Archive for March, 2013


Pope Francis

Vatican City, 27 March 2013 (VIS) –

“I am happy to welcome you to this, my first general audience,” Pope Francis said to the thousands of faithful who filled St. Peter’s Square to participate in the Bishop of Rome’s first catechesis. “With gratitude and veneration,” he continued, “I take up this ‘witness’ from the hands of my beloved predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. After Easter we will return to the catechesis of the Year of Faith. Today I want to focus on Holy Week. We began this week—the heart of the entire liturgical year—during which we accompany Jesus in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, with Palm Sunday.

“But what,” the Pope asked, “does it mean for us to live Holy Week? What does it mean to follow Jesus on his journey to Calvary, toward the Cross and his Resurrection? On his earthly mission, Jesus walked the streets of the Holy Land. He called 12 simple persons to stay with him, sharing his path and continuing his mission … He spoke to everyone, without distinction: to the great and the humble … the powerful and the weak. He brought God’s mercy and forgiveness. He healed, consoled, understood. He gave hope. He brought to all the presence of God who cares for every man and woman as a good father and a good mother cares for each of their children.”

“God,” Francis emphasized, “didn’t wait for us to come to him. It was He who came to us. … Jesus lived the everyday reality of the most common persons. … He cried when he saw Martha and Mary suffering for the death of their brother Lazarus … He also experienced the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that He is with us, in our midst. … Jesus has no home because his home is the people, us ourselves. His mission is to open the doors to God for all, to be the presence of God’s love.”

“During Holy Week we are living the apex … of this plan of love that runs throughout the history of the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus enters into Jerusalem to take the final step in which his entire existence is summed up. He gives himself completely, keeping nothing for himself, not even his life. At the Last Supper, with his friends, He shares the bread and distributes the chalice ‘for us’. The Son of God offers himself to us; puts his Body and his Blood in our hands to be always with us … And in the Garden of the Mount of Olives, as at the trial before Pilate, he makes no resistance, but gives himself.”

“Jesus doesn’t live this love that leads to sacrifice passively or as his fatal destiny. He certainly didn’t hide his deep human turmoil when faced with violent death, but he entrusted himself to the Father with full confidence … to show his love for us. Each one of us can say, ‘Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me’.”

“What does this mean for us? It means that this path is also mine, also yours, also our path. Living Holy Week, following Jesus not only with moved hearts, means learning to come out of ourselves … in order to meet others, in order to go toward the edges of our existence, to take the first steps towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are farthest from us, those who are forgotten, those who need understanding, consolation, and assistance.”

“Living Holy Week is always going deeper into God’s logic, into the logic of the Cross, which is not first and foremost a logic of sorrow and death but one of love and the self giving that brings life. It is entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following, accompanying Christ, staying with him when he demands that we ‘go out’: out of ourselves, out of a tired and habitual way of living the faith, out of the temptation of locking ourselves in our own schemes that wind up closing the horizon of God’s creative action. God went out of himself in order to come amongst us … to bring us the mercy … that saves and gives hope. And we, if we want to follow and remain with him, cannot be satisfied with staying in the sheep pen with the ninety-nine sheep. We have to ‘go out’, to search for the little lost sheep, the furthest one, with him.”

“Often,” he observed, “we settle for some prayers, a distracted and infrequent Sunday Mass, some act of charity, but we don’t have this courage to ‘go out’ and bring Christ. We are a little like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus talks of his passion, death, and resurrection, of giving himself and love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and scolds him. What Jesus is saying shakes up his plans, seems unacceptable, the safe certainty he had constructed, his idea of the Messiah, in difficulty. And Jesus … addressing some of the harshest words of the Gospel to Peter, says: ‘Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’ God thinks mercifully. God thinks like a father who awaits the return of his son and goes out to meet him, sees him coming when he is still afar … a sign that he was awaiting him every day from the terrace of his house. God thinks like the Samaritan who doesn’t pass by the unfortunate man, pitying him or looking away, but rather assisting him without asking anything in return, without asking if he was a Jew or a Samaritan, rich or poor.”

