Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Pope Francis to Communion and Liberation: the Lord alone is at the center

Pope Francis with CL 7 Mar 2015On Saturday, March 7, 2015, His Holiness Pope Francis with the Communion and Liberation to honor the 60thanniversary of the birth of the Movement and the 10th anniversary of the death of, the Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani. Conservatively there were 8oK people in Saint Peter’s Square. Here is Zenit’s translation.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

I welcome you all and thank you for your warm affection! I give my cordial greeting to the Cardinals and Bishops. I greet Don Julián Carrón, President ofyour Fraternity and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on your behalf.I also thank don Julian for the beautiful letter he wrote to all, inviting you to come. Thank you so much!

My first thought goes to your Founder, Monsignor Luigi Giussani, remembering the 10thanniversary of his birth into Heaven. I am grateful to Don Giussani for several reasons. The first, more personal, is the good this man did to me and to my priestly life, through the reading of his books and his articles. The other reason is that his thought is profoundly human and reaches man’s profoundest longing. You know how important the experience of encounter was for Don Giussani: encounter not with an idea but with a Person, with Jesus Christ. Thus he educated to freedom, guiding the encounter with Christ, because Christ gives us true freedom. Speaking of encounter there comes to my mind Caravaggio’s “The Calling of Matthew,” before which I paused at length in the church of Saint Louis of the French, every time I came to Rome. None of those who were there, including Matthew avid for money, could believe the message of that finger that pointed at him, the message of those eyes that looked at him with mercy and chose him for his following. He felt that wonder of the encounter. Thus is the encounter with Christ, who comes and invites us.

Everything in your life, today as in the time of Jesus, begins with an encounter. An encounter with this Man, the carpenter of Nazareth, a man like all others, but, at the same time, different. We think of John’s Gospel, where he recounts the disciples first encounter with Jesus (Cf. 35-42). Andrew, John, Simon: felt that they had been looked at in their depth, known intimately, and this generated surprise in them, a wonder that made them feel immediately bound to Him … Or when, after the Resurrection, Jesus asks Peter: “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15), and Peter answers: “Yes”; that yes was not the result of will power, it did not come solely from the decision of the man Simon: it came first from Grace, it was that “primerear,” the preceding of Grace. This was the decisive discovery for Saint Paul, for Saint Augustine, and so many other Saints: Jesus Christ is always first He “primereas” us; He awaits us. Jesus Christ precedes us always, and when we arrive, He is already there awaiting us. He is like the flower of the almond tree: it is the one that flowers first and announces spring.

And this dynamic, which arouses wonder and adherence, cannot be understood without mercy. Only one who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy really knows the Lord. The privileged place of encounter is the caress of mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin. And it is because of this that you have heard me say sometimes that the post, the privileged place of the encounter with Jesus Christ is my sin. It is thanks to this embrace of mercy that one feels like answering and changing, and from which a different life can flow. Christian morality is not the titanic, willful effort of one who decides to be coherent and who succeeds, a sort of solitary challenge in face of the world. No, this isn’t Christian morality; it’s something else. Christian morality is an answer, it is a moved answer in face of astonishing mercy, unforeseeable, in fact, “unjust” according to human criteria, of One who knows me, knows my betrayals and loves me anyway, esteems me, embraces me, calls me again, hopes in me, expects from me. Christian morality is not ever to fall, but to get up always, thanks to his hand, which takes us. And the way of the Church is also this: to let God’s great mercy manifest itself. In past days I said to the new Cardinals: “The way of the Church is that of not condemning any one eternally; to spread God’s mercy to all persons who ask for it with a sincere heart: the way of the Church is, in fact, that of going out of her enclosure to go and seek those far away on the “peripheries” of existence; that of adopting integrally the logic of God,” which is that of mercy (Homily, February 15, 2015). The Church must also feel the joyful impulse of becoming a flower of the almond tree, that is spring, as Jesus was or the whole of humanity.

Today you also remember the 60 years of the beginning of your Movement, “born in the Church – as Benedict XVI said – not from an organizational will of the Hierarchy, but originating from a renewed encounter with Jesus and thus, we can say, from an impulse stemming ultimately from the Holy Spirit” (Address to the Communion and Liberation pilgrimage, March 24, 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 557).

After sixty years, the original charism has not lost its freshness and vitality. However, remember that the center is not the charism; the center is only one, it is Jesus, Jesus Christ! When I put my spiritual method at the center, my spiritual journey, my way of acting it, I leave the way. The whole spirituality, all the charisms in the Church must be “decentralized”: the Lord alone is at the center! Therefore, when in the First Letter to the Corinthians Paul speaks of charisms, of this very beautiful reality of the Church, of the Mystical Body, he ends by talking about love, that is, about what comes form God, what is proper to God, and which enables us to imitate Him. Never forget this, be decentralized.

