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Sends Greetings For World Day of the Sick And Winter Olympics Participants

“The Christian must be a shining person, who brings light, who always gives light! A light that is not his, but a gift from God.”

These were the words said by Pope Francis yesterday to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square during his address prior to reciting the Angelus.

The Holy Father commented on Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus says to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth...You are the light of the world.” Recalling Jesus’ words, the Pope said that they should be understood as a “consequence of the Beatitudes.”

“[Jesus] wishes to say: if you will be poor in spirit, if you will be meek, if you will be pure of heart, if you will be merciful... you will be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!” the Pope exclaimed.

Just as salt is meant to give flavor, the Pope said, Christians are called through a holy life to “give taste to the different spheres of society and defend them from corruption, just as salt does.” Christians, he continued, are also called to bring the light of Christ through the genuine clarity of our witness.

Read more: Pope: Christians Are Called to Bring Light of Christ Through Genuine Witness

Says Eucharist is Opportunity to Enter Into the Mystery of God

In his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis invited the faithful to “enter into the mystery of God” in the Eucharist and rediscover the sense of the sacred.

Reflecting on today’s first reading, which recalled the manifestation of God in the form of a cloud at the temple during the reign of King Solomon, the Holy Father said that while God spoke through his people through the prophets and Scripture, the Lord speaks in a different manner through this theophany. This theophany occurs today through the liturgical celebration, particularly the Eucharist.

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation,” he stressed. “It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”

Read more: Pope Francis Calls on Faithful to Regain "Sense of the Sacred"

Regrets Areas that Interfere with Church Teaching on Human Dignity and Religious Freedom

The Holy See has responded to a report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that strongly criticizes the Vatican for failing to protect children from abuse.

The UN’s recommendations come one month after a delegation from the Holy See presented its report in January to the committee, along with Russia, Germany, Portugal, Congo and Yemen.

The extensive recommendation report, released by the UN Committee, expressed its concern with the Holy See’s response to allegations of abuse.

“The Committee is particularly concerned that in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry,” the report stated.

The report recommended that the Holy See “strengthen its efforts” to ensure full cooperation with all legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings relevant to the protection of children.

Read more: Vatican Responds To UN Committee Recommendations

Holy See Releases Pontiff's Message for the 29th World Youth Day

The Holy See today published Pope Francis’ message for the 29th World Youth Day (WYD), which will take place on Palm Sunday, April 13. The theme for this year’s event is based on an excerpt from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

World Youth Day, which was initiated by Blessed John Paul II in 1984, is celebrated annually on a diocesan level and internationally every two to three years. Pope Francis attended the international WYD last year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in his first international apostolic journey as Pontiff. The final Mass of the event was attended by over 3.5 million youth from around the world.

“How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day,” the Pope’s message stated. “It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples.”

Read more: Pope Francis to Young People: "Think Big! Open Your Hearts"

Says It's Been No Problem That Francis Doesn't Speak English

The Vatican spokesman has highlighted the unique communicative gifts of the current and previous two Pontiffs, saying that the Popes’ communications teams try to do their work well, so that the papal messages are not only transmitted but also understood.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this observation when he traveled to Spain this week for an award given in the framework of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Toledo’s Radio Santa Maria and of 15TH of the diocesan TV Channel.

Father Lombardi gave a talk titled “Reflections and Experiences on the Communication of Three Popes,” in which he shared his experience and some anecdotes from his 20 years of work in the Vatican close to the three last Pontiffs.

In regard to John Paul II, he pointed out that the Polish Pontiff was very conscious of the importance of the media “as an indispensable way to spread his message,” without implying that he “hid anything” or allowed himself to be “conditioned or pressured.” To achieve this, John Paul II was in the habit of holding a working lunch with his team of collaborators when he returned from his visits abroad, “to know the echo of his trips in the media and if his message had reached them or not.”

Read more: Vatican Spokesman Considers 3 Popes, 3 Noteworthy Communicators

Also Stresses Preferential Attention to the Family

Pope Francis has called for more room to be given to the presence of women in the Church but for it to be balanced with preferential attention to be given to the family.

Addressing an audience representatives of the Centro Italiano Femminile (Italian Women's Centre) on Saturday, the Holy Father first of all highlighted the importance of Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Letter “Mulieris dignitatem” on the dignity and vocation of women, and his Message for the 1995 World Day for Peace on the theme “Women: teachers of peace”.