“Holy Week,” Francis concluded, “is a time of grace that the Lord gives us to open the doors of our hearts, of our lives, of our parishes—so many closed parishes are a shame—of our movements and associations, to ‘go out’ and meet others, to draw near them and bring them the light and joy of our faith. To always go out with the love and tenderness of God!”

After the catechesis and the summaries in different languages that the Gospel readers gave, the Pope greeted all the groups in Italian. Also in Italian, he addressed, among other groups, the university students participating in the international UNIV Congress sponsored by the Prelature of Opus Dei, thanking them for their prayers and affection for the Pope. “With your presence in the university world, each one of you carries out what St. Josemaria Escriva wished for: ‘It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all humankind’.”

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Meditation on the 7 Last Words, by Fr Jason Smith

The curses and insults have begun to dwindle. The large crowd is no longer interested in watching Jesus die. The show is over. He shudders and groans, but not much else. Some had hoped that something fantastic would happen—a flash of light and boom, Christ was down from the cross; but no, he just suffers and slowly dies. Even the chief priests and the leaders are now loosing interest. They have gotten the blood they wanted. They have seen Christ’s crucifixion with their own eyes; they have secured his death. They continue to blaspheme him but their bravado wanes. Our Lord suffers with dignity. He does not reply or give them any recognition. Their insults begin to feel hollow and foolish, and they leave one by one.

As they filter away a new group draws near. It consists of three women: “There stood beside the cross of Jesus his mother, his mother’s sister, and Mary of Magdalene. This is a scene that is beautiful, but hard to watch: a mother witnessing her only son tortured to death before her very eyes. How we would like to take Mary by the arm as she approaches her son! She has in her gaze a look of grave concern but without despair. Even the soldiers seem struck by her strength and allow her to stand right next to Jesus.  She gently places her hand on his crucified feet. She would rather be no place else, for this is God’s will, and she knows he has freely chosen it; she is always beside her son, as she is always beside us.

The words of Mary during the apparition at Guadalupe jump to mind, “Am I not here who am your mother? Did I not once hold you on my lap and take care of everything?” Did she say these same words as she looked up into her son’s eyes? They are words that fill us with peace, security, confidence, and certainty—mom is here; surely they did the same for our Lord in his suffering. Perhaps it was the only comfort he received during his three hours of agony.

What a great blessing it is to have Mary as our mother! Everyday we are able to rejoice in the gift of Christ to his Church, to us. Whenever we pray the beads of the Rosary, we are reminded of Christ’s promise upon the cross, “Behold your mother.” She is our mother. Our Lord’s words should always find an echo in our hearts—and not just there—but also in successes and fears, in our triumphs and sufferings, in our security and in our nervousness, whatever it is that we experience as children, our mother is there.

“Am I not hear, your mother?” May we remember this always—both now and at the hour of our death, amen.

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The Laity in St Peter's Square, Vatican City, ...

The Laity in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Rome, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Vatican City, 24 March 2013 (VIS)

– More than 250 thousand people gathered this morning to attend Palm Sunday Mass, which Pope Francis celebrated in St. Peter’s Square. For the thirteenth consecutive year, the olive trees and branches that adorned St. Peter’s Square and were distributed to the faithful present were a gift from the Puglia region of Italy. The floral design that decorated the altar this year reflected the geography of the five continents: 60,000 olive branches were mixed with grasses and peach leaves, thyme, myrtle, ferns, strawberries, broom, lilies, wallflowers, and celery-leaved buttercups. The two centuries-old olive trees that were placed at the foot of the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul in the square will be planted in the Vatican Gardens after the Mass.


The celebration began at 9:15am with a procession of palm branches in which 620 persons—cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, children, and lay persons—participated. Some 2,000 palm branches were brought in from the Ligurian towns of San Remo and Bordighera in Northern Italy, as has been the tradition now for five centuries. The Pope entered the square while the choir and crowd sang the Hosanna. After reaching the foot of the square’s obelisk, the Pope blessed the palms and olive branches of those in the square.