And then the charism is not kept in a bottle of distilled water! Fidelity to the charism does not mean to “petrify it” – it is the devil who “petrifies,” don’t forget this! Fidelity to the charism does not mean to write it on a parchment and put it in a frame. The reference to the legacy that Don Giussani left cannot be reduced to a museum of memories, of decisions taken, of norms of conduct. It certainly entails fidelity to the tradition, but fidelity to the tradition – Mahler said – “means to keep alive the fire and not adore the ashes.” Don Giussani would never forgive your losing the freedom and being transformed into museum guides and adorers of ashes. Keep the fire alive of the memory of that first encounter and be free!

Thus, centered on Christ and on the Gospel, you can be arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of an “outgoing” Church. The way of the Church is to go forth to seek those that are far in the peripheries, to serve Jesus in every marginalized, abandoned person, without faith, disappointed by the Church, prisoner of his own egoism.

To go forth” also means to reject self-reference in all its forms; it means to be able to listen to one who is not like us, learning from everyone, with sincere humility. When we are slaves to self-reference, we end up by cultivating a “brand spirituality”: “I am CL.” This is the brand. And then we fall into the thousand snares that self-referent satisfaction offers us, that looking at ourselves in the mirror, which leads to disorienting us and transforming us into mere managers of an NGO.

Dear friends, I would like to end with two very significant quotes of Don Giussani, one of the beginning and one of the end of his life.

The first: “Christianity is never realized in history as fixity of positions to defend, which refer to the new as pure antithesis; Christianity is principle of redemption, which assumes the new, saving it” (Bears Hope. First Writings, Genoa,1967, 119).This was around 1967.

The second of 2004: “Not only did I not ever intend ‘to found’ anything, but I hold that the genius of the Movement that I have seen born is of having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to the elementary aspects of Christianity, that is to say, the passion of the Christian event as such in its original elements, and that’s all” (Letter to John Paul II, January 26, 2004, on the occasion of the 50thanniversary of Communion and Liberation).

May the Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me!

Thank you.

20 new cardinals

new cards 2015We now have 20 new members of the College of Cardinals. Men who come from various parts of the world. 15 of the 20 are able to vote in a future conclave, and the 5 are honorary due to age. (Over the age of 80 a cardinal does not enter the conclave to elect a new Roman Pontiff.) The novelty in this group of cardinals is that several dioceses receive for the first time: there are 5 firsts: Agrigento (Sicily), Morelia (Mexico), David (Panama), Santiago de Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Tonga (Kingdom of Tonga).

One of the cardinals that catches my eye is His Eminence, Berhaneyesus Demerew Cardinal Souraphiel, CM, 66, archbishop of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Cardinal Souraphiel comes from a country where Catholics number less than 1 percent of a total population and the majority are Orthodox Christian; more than 30 percent are Muslim. He also brings the Vincentian charism to the College of Cardinals.

The youngest cardinal at the age of 53 is Soane Patita Paini Mafi, bishop of Tonga, a diocese with about 15,000 Catholics. Part of his education was in the USA having spent two years in Baltimore studying psychology before returning home for parish and seminary assignments. Pope Benedict XVI named him bishop in 2007.

One of the honorary cardinals, His Eminence, Luigi Cardinal De Magistris, 88, Major Pro-Penitentiary Emeritus, is noteworthy and well-deserving.

“The greater our responsibility in serving the Church, the more our hearts have to expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ. It means being able to love without measure, but also to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures.”

Pope Francis told the new cardinals (but what the Pope says is applicable to all):

The cardinalate is certainly an honour, but it is not honorific.  This we already know from its name – “cardinal” – from the word “cardo”, a hinge.  As such it is not a kind of accessory, a decoration, like an honorary title.  Rather, it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community.  You are “hinges” and are “incardinated” in the Church of Rome, which “presides over the entire assembly of charity” (Lumen Gentium, 13; cf. IGN. ANT., Ad Rom., Prologue).

In the Church, all “presiding” flows from charity, must be exercised in charity, and is ordered towards charity.  Here too the Church of Rome exercises an exemplary role.  Just as she presides in charity, so too each particular Church is called, within its own sphere, to preside in charity.

For this reason, I believe that the “hymn to charity” in Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians can be taken as a guiding theme for this celebration and for your ministry, especially for those of you who today enter the College of Cardinals.  All of us, myself first and each of you with me, would do well to let ourselves be guided by the inspired words of the apostle Paul, especially in the passage where he lists the marks of charity.  May our Mother Mary help us to listen.  She gave the world Jesus, charity incarnate, who is “the more excellent Way” (cf. 1 Cor 12:31); may she help us to receive this Word and always to advance on this Way.  May she assist us by her humility and maternal tenderness, because charity, as God’s gift, grows wherever humility and tenderness are found.

Saint Paul tells us that charity is, above all, “patient” and “kind”.  The greater our responsibility in serving the Church, the more our hearts must expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ.  “Patience” – “forbearance” – is in some sense synonymous with catholicity.  It means being able to love without limits, but also to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures.  It means loving what is great without neglecting what is small; loving the little things within the horizon of the great things, since “non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est”.  To know how to love through acts of kindness.  “Kindness” – benevolence –means the firm and persevering intention to always will the good of others, even those unfriendly to us.

