Vatican City, Jun 1, 2020 / 01:01 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis sent a letter Monday to women living the vocation of consecrated virginity, exhorting them to be close to suffering people, and to lead them to Christ.
“Be women of mercy, experts in humanity,” the pope said in his June 1 message to consecrated virgins around the world.
“Let everything that is happening all around us disturb you: do not close your eyes to it and do not flee from it,” he continued. “Be present and sensitive to pain and suffering. Persevere in proclaiming the Gospel, which promises fullness of life for all.”
A consecrated virgin is a never-married woman who dedicates her perpetual virginity to God and is set aside as a sacred person who belongs to Christ in the Catholic Church. There are more than 5,000 consecrated virgins worldwide, according to estimates by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
In his message, Pope Francis encouraged the women to “weave a web of authentic relationships” to decrease loneliness and anonymity in cities, and to have “the wisdom, the resourcefulness, and the authority of charity, in order to stand up to arrogance and to prevent abuses of power.”
Francis’ message was sent to mark the 50th anniversary of the Church’s revision of the Rite of Consecration of Virgins, published in 1970 with the approval of St. Paul VI.
The pope expressed his regret that an international meeting of consecrated virgins, organized to commemorate the anniversary by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, had to be postponed.
“Nevertheless, I wish to join you in giving thanks for what Saint John Paul II, addressing you on the twenty-fifth anniversary, referred to as a ‘twofold gift of the Lord to his Church,’” he said.
According to the pope, the vocation of consecrated virginity “is a sign of the inexhaustible and manifold richness of the gifts of the Spirit of the Risen Lord, who makes all things new.”
He added that it is also a sign of hope and the faithfulness of God the Father, who inspires certain women with the desire for this vocation.
Francis also highlighted that it is a vocation lived out “in a concrete social and cultural setting, rooted in a particular Church, and expressed in a way of life that is ancient, yet modern and ever new.”
“You have been called, not because of your own merits, but by God’s mercy, to make your lives a reflection of the face of the Church, the Bride of Christ,” he said.
Your lives, he noted, reveal the eschatological tension of creation. He also encouraged meditating on the texts of the Rite of Consecration.
“You are called to experience yourselves, and then to testify to others, that God, in his Son, loved us first, that his love is for all, and that it has the power to change sinners into saints,” he said.
The pope closed by extending his blessing to all consecrated virgins, as well as those women who will be consecrated in the future.
“As signs of the Church as Bride, may you always be women of joy, following the example of Mary of Nazareth, woman of the Magnificat, Mother of the living Gospel,” he stated.
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2020 / 11:57 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has donated an ambulance that will be set apart to serve Rome’s poor and homeless population in need of emergency medical care.
“It is a new gift from the Holy Father, entrusted to the Office of Papal Charities, in favor of the poorest, in particular of the homeless who face the difficulties of the streets,” a Vatican communique stated June 1.
The pope blessed the ambulance before Mass on Pentecost Sunday. The Vatican City ambulance will be used in coordination with the Vatican’s medical aid initiatives for service to the poor, who arrive sick at the Vatican’s homeless shelter and medical clinic.
This is the most recent of Pope Francis’ many initiatives to serve the homeless near the Vatican.
During the coronavirus pandemic, St. Peter’s Square itself became a refuge for Rome’s homeless who could not find a place in the shelter’s across the city.
Despite added risks, the services for homeless men and women near the Vatican continued uninterrupted, including the papal charities-run showers and bathrooms, located under and between the right colonnade and a Vatican wall.
The mobile medical clinic in St. Peter’s Square continued to provide medical care to those in need throughout Italy’s lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pope Francis also opened a four-story homeless shelter right off of the St. Peter’s Square colonnade in November. The homeless shelter, staffed by the Sant'Egidio community, has two floors of dormitories that can sleep 50 men and women, a kitchen to provide breakfast and dinner, and a recreation area for fellowship, educational programs, and psychological counseling.
The Vatican statement said that Modesta Valenti served as an inspiration for the papal ambulance dedicated for the homeless. Valenti was a homeless woman who died in front of Rome’s Termini train station on Jan. 31, 1983 after an ambulance refused to take her to the hospital because she had lice.