The procession then continued to the altar on the Sagrato of the Basilica. The Pope carried one of the three-metre long palm branches, which had been artistically braided so as to represent the Holy Trinity. Concelebrating with the Pope were: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome; Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, O. Carm., vice gerent of the diocese of Rome.


The choir sang the Kyrie while the Pope venerated and incensed the altar. The Liturgy of the Word included readings from Isaiah and St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. After the Gospel reading of the Passion, proclaimed by three deacons, the Pope’s homily focused on three central aspects: Joy, the Cross, and Youth. His full homily can be read below.


As part of the closing rites of the Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus. Then, re-entering the Vatican walls, the Pope took a long route through the square, greeting those gathered and being especially attentive to the young and the sick.


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Pope Francis


Vatican City, 16 March 2013 (VIS)

– This morning in the the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father greeted over 6,000 journalists and those working in the media as well as for the Holy See, accredited either permanently or temporarily, to cover the events related to the Conclave. He addressed them with the following words:

“Dear friends, I am pleased, at the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, to meet with you who have worked here in Rome at this very intense period that began with the surprising announcement of my venerated predecessor Benedict XVI, this past 11 February. I warmly greet each of you.”

“The role of the mass media has been continuously growing in recent times,” he said, “so much so that it has become essential to narrate the events of contemporary history to the world. I therefore especially thank you for your distinguished service these past few days—you have had a bit of work to do, haven’t you?—when the eyes of the Catholic world, and not only, were turned toward the Eternal City, in particular to this area that has St. Peter’s tomb as its focal point. In these past few weeks you’ve gotten a chance to talk about the Holy See, the Church, her rites and traditions, her faith, and, in particular, the role of the Pope and his ministry.”

“A particularly heart-felt thanks goes to those who have been able to observe and present these events in the Church’s history while keeping in mind the most just perspective in which they must be read, that of faith. Historical events almost always require a complex reading that, at times, can also include the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly not more complicated than political or economic ones. But they have one particularly fundamental characteristic: they answer to a logic that is not mainly that of, so to speak, worldly categories, and this is precisely why it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wide and varied audience. In fact, the Church, although it is certainly also a human, historical institution with all that that entails, does not have a political nature but is essentially spiritual: it is the people of God, the holy people of God who walk toward the encounter with Jesus Christ. Only by putting oneself in this perspective can one fully explain how the Catholic Church works.”

“Christ is the Church’s Shepherd, but His presence in history moves through human freedom. Among these, one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, Successor of the Apostle Peter, but Christ is the centre, the fundamental reference, the heart of the Church! Without Him, neither Peter nor the Church would exist or have a reason for being. As Benedict XVI repeated often, Christ is present and leads His Church. In everything that has happened, the protagonist is, ultimately, the Holy Spirit. He has inspired Benedict XVI’s decision for the good of the Church; He has guided the cardinals in their prayers and in their election. Dear friends, it is important to take due account of this interpretive horizon, this hermeneutic, to bring the heart of the events of these days into focus.”

“From this is born, above all, a renewed and sincere thanks for your efforts in these particularly challenging days, but also an invitation to always seek to know more the Church’s true nature and the spiritual motivations that guide her and that are the most authentic for understanding her. Rest assured that the Church, for her part, is very attentive to your precious work. You have the ability to gather and express the expectations and needs of our times, to provide the elements necessary to read reality. Like many other professions, your job requires study, sensitivity, and experience but it bears with it a particular attention to truth, goodness, and beauty. This makes us particularly close because the Church exists to communicate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty ‘in person’. It should be clear that we are all called, not to communicate ourselves, but rather this existential triad that shapes truth, goodness, and beauty.”

“Some people didn’t know why the Bishop of Rome wanted to call himself ‘Francis’. Some though of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, even Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. At the election I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me. He is also prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [O.F.M.]: a dear, dear friend. When things were getting a little ‘dangerous’, he comforted me. And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the Pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: ‘Do not forget the poor.’ And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead]; the poor, the poor. Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of war, while the voting continued, until all the votes [were counted]. And so the name came to my heart:: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!”

