Church News

Joy is a sign of vocation, Pope tells Wednesday audience

August 30, 2017

At his weekly public audience on August 30, Pope Francis said that “the joy of the encounter with Jesus” is the first indication of one’s vocation.

Pope Francis based his catechetical talk on the St. John’s account of Christ’s call to the first apostles (Jn 1:39). He remarked that the encounter remained always vivid in the apostles’ memories; the Gospel mentions the time of day when it took place.

Those first two apostles not only followed Jesus, but “immediately they became missionaries,” the Holy Father observed. Sts. Andrew and John quickly recruited Sts. Peter and James.

These apostles, the Pope continued, were “young men, searching, healthily restless.” He added that young people are characteristically restless, saying: “The young who seek nothing are not young; they have become pensioners; they have aged before their time.”

Addressing the young people in the audience, the Pontiff said: “I too would like to ask the young people here in the square today, and those who listen via the media: ‘You, who are young, what are you seeking? What are you looking for in your heart?’”

Regarding the call for all Christians to be evangelists, the Pope said that the work is not carried out “by honing the instruments of rhetoric.” The key, he said, is “keeping in our eyes the glimmer of true happiness.” He encouraged young people especially to “cultivate healthy utopias.”

Pope Francis insisted on the importance of maintaining a hopeful attitude in order to attract others:

Please, I advise you: let us not listen to those who are disappointed and unhappy; let us not listen to those who cynically advise us not to cultivate hope in life; let us not trust in those who dampen every enthusiasm at the outset, saying that no enterprise is worth sacrificing all of life for; let us not listen to the “aged” of heart who suffocate youthful euphoria.

Pope calls on African sisters to rediscover the Gospel’s freshness

August 30, 2017

As the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa meets in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, a papal message called upon participants to “rediscover the freshness of the Gospel, from which new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world.

”The papal message—signed by Msgr. Paolo Borgia, Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State—also called for a more unified apostolate in service to the sick and the poor.

India declares Muslim instant divorce unconstitutional

August 30, 2017

In a 3-2 decision, India’s Supreme Court has declared the Muslim practice of instant divorce unconstitutional.

Under the practice, a husband can initiate an instant divorce by saying the word talaq (“repudiation, divorce”) to his wife three times.

Spanish bishop apologizes for Hindu ritual in Catholic church

August 29, 2017

Bishop Rafael Zorzona Boy of Cadiz y Ceuta has issued an apology to local Catholics for an incident in which a Hindu procession honoring the god Ganesh was welcomed into a Catholic church.

The procession took place in Ceuta, a Spanish territory on the northern coast of Africa near Gibraltar. Local Hindus entered the church of Our Lady of Africa, carrying an elephant-shaped image of Ganesh, and were greeted by the vicar general of the diocese, Father Juan José Mateos Castro.

The bishop remarked that the event was “regrettable,” because although it was proper to show friendship for Hindu neighbors, the decision to allow a Hindu god to be honored in a Catholic church could cause “pain, confusion, or scandal in the Christian community.”

Brazil: Pope Greets Surviving Players of the Chapecoense Club

A “Brief but Moving” Meeting

At the end of the General Audience this Wednesday, August 30, 2017, Pope Francis greeted the players and staff of the Chapecoense Club, the Brazilian soccer team that on November 28, 2016, lost most of its members in a plane crash near the Colombian city of Medellin, reported Vatican Radio.

Three players of the club – defender Neto, 24-year-old keeper Jackson Follmann and defender Alan Ruschel – survived that disaster.

The Pope blessed Jackson Follmann, one of whose legs was amputated after the tragedy, and Alan Ruschel, who were present during the Audience.

“We should have died that day, at the moment of our last prayers, pronounced in a loud voice while the plane was falling,” said the players, in words reported by L’Osservatore Romano in Italian. God gave us a second chance and we’ll do our best to honor Him. And of course to honor also our friends who are no longer.”

In the course of the meeting, “brief but moving,” the Pope greeted and embraced all the members of the team, as well as members of the families of the deceased. He was given the present of a ball with the colors of the Brazilian team, white and green, as well as a T-shirt with the players’ signatures.

The Pastor of the Cathedral of Chapeco, Father François Cristiano Cousseau, gave the Pope a representation of Saint Anthony, Patron of the city, distributing bread to the poor. A memory-photo of the Pope with the group, made up of some 85 persons, was taken.

“It’s a day of grace for all of us,” said Plinio David de Nes Jr, President of the Chapecoense. “Pope Francis made us feel his love since the tragic moment of the plane accident. At the most difficult moment of our life, his closeness gave us the strength to go on. Today the team is recovering slowly from its wounds. Today we received the Pope’s blessings and we thank God for that.”

On Friday evening, September 1, 2017, Chapecoense will play a friendly match with the Roma team at the Olympic Stadium under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

After the air crash in Colombia, which left 71 dead, Pope Francis sent his condolences and assured his prayers in a Message addressed to Cardinal Sergio Da Rocha, Archbishop of Brasilia, Brazil. The Pope wished “the courage and consolation of Christian hope “to all those touched by this “tragedy.”

The Brazilian footballers were going to Medellin for the final of the “South American Cup,” competition of Latin American Clubs. The plane of the Bolivian Lamia Company was transporting the team’s players and journalists.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester