❤️ “Eat whatever you want for Easter, the sacrifice is not in the stomach, but in the heart. They refrain from eating meat, but don’t talk to their siblings or relatives, don’t visit their parents or bother them to attend to them. Don’t share food with the needy, forbid children to see their father, forbid grandparents to see their grandchildren, criticize other people’s lives, beat their wife, etc.. A good barbeque or beef stew won’t make you a bad person, just like a fish fillet won’t turn you a saint. Better seek to have a deeper relationship with God through better treatment of others 🙏🏻 Let’s be less arrogant and more humble at heart. ❤️ ✝️Pope Francis ✝️
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS CHRISTMAS 2023
Monday, 25 December 2023
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Merry Christmas!
The eyes and the hearts of Christians throughout the world turn to Bethlehem; in these days, it is a place of sorrow and silence, yet it was there that the long-awaited message was first proclaimed: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). Those words spoken by the angel in the heavens above Bethlehem are also spoken to us. We are full of hope and trust as we realize that the Lord has been born for us; that the eternal Word of the Father, the infinite God, has made his home among us. He became flesh; he came “to dwell among us” (Jn 1:14). This is the good news that changed the course of history!
The message of Bethlehem is indeed “good news of great joy” (Lk 2:10). What kind of joy? Not the passing happiness of this world, not the glee of entertainment but a joy that is “great” because it makes us great. For today, all of us, with all our shortcomings, embrace the sure promise of an unprecedented gift: the hope of being born for heaven. Yes, Jesus our brother has come to make his Father our Father; a small child, he reveals to us the tender love of God, and much more. He, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, gives us “power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). This is the joy that consoles hearts, renews hope and bestows peace. It is the joy of the Holy Spirit: the joy born of being God’s beloved sons and daughters.
Brothers and sisters, today in Bethlehem, amid the deep shadows covering the land, an undying flame has been lighted. Today the world’s darkness has been overcome by the light of God, which “enlightens every man and woman” (Jn 1:9). Brothers and sisters, let us exult in this gift of grace! Rejoice, you who have lost confidence in your certitudes, for you are not alone: Christ is born for you! Rejoice, you who have abandoned all hope, for God offers you his outstretched hand; he does not point a finger at you, but offers you his little baby hand, in order to set you free from your fears, to relieve you of your burdens and to show you that, in his eyes, you are more valuable than anything else. Rejoice, you who find no peace of heart, for the ancient prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled for your sake: “a child has been born for us, a son given to us, and he is named… Prince of Peace” (9:6). Scripture reveals that his peace, his kingdom, “will have no end” (9:7).
In the Scriptures, the Prince of Peace is opposed by the “Prince of this world” (Jn 12:31), who, by sowing the seeds of death, plots against the Lord, “the lover of life” (cf. Wis 11:26). We see this played out in Bethlehem, where the birth of the Saviour is followed by the slaughter of the innocents. How many innocents are being slaughtered in our world! In their mothers’ wombs, in odysseys undertaken in desperation and in search of hope, in the lives of all those little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war. They are the little Jesuses of today, these little ones whose childhood has been devastated by war.
To say “yes” to the Prince of Peace, then, means saying “no” to war, to every war and to do so with courage, to the very mindset of war, an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly. This is what war is: an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly. To say “no” to war means saying “no” to weaponry. The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them. And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise? Today, as at the time of Herod, the evil that opposes God’s light hatches its plots in the shadows of hypocrisy and concealment. How much violence and killing takes place amid deafening silence, unbeknownst to many! People, who desire not weapons but bread, who struggle to make ends meet and desire only peace, have no idea how many public funds are being spent on arms. Yet that is something they ought to know! It should be talked about and written about, so as to bring to light the interests and the profits that move the puppet-strings of war.
Isaiah, who prophesied the Prince of Peace, looked forward to a day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation”, a day when men “will not learn war any more”, but instead “beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (2:4). With God’s help, let us make every effort to work for the coming of that day!
May it come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples. I embrace them all, particularly the Christian communities of Gaza, the parish of Gaza, and the entire Holy Land. My heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October last, and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage. I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid. May there be an end to the fueling of violence and hatred. And may the Palestinian question come to be resolved through sincere and persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community. Brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace in Palestine and in Israel.
My thoughts turn likewise to the people of war-torn Syria, and to those of long-suffering Yemen. I think too of the beloved Lebanese people, and I pray that political and social stability will soon be attained.
Contemplating the Baby Jesus, I implore peace for Ukraine. Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people, so that through the support of each of us, they may feel the concrete reality of God’s love.
May the day of definitive peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan draw near. May it be advanced by the pursuit of humanitarian initiatives, by the return of refugees to their homes in legality and security, and by reciprocal respect for religious traditions and the places of worship of each community.
Let us not forget the tensions and conflicts that trouble the region of the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Sudan, as well as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
May the day draw near when fraternal bonds will be consolidated on the Korean peninsula by undertaking processes of dialogue and reconciliation capable of creating the conditions for lasting peace.
May the Son of God, who became a lowly Child, inspire political authorities and all persons of good will in the Americas to devise suitable ways to resolve social and political conflicts, to combat forms of poverty that offend the dignity of persons, to reduce inequality and to address the troubling phenomenon of migration movements.
From the manger, the Child Jesus asks us to be the voice of those who have no voice. The voice of the innocent children who have died for lack of bread and water; the voice of those who cannot find work or who have lost their jobs; the voice of those forced to flee their lands in search of a better future, risking their lives in grueling journeys and prey to unscrupulous traffickers.
Brothers and sisters, we are approaching the season of grace and hope that is the Jubilee, due to begin a year from now. May this time of preparation for the Holy Year be an opportunity for the conversion of hearts, for the rejection of war and the embrace of peace, and for joyfully responding to the Lord’s call, in the words of Isaiah’s prophecy, “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners” (61:1).
Those words were fulfilled in Jesus (cf. Lk 4:18), who is born today in Bethlehem. Let us welcome him! Let us open our hearts to him, who is the Saviour, the Prince of Peace!o
Pope Francis: Do I nourish the ‘oil’ of my soul?
Ten virgins and their lamps
In the passage of the ten virgins awaiting a bridegroom, five brought enough oil for their lamps for the wait, while the oil of the other five runs out. The five virgins who are prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival are rewarded.
While acknowledging that all those bridesmaids are there to welcome the bridegroom, as they are “there with their lamps, waiting,” the Pope said the difference between the wise and the foolish ones is tied to “preparation.”
The wise ones, the Holy Father observed, “took flasks of oil with their lamps,” that is to say “the unseen element that generates the light.” However, the foolish ones, on the other hand, did not.
“Here is the difference: the oil,” the Pope stressed, adding, “And what is the characteristic of the oil? That it cannot be seen: it is inside the lamps, it is not conspicuous, but without it the lamps give no light.”
Stewardship of inner life
The Pope urged faithful to see the relevance of this parable in their own lives.
“Let us look at ourselves, and we will see that our life runs the same risk,” he noted, recognizing that often we are concerned about our appearance, taking good care of one’s image, and making a good impression in front of others.
“But Jesus says,” he insisted, “that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but is more important, caring for the heart.”
“Jesus says that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but which is more important, taking care of the heart.”
The Pope called this wisdom, the “stewardship of the inner life,” which knows how to stop and listen to one’s heart, to keep watch over one’s own thoughts and feelings, and make room for silence and listening.
Nourish attentively ‘oil of the soul’
Moreover, he continued, it is capable of “giving up some of the time passed in front of the telephone screen” to “look at the light in the eyes of others, in one’s own heart, in God’s gaze upon us.”
For everyone, the Pope said, it requires “not falling into the trap of activism,” but “devoting time to the Lord, to listening to His Word.”
The Gospel, the Pope highlighted, warns us against neglecting the “oil of inner life,” or the “oil of the soul,” underscoring how important it is to prepare it.
A little time to prepare each day
The inner life, the Pope said, cannot be improvised, but requires constancy, and a little preparation each day.
For this reason, the Pope asked the faithful to ask themselves how they are “preparing.”
“So, we can ask ourselves: what am I preparing at this moment in life? Perhaps I am trying to put aside some savings, I am thinking about a house or a new car, concrete plans… They are good things. However, the Pope highlighted, “am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life?”
“But am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life?”
With this in mind, the Holy Father said we each must examine the state of the “oil” of our souls, asking, “Do I nourish it and keep it well?”
Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Our Lady, help us to cherish the oil of inner life.
Pope Francis: Mary help us to be grateful.
In Sunday’s Gospel, the parable of the wicked tenants shows us how “ungrateful and greedy thoughts insinuated themselves into the minds of the tenants, who imagined “the product of our work belongs to us alone”.
Instead of caring for the garden and sharing the harvest with the landowner, they sought to keep everything for themselves, mistreated the master’s servants, and ultimately killed his son.
Ingratitude leads to violence
Reflecting on this parable, Pope Francis said that the tenants “should have been grateful for what they received and for how they had been treated. Instead, ingratitude gives rise to greed and a progressive sense of rebellion grew within them, leading them to see the situation in a distorted way, to feel that the owner was in their debt rather than that they were in debt to the owner who had given them work.”
And thus, the Pope said, “from being tenants, they become assassins.”
Pope Francis went on to explain that, in this parable, Jesus reminds us what happens when a person deceives him or herself into thinking he or she does things on their own and forgets to be grateful…” This attitude, he said, can lead to dissatisfaction, misunderstandings, resentment, and ultimately violence. “Yes, dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “ungratefulness generates violence… while a simple ‘Thank you’ can bring back peace!”
Learning to say ‘Thank you’
The Holy Father invited us to ask ourselves if we recognize that life and faith, our very selves, and everything we have “comes from the grace of the Lord…”; and if, in response to grace, we “know how to say ‘Thank you’?”
Pope Francis concluded his Angelus reflection with the prayer that the Blessed Virgin Mary, “whose soul glorifies the Lord,” might “help us to make gratitude the light that dawns daily in our hearts.”
Pope Francis: To celebrate Mary is to celebrate the tenderness of God.
Mary is our mother and advocate, who helps us “untie the knots,” suggested Pope Francis while meeting Saturday in the Vatican with the Confraternity of Our Lady of Montserrat on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of its foundation.
In his remarks, the Pope expressed his joy to receive those before him on this day when the Church celebrates Our Lady of the Rosary.