“I wish the best for you, I thank you for everything that you have done. And I think of your work: I wish you to work fruitfully and with serenity and to always know better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Church. I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization. I I wish the best for you and your families, for each of your families, and I wholeheartedly impart to all of you the blessing.”

After personally greeting some of the journalists present, Pope Francis, in Spanish, concluded: “I told you I wholeheartedly imparted my blessing. Many of you don’t belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you.”

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The official biography of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J.


English: Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archb...

Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires,


Coat of Arms of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio

Coat of Arms of Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Vatican City, 13 March 2013 (VIS) –


Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ordinary for Eastern-rite faithful in Argentina who lack an Ordinary of their own rite, was born on 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires. He studied as and holds a degree as a chemical technician, but then chose the priesthood and entered the seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he moved to the novitiate of the Company of Jesus where he finished studies in the humanities in Chile. In 1963, on returning to Buenos Aires, he obtained a degree in philosophy at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel.


Between 1964 and 1965 he taught literature and psychology at the Immacolata College in Santa Fe and then in 1966 he taught the same subjects at the University of El Salvador, in Buenos Aires.


From 1967 to 1970 he studied theology at the St. Joseph major seminary of San Miguel where he obtained a degree. On 13 December 1969 he was ordained a priest. From 1970 to 1971 he completed the third probation at Alcala de Henares, Spain, and on 22 April 1973, pronounced his perpetual vows.


He was novice master at Villa Varilari in San Miguel from 1972 to 1973, where he also taught theology. On 31 July 1973 he was elected as Provincial for Argentina, a role he served as for six years.


From 1980 to 1986 he was rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel as well as pastor of the Patriarca San Jose parish in the Diocese of San Miguel. In March of 1986 he went to Germany to finish his doctoral thesis. The superiors then sent him to the University of El Salvador and then to Cordoba where he served as a confessor and spiritual director.


On 20 May 1992, John Paul II appointed him titular Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires, He received episcopal consecration in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires from Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, Apostolic Nunzio Ubaldo Calabresi, and Bishop Emilio Ognenovich. of Mercedes-Lujan on 27 June of that year.


On 3 June 1997 he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Buenos Aires and succeeded Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 28 February 1998.


He was Adjunct Relator General of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 2001.


He served as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from 8 November 2005 until 8 November 2011.


He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, of the Title of S. Roberto Bellarmino (St. Robert Bellarmine).


He was a member of:


The Congregations for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;


the Pontifical Council for the Family; and


the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.


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Joshua J. McElwee  |  Mar. 13, 2013

Vatican City

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinean Jesuit who is the first in his order and the first from Latin America to hold the see of Peter, has been elected the 266th bishop of Rome and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Appearing on a balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica about an hour and 10 minutes after white smoke from a chimney above the Sistine Chapel first signaled his election, Bergoglio was introduced by his birth name with the traditional proclamation of the Latin phrase “Habemus papam,” “We have a pope.”

Then came pronouncement of the choice of his papal name: Francis.

He is the first pontiff to choose the name, likely for either the 12th-century St. Francis of Assisi, known for his simple lifestyle and dedication to the works of mercy, or for St. Francis Xavier, a 16th-century Spanish Jesuit priest known for his efforts to evangelize, particularly in Asia.

Bergoglio’s election came on the fifth ballot and second day of voting among the 115 cardinals who participated in the secret election. It was a surprisingly quick conclusion to a conclave that seemed to have no clear front-runner emerging among the cardinals.

At age 76, Bergoglio is only two years younger than Joseph Ratzinger was when he was elected Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005.

Bergoglio’s, now Pope Francis’, first words to a cheering crowd in an overflowing St. Peter’s Square were “Buonasera,” Italian for “Good evening.”

“You know the task of the conclave was to give Rome a bishop,” the new pope continued, speaking Italian with a slight Spanish accent. “My brothers went to the end of the earth to get him.”

Francis then asked the crowd to join him in praying “for our emeritus bishop, Benedict XVI.” Following the “Ave Maria,” “Our Father” and “Glory Be” prayers in Italian, the Argentinean then continued: “Now, let’s start working together, walking together in the church of Rome, which is the first among churches. This is part of the governance of love, of trust.”