Rome’s homeless gather to pray and honor those who died on the streets each year with the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, who organize an annual memorial near the anniversary of Valenti’s death. There are an estimated 8,000 homeless people currently living in Rome.
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2020 / 04:04 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday promulgated a new law intended to prevent corruption and control spending in Vatican City State and Holy See financial transactions.
The law, “Norms on the transparency, control and competition of public contracts of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State,” gives new procedures for awarding public contracts which aim to increase oversight and accountability, and ensure the Vatican and Holy See work only with vetted financial partners.
The new regulations also bring the Vatican into line with international anti-corruption laws.
In the motu proprio, signed May 19, Pope Francis said “the promotion of a concurrent and fair contribution of economic professionals, combined with transparency and control of contract award procedures, will allow a better management of the resources that the Holy See administers to achieve the ends of the Church…”
“The operation of the entire system will also constitute an obstacle to restrictive agreements and will make it possible to significantly reduce the risk of corruption of those called to the responsibility of government and management of the Entities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” he continued.
The law was promulgated following reports last month that the Holy See is facing dire deficit projections.
On May 10, Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that an internal Vatican report projects income reduction of at least 30%, and possibly as much as 80%, in the next fiscal year. Those projections forecast substantial increases in the annual budget deficit of the Holy See.
At the same time, the Holy See is facing investigations by Vatican prosecutors, who are looking into suspicious financial transactions and investments at the Vatican Secretariat of State, which could trigger increased oversight by European banking regulators.
The new law aims to show that Pope Francis is serious about his frequently stated commitment to internal reform.
The legislation states several fundamental principles guiding the norms, including that the Vatican and Holy See’s economic decisions should be ethical and made in accord with the social doctrine of the Church.
The law calls for “economy, efficacy and efficiency,” and puts in place guidelines for medium and long-term planning and justification of financial expenditure.
Among other changes in more than 30 pages of norms, Pope Francis gave the courts of the Vatican City State the power to conduct trials of Curial offices on issues related to the legislation, citing its “specificity” and “technicality.”
The process of choosing financial partners for Vatican projects or investments will be centralized through the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and the Governorate of the Vatican City State. The legislation gives deadlines by which the two offices must internally publish information about the financial partners chosen and the scheduled dates of those transactions.
For awarding public contracts, the legislation calls for transparent and impartial procedures, the integrity of documentation, and other measures against conflicts of interest, illicit competition agreements, and corruption.
The law establishes a “Register of Economic Professionals.” To be included on the register, potential Vatican financial partners will have to meet a list of qualifications, which includes having no convictions for any kind of financial crime.
Vatican City, May 31, 2020 / 07:40 am (CNA).- Pope Francis urged Catholics around the world to “listen to the call to mission” Sunday.
In his message for World Mission Day, released May 31, the pope invited people to discern their mission within the Church.
He said: “Let us ask ourselves: are we prepared to welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to listen to the call to mission, whether in our life as married couples or as consecrated persons or those called to the ordained ministry, and in all the everyday events of life?”
“Are we willing to be sent forth at any time or place to witness to our faith in God the merciful Father, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, to share the divine life of the Holy Spirit by building up the Church?”
“Are we, like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, ready to be completely at the service of God’s will?”
World Mission Day -- also known as World Mission Sunday -- is celebrated annually on the next-to-last Sunday in October. This year it falls on October 18. The day is marked by a collection for the Pontifical Mission Societies, a group of Catholic missionary societies under the jurisdiction of the pope.
In his message dated May 31, Pentecost Sunday, the pope reflected on the theme of this year’s observance, “Here am I, send me,” taken from Isaiah 6:8.
He wrote: “In this year marked by the suffering and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the missionary journey of the whole Church continues in light of the words found in the account of the calling of the prophet Isaiah: ‘Here am I, send me.’ This is the ever new response to the Lord’s question: ‘Whom shall I send?’”
“This invitation from God’s merciful heart challenges both the Church and humanity as a whole in the current world crisis.”
He said that the suffering caused by the pandemic should spur Catholics to serve God and their neighbor.
“The mission that God entrusts to each one of us leads us from fear and introspection to a renewed realization that we find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others,” he said.
Describing Jesus as “the Father’s Missionary,” the pope explained that through his death and resurrection Jesus called us to take part in his mission of love.
