by clicking here.

Papal Announcement: A year of Mercy

Information provided to the Media on the occasion of the announcement of the

“Jubilee of Mercy”

Singing in the Rain

In St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis announced today, March 13, 2015, the celebration of an “extraordinary Holy Year”. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 2015, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. At the start of the new year, the Holy Father had stated: “This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!”

The Jubilee announcement had been made on the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, during his homily for the penitential liturgy with which the Holy Father opened the “24 Hours for the Lord”.This initiative, proposed by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, promotes throughout the world the opening of churches for an extended period of time for the purpose of inviting people to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.The theme for this year has been taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, “God rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4).

The opening of this next Jubilee will take place on the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. This is of great significance, for it impels the Church to continue the work begun at Vatican II.

During the Jubilee, the Sunday readings for Ordinary Time will be taken from the Gospel of Luke, the one referred to as “the evangelist of mercy”. Dante Alighieri describes him as “scriba mansuetudinis Christi”, “narrator of the meekness of Christ”. There are many well-known parables of mercy presented in the Gospel of Luke: the lost sheep, the lost coin,the merciful father.

The official and solemn announcement of the Holy Year will take place with the public proclamation of the Bollain front of the Holy Door on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Feast instituted by Saint John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom. In addition, the Jubilee Year was a reminder to the rich that a time would come when their Israelite slaves would once again become their equals and would be able to reclaim their rights. “Justice, according to the Law of Israel, consisted above all in the protection of the weak” (St. John Paul II, Tertio millenio adveniente 13).

The Catholic tradition of the Holy Year began with Pope Boniface VIII in 1300. Boniface VIII had envisioned a Jubilee every century. From 1475 onwards – in order to allow each generation to experience at least one Holy Year – the ordinary Jubilee was to be celebrated every 25 years. However, an extraordinary Jubilee may be announced on the occasion of an event of particular importance.

Until present, there have been 26 ordinary Holy Year celebrations, the last of which was the Jubilee of 2000. The custom of calling extraordinary Jubilees dates back to the XVI century. The last extraordinary Holy Years, which were celebrated during the previous century, were those in 1933, proclaimed by Pius XI to celebrate XIX hundred years of Redemption and in 1983, proclaimed by John Paul II on the occasion of the 1950 years of Redemption.

The Catholic Church has given to the Hebrew Jubilee a more spiritual significance. It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor. Thus, the Holy Year is always an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.

With the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis focuses attention upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him. The encounter with God inspires in one the virtue of mercy.

The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door. This door is one which is only opened during the Holy Year and which remains closed during all other years. Each of the four major basilicas of Rome has a Holy Door: Saint Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. This rite of the opening of the Holy Door illustrates symbolically the idea that, during the Jubilee, the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” towards salvation.

The Holy Doors of the other Basilicas will be opened after the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Mercy is a theme very dear to Pope Francis, as is expressed in the episcopal motto he had chosen: “miserando atque eligendo”. This citation is taken from the homily of Saint Bede the Venerable during which he commented on the Gospel passage of the calling of Saint Matthew: “Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere me” (Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘follow me’). This homily is a tribute to divine mercy. One possible translation of this motto is”With eyes of mercy”.

During the first Angelus after his elections, the Holy Father stated: “Feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient” (Angelus, March 17,2013).

In his Angelus on January 11, 2015, he stated: “There is so much need of mercy today, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth! We are living in the age of mercy, this is the age of mercy”. Then, in his 2015 Lenten Message, the Holy Father expressed:”How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”

In the English edition of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium the term mercy appears 32 times.

Pope Francis has entrusted the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization with the organization of the Jubilee of Mercy.