“Let us pray for each other, let us pray for the entire world because there is great brotherhood in the world,” Francis continued. “I hope the path that I am about to take now and my father will help me to be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.”

Before giving the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing to those in the crowd, overwhelmingly Italian, the Argentinean asked “for a favor.”

“Please ask God to bless me,” he said, bowing his head and clasping his hands. A 15-second silence lasted in the reported 100,000-person crowd.

“Brothers and sisters, thanks for the welcome,” Francis said, before heading back into the basilica. “Tomorrow I will pray that Mary safeguard Rome. Good night. Good rest.”

Widely reported to be the second-place candidate after Raztinger in the conclave held after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, Bergoglio is known for a simple lifestyle and for dedication to social justice.

After becoming archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he moved out of the traditional archbishop’s palace, preferring instead to live in an apartment. He is also known to cook his own meals, and does not use the services of a chauffeur, instead riding the bus.

Worldwide reaction to Bergoglio’s election, thought also to be the first of a man from the southern hemisphere, was immediate.

“Perhaps for the first time in modern times, the global outlook of the church is reflected at the highest level of the church,” said Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, a fellow Jesuit who leads the order’s Eastern African province, told NCR in an email.

“I want to believe that considering the humble and down-to-earth background of Pope Francis I the church is in capable hands — not just the pope’s alone, but the hands of the entire people of God across the globe,” Orobator, who is also a noted moral theologian, continued.

“Francis’s first gesture of asking the people to pray to God for him may signal the beginning of a more authentic and humble recognition of the priesthood of the people of God and the responsibility we all bear for the church of God in the world.”

People had gathered in St. Peter’s Square in sometimes pouring rain throughout the evening Wednesday, keeping their eyes trained on two screens showing images of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney for the sign of smoke.

As a moment of uncertainly about the color of the smoke — black for no consensus on the pope, white for his election — gave way with the loud ringing of the Basilica’s bell to confirm the news, sustained cheering broke out among those gathered.

Within moments, people were running through puddles and rain, trying to make it to the square for announcement of the new pontiff.

Vatican gendarmes were stationed around the square’s iconic colonnades, directing people to specific gates in order to control the flow of the crowd. Inside an hour, people had filled about a half-block of the street leading into the square.

As the waiting for the new pope continued, screams of “Viva il papa,” Italian for “Long live the pope,” echoed every few minutes. Many waved national flags under their umbrellas.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. His is tweeting live from the Vatican at twitter.com/joshjmacNCR senior correspondent John L. Allen Jr and Catholic News Service contributed to this report.]

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2013-03-12 13:29:59

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March 12, 2013. (Romereports.com) The day of the Conclave is here. Cardinal electors will stay inside the Vatican until a new Pope is elected. Cardinals celebrated Mass to mark the pre-conclave period. This special Mass, known as the ‘Pro Eligendo Summo Pontifice’ took place in St. Peter’s Basilica, where thousands of pilgrims prayed for the future of the Church. The Mass was led by Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano. Applause followed when he thanked Benedict XVI.

Dean College of Cardinals

 “In particular, I thank Our Lord, for the brilliant Pontificate that he granted to us through the life and work of the 265th Successor of Peter, the beloved and venerable Pontiff Benedict XVI, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.”

All 115 cardinal electors were present in the Mass. Their demeanor reflected the solemnity and seriousness the Pre-Conclave calls for. Cardinal Sodano called for unity, adding that it’s important for the next Pope to continue the line of work of the last Popes have begun.

Dean College of Cardinals

“In the wake of this service of love toward the Church and towards all of humanity, the last Popes have been builders of so many good initiatives for people and for the international community, tirelessly promoting justice and peace. Let us pray that the future Pope may continue this unceasing work on the world level.”

After Mass, cardinal electors retreated to the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta where they will stay until a Pope is elected. There, they will have lunch at 1pm.  From now on ceremonies will be presided over by Cardinal Re, due to his seniority.

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