“To celebrate Mary,” the Pope said, “is to celebrate the closeness and tenderness of God who is with His people, who does not leave us alone, who has given us a Mother who cares for us and accompanies us.”
“To celebrate Mary is to celebrate the closeness and tenderness of God who is with His people, who does not leave us alone, who has given us a Mother who cares for us and accompanies us.”
The Pope recalled that they came as pilgrims to Rome precisely “to celebrate and give thanks to the Lord for this presence of Mary so close who, for 800 years, has accompanied you on the journey of Christian life.” The Pope asked them to join him in evoking the image of “the Virgin of Montserrat, the beloved ‘Moreneta,’ the black Virgin, [who] is seated, holding the Child.”
The Pope said that keeping in mind this dual vocation of Mary to be the mother of God and our mother, helps one to better reflect on the motto chosen for their pilgrimage, which was “Popular piety, social friendship and universal brotherhood.”
Significance of Marian devotion
The Pope acknowledged the significance of Marian devotion in the manifestations of piety of God’s holy faithful people.
“Just think, in these 800 years of presence in Montserrat,” the Pope reflected, “how many faithful have visited her shrine, unrolled the rosary beads and humbly and simply asked the Moreneta for her intercession for them and their loved ones! How many manifestations of filial affection, supplications, and actions of thanksgiving!”
“And we can imagine,” he continued, “Mary saying in the depths of her heart to each of her children, with serenity and gentleness, as in Cana of Galilee: ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you’.”
The evangelizing power of popular piety, the Pope went on to say, “creates favorable conditions for bonds of friendship and brotherhood among peoples to grow and strengthen.”
In this aspect, too, the Pope observed, “Marian devotion has a privileged place.”
Mother and ‘facilitator’
The Pope recalled Mary, as our “mother” and “facilitator,” saying the word “advocate” is a bit “too functional.”
“Mary,” he continued, “is a facilitator in conflicts and problems, like the lack of wine at weddings.”
“Mary is a facilitator in conflicts and problems, like the lack of wine at weddings.”
Our Lady, he highlighted, “also smoothes the path of friendship between peoples, inviting us to turn our gaze toward the origin and goal of our existence-Jesus Christ,” and encourages us “to follow his example, walking the paths of peace, kindness, listening and patient and trusting dialogue.”
Invitation to live universal brotherhood
“The Virgin of Montserrat, with the world in her hands,” the Pope said, “invites us to live this universal brotherhood, without borders, without exclusions, which dispels the shadows of a closed environment.”
Encouraging them to go forward in this mission, Pope Francis concluded by praying that Jesus might bless them and that the Blessed Virgin might keep and help them to continue walking together.
The Holy See
OF THE HOLY FATHER
TO ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS
- “Praise God for all his creatures”. This was the message that Saint Francis of Assisi proclaimed by his life, his canticles and all his actions. In this way, he accepted the invitation of the biblical Psalms and reflected the sensitivity of Jesus before the creatures of his Father: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these” (Mt 6:28-29). “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight” (Lk 12:6). How can we not admire this tenderness of Jesus for all the beings that accompany us along the way!
- Eight years have passed since I published the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, when I wanted to share with all of you, my brothers and sisters of our suffering planet, my heartfelt concerns about the care of our common home. Yet, with the passage of time, I have realized that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point. In addition to this possibility, it is indubitable that the impact of climate change will increasingly prejudice the lives and families of many persons. We will feel its effects in the areas of healthcare, sources of employment, access to resources, housing, forced migrations, etc.
- This is a global social issue and one intimately related to the dignity of human life. The Bishops of the United States have expressed very well this social meaning of our concern about climate change, which goes beyond a merely ecological approach, because “our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together. Climate change is one of the principal
challenges facing society and the global community. The effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world”.  In a few words, the Bishops assembled for the Synod for Amazonia said the same thing: “Attacks on nature have consequences for people’s lives”.  And to express bluntly that this is no longer a secondary or ideological question, but a drama that harms us all, the African bishops stated that climate change makes manifest “a tragic and striking example of structural sin”. 
- The reflection and information that we can gather from these past eight years allow us to clarify and complete what we were able to state some time ago. For this reason, and because the situation is now even more pressing, I have wished to share these pages with you.
- The Global Climate Crisis
- Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident. No one can ignore the fact that in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought and other cries of protest on the part of the earth that are only a few palpable expressions of a silent disease that affects everyone. Admittedly, not every concrete catastrophe ought to be attributed to global climate change. Nonetheless, it is verifiable that specific climate changes provoked by humanity are notably heightening the probability of extreme phenomena that are increasingly frequent and intense. For this reason, we know that every time the global temperature increases by 0.5° C, the intensity and frequency of great rains and floods increase in some areas and severe droughts in others, extreme heat waves in some places and heavy snowfall in others.  If up to now we could have heat waves several times a year, what will happen if the global temperature increases by 1.5° C, which we are approaching? Those heat waves will be much more frequent and with greater intensity. If it should rise above 2 degrees, the icecaps of Greenland and a large part of Antarctica  will melt completely, with immensely grave consequences for everyone.
Resistance and confusion
- In recent years, some have chosen to deride these facts. They bring up allegedly solid scientific data, like the fact that the planet has always had, and will have, periods of cooling and warming. They forget to mention another relevant datum: that what we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming, at such a speed that it will take only one generation – not centuries or millennia – in order to verify it. The rise in the sea level and the melting of glaciers can be easily perceived by an individual in his or her lifetime, and probably in a few years many populations will have to move their homes because of these facts.
- In order to ridicule those who speak of global warming, it is pointed out that intermittent periods of extreme cold regularly occur. One fails to mention that this and other extraordinary symptoms are nothing but diverse alternative expressions of the same cause: the global imbalance that is
provoking the warming of the planet. Droughts and floods, the dried-up lakes, communities swept away by seaquakes and flooding ultimately have the same origin. At the same time, if we speak of a global phenomenon, we cannot confuse this with sporadic events explained in good part by local factors.
- Lack of information leads to confusion between large-scale climate projections that involve long periods of time – we are talking about decades at least – with weather forecasts that at most can cover a few weeks. When we speak of climate change, we are referring to a global reality – and constant local variations – that persists for several decades.
- In an attempt to simplify reality, there are those who would place responsibility on the poor, since they have many children, and even attempt to resolve the problem by mutilating women in less developed countries. As usual, it would seem that everything is the fault of the poor. Yet the reality is that a low, richer percentage of the planet contaminates more than the poorest 50% of the total world population, and that per capita emissions of the richer countries are much greater than those of the poorer ones.  How can we forget that Africa, home to more than half of the world’s poorest people, is responsible for a minimal portion of historic emissions?
- It is often heard also that efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels and developing cleaner energy sources will lead to a reduction in the number of jobs. What is happening is that millions of people are losing their jobs due to different effects of climate change: rising sea levels, droughts and other phenomena affecting the planet have left many people adrift. Conversely, the transition to renewable forms of energy, properly managed, as well as efforts to adapt to the damage caused by climate change, are capable of generating countless jobs in different sectors. This demands that politicians and business leaders should even now be concerning themselves with it.
- It is no longer possible to doubt the human – “anthropic” – origin of climate change. Let us see why. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which causes global warming, was stable until the nineteenth century, below 300 parts per million in volume. But in the middle of that century, in conjunction with industrial development, emissions began to increase. In the past fifty years, this increase has accelerated significantly, as the Mauna Loa observatory, which has taken daily measurements of carbon dioxide since 1958, has confirmed. While I was writing Laudato Si’, they hit a historic high – 400 parts per million – until arriving at 423 parts per million in June 2023.  More than 42% of total net emissions since the year 1850 were produced after 1990. 
- At the same time, we have confirmed that in the last fifty years the temperature has risen at an unprecedented speed, greater than any time over the past two thousand years. In this period, the
trend was a warming of 0.15° C per decade, double that of the last 150 years. From 1850 on, the global temperature has risen by 1.1° C, with even greater impact on the polar regions. At this rate, it is possible that in just ten years we will reach the recommended maximum global ceiling of 1.5° C.  This increase has not occurred on the earth’s surface alone but also several kilometres higher in the atmosphere, on the surface of the oceans and even in their depths for hundreds of metres. Thus the acidification of the seas increased and their oxygen levels were reduced. The glaciers are receding, the snow cover is diminishing and the sea level is constantly rising. 
- It is not possible to conceal the correlation of these global climate phenomena and the accelerated increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly since the mid-twentieth century. The overwhelming majority of scientists specializing in the climate support this correlation, and only a very small percentage of them seek to deny the evidence. Regrettably, the climate crisis is not exactly a matter that interests the great economic powers, whose concern is with the greatest profit possible at minimal cost and in the shortest amount of time.
- I feel obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church. Yet we can no longer doubt that the reason for the unusual rapidity of these dangerous changes is a fact that cannot be concealed: the enormous novelties that have to do with unchecked human intervention on nature in the past two centuries. Events of natural origin that usually cause warming, such as volcanic eruptions and others, are insufficient to explain the proportion and speed of the changes of recent decades.  The change in average surface temperatures cannot be explained except as the result of the increase of greenhouse gases.
Damages and risks
- Some effects of the climate crisis are already irreversible, at least for several hundred years, such as the increase in the global temperature of the oceans, their acidification and the decrease of oxygen. Ocean waters have a thermal inertia and centuries are needed to normalize their temperature and salinity, which affects the survival of many species. This is one of the many signs that the other creatures of this world have stopped being our companions along the way and have become instead our victims.
- The same can be said about the decrease in the continental ice sheets. The melting of the poles will not be able to be reversed for hundreds of years. As for the climate, there are factors that have persisted for long periods of time, independent of the events that may have triggered them. For this reason, we are now unable to halt the enormous damage we have caused. We barely have time to prevent even more tragic damage.
- Certain apocalyptic diagnoses may well appear scarcely reasonable or insufficiently grounded. This should not lead us to ignore the real possibility that we are approaching a critical point. Small
changes can cause greater ones, unforeseen and perhaps already irreversible, due to factors of inertia. This would end up precipitating a cascade of events having a snowball effect. In such cases, it is always too late, since no intervention will be able to halt a process once begun. There is no turning back. We cannot state with certainty that all this is going to happen, based on present conditions. But it is certain that it continues to be a possibility, if we take into account phenomena already in motion that “sensitize” the climate, like the reduction of ice sheets, changes in ocean currents, deforestation in tropical rainforests and the melting of permafrost in Russia, etc. 