List of jubilee years and their Popes:

1300: BonifaceVIII

1350: Clement VI

1390: proclaimed by Urban VI, presided over by Boniface IX

1400: Boniface IX

1423: Martin V

1450: Nicholas V

1475: proclaimed by Paul II, presided over by Sixtus IV

1500: Alexander VI

1525: Clement VII

1550: proclaimed by Paul III, presided over by Julius III

1575: Gregory XIII

1600: Clement VIII

1625: UrbanVIII

1650: Innocent X

1675: Clement X

1700: opened by Innocent XII, closed by Clement XI

1725: Benedict XIII

1750: Benedict XIV

1775: proclaimed by Clement XIV, presided over by Pius VI

1825: Leo XII

1875: Pius IX

1900: Leo XIII

1925: Pius XI

1933: Pius XI

1950: Pius XII

1975: Paul VI

1983: John Paul II

2000: John Paul II

2015: Francis

In the years 1800 and 1850, due to the political circumstances of the times, there were no jubilees.

The Pope speaks at Flame2

The following letter was read at Flame2:

“His Holiness Pope Francis presents His special greetings to all those persons who are participating in FLAME 2, taking place in Wembley Arena, London on Saturday, 7 March 2015.

Pope Francis Smiles

Speaking to young people during his recent Apostolic Visit to the Philippines, the Holy Father affirmed: “God surprises us. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have the psychology of a computer, thinking that we know everything… What do I mean? Think for a moment. The computer has all the answers, never a surprise… In the challenge of love, God shows up with surprises…. So let yourselves be surprised by God: Don’t be afraid of surprises, afraid that they will shake you up. They make us insecure but they change the direction we are going in. True love makes you “burn life”, even at the risk of coming up empty-handed. Think of Saint Francis: he left everything, he died with empty hands, but, with a full heart… so. be wise — think well, feel well and act well. and try to be wise. Let yourselves be surprised by God’s love, then go out and burn life… And I want to encourage you as Christian citizens… to offer yourselves passionately and honestly to the great work of renewing your society and helping to build a better world. (18 January 2015).

His Holiness imparts to all participants in FLAME 2 and their families and loved ones a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant graces from Our Blessed Lord.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini

Apostolic Nuncio”

World Day of Prayer for the Sick

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the world day of prayer for the sick.

Lourdes

Pope Francis has issued a letter to mark the occasion and later today Bishop Tom shall be celebrating a Mass in Swansea for the patients and healthcare workers in Menevia. Fr Liam, as Chaplain to Withybush hospital, shall be concelebrating. At this time let us keep in our thoughts and prayers all those from our parish who are sick and ill, and all those who care for them. Let us pray for the intercession of Our Lady and St Bernadette that Withybush hospital may not be denuded of vital services which effect our communities so profoundly.

Synod 2015: The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World.

M and F

Today Bishop Tom issued a pastoral letter to whole diocese. At the same time the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales launched a document called ‘The Call, The Journey and The Mission’. The latter was printed and made available, after Mass, for every household.

The theme of these documents is to respond to an invitation from Pope Francis to reflect upon our experiences of marriage and family life. All of us were born into a family; all of us have a mother and father. Therefore, whether we are married or single, have children or not, we all have some experience of family life. Some of these experiences are positive, some are not.

In reflecting upon our experiences of, we have been asked to answer six questions. There is no need to answer them all at once. In fact, we are being asked to take time to think about our reply to each question. As such, there will only be one question given every two weeks. Responses to each question may then be placed in a box provided at the back of the Church. The responses will then be collected by the diocese, before being sent to the Bishops’ Office in London where Vincent Cardinal Nicholls will take the replies to Rome. Alternatively, responses may be made on-line by filling in the form here.

The questions are:

Question 1: For Sunday 01 February 2015. What are your joys and hopes of marriage and family life today?

Question 2: For Sunday 15 February 2015. What are your struggles and fears of marriage and family life today?

Question 3: For Sunday 01 March 2015. How can we better understand marriage as a vocation?

Question 4: For Sunday 15 March 2015. How does marriage enrich you?

Question 5: For Sunday 29 March 2015. How does your family life enrich you?

Question 6: For Sunday 05 April 2015. In what way, through the abiding presence of God, is your family “Salt of the earth and light to the world,” and a place of and for handing on the faith?