“I too have considered the indispensable contribution of women in society,” Pope Francis said. “I have rejoiced in seeing many women sharing some pastoral responsibility with priests in accompanying people, families and groups, as in theological reflection, and I have expressed my hope that greater room can be made for a more capillary and incisive female presence in the Church”.

But he pointed out that if, in the world of work and in the public sphere “a more incisive contribution by the female gender is important,” then this contribution also remains “indispensable” within the family.

Read more: Pope: Make More Room for Women in the Church


Here is the text of the Holy Father's message for the 48th World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated on Sunday, June 1st, 2014.


Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we are living in a world which is growing ever "smaller" and where, as a result, it would seem to be easier for all of us to be neighbours. Developments in travel and communications technology are bringing us closer together and making us more connected, even as globalization makes us increasingly interdependent. Nonetheless, divisions, which are sometimes quite deep, continue to exist within our human family. On the global level we see a scandalous gap between the opulence of the wealthy and the utter destitution of the poor. Often we need only walk the streets of a city to see the contrast between people living on the street and the brilliant lights of the store windows. We have become so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us. Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives.

In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity. The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listenand learn from one another. We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.

Read more: Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter

Reflects on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity During General Audience

Pope Francis paused his catechetical series of talks on the Sacraments today to speak on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The theme of this year’s week of prayer was taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: “Is Christ divided?”

“This spiritual and most precious initiative has involved Christian communities for more than one hundred years. It is a time dedicated to prayer for the unity of all the baptized, in keeping with the will of Christ: “that they may all be one’”, the Pope said.

Referring to the theme, the Holy Father said that while certainly Christ was not divided, sadly Christian communities continue to live divided. “The divisions among us Christians are a scandal. There is no other word: a scandal,” he said.

Divisions, he stressed, only serve to weaken the credibility of the evangelization and would thus “risk emptying the Cross of its power.”

The Holy Father reflected on Paul’s reproaching of the community of Corinth, who each claimed to be of a different apostle, whereas Paul said that he was “of Christ.”

“Despite the suffering of the divisions, which unfortunately still remain, let us receive Paul’s words as an invitation to rejoice sincerely for the graces granted by God to other Christians: let us recognize it and rejoice,” the Pope said.

Concluding his brief catechesis, Pope Francis called on the faithful gathered to find in other Christians something that we are in need of in our lives. Doing so, he said, “requires much prayer, humility, reflection and constant conversion.”

“Let us go forward on this path, praying for the unity of Christians, so that this scandal may cease and be no longer with us,” the Pope concluded.

Receives Directors and Personnel of Italian Radio and Television Broadcasting

“The ethical quality of communication is the result [...] of consciences that are always attentive, never superficial, and always respectful towards others, both those who are the object of the information, and those who are intended to receive the messages.”

These were the words of Pope Francis on Saturday during an audience with the directors and personnel of RAI, the Italian Radio and Television Broadcasting Service, which was held in the Vatican.

The Holy Father began his address by applauding the collaboration between the Holy See and RAI in giving Italians access to major events in the Church’s history. Several of those events included the Second Vatican Council,  the election of the pontiffs and the funeral of Blessed John Paul II.

Read more: Pope Francis to RAI: Maintain Ethical Quality of Communication

Says Scandals Occur When There is No Living Relationship With God
Pope Francis had some strong words today regarding the scandals that have rocked the Church in recent history, calling them “the shame of the Church.”

The Holy Father reflected on the topic during his homily this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The first reading from the 1st book of Samuel recalled the defeat of Israel by the Philistines, during a time in which Israel had abandoned the Lord. Thinking that they could use the Ark of the Covenant as a magical object, the Israelites were again defeated and the Ark captured. The Pope said that this outcome shows that there was not a true faith in God, nor of his real presence in life.

Read more: Pope Francis: 'Scandals are the Shame of the Church'

Tells Newly Appointed Cardinals That Elevation is Not a Promotion, But a Service

At the conclusion of his address after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis announced the names of 16 new cardinals who will take part in the Consistory in February. The Holy Father also raised 3 retired archbishops to the dignity of Cardinal for their service to the Church.

“As has already been announced, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, I will have the joy of holding a consistory, during which I will name 16 new cardinals, who – belonging to 12 nations from every corner of the world – represent the profound ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Church’s dispersed throughout the world,” the Pope told the faithful gathered.

Read more: Pope Announces New Cardinals For February 22nd Consistory