- Consequently, a broader perspective is urgently needed, one that can enable us to esteem the marvels of progress, but also to pay serious attention to other effects that were probably unimaginable a century ago. What is being asked of us is nothing other than a certain responsibility for the legacy we will leave behind, once we pass from this world.
- Finally, we can add that the Covid-19 pandemic brought out the close relation of human life with that of other living beings and with the natural environment. But in a special way, it confirmed that what happens in one part of the world has repercussions on the entire planet. This allows me to reiterate two convictions that I repeat over and over again: “Everything is connected” and “No one is saved alone”.
- A Growing Technocratic Paradigm
- In Laudato Si’, I offered a brief resumé of the technocratic paradigm underlying the current process of environmental decay. It is “a certain way of understanding human life and activity [that] has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us”.  Deep down, it consists in thinking “as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such”.  As a logical consequence, it then becomes easy “to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology”. 
- In recent years, we have been able to confirm this diagnosis, even as we have witnessed a new advance of the above paradigm. Artificial intelligence and the latest technological innovations start with the notion of a human being with no limits, whose abilities and possibilities can be infinitely expanded thanks to technology. In this way, the technocratic paradigm monstrously feeds upon itself.
- Without a doubt, the natural resources required by technology, such as lithium, silicon and so many others, are not unlimited, yet the greater problem is the ideology underlying an obsession: to increase human power beyond anything imaginable, before which nonhuman reality is a mere resource at its disposal. Everything that exists ceases to be a gift for which we should be thankful, esteem and cherish, and instead becomes a slave, prey to any whim of the human mind and its capacities.
- It is chilling to realize that the capacities expanded by technology “have given those with the knowledge and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used… In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it”. 
Rethinking our use of power
- Not every increase in power represents progress for humanity. We need only think of the “admirable” technologies that were employed to decimate populations, drop atomic bombs and annihilate ethnic groups. There were historical moments where our admiration at progress blinded us to the horror of its consequences. But that risk is always present, because “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience… We stand naked and exposed in the face of our ever-increasing power, lacking the wherewithal to control it. We have certain superficial mechanisms, but we cannot claim to have a sound ethics, a culture and spirituality genuinely capable of setting limits and teaching clear-minded self-restraint”.  It is not strange that so great a power in such hands is capable of destroying life, while the mentality proper to the technocratic paradigm blinds us and does not permit us to see this extremely grave problem of present-day humanity.
- Contrary to this technocratic paradigm, we say that the world that surrounds us is not an object of exploitation, unbridled use and unlimited ambition. Nor can we claim that nature is a mere “setting” in which we develop our lives and our projects. For “we are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”,  and thus “we [do] not look at the world from without but from within”. 
- This itself excludes the idea that the human being is extraneous, a foreign element capable only of harming the environment. Human beings must be recognized as a part of nature. Human life, intelligence and freedom are elements of the nature that enriches our planet, part of its internal workings and its equilibrium.
- For this reason, a healthy ecology is also the result of interaction between human beings and the environment, as occurs in the indigenous cultures and has occurred for centuries in different regions of the earth. Human groupings have often “created” an environment,  reshaping it in some way without destroying it or endangering it. The great present-day problem is that the technocratic paradigm has destroyed that healthy and harmonious relationship. In any event, the indispensable need to move beyond that paradigm, so damaging and destructive, will not be found in a denial of the human being, but include the interaction of natural systems “with social systems”. 
- We need to rethink among other things the question of human power, its meaning and its limits. For our power has frenetically increased in a few decades. We have made impressive and awesome technological advances, and we have not realized that at the same time we have turned into highly dangerous beings, capable of threatening the lives of many beings and our own survival. Today it is worth repeating the ironic comment of Solovyov about an “age which was so advanced as to be actually the last one”.  We need lucidity and honesty in order to recognize in time that our power and the progress we are producing are turning against us. 
The ethical goad
- The ethical decadence of real power is disguised thanks to marketing and false information, useful tools in the hands of those with greater resources to employ them to shape public opinion. With the help of these means, whenever plans are made to undertake a project involving significant changes in the environment or high levels of contamination, one raises the hopes of the people of that area by speaking of the local progress that it will be able to generate or of the potential for economic growth, employment and human promotion that it would mean for their children. Yet in reality there does not seem to be any true interest in the future of these people, since they are not clearly told that the project will result in the clearing of their lands, a decline in the quality of their lives, a desolate and less habitable landscape lacking in life, the joy of community and hope for the future; in addition to the global damage that eventually compromises many other people as well.
- One need but think of the momentary excitement raised by the money received in exchange for the deposit of nuclear waste in a certain place. The house that one could have bought with that money has turned into a grave due to the diseases that were then unleashed. And I am not saying this, moved by a overflowing imagination, but on the basis of something we have seen. It could be said that this is an extreme example, but in these cases there is no room for speaking of “lesser” damages, for it is precisely the amassing of damages considered tolerable that has brought us to the situation in which we now find ourselves.
- This situation has to do not only with physics or biology, but also with the economy and the way we conceive it. The mentality of maximum gain at minimal cost, disguised in terms of reasonableness, progress and illusory promises, makes impossible any sincere concern for our common home and any real preoccupation about assisting the poor and the needy discarded by our society. In recent years, we can note that, astounded and excited by the promises of any number of false prophets, the poor themselves at times fall prey to the illusion of a world that is not being built for them.
- Mistaken notions also develop about the concept of “meritocracy”, which becomes seen as a “merited” human power to which everything must be submitted, under the rule of those born with greater possibilities and advantages. A healthy approach to the value of hard work, the
development of one’s native abilities and a praiseworthy spirit of initiative is one thing, but if one does not seek a genuine equality of opportunity, “meritocracy” can easily become a screen that further consolidates the privileges of a few with great power. In this perverse logic, why should they care about the damage done to our common home, if they feel securely shielded by the financial resources that they have earned by their abilities and effort?
- In conscience, and with an eye to the children who will pay for the harm done by their actions, the question of meaning inevitably arises: “What is the meaning of my life? What is the meaning of my time on this earth? And what is the ultimate meaning of all my work and effort?”
- The Weakness of International Politics
- Although “our own days seem to be showing signs of a certain regression… each new generation must take up the struggles and attainments of past generations, while setting its sights even higher. This is the path. Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day”.  For there to be solid and lasting advances, I would insist that, “preference should be given to multilateral agreements between States”. 
- It is not helpful to confuse multilateralism with a world authority concentrated in one person or in an elite with excessive power: “When we talk about the possibility of some form of world authority regulated by law, we need not necessarily think of a personal authority”.  We are speaking above all of “more effective world organizations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty and the sure defence of fundamental human rights”.  The issue is that they must be endowed with real authority, in such a way as to “provide for” the attainment of certain essential goals. In this way, there could come about a multilateralism that is not dependent on changing political conditions or the interests of a certain few, and possesses a stable efficacy.
- It continues to be regrettable that global crises are being squandered when they could be the occasions to bring about beneficial changes.  This is what happened in the 2007-2008 financial crisis and again in the Covid-19 crisis. For “the actual strategies developed worldwide in the wake of [those crises] fostered greater individualism, less integration and increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed”. 
- More than saving the old multilateralism, it appears that the current challenge is to reconfigure and recreate it, taking into account the new world situation. I invite you to recognize that “many groups and organizations within civil society help to compensate for the shortcomings of the international community, its lack of coordination in complex situations, and its lack of attention to
fundamental human rights”.  For example, the Ottawa Process against the use, production and manufacture of antipersonnel mines is one example that shows how civil society with its organizations is capable of creating effective dynamics that the United Nations cannot. In this way, the principle of subsidiarity is applied also to the global-local relationship.
- In the medium-term, globalization favours spontaneous cultural interchanges, greater mutual knowledge and processes of integration of peoples, which end up provoking a multilateralism “from below” and not simply one determined by the elites of power. The demands that rise up from below throughout the world, where activists from very different countries help and support one another, can end up pressuring the sources of power. It is to be hoped that this will happen with respect to the climate crisis. For this reason, I reiterate that “unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment”. 
- Postmodern culture has generated a new sensitivity towards the more vulnerable and less powerful. This is connected with my insistence in the Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti on the primacy of the human person and the defence of his or her dignity beyond every circumstance. It is another way of encouraging multilateralism for the sake of resolving the real problems of humanity, securing before all else respect for the dignity of persons, in such a way that ethics will prevail over local or contingent interests.
- It is not a matter of replacing politics, but of recognizing that the emerging forces are becoming increasingly relevant and are in fact capable of obtaining important results in the resolution of concrete problems, as some of them demonstrated during the pandemic. The very fact that answers to problems can come from any country, however little, ends up presenting multilateralism as an inevitable process.
- The old diplomacy, also in crisis, continues to show its importance and necessity. Still, it has not succeeded in generating a model of multilateral diplomacy capable of responding to the new configuration of the world; yet should it be able to reconfigure itself, it must be part of the solution, because the experience of centuries cannot be cast aside either.
- Our world has become so multipolar and at the same time so complex that a different framework for effective cooperation is required. It is not enough to think only of balances of power but also of the need to provide a response to new problems and to react with global mechanisms to the environmental, public health, cultural and social challenges, especially in order to consolidate respect for the most elementary human rights, social rights and the protection of our common home. It is a matter of establishing global and effective rules that can permit “providing for” this global safeguarding.
- All this presupposes the development of a new procedure for decision-making and legitimizing
those decisions, since the one put in place several decades ago is not sufficient nor does it appear effective. In this framework, there would necessarily be required spaces for conversation, consultation, arbitration, conflict resolution and supervision, and, in the end, a sort of increased “democratization” in the global context, so that the various situations can be expressed and included. It is no longer helpful for us to support institutions in order to preserve the rights of the more powerful without caring for those of all.
- Climate Conferences: Progress and Failures
- For several decades now, representatives of more than 190 countries have met periodically to address the issue of climate change. The 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference led to the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty that took effect when the necessary ratification on the part of the signatories concluded in 1994. These States meet annually in the Conference of the Parties (COP), the highest decision-making body. Some of these Conferences were failures, like that of Copenhagen (2009), while others made it possible to take important steps forward, like COP3 in Kyoto (1997). Its significant Protocol set the goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 5% with respect to 1990. The deadline was the year 2012, but this, clearly, was not achieved.
- All parties also committed themselves to implementing programmes of adaptation in order to reduce the effects of climate change now taking place. Provisions were also made for aid to cover the costs of the measures in developing countries. The Protocol actually took effect in 2005.
- Afterwards, it was proposed to create a mechanism regarding the loss and damage caused by climate change, which recognizes as those chiefly responsible the richer countries and seeks to compensate for the loss and damage that climate change produces in the more vulnerable countries. It was not yet a matter of financing the “adaptation” of those countries, but of compensating them for damage already incurred. This question was the subject of important discussions at various Conferences.
- COP21 in Paris (2015) represented another significant moment, since it generated an agreement that involved everyone. It can be considered as a new beginning, given the failure to meet the goals previously set. The agreement took effect on 4 November 2016. Albeit a binding agreement, not all its dispositions are obligations in the strict sense, and some of them leave ample room for discretion. In any case, properly speaking, there are no provisions for sanctions in the case of unfulfilled commitments, nor effective instruments to ensure their fulfilment. It also provides for a certain flexibility in the case of developing countries.
- The Paris Agreement presents a broad and ambitious objective: to keep the increase of average global temperatures to under 2° C with respect to preindustrial levels, and with the aim of decreasing them to 1.5° C. Work is still under way to consolidate concrete procedures for
monitoring and to facilitate general criteria for comparing the objectives of the different countries. This makes it difficult to achieve a more objective (quantitative) evaluation of the real results.
- Following several Conferences with scarce results, and the disappointment of COP25 in Madrid (2019), it was hoped that this inertia would be reversed at COP26 in Glasgow (2021). In effect, its result was to relaunch the Paris Agreement, put on hold by the overall effects of the pandemic. Furthermore, there was an abundance of “recommendations” whose actual effect was hardly foreseeable. Proposals tending to ensure a rapid and effective transition to alternative and less polluting forms of energy made no progress.
- COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh (2022) was from the outset threatened by the situation created by the invasion of Ukraine, which caused a significant economic and energy crisis. Carbon use increased and everyone sought to have sufficient supplies. Developing countries regarded access to energy and prospects for development as an urgent priority. There was an evident openness to recognizing the fact that combustible fuels still provide 80% of the world’s energy, and that their use continues to increase.
- This Conference in Egypt was one more example of the difficulty of negotiations. It could be said that at least it marked a step forward in consolidating a system for financing “loss and damage” in countries most affected by climate disasters. This would seem to give a new voice and a greater role to developing countries. Yet here too, many points remained imprecise, above all the concrete responsibility of the countries that have to contribute.
- Today we can continue to state that, “the accords have been poorly implemented, due to lack of suitable mechanisms for oversight, periodic review and penalties in cases of noncompliance. The principles which they proclaimed still await an efficient and flexible means of practical implementation”.  Also, that “international negotiations cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good. Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility”. 
- What to Expect from COP28 in Dubai?
- The United Arab Emirates will host the next Conference of the Parties (COP28). It is a country of the Persian Gulf known as a great exporter of fossil fuels, although it has made significant investments in renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, gas and oil companies are planning new projects there, with the aim of further increasing their production. To say that there is nothing to hope for would be suicidal, for it would mean exposing all humanity, especially the poorest, to the worst impacts of climate change.
- If we are confident in the capacity of human beings to transcend their petty interests and to
think in bigger terms, we can keep hoping that COP28 will allow for a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring. This Conference can represent a change of direction, showing that everything done since 1992 was in fact serious and worth the effort, or else it will be a great disappointment and jeopardize whatever good has been achieved thus far.
- Despite the many negotiations and agreements, global emissions continue to increase. Certainly, it could be said that, without those agreements, they would have increased even more. Still, in other themes related to the environment, when there was a will, very significant results were obtained, as was the case with the protection of the ozone layer. Yet, the necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed. Consequently, whatever is being done risks being seen only as a ploy to distract attention.
- We must move beyond the mentality of appearing to be concerned but not having the courage needed to produce substantial changes. We know that at this pace in just a few years we will surpass the maximum recommended limit of 1.5° C and shortly thereafter even reach 3° C, with a high risk of arriving at a critical point. Even if we do not reach this point of no return, it is certain that the consequences would be disastrous and precipitous measures would have to be taken, at enormous cost and with grave and intolerable economic and social effects. Although the measures that we can take now are costly, the cost will be all the more burdensome the longer we wait.
- I consider it essential to insist that “to seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system”.  It is true that efforts at adaptation are needed in the face of evils that are irreversible in the short term. Also some interventions and technological advances that make it possible to absorb or capture gas emissions have proved promising. Nonetheless, we risk remaining trapped in the mindset of pasting and papering over cracks, while beneath the surface there is a continuing deterioration to which we continue to contribute. To suppose that all problems in the future will be able to be solved by new technical interventions is a form of homicidal pragmatism, like pushing a snowball down a hill.
- Once and for all, let us put an end to the irresponsible derision that would present this issue as something purely ecological, “green”, romantic, frequently subject to ridicule by economic interests. Let us finally admit that it is a human and social problem on any number of levels. For this reason, it calls for involvement on the part of all. In Conferences on the climate, the actions of groups negatively portrayed as “radicalized” tend to attract attention. But in reality they are filling a space left empty by society as a whole, which ought to exercise a healthy “pressure”, since every family ought to realize that the future of their children is at stake.
- If there is sincere interest in making COP28 a historic event that honours and ennobles us as
human beings, then one can only hope for binding forms of energy transition that meet three conditions: that they be efficient, obligatory and readily monitored. This, in order to achieve the beginning of a new process marked by three requirements: that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all. That is not what has happened so far, and only a process of this sort can enable international politics to recover its credibility, since only in this concrete manner will it be possible to reduce significantly carbon dioxide levels and to prevent even greater evils over time.
- May those taking part in the Conference be strategists capable of considering the common good and the future of their children, more than the short-term interests of certain countries or businesses. In this way, may they demonstrate the nobility of politics and not its shame. To the powerful, I can only repeat this question: “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power, only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” 
- Spiritual Motivations
- I cannot fail in this regard to remind the Catholic faithful of the motivations born of their faith. I encourage my brothers and sisters of other religions to do the same, since we know that authentic faith not only gives strength to the human heart, but also transforms life, transfigures our goals and sheds light on our relationship to others and with creation as a whole.
In the light of faith
- The Bible tells us: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” ( Gen 1:31). His is “the earth with all that is in it” ( Deut 10:14). For this reason, he tells us that, “the land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants” ( Lev 25:23). Hence, “responsibility for God’s earth means that human beings, endowed with intelligence, must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world”. 
- At the same time, “the universe as a whole, in all its manifold relationships, shows forth the inexhaustible richness of God”. Hence, to be wise, “we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships”.  Along this path of wisdom, it is not a matter of indifference to us that so many species are disappearing and that the climate crisis endangers the life of many other beings.
- Jesus “was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attraction full of fondness and wonder. As he made his way throughout the land, he often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive a divine message in things”. 
- Hence, “the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise,
because the risen One is mysteriously holding them to himself and directing them towards fullness as their end. The very flowers of the field and the birds which his human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with his radiant presence”.  If “the universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely… there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face”.  The world sings of an infinite Love: how can we fail to care for it?
Journeying in communion and commitment
- God has united us to all his creatures. Nonetheless, the technocratic paradigm can isolate us from the world that surrounds us and deceive us by making us forget that the entire world is a “contact zone”. 
- The Judaeo-Christian vision of the cosmos defends the unique and central value of the human being amid the marvellous concert of all God’s creatures, but today we see ourselves forced to realize that it is only possible to sustain a “situated anthropocentrism”. To recognize, in other words, that human life is incomprehensible and unsustainable without other creatures. For “as part of the universe… all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect”. 
- This is not a product of our own will; its origin lies elsewhere, in the depths of our being, since “God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement”.  Let us stop thinking, then, of human beings as autonomous, omnipotent and limitless, and begin to think of ourselves differently, in a humbler but more fruitful way.
- I ask everyone to accompany this pilgrimage of reconciliation with the world that is our home and to help make it more beautiful, because that commitment has to do with our personal dignity and highest values. At the same time, I cannot deny that it is necessary to be honest and recognize that the most effective solutions will not come from individual efforts alone, but above all from major political decisions on the national and international level.
- Nonetheless, every little bit helps, and avoiding an increase of a tenth of a degree in the global temperature would already suffice to alleviate some suffering for many people. Yet what is important is something less quantitative: the need to realize that there are no lasting changes without cultural changes, without a maturing of lifestyles and convictions within societies, and there are no cultural changes without personal changes.
- Efforts by households to reduce pollution and waste, and to consume with prudence, are creating a new culture. The mere fact that personal, family and community habits are changing is contributing to greater concern about the unfulfilled responsibilities of the political sectors and indignation at the lack of interest shown by the powerful. Let us realize, then, that even though this
does not immediately produce a notable effect from the quantitative standpoint, we are helping to bring about large processes of transformation rising from deep within society.
- If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries,  we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact. As a result, along with indispensable political decisions, we would be making progress along the way to genuine care for one another.
- “Praise God” is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.
Given in Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on 4 October, the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, in the year 2023, the eleventh of my Pontificate.
 UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, Global Climate Change Background, 2019.
 SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE PAN-AMAZONIAN REGION, Final Document, October 2019, 10: AAS 111 (2019), 1744.
 SYMPOSIUM OF EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES OF AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR (SECAM), African Climate Dialogues Communiqué, Nairobi, 17 October 2022.
 Cf. INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC), Climate Change 2021, The Physical Science Basis, Cambridge and New York, 2021, B.2.2.
 Cf. ID., Climate Change 2023, Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, B.3.2. For the 2023 Report, see https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_SYR_SPM.pdf.
 Cf. UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM, The Emissions Gap Report 2022: https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2022.
 Cf. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratories, Global Monitoring Laboratory, Trends in Atmospheric Carbon
 Cf. IPCC, Climate Change 2023, Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, A.1.3.  Cf. ibid., B.5.3.
 These are data of the IPCC, based on 34,000 studies: INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC); cf. Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report (20/03/2023): AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 (ipcc.ch).
 Cf. IPCC, Climate Change 2023, Synthesis Report, Summary for Policymakers, A.1.2.  Cf. ibid.
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 101: AAS 107 (2015), 887.
 Ibid., 105: AAS 107 (2015), 889.
 Ibid. 106: AAS 107 (2015), 890.
 Ibid., 104: AAS 107 (2015), 888-889.  Ibid., 105: AAS 107 (2015), 889.