He said: “The Church, the universal sacrament of God’s love for the world, continues the mission of Jesus in history and sends us everywhere so that, through our witness of faith and the proclamation of the Gospel, God may continue to manifest his love and in this way touch and transform hearts, minds, bodies, societies, and cultures in every place and time.”
Pope Francis noted that the coronavirus pandemic presented a challenge for the Church’s mission.
“Being forced to observe social distancing and to stay at home invites us to rediscover that we need social relationships as well as our communal relationship with God. Far from increasing mistrust and indifference, this situation should make us even more attentive to our way of relating to others,” he said.
“And prayer, in which God touches and moves our hearts, should make us ever more open to the need of our brothers and sisters for dignity and freedom, as well as our responsibility to care for all creation.”
“The impossibility of gathering as a Church to celebrate the Eucharist has led us to share the experience of the many Christian communities that cannot celebrate Mass every Sunday.”
“In all of this, God’s question: ‘Whom shall I send?’ is addressed once more to us and awaits a generous and convincing response: ‘Here am I, send me!’”
In conclusion, the pope implored the Virgin Mary, “Star of Evangelization and Comforter of the Afflicted, missionary disciple of her Son Jesus,” to intercede for humanity.
Vatican City, May 31, 2020 / 06:40 am (CNA).- Pope Francis prayed for the pandemic-ravaged Amazon region Sunday as he gave his first Regina Coeli address overlooking St. Peter’s Square since March.
Speaking from a window overlooking the square, the pope noted May 31 that the coronavirus had spread throughout the vast area of Amazonia in South America.
He said: “Seven months ago the Amazon synod ended; today, the feast of Pentecost, we invoke the Holy Spirit to give light and strength to the Church and society in the Amazon, which has been hard hit by the pandemic.”
“Many are the infected and the dead, even among the indigenous peoples, who are particularly vulnerable. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Amazon, I pray for the poorest and most defenseless of that dear region.”
Traditionally, the pope leads the Sunday Angelus -- and the Regina Coeli, between Easter Sunday and Pentecost -- from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
But from March 8 onwards, Pope Francis delivered his address via videolink from the library of the Apostolic Palace, and offered a blessing from the window above an empty St. Peter’s Square.
At the start of his address May 31, the pope expressed his delight at returning to the usual practice.
“Today the square is open, we can return,” he said, as people stood spaced out in the square below, many of them wearing medical masks. Security limited the number of people in the square as a safety measure.
The pope noted that the Church worldwide was celebrating the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem.
He recalled that after the Resurrection Jesus had appeared to the disciples as they gathered fearfully behind closed doors. His first words to them were “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). He said that these words were more than a mere greeting.
“They express forgiveness, the forgiveness granted to the disciples who, to tell the truth, had abandoned him,” he said. “They are words of reconciliation and forgiveness. And we too, when we wish peace to others, are giving forgiveness and asking forgiveness as well.”
The pope continued: “Jesus forgives, always forgives, and offers his peace to his friends. Do not forget: Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking forgiveness.”
“By forgiving and gathering his disciples around him, Jesus makes them a Church, his Church, which is a reconciled community ready for mission. Reconciled and ready for mission. When a community is not reconciled, it is not ready for mission: it is ready to discuss within itself, it is ready for internal [discussions].”
The meeting with the Risen Lord turned the disciples into “courageous witnesses,” he said. They then took up the same mission that the Father had entrusted to Jesus, aided by the Holy Spirit.
The pope said: “The feast of Pentecost renews the awareness that the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit dwells in us. He also gives us the courage to go outside the protective walls of our ‘cenacles,’ small groups, without resting in the quiet life or locking ourselves up in sterile habits.”
After praying the Regina Coeli, the pope recalled that Italy was marking the Giornata Nazionale del Sollievo, or National Relief Day, honoring those who help the sick. He led a moment of silent prayer for medical workers who had given their lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
He emphasized that leaders should put caring for people ahead of economic concerns.
He said: “I wish everyone a happy Pentecost Sunday. We need the light and the power of the Holy Spirit so much! The Church needs it, to walk together and courageously, witnessing to the Gospel. And the whole human family needs it, to come out of this crisis more united and no longer divided.”
Mpase u Lohoudedoo u Lahadi u Pentecost Inyom i A, sha zwa u Fada Tagesa Akpagher
To prevent the spread of COVID-19