The Apostle goes on to say that charity “is not jealous or boastful, it is not puffed up with pride”.  This is surely a miracle of love, since we humans – all of us, at every stage of our lives – are inclined to jealousy and pride, since our nature is wounded by sin.  Nor are Church dignitaries immune from this temptation.  But for this very reason, dear brothers, the divine power of love, which transforms hearts, can be all the more evident in us, so that it is no longer you who live, but rather Christ who lives in you.  And Jesus is love to the fullest.

Saint Paul then tells us that charity “is not arrogant or rude, it does not insist on its own way”.  These two characteristics show that those who abide in charity are not self-centred.  The self-centred inevitably become disrespectful; very often they do not even notice this, since “respect” is precisely the ability to acknowledge others, to acknowledge their dignity, their condition, their needs.  The self-centred person inevitably seeks his own interests; he thinks this is normal, even necessary.  Those “interests” can even be cloaked in noble appearances, but underlying them all is always “self-interest”.  Charity, however, makes us draw back from the centre in order to set ourselves in the real centre, which is Christ alone.  Then, and only then, can we be persons who are respectful and attentive to the good of others.

Charity, Saint Paul says, “is not irritable, it is not resentful”.  Pastors close to their people have plenty of opportunities to be irritable, to feel anger.  Perhaps we risk being all the more irritable in relationships with our confreres, since in effect we have less excuses.  Even here, charity, and charity alone, frees us.  It frees us from the risk of reacting impulsively, of saying or doing the wrong thing; above all it frees us from the mortal danger of pent-up anger, of that smouldering anger which makes us brood over wrongs we have received.  No.  This is unacceptable in a man of the Church.  Even if a momentary outburst is forgivable, this is not the case with rancour.  God save us from that!

Charity – Saint Paul adds – “does not rejoice at the wrong, but rejoices in the right”.  Those called to the service of governance in the Church need to have a strong sense of justice, so that any form of injustice becomes unacceptable, even those which might bring gain to himself or to the Church.  At the same time, he must “rejoice in the right”.  What a beautiful phrase!  The man of God is someone captivated by truth, one who encounters it fully in the word and flesh of Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of our joy.  May the people of God always see in us a firm condemnation of injustice and joyful service to the truth.

Finally, “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.  Here, in four words, is a spiritual and pastoral programme of life.  The love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, enables us to live like this, to be like this: as persons always ready to forgive; always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope in God; persons ready to bear patiently every situation and each of our brothers and sisters, in union with Christ, who bore with love the burden of our sins.

Dear brothers, this comes to us not from ourselves, but from God.  God is love and he accomplishes all this in us if only we prove docile to the working of his Holy Spirit.  This, then, is how we are to be: “incardinated” and docile.  The more we are “incardinated” in the Church of Rome, the more we should become docile to the Spirit, so that charity can give form and meaning to all that we are and all that we do.  Incardinated in the Church which presides in charity, docile to the Holy Spirit who pours into our hearts the love of God (cf. Rom 5:5).  Amen.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Archbishop Georg Gänswein interview

?????Thanks to Mark de Vries who made translation of a recent interview with Archbishop Georg Gänswein by Christ & Welt (a German publication and made it available on his blog, In Caelo et in Terra.

The interview, “From the Front Row” is indeed an interesting for its frank discussion of Pope Francis petrine ministry and several matters like the Roman  Curia, the pope emeritus, the recent Synod and the like.

The Archbishop is 58, a native of Germany, and the prefect of the Papal Household and secretary to Benedict XVI. He was ordained a bishop on 6 January 2013.

Papal service

Papal service

The Pope and his farm

COWS SEEN ON PAPAL FARM AT CASTEL GANDOLFOThis a bit of old news: the pope has a 55 acre farm, he is concerned about the environment, what and how we eat and supports Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Why? Because he knows the supreme value of living off the land, attending to God’s creation, how much of the world lives today. Plus, the Pope needs to be aware of the assault creation faces with the use of chemicals and exploitative farming and human practices.

His farm at Castel Gandolfo –the papal summer residence 15 miles south of Rome– is a working farm with cows, 8 bee hives, vegetables, an olive grove and more. At this same farm is a working Observatory where serious astrophysics takes place, but that is another story. Not only does the daily papal menu contain fresh vegetables and meets, the produce is sold at the Vatican store making about $330K per annum. Amazing? No, not really. We are used to seeing the regal side of the papacy with rich religious and civil ceremonies and only now we are more aware of the active charitable side that has been a part of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome for a very long time.  In this instance, Pope Pius XI established the farm in 1929.

A well-maintained farm is a well-maintained person and environment. We need, I believe, to renew our efforts in understanding the rhythms of the land so that we understand ourselves and in doing so understand ourselves as collaborators with God in building up His Kingdom on earth.

Jason Best has an article, “The Vatican Has a Farm, and Pope Francis is Going to Open it Up to the Public.” There are other stories about the farm from some news agencies: “A Visit to the Vatican Farm,” “How Cow!” and “The pope’s land of milk and honey.”

Would you be interested in issues pertaining to food justice? Read this article.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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