 Ibid., 139: AAS 107 (2015), 903.
 Ibid., 220: AAS 107 (2015), 934.
 Cf. S. SÖRLIN-P. WARDE, “Making the Environment Historical. An Introduction”, in S. SÖRLIN-P. WARDE, eds., Nature’s End: History and the Environment, Basingstroke-New York, 2009, 1-23.
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 139: AAS 107 (2015), 903.
 Cf. War, Progress and the End of History, Including a Short Story of the Anti-Christ. Three
Discussions by Vladimir Soloviev, London, 1915, p. 197.
 Cf. SAINT PAUL VI, Address to FAO on its 25th Anniversary (16 November 1970), 4: AAS 62 (1970), 833.
 Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), 11: AAS 112 (2020), 972.  Ibid., 174: AAS 112 (2020), 1030.
 Ibid., 172: AAS 112 (2020), 1029.
 Cf. ibid., 170: AAS 112 (2020), 1029.
 Ibid., 175: AAS 112 (2020), 1031.
 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 179: AAS 107 (2015), 918.  Ibid., 167: AAS 107 (2015), 914.
 Ibid., 169: AAS 107 (2015), 915.
 Ibid., 111: AAS 107 (2015), 982.
 Ibid., 57: AAS 107 (2015), 870.
 Ibid., 68: AAS 107 (2015), 874.
 Ibid., 86: AAS 107 (2015), 881.
 Ibid., 97: AAS 107 (2015), 886.
 Ibid., 100: AAS 197 (2015), 887.
 Ibid., 233: AAS 107 (2015), 938.
 Cf. D. J. HARAWAY, When Species Meet, Minneapolis, 2008, pp. 205-249.  Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015), 89: AAS 107 (2015), 883.
 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 215: AAS 105 (2013), 1109.
 Cf. UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM, The Emissions Gap Report 2022: https://www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2022.
Copyright © Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vatica
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (Prayer for Peace)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Pope at vigil: May God grant Synod the “gift of listening”
Pope Francis has addressed the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for an ecumenical prayer vigil.
The faithful – who hail from across the denominational spectrum, and include the heads of many Christian Churches – have gathered to entrust the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod to the Holy Spirit.
In his address, delivered toward the end of the vigil, Pope Francis meditated on the topic of silence, stressing in particular three values it holds for Christians today.
Silence and God’s voice
“Silence,” the Pope began, “lies at the beginning and end of Christ’s earthly existence. The Word, the Word of the Father, became ‘silence’ in the manger and on the cross, on the night of the Nativity and on the night of his Passion.”
Indeed, he noted, God seems to prefer silence to “shouting, gossiping and noise”. When he appears to the Prophet Elijah, God does not appear in the wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a “small still voice.”
The truth, after all, Pope Francis said, “does not need loud cries to reach people’s hearts.”
For this reason, he said, we too, as believers, need “to free ourselves from so much noise in order to hear his voice. For only in our silence does his word resound.”
Silence and the life of the Church
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the Acts of the Apostles, which say that after Peter’s speech to the Council of Jerusalem “the whole assembly kept silence.”
This reminds us, Pope Francis said, that “silence, in the ecclesial community, makes fraternal communication possible”; it is only when we fall silent to listen to others that the Holy Spirit is able to “draw together points of view.”
Moreover, silence “enables true discernment, through attentive listening to the Spirit’s sighs too deep for words, which echo, often hidden, within the People of God.”
Pope Francis therefore encouraged those gathered in St Peter’s Square to ask the Holy Spirit to “bestow the gift of listening” on the participants in the upcoming Synod meetings.
Silence and Christian unity
A final aspect of silence, the Pope said, is that it is “essential for the journey of Christian unity.”
This, he said, is because silence “is fundamental to prayer, and ecumenism begins with prayer and is sterile without it.”
Thus, “the more we turn together to the Lord in prayer, the more we feel that it is he who purifies us and unites us beyond our differences.”
Pope Francis brought his address to an end with a prayer that we might “learn again to be silent: to listen to the voice of the Father, the call of Jesus and the groaning of the Spirit.”
“Let us ask,” he said, “that the Synod be a kairós of fraternity, a place where the Holy Spirit will purify the Church from gossip, ideologies and polarization,” and “may we know, like the Magi, how to worship in unity and in silence the mystery of God made man, certain that the closer we are to Christ, the more united we will be among ourselves.”
Pope: God’s love is boundless.
Addressing the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus on 24 September, Pope Francis centred his message on God’s boundless love, drawing inspiration from the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
The parable tells the story of a vineyard owner who hired labourers throughout the day, from early morning until late in the evening, yet paid them all the same wage. This apparent injustice served as a backdrop for Pope Francis’ exploration of God’s justice, which transcends earthly notions of fairness.
“It may seem like an injustice,” Pope Francis acknowledged, “but the parable should not be viewed through the lens of wages; rather, it is meant to reveal God’s criteria, where He does not calculate our merits but loves us as His children.”
Pope Francis highlighted two divine actions that emerge from the parable: God’s constant call and His equitable compensation.
God’s constant call
“Firstly, God is the one who goes out at all hours to call us,” stressed the Pope. The parable illustrates how the vineyard owner went out repeatedly throughout the day to seek laborers. Pope Francis likened this to God’s tireless pursuit of humanity. “God does not wait for our efforts to reach out to us; He does not examine our merits before seeking us out,” Pope Francis said. “He does not give up if we delay in responding. Instead, He has taken the initiative, going out towards us in Jesus, to manifest His love. He seeks us at all hours of the day, representing the various phases and seasons of our lives, even into old age.”
Highlighting God’s boundless love and His unwavering commitment to humanity, Pope Francis stressed that, “For His heart, it is never too late; He searches for us and waits for us always.”
God’s equitable compensation
Secondly, the Holy Father emphasised the parable’s ultimate message: God’s justice, which surpasses human understanding. “The last-hour workers are paid the same as the first because, in reality, God’s justice is higher,” he explained. Human justice dictates that we “give each one his due, according to their merits,” while God’s justice does not measure love on the scale of our achievements, performances, or failures. “God loves us simply because we are His children, with an unconditional and gratuitous love,” the Pope proclaimed.
Break free from the confines of calculative justice
In the midst of these reflections, Pope Francis issued a profound challenge to the faithful. He warned against adopting a “transactional” relationship with God, where we rely more on our own abilities than on the generosity of His grace. He also urged the Church not to see itself as superior but to extend its arms to all, remembering that God loves everyone with the same love He has for us. Furthermore, Pope Francis encouraged individuals to break free from the confines of calculative justice in their relationships and practice generosity, understanding, and forgiveness, just as Jesus teaches.
The Holy Father concluded his catechesis with a prayer, seeking the intercession of the Virgin Mary. “May the Madonna help us convert to God’s measure—a measure of boundless love.”
Pope Francis: God forgives us incalculably.
Pope Francis has called on Christians to be merciful, and to forgive, incalculably, like Jesus.
He did so during his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, as he reflected on the day’s Gospel reading according to St. Matthew, which centers on forgiveness.
In that reading, St. Peter asks Jesus: ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother if he sins against me? As many as seven times?’ (v. 21). The Pope explained that the number seven, in the Bible, is a number that indicates completeness, and therefore, Peter “was very generous in the assumptions of his question.”
“But Jesus,” Pope Francis observes, “goes further and answers him: ‘I do not say to you up to seven, but up to seventy times seven.'”
“Jesus tells him, that is, that when you forgive, you do not calculate, that it is good to forgive everything and always!”
God, Pope Francis said, has done this with us; likewise, he noted, those who administer God’s forgiveness, are called to do the same, “to forgive always.”
God forgives incalculably
“Jesus’ message,” the Pope said, “is clear: God forgives incalculably, exceeding all measure.”
“Jesus’ message is clear:God forgives incalculably, exceeding all measure”
God acts out of love and gratuitousness, the Pope said, observing, “We cannot repay Him, but when we forgive our brother or sister, we imitate Him. Forgiveness is therefore not a good deed, that one can do or not do.”
The Pope said this constitutes “a fundamental condition” for those who are Christians. “God has given His life for us and in no way, can we compensate for His mercy…”
However, by corresponding to His gratuitousness, that is, by forgiving one another, the Pope said, we can bear witness to Him, sowing new life around us. “For outside of forgiveness there is no hope; outside of forgiveness there is no peace,” he said.
“Forgiveness,” the Holy Father argued, “is the oxygen that purifies the air polluted by hatred, it is the antidote that heals the poisons of resentment, it is the way to defuse anger and heal so many diseases of the heart that contaminate society.”
Questions to ponder
The Pope urged the faithful to ask themselves some key questions.
“Do I believe that I have received from God the gift of immense forgiveness? Do I feel the joy of knowing that He is always ready to forgive me when I fall, even when others do not, even when even I cannot forgive myself?”
In this context, the Pope continued, we must ask whether we, in turn, “forgive those who have hurt me?”
With this in mind, Pope Franics said he wished to propose “a small exercise.”
“Let us try, now, each of us, to think of a person who has hurt us, and let us ask the Lord for the strength to forgive them. And let us forgive them out of love for the Lord.”
“It will do us good, it will restore peace in our hearts,” the Pope said.
Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Mother of Mercy, help us to accept God’s grace and forgive one another.
Pope Francis: Addressing others’ wrongs ‘without rancor’ requires kindness, courage.
To dialogue with someone who has wronged us is a process that requires “real courage,” Pope Francis said Sunday, reflecting on the theme of “fraternal correction.”
In Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 18:15-20) Jesus says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.”
Fraternal correction is “one of the highest expressions of love, and also the most demanding, because it is not easy to correct others,” the Holy Father observed, speaking on Sept. 10 from a window at the Apostolic Palace to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. “When a brother in the faith commits a fault against you, you, without rancor, help him, correct him: Help by correcting.”
The pope went on to condemn gossip, or “chattering,” which is “not right” and is “not pleasing to God.” He called gossip “a plague on the lives of people and communities because it brings division, it brings suffering, it brings scandal, and it never helps to improve, it never helps to grow.”
Fraternal correction, on the other hand, is a process that allows us to help the other person “understand where he is wrong. And do this for his good, overcoming shame and finding true courage, which is not to speak badly, but to say things to his face with meekness and kindness,” Pope Francis said. But he warned that “pointing the finger” at the other’s fault “is not good, in fact, it often makes it more difficult for those who made a mistake to recognize their mistake.”
