Pope Francis’ farewell from Philadelphia Airport

carBefore leaving Philadelphia to return to Rome, Francis offered words of gratitude to the American people and thanked them for their generosity. He ended his remarks encouraging us to use that same gratitude to care for others in need.

“I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity. Jesus says in the Scriptures: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”. Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him. So too is your care for the poor, the sick, the homeless and the immigrant, your defense of life at every stage, and your concern for family life. In all of this, you recognize that Jesus is in your midst and that your care for one another is care for Jesus himself.”

“May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure! Just as we have received so much from God –gifts freely given us, and not of our own making – so let us freely give to others in return.”

Click here for the full text of his address.

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Closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis in Philadelphia

MassMore than one million pilgrims gathered on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families and his final public appearance on this trip. Here, he encouraged families to focus on the small, simple things that lead to holiness. He praised the family as an essential part of experiencing the joy of the gospel. At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Paglia of the Pontifical Council for the Family announced that the next World Meeting of Families in 2018 would take place in Dublin, Ireland.

Some quotes from the homily:

“Faith opens a ‘window’ to the presence and working of the Spirit. It shows us that, like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures.”

“Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home. Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.”

“Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions. The urgent challenge of protecting our home includes the effort to bring the entire human family together in the pursuit of a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”

“May God grant that all of us may be prophets of the joy of the Gospel, the Gospel of the family and family love, as disciples of the Lord. May he grant us the grace to be worthy of that purity of heart which is not scandalized by the Gospel!”

Click here for the full text of the homily.

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Pope Francis speaks to the inmates at the Curran Correctional Facility

prisonersPope Francis’s visit to the correctional facility marked the first visit of a pope to a United States Prison. There he offered moving words of solidarity with the prisoners noting that he was chief of sinners and all of us are in need of purification. He strongly advocated for forms of punishment that are restorative and rehabilitative and that offer real hope.

Some quotes follow:

“I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.”

“Jesus comes to meet us, so that he can restore our dignity as children of God. He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust. He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission, and that confinement is never the same thing as exclusion.

“All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us. Myself, first and foremost. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, who wants to help us resume our journey. The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us he stretches out a helping hand.”

“All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from. All of us. May the knowledge of this fact inspire us all to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others.”

“Let us look to Jesus, who washes our feet. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life”. He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change, the lie of thinking that no one can change. Jesus helps us to journey along the paths of life and fulfillment. May the power of his love and his resurrection always be a path leading you to new life.”

Click here for the full text of the address.

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Pope Francis meets bishops and priests at the World Meeting of Families at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary

seminaryPope Francis began his remarks to the bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary by announcing he had met with victims of sexual abuse that morning. He strongly condemned the crime of sexual abuse and promised that all responsible will be held accountable. He then transitioned to remind bishops of their pastoral obligations not merely to teach doctrine, but to better understand the practical needs of their flock.

On the sexual abuse scandal he said:

“I am deeply pained by the stories, the sufferings and the pain of minors who were sexually abused by priests. I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret; I commit myself to ensuring that the Church makes every effort to protect minors and I promise that those responsible will be held to account. Survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy; humbly we owe our gratitude to each of them and to their families for their great courage in shedding the light of Christ on the evil sexual abuse of minors.”

On marriage and the family:

“The family is the fundamental locus of the covenant between the Church and God’s creation, with that creation which God blessed on the last day with a family. Without the family, not even the Church would exist. Nor could she be what she is called to be, namely ‘a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race.’”

“Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case.”

“The family is our ally, our window to the world; the family is the proof of an irrevocable blessing of God destined for all the children who in every age are born into this difficult yet beautiful creation which God has asked us to serve!”

On consumerism and human relationships:

“Today consumption seems to determine what is important. Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming… Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption which does not favor bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships. Social bonds are a mere “means” for the satisfaction of “my needs”. The important thing is no longer our neighbor, with his or her familiar face, story and personality.”

“I dare say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of loneliness. Running after the latest fad, accumulating “friends” on one of the social networks, we get caught up in what contemporary society has to offer. Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel recognized.”