“But we might ask, what if this is not enough? What if he does not understand?” the pope asked.
“Then we must look for help. Beware, though: not from the group that gossips! Jesus says: ‘Take one or two others along with you,’ meaning people who genuinely want to lend a hand to this misguided brother,” Francis urged.
“And if he still does not understand? Then, Jesus says, involve the community. But here, too, this does not mean to pillory a person, putting him to shame publicly, but rather to unite the efforts of everyone to help him change,” the pope said.
“And so, let us ask ourselves: How should I behave with a person who wrongs me? Do I keep it inside and accumulate resentment?” Pope Francis asked. “Do I talk about it behind their backs? ‘Do you know what he did?’ and so on. Or am I brave, courageous, and do I try to talk about it to him or her? Do I pray for him or her, ask for help to do good? And do our communities take care of those who fall so that they can get back up and start a new life? Do they point their fingers or open their arms?”
The pope asked again: “What do you do: Do you point the finger or open your arms?”
Following his reflection, the Holy Father expressed his “closeness to the dear people of Morocco” in the aftermath of a devastating 6.8-magnitude earthquake on the evening of Sept. 8 that has left more than 2,000 people dead and more than 2,000 injured as of Sept. 10.
Pope Francis also spoke briefly about the beatification of the Ulma family in Markowa, Poland. The Nazis brutally executed the devoutly Catholic family of Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children in 1944 for hiding eight Jews in their home outside the village of Markowa in southeast Poland. This is the first time an entire family has been beatified together.
The pope highlighted the family’s courage and evangelical love, for they “represent a ray of light in the darkness of the Second World War, be a model for all of us to imitate in our desire for good and in the service of those in need.“
Pope Francis used the example of the Ulma family to call for acts of charity to counter violence, as well as prayer; especially “for many countries that suffer from war; in a special way,” he said, “let us intensify our prayers for the tormented Ukraine.”
LORD SAVE ME… (1Kg:19:9,11-13, Rom:9:1-15, Mt:14:22-33)
My dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
On this nineteenth Sunday of the ordinary time, the Church joyfully reminds us that Jesus our Savior is always close to us. He calms the storms of our life. He lifts us from the depths and restores our peace. There is something very interesting about today’s readings because all the three great figures and personalities; Prophet Elijah, Apostoles Paul and Peter were challenged one way or the other. They were challenged, discouraged and their peace was threatened. In the first reading, Prophet Elijah was fearful, and running away from Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, who wanted him dead at all costs. But the tormented Prophet Elijah encountered God, and his peace was restored. It teaches us about the importance of sensing God’s presence amidst challenges. Prophet Elijah’s journey reflects our spiritual path. Sometimes life is tough, hard and we seek support from God. God’s voice is gentle and subtle, not always grand or powerful. We must pay attention to God’s quiet presence. In the Second reading, Paul was ravaged by sorrow and anguish due to the unbelief of his fellow brothers of Israel. This was a great burden that threatened his peace of mind. Paul teaches us that we must not always think about ourselves alone. Rather, we should equally be concerned about the welfare, salvation and peace of our brothers and sisters.
In the gospel, Peter was sinking right in front of Jesus, due to fear, his lack of faith and courage. This Gospel passage is an invitation to abandon ourselves trustingly to God in every moment of our life, especially in the moment of trials and chaos. When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear and we seem to be sinking, in life’s difficult moments where everything becomes dark, we must not be ashamed to cry out like Peter: “Lord, save me”. Pope Francis says, “Having faith means keeping your heart turned to God, to His love, to His Fatherly tenderness, amid the storm”. Jesus wanted to teach this to Peter and the disciples, and also to us today. In dark moments of our life, He is well aware that our faith is weak, all of us are people of little faith and our journey can be troubled, hindered by adverse forces.
My dear friends, Jesus wanted to teach the disciples and the future community to bear life’s adversities courageously, trusting in God. In stormy times, there is always a tendency for us to retreat to a cave like Elijah, or to seek out some safe harbour, far from the stormy seas. But actually, Jesus is calling us today, to join him in the greatest adventure known to human history: the realisation of God’s dream of a world transformed by the power of love. The great thinker Romano Guardini wrote that “the Lord is always close, being at the root of our being. Yet we must experience our relationship with God between the poles of distance and closeness. By closeness we are strengthened, by distance we are put to the test”. My dear friends let us go to Virgin Mary, model of total giving out to God, so that amidst the plethora of anxieties, problems and difficulties which shake up the sea of our life, may our hearts resonate with the reassuring words of Jesus who also says to us “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”! Let us pray, Lord, save us, Lord, increase our faith. Amen
Feast of the Transfiguration
On this beautiful Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. In the first reading prophet Daniel, shares his heavenly vision seeing two figures, one was named as the One of Great Age, while the other one was named as the Son of Man. This vision of Heaven and all of God’s glory clearly indicated and revealed to all of us of the true nature of the Messiah that had been long awaited by the people of God. In the second reading, St. Peter the Apostle shares his understanding of the Transfiguration, in which he himself and the other two of the Apostles, St. James and St. John, personally experienced at Mount Tabor. At the beginning of creation, the Almighty had already said: Fiat lux – let there be light (Gen 1:2). Today I am happy to share the reflections of Pope Benedict XVI on Transfiguration from his book Jesus of Nazareth. Pope explains the significance of seven symbols stated in the Gospel.
His Three Companions: Jesus took only three of his apostles with him for the Transfiguration: Peter, James and John. These are the same three who are close to Our Lord during the Agony in the Garden on the Mount of Olives, showing how these two scenes, while opposites, are “inseparably linked.” The Transfiguration leads to the Passion, and the Passion leads back to the glory of the Transfiguration. At the same time, these three companions remind us of Exodus 24, “where Moses takes Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu with him as he climbs the mountain, though seventy of the elders of Israel are also included.”
Mountaintop: Mountains have great significance in Scripture, often denoting the “locus of God’s particular closeness”. For Jesus, the mountaintop is the site of various important events: “the mountain of the temptation; the mountain of his great preaching; the mountain of his prayer; the mountain of the transfiguration; the mountain of his agony; the mountain of the cross; and finally, the mountain of the risen Lord”. The mountain is already highly symbolic in the Old Testament. There is Mt. Sinai, where the Commandments are given; Mt. Horeb, as the site of the Burning Bush; and Mt. Moriah where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac. “They are all at one and the same time mountains of passion and of revelation, and they also refer in turn to the Temple Mount, where revelation becomes liturgy”.
Shining face: The transfiguration is a Prayer event. “It displays visibly what happens when Jesus talks with his father: the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light.” Jesus is “light from light” and this reality becomes perceptible to the senses. “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:2). Our Lord’s radiant face shows the parallel with Moses in Exodus 34; Moses comes down from the mountain after having talked with God, with his face shining. However, Moses’ light comes from without, while Jesus’ light comes from within.
Dazzling Cloth: The evangelists also try to describe Jesus’ clothes, which also have become dazzling. His garments speak of our own future. The Book of Revelation describes the saved as wearing white garments. They are white because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. “This means that through baptism they have been united with Jesus’s passion, and his passion is the purification that restores to us the original garment lost through our sin (Luke 15:22). Through baptism we are clothed with Jesus in light and we ourselves become light.”
Moses and Elijah: Moses, who received the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, represents the Law. Elijah represents the prophets. Moses and Elijah are themselves figures of the passion and witnesses of the passion. By speaking of these things with Jesus during his transfiguration they make it apparent that this passion brings salvation; that it is filled with the glory of God; that the passion is transformed into light, into freedom and joy.
The Cloud: The holy cloud, the shekinah, is the sign of the presence of God himself. This is the same image we have in the Old Testament, when the cloud over the Tent of Meeting indicated to the Israelites that God was present. Now, Jesus is himself the holy tent, and the cloud of God’s presence enfolds others as well.
God’s Word: In contrast to the message from the cloud at the river Jordan, now on the mount of the Transfiguration, the Father says something more: “Listen to him”. Here again we see the parallel with Sinai, and God’s revelation of his Word in the Commandments. “Jesus himself has become the divine word of revelation. The Gospels could not illustrate it any more clearly or powerfully: Jesus himself is the Torah”. The disciples must accompany Jesus back down the mountain and learn ever anew to “listen to him.”
My dear friends, the great feast of transfiguration invites each one of us to turn away from the wickedness of the world and from all the allures of sin and evil. Let us all walk with Christ Jesus, who is calling, journeying and walking with us. There will be hardships, challenges and trials likely facing us in our journey forward, but we must always remain firm in faith. Let us all be exemplary, inspirational and great role models of our Christian faith and living in all of our words, actions and deeds, in our all interactions and efforts, good works and endeavours for the greater glory of God. May the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, who has been Transfigured in glory at Mount Tabor, continue to shine His light upon us and help us in our journey and dedication towards Him, now and always, that we too may be the shining beacons of His light and truth, on all occasions and opportunities. Amen.
God – Our True Treasure in Life(1Kg:3:5,7-12, Rom:8:28-30, Mt:13:44-52)
My dear friends in Christ Jesus,
In the first reading, we see that God was very pleased with King Solomon’s request for wisdom instead of riches or a long life, or victory in battle. The Wisdom of Solomon has become proverbial. Wisdom is something higher than just knowledge. Wisdom implies knowing how to use one’s knowledge in the right way. Wisdom knows how to use one’s time, wealth and efforts for the things that really matter, for the things that will last forever. That is why the question: “How will this affect my eternal salvation” is such an important question and should be reflected upon and asked frequently. I think one of the most important and practical things that St. Paul ever wrote is the first line from today’s selection of his letter to the Romans: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God. I have seen that happen so often in my life and I feel confident the same is true for you. Just reflect back on some of the difficult situations that you’ve had to face. You didn’t know how they were going to work out, but somehow, some way, they did. You’re still here; I’m still here. God has taken care of us up to this point.
Today’s Gospel concludes three weeks of readings from the 13th Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. Throughout these three weeks we have heard Jesus, teaching crowds about the kingdom of heaven. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers three more short parables. The first two parables describe the great value of the kingdom of heaven. In the first parable, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like a buried treasure that is worth possessing even if it means giving up everything else. In the second parable, Jesus proposes that the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great worth for which one will sell everything else to possess. These parables teach us that we are to place everything we value in the service of the pursuit of the Kingdom of God. The third parable that Jesus proposes in today’s Gospel is different from the first two, but it is significant of the parable of the Sower heard in last week’s Gospel. The kingdom of heaven is compared to fishing with a wide net. After the fish have been collected, the good fish are kept and the bad fish are thrown away; so too, in the final judgment, will the wicked and the righteous be separated. Jesus emphasizes the importance of discernment and understanding in relation to the mysteries of the Kingdom.
The Gospel concludes with a remarkable statement about the scribe who understands the kingdom of heaven. Here a metaphor is offered: this scribe is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old. The scribes referred to here are experts of Mosaic law. It is possible that Jesus is here instructing the early Christian community on how to proceed in the interpretation of Jewish law with respect to Jesus’ new teaching. Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of heaven does not replace the Jewish tradition; it interprets it in a different light. Jesus concludes by urging His disciples to become like scribes trained for the Kingdom, emphasizing the need for attentive listening, understanding, and the application of Kingdom principles in their lives. You and I must be purified of all that is in us, and which is against the Kingdom. That is why, the Church sees the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession as so important that she requires that every faithful go at least once a year. Let us go to Jesus and experience the extraordinary grace of his forgiveness and mercy! May God be with us always and may He continue to show us His Wisdom, so that we may always be His most worthy and wise disciples and followers. Let nothing stop us from seeking the Lord, our true Treasure in life. Amen
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE THIRD WORLD DAY FOR GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
23 JULY 2023
Dear brothers and sisters!
“His mercy is from age to age” (Lk 1:50). This is the theme of the Third World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, and it takes us back to the joyful meeting between the young Mary and her elderly relative Elizabeth (cf. Lk 1:39-56). Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth addressed the Mother of God with words that, millennia later, continue to echo in our daily prayer: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (v. 42). The Holy Spirit, who had earlier descended upon Mary, prompted her to respond with the Magnificat, in which she proclaimed that the Lord’s mercy is from generation to generation. That same Spirit blesses and accompanies every fruitful encounter between different generations: between grandparents and grandchildren, between young and old. God wants young people to bring joy to the hearts of the elderly, as Mary did to Elizabeth, and gain wisdom from their experiences. Yet, above all, the Lord wants us not to abandon the elderly or to push them to the margins of life, as tragically happens all too often in our time.
This year, the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly takes place close to World Youth Day. Both celebrations remind us of the “haste” (cf. v. 39) with which Mary set out to visit Elizabeth. In this way, they invite us to reflect on the bond that unites young and old. The Lord trusts that young people, through their relationships with the elderly, will realize that they are called to cultivate memory and recognize the beauty of being part of a much larger history. Friendship with an older person can help the young to see life not only in terms of the present and realize that not everything depends on them and their abilities. For the elderly, the presence of a young person in their lives can give them hope that their experience will not be lost and that their dreams can find fulfilment. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and their shared awareness that the Lord’s mercy is from generation to generation remind us that, alone, we cannot move forward, much less save ourselves, and that God’s presence and activity are always part of something greater, the history of a people. Mary herself said this in the Magnificat, as she rejoiced in God, who, in fidelity to the promise he had made to Abraham, had worked new and unexpected wonders (cf. vv. 51-55).
To better appreciate God’s way of acting, let us remember that our life is meant to be lived to the full, and that our greatest hopes and dreams are not achieved instantly but through a process of growth and maturation, in dialogue and in relationship with others. Those who focus only on the here and now, on money and possessions, on “having it all now”, are blind to the way God works. His loving plan spans past, present and future; it embraces and connects the generations. It is greater than we are yet includes each of us and calls us at every moment to keep pressing forward. For the young, this means being ready to break free from the fleeting present in which virtual reality can entrap us, preventing us from doing something productive. For the elderly, it means not dwelling on the loss of physical strength and thinking with regret about missed opportunities. Let us all look ahead! And allow ourselves to be shaped by God’s grace, which from generation to generation frees us from inertia and from dwelling on the past!
In the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth, between young and old, God points us towards the future that he is opening up before us. Indeed, Mary’s visit and Elizabeth’s greeting open our eyes to the dawn of salvation: in their embrace, God’s mercy quietly breaks into human history amid abundant joy. I encourage everyone to reflect on that meeting, to picture, like a snapshot, that embrace between the young Mother of God and the elderly mother of Saint John the Baptist, and to frame it in their minds and hearts as a radiant icon.
Next, I would invite you to make a concrete gesture that would include grandparents and the elderly. Let us not abandon them. Their presence in families and communities is a precious one, for it reminds us that we share the same heritage and are part of a people committed to preserving its roots. From the elderly we received the gift of belonging to God’s holy people. The Church, as well as society, needs them, for they entrust to the present the past that is needed to build the future. Let us honour them, neither depriving ourselves of their company nor depriving them of ours. May we never allow the elderly to be cast aside!
The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is meant to be a small but precious sign of hope for them and for the whole Church. I renew my invitation to everyone – dioceses, parishes, associations and communities – to celebrate this Day and to make it the occasion of a joyful and renewed encounter between young and old. To you, the young who are preparing to meet in Lisbon or to celebrate World Youth Day in your own countries, I would ask: before you set out on your journey, visit your grandparents or an elderly person who lives alone! Their prayers will protect you and you will carry in your heart the blessing of that encounter. I ask you, the elderly among us, to accompany by your prayers the young people about to celebrate World Youth Day. Those young people are God’s answer to your prayers, the fruits of all that you have sown, the sign that God does not abandon his people, but always rejuvenates them with the creativity of the Holy Spirit.
Dear grandparents, dear elderly brothers and sisters, may the blessing of the embrace between Mary and Elizabeth come upon you and fill your hearts with peace. With great affection, I give you my blessing. And I ask you, please, to pray for me.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 31 May 2023,
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Come to me I will give you Rest (Zec9:9-10, Rom:8:9,11-13, Mt:11:25-30)
On this 14th Sunday of the Ordinary time, the Holy Mother Church calls us in a special way to reflect on Jesus’ humility and gentleness. These twin virtues of humility and gentleness are very necessary for our Christian journey. The first reading is a song of praise for the coming Kingdom of God. A prophecy about the coming of a king to Jerusalem, who will be just and victorious, but also humble and riding on a donkey. The passage declares that this king will bring peace to the nations and rule over them, and his dominion will extend from sea to sea and to the ends of the earth. The second reading tells us to live by the Spirit, for the Spirit will bring life to our mortal bodies through Christ Jesus. The passage urges believers to live according to the Spirit and put to death the deeds of the flesh, for those who live according to the flesh will not inherit eternal life.
In the gospel Jesus first prays in thanksgiving to God who has made himself known to the “little ones” and not to the wise and learned. As in other recent readings from Matthew’s Gospel, a contrast is made here between the unbelieving Pharisees, who are wise and learned, and the faithful disciples, tax collectors, and sinners with whom Jesus keeps company. The second part of this gospel calls to our attention the unity between the Father and the Son. God has made himself known through Jesus, and in knowing Jesus, we come to know the Father. In Jesus’ life and in his person, God reveals himself to us. In the concluding sentences of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching is again contrasted to the teaching of the Pharisees. This common theme of Matthew’s Gospel probably reflects tension that existed between Jesus and the Pharisees and between the Pharisees and the community of Christians for whom Matthew wrote. Pharisaic Judaism became the predominant form of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem about 70 A.D. The careful observance of the Mosaic law taught by the Pharisees could be experienced by some as difficult and burdensome. In contrast, Jesus’ way of holiness is presented as uncomplicated and even restful. Jesus acknowledges that true wisdom and knowledge come from the Father and are revealed to those whom He chooses, emphasizing the dependence on God’s revelation for understanding spiritual truths.
The question here is, are you worried about nobody loving you? Are you worried about that you’re not accepted? Are you worried about you’re not going to succeed in life? Forget it because the more you give, the more you’ll understand. And the more you understand, the more you realise how much we need forgiveness. Let you have a great feeling that you are with God who is carrying you through all the difficulties of life. And at times you feel that you are dropped, but He always catches you in time. At times you feel frustrated, but He’s always been there to smile at you. Because as long as you keep the flame of gift in your heart, He knows that you two, He and you, will walk home into eternal life, together. Let us go to God in prayer and trusting, He will look after you and He will comfort you.
Pope Francis: Holy Spirit corrects and defends us!
In his reflections on the Gospel for the 6th Sunday of Easter, the Pope noted that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Paraclete”, which means both “consoler and advocate at the same time.”
“This means that the Holy Spirit does not leave us alone,” said the Holy Father. “He is near to us, like an advocate who assists the accused person, standing by his or her side.”
Gentle guidance from our companion for life
Focusing first on the Spirit’s “closeness” to us, Pope Francis said the Paraclete never abandons us, and is instead our “companion for life, a stable presence.”
The Spirit, he added, remains with us because “he truly loves us, rather than merely pretending to love us.”
And because God’s Spirit loves us, He acts as a true and faithful friend, who brings us God’s pardon and strength while also correcting us when we make mistakes.
“When He places our errors before us and corrects us, He does so gently – in His voice that speaks to the heart, there is always the timbre of tenderness and the warmth of love,” said the Pope.
The Spirit’s corrections, he added, never come in such a way as to humiliate us or instill distrust. “Rather, He conveys the certainty that we can always succeed with God.”
Defense against detractors
The Pope went on to reflect on the second aspect of the Holy Spirit: His action as our “advocate”.
The Paraclete defends us from those who accuse us, and even “from ourselves when we do not appreciate and forgive ourselves”.
The Spirit also stands by our side when the world seeks to push us aside or when the devil—the “accuser par excellence”—tries to make us feel useless and unhappy.
Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit teaches us how to respond to such accusations by “reminding us of everything Jesus told us.”
“He reminds us, above all, that Jesus always spoke of the Father who is in heaven,” said the Pope. “He made the Father known to us, and revealed the Father’s love for us, His children.”
Prayer to the Holy Spirit within us
In conclusion, Pope Francis invited Christians to call upon the Holy Spirit and to pray to Him often, especially since He is always within us.
“May Mary make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit and sensitive to His presence.”
Pope on Pentecost: Let us invoke the Spirit daily upon our whole world!
In his homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis calls on us to invoke daily the Spirit who gives “harmony to the world” and “directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth.”
At the Mass on this Solemnity of Pentecost celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis in his homily highlighted how the Holy Spirit acts in the world he created, in the Church, and in our hearts, bringing order and harmony in all spheres.
“That is the role of the Spirit: at the beginning and at all times, he makes created realities pass from disorder to order, from dispersion to cohesion, from confusion to harmony.”
Holy Spirit brings harmony, peace!
In bringing harmony to the world, the spirit directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth,” the Pope explained. And our world today, marked by discord and divisions, desperately needs this harmony it is resisting, he lamented, noting how while we may be more “connected,” we are in reality more cut off from one another “anaesthetized by indifference.” He pointed out how the many wars and conflicts we witness today show the magnitude of evil individuals are capable of committing, hostilities fueled by the spirit of division, the devil, meaning “divider.”
But to counter this evil of discord, the Pope recounted how the Lord at the culmination of salvation poured out his good Spirit to give us the harmony we need for true peace. The Holy Spirit brings harmony, as “the Spirit of unity, the bringer of peace”, he emphasised.
“Let us invoke the Spirit daily upon our whole world!”
Harmony out of diversity
Looking at how the Holy Spirit works in the Church, starting from the day of Pentecost, the Pope described how the Spirit descended upon each apostle giving each one special graces and unique charisms. And while one might think these differing gifts might create confusion, in reality, as in the created world, ” the Holy Spirit loves to create harmony out of diversity.”
“The harmony of the Spirit is not a mandatory, uniform order; in the Church, there is indeed an order, but it is “structured in accordance with the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts””
Recalling how at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended in tongues of fire allowing each apostle to speak in other languages with others able to hear and understand them, the Pope explained how the Spirit uses many languages and does not eliminate differences or cultures “but harmonizes everything without reducing them to bland uniformity.”
“Indeed, on that day of Pentecost, as the Scripture emphasizes, “all were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). All were filled: that is how the life of the Church began, not from a precise and detailed plan, but from the shared experience of God’s love. That is how the Spirit creates harmony; he invites us to experience amazement at his love and at his gifts present in others.”
Recalling the synodal journey underway in the Church, the Pope said this path should mark “a journey in accordance with the Spirit,” and above all an “opportunity to be docile to the breath of the Spirit” as he is “the heart of synodality, the driving force of evangelization.”
“Without (the Spirit), the Church is lifeless, faith is mere doctrine, morality mere duty, pastoral work mere toil. With him, on the other hand, faith is life, the love of the Lord convinces us, and hope is reborn. Let us put the Holy Spirit back at the centre of the Church.”
The Pope added that the synodal process offers the People of God a unique opportunity to journey together, filled with the Spirit, to build harmony in the Church and be renewed.
Harmony in our hearts
In conclusion, the Pope explained how the Spirit “restores harmony in the heart” as he creates “intimacy with God.” The Lord bestowed the Spirit “to forgive sins, to reconcile minds and to harmonize hearts wounded by evil, broken by hurts, led astray by feelings of guilt.”
“If we want harmony let us seek him, not worldly substitutes. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day. Let us begin our day by praying to him. Let us become docile to him!”
The Pope then said it would be good to examine our own lives and ask if we are open to the harmony of the Spirit, or if we resist being transformed by him sticking to our own pursuits and ideas. Are we quick to judge others, overlooking our own weaknesses, he asked, and do we try to foster reconciliation and build communion? To overcome our own divisions, he said, “Let us invoke the Spirit,” praying that “Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus and of the Father, inexhaustible wellspring of harmony, to You we entrust the world; to You, we consecrate the Church and our hearts.”
“Come, Creator Spirit, harmony of humanity, renew the face of the earth. Come, Gift of gifts, harmony of the Church, make us one in you. Come, Spirit of forgiveness and harmony of the heart, transform us as only You can, through the intercession of Mary.”
Pope Francis Explains Why Catholics Make the Sign of the Cross!
Pope Francis pointed out that one way to picture the Holy Trinity is to think of ‘the image of a family gathered around the table, where life is shared.’
Each time that a Catholic makes the sign of the cross, it is a reminder that God is a communion of love, Pope Francis said Sunday.
Speaking on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Pope highlighted how the simple gesture that Catholics are taught as children is a sign of the central mystery of Christian faith.
“By tracing the cross on our body, we remind ourselves how much God loved us, to the point of giving his life for us; and we repeat to ourselves that his love envelops us completely, from top to bottom, from left to right, like an embrace that never abandons us,” Pope Francis said on June 4.
“Yes, brothers and sisters, our God is a communion of love: this is how Jesus revealed him to us,” he added.
In his Angelus address, the Pope reflected on a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John 3:16-18. Pope Francis noted how Jesus “revealed the heart of the mystery to him, saying that God loved humanity so much that he sent his Son into the world.”
Pope Francis pointed out that one way to picture the Holy Trinity is to think of “the image of a family gathered around the table, where life is shared.”
“But it is not only an image; it is reality,” he said. “It is reality because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that the Father poured into our hearts through Jesus (cf. Gal 4:6), makes us savor God’s presence: a presence that is close, compassionate and tender. The Holy Spirit does with us what Jesus does with Nicodemus: he introduces us to the mystery of new birth– the birth of faith, of the Christian life – he reveals the heart of the Father to us, and he makes us sharers in the very life of God.”
“The invitation he extends to us, we might say, is to sit at the table with God to share in his love. This is what happens at every Mass, at the altar of the Eucharistic table, where Jesus offers himself to the Father and offers himself for us.”
Pope Francis invited the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square to make the sign of the cross together.
“God is love, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he gave his life for us, so we make the sign of the cross,” he said.
The Pope spoke on Trinity Sunday, a solemnity celebrated on the Sunday following Pentecost that dates back to before the 10th century.
The tradition of making the sign of the cross dates back much further. St. Basil (329-379) wrote that the Apostles “taught us to mark with the sign of the cross those who put their hope in the Lord.”
At the end of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a train crash in India that killed more than 280 people.
“I am close to the wounded and their families. May our heavenly Father welcome the souls of the deceased into his kingdom,” he said.
Pope: We have responsibility before God to protect Common Home!
Pope Francis stressed this on Monday in the Vatican as he addressed participants in and organizers of the Green&Blue Festival, coinciding with World Environment Day, today, 5 June 2023, as he appealed for recognizing our shared responsibility to take concrete action to protect the planet.
With events scheduled today in Rome, and from 6 – 8 June in Milan, the festival brings together Italian and international players who are united in their commitment to urgently combat climate change.
During the audience, the Pope encouraged them in their commitment to protect the environment. He also drew attention to the ever-more violent natural disasters devastating the globe, as he urged the International Community, and all people of good will, to do their part in safeguarding our Common Home.
“Experts clearly point out how the choices and actions put in place this decade will have an impact for thousands of years. Our knowledge about the impact of our actions on our Common Home and those who inhabit it, and will inhabit, it has expanded.”
Responsibility before God
“This,” the Pope insisted, “has also increased our sense of responsibility before God, Who has entrusted us with the care of Creation, before our neighbors and before future generations.”
While the humanity of the post-industrial period, he recalled, “may be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history,” it is, he added, “to be hoped that the humanity of the early 21st Century may be remembered for generously assuming its grave responsibilities.”
The phenomenon of climate change, the Holy Father said, reminds us insistently of our responsibilities, especially to the poorest and most fragile, who contribute the least to the phenomenon, but suffer from it the most.
“It is necessary today,” the Pope urged, “for the entire international community to put as a priority the implementation of collegial, solidarity-based and forward-looking actions,” recognizing “the magnitude, urgency and beauty of the challenge before us.”
A change of course required
Pope Francis recognized that it is a great and demanding challenge “because it requires a change of course, a decisive change in the current model of consumption and production,” too often fed by a throwaway culture, full of indifference.
“Moreover, as indicated by many in the scientific world, changing this model is ‘urgent’ and can no longer be postponed.”
The Pope called for educating ourselves in how to protect the planet, and how that in turn, can transform society. He applauded various opportunities and initiatives aimed at seriously addressing this challenge, as he highlighted the need for a shared commitment at all levels, “from small everyday choices to local policies, to international ones.”
The Holy Father acknowledged the often, added expense, and sacrifice required, in order to properly protect the environment, and applauded those who keep in mind the greater picture, for the future of mankind.
“It is necessary to accelerate this change of course in favor of a culture of care,” he said, where caring for human dignity and the common good, are at the center.
Hope for future generations
Pope Francis concluded by thanking them for all they do to protect the environment.
“Let us not rob the new generations of hope in a better future,” he said.
This national event for the environment will be held over four days in unique locations. The festival, which “aims to not only highlight the urgent need to tackle climate change but also emphasize the immense opportunities presented by the necessary transformation,” will feature a lineup of distinguished guests, talks, and music performances to foster an atmosphere of collaboration, inspiration, and celebration.
Pope at Angelus*: Conflicts could be avoided by listening to others!
Pope Francis’ catechesis during the Sunday Angelus focused on the reading from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus says, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward” (Mt 10:41).
Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope reflected on the need to welcome the prophets of today.
“Each one of us, brothers and sisters, is a prophet,” he said, noting that with Baptism, all of us received the gift of the prophetic mission.
We are all prophets
The Holy Father went on to explain that a prophet is the one who helps others read the present under the action of the Holy Spirit, helping them “to understand God’s plans and correspond to them.”
“The prophet is the one who points Jesus out to others, who bears witness to him, who helps live today and to build the future according to his designs.”
“We are all prophets,” he continued, witnesses of Jesus, loving signs who point God out to others, a reflection of Christ’s light on the path of the brothers and sisters.”
He invited believers to ask themselves whether they live as witnesses of Jesus, bringing a little bit of His light into the life of another person.
“Do I evaluate myself on this? I ask myself: What is my bearing witness like, my prophecy?” he said.
Listen to everybody
The Holy Father went on to note that in the Gospel, the Lord asks to welcome the prophets.
“It is important to welcome each other as such, as bearers of God’s message, each one according to his state and vocation,” he said.
This is something to be done where we live, he explained, in the family, in the parish, in the religious community, in other places in the Church and in society.
And observing that the Spirit “has distributed gifts of prophecy in the holy People of God.” the Pope said, “This is why it is good to listen to everyone.”
“For example, when an important decision needs to be made, it is good to pray first of all, call on the Spirit, but then listen and dialogue trusting that each person, even the littlest, has something important to say, a prophetic gift to share,” he said.
He concluded inviting Christians to make people feel welcome, “not because they say what pleases us, but so they feel accepted and valued as the gifts they are.”
“Let us reflect on how many conflicts could be avoided and resolved in this way, listening to others with the sincere desire to understand each other!”
CaFFe Homilies from Fr Tony