On the role of bishops:

“We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family.”

“A Christianity which “does” little in practice, while incessantly “explaining” its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in a vicious circle. A pastor must show that the “Gospel of the family” is truly “good news” in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history. Families transform the world and history.”

Click here for the full text of the address.

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Pope Francis attends Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Philly-Benjamin-Franklin-Parkway On Saturday evening the Pope joined a quarter of a million people along Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a Festival of Families. The event was hosted by Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg and featured performances from Andrea Bocelli, Jim Gaffigan, Aretha Franklin, special appearances from families around the world, and a strong address from Francis on the importance of families. He was full of great joy and humor admitting that while family life can be difficult, it’s always worthwhile.

He chose not to follow his prepared text and instead gave the following address off-the-cuff. Among other things he said:

“All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family. And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love.”

“God always knocks at the door of hearts. He likes to do this. It comes from His heart. But, do you know what He likes best? To knock on the doors of families and find families that are united, to find families that love each other, to find the families that bring up their children and educate them and help them to keep going forward and that create a society of goodness, of truth, and of beauty.”

“In families, there is always, always, the cross. Always. Because the love of God, of the Son of God, also opened for us this path. But, in families as well, after the cross, there is the resurrection. Because the Son of God opened for us this path. Because of this, the family is — forgive the term I’ll use — it is a factory of hope, of hope of life and of resurrection. God was the one who opened this path.”

“In families, there are difficulties, but these difficulties are overcome with love. Hate doesn’t overcome any difficulty. Division of hearts doesn’t overcome any difficulty. Only love is capable of overcoming difficulties. Love is a festival. Love is joy. Love is to keep moving forward.”

Click here for the full text of his off-the-cuff address and here for his prepared address.

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Statement from the Holy See on Pope Francis’ meeting with sexual abuse victims

Communiqué of Fr. Federico Lomobardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office on Pope Francis’ Meeting with Victims of Sexual Abuse by the Clergy or by members of their own families or teachers

This morning between 8:00 and 9:00 am, at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, the Holy Father received some victims of sexual abuse by the clergy or by members of their families or their teachers. The group consisted of five adults – three women, two men – who have suffered abuse when they were minors. Each person was accompanied by a family member or support person. The group was accompanied by Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Chair of the commission set up by the Pope for the protection of minors; by the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Most Reverend Charles Chaput and Bishop Fitzgerald, head of the Diocese of Philadelphia Office for the protection of minors. The Pope spoke with visitors, listening to their stories and offering them a few words together as a group and later listening to each one individually. He then prayed with them and expressed his solidarity in sharing their suffering, as well as his own pain and shame in especially in the case of injury caused them by clergy or church workers.

Pope Francis reiterated the commitment of the Church so that all victims be heard and treated with justice; the guilty be punished and crimes of abuse be combated with an effective prevention program in the Church and in society. The Pope thanked the victims for their essential contribution to restore the truth and begin the journey of healing. The meeting lasted about half an hour and ended with the blessing of the Holy Father.

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Pope meets sex abuse victims in Philadelphia and pledges accountability

1004494_1280x720(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a private meeting with victims of clerical sex abuse in Philadelphia on Sunday (27th September) and told bishops afterwards that such crimes “must no longer be held in secret” and promised on behalf of the Church “the accountability of all.” The Pope said he remained “overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm.  I am profoundly sorry. God weeps.”  He thanked the bishops for all they have down to “shine the light of Christ” on the “evil” of the sexual abuse of children. The Pope’s remarks came during an address with bishops attending the World Meeting of Families on the final day of his pastoral visit to the U.S.

English translation of the Pope’s remarks on sex abuse:

“I hold the stories and the suffering and the sorrow of children who were sexually abused by priests deep in my heart.  I remain overwhelmed with shame that men entrusted with the tender care of children violated these little ones and caused grievous harm.  I am profoundly sorry. God weeps.

The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children must no longer be held in secret.  I pledge the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all.

You survivors of abuse have yourselves become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy.  We humbly owe each one of you and your families our gratitude for your immense courage to shine the light of Christ on the evil of the sexual abuse of children.”

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