Vatican City, 4 November 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York, spoke at the 69th Session of the General Assembly held on 23 October, regarding the “Eradication of Poverty”.
Speaking in English, the nuncio expressed the Holy See delegation's belief that “countries should develop evidence-based policies and strategies to combat extreme poverty, rather than relying on pre-conceived one-size-fits-all solutions. Analyses and suggested solutions need to be based on on-the-ground expertise and lived experience, rather than on imposed ready-made solutions from the outside, which are not always devoid of ideological colourings”.
He also remarked that sustainable development “requires the participation of all in the life of families, communities, organisations and societies. Participation is the antidote to exclusion, be it social, political, economic or cultural”. Another barrier to sustainable development, he noted, is “the exclusion of women from equal and active participation in the development of their communities. Excluding women and girls from education and subjecting them to violence and discrimination violates their inherent dignity and fundamental human rights”.
“My delegation wishes to highlight that poverty is not mere exclusion from economic development; it is as multifaceted and multidimensional as the human person. … Other than its more obvious economic expression, poverty also manifests itself in the educational, social, political, cultural and spiritual dimensions of life. … Development is more than the sum total of resources invested into development projects and their measurable material results. … In our efforts to eradicate poverty, we must always return to the foundational principle of our efforts, namely to promote the authentic development of the whole person and of all peoples. Each of us needs to contribute. Each of us can benefit. This is solidarity”.
(Vatican Radio) At Mass in Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday morning Pope Francis noted that deep down people are afraid of God’s gratuity, we find excuses not to go to Him and end up thinking the world revolves around us.
The Pope based his homily on the parable recounted in the Gospel of the Day of the man who gave a great banquet to which he invited many. The Pope said that this parable makes us think, because “we all like being invited to dinners”. But there was something about this dinner that three guests did not like, and these guests are an example of many of us.
One says that he has to go and examine his field, he needs to see it in order to feel “powerful, vanity, pride and he prefers this to sitting at table among others”. Another guest had just bought five oxen and thus is taken up with his business and doesn’t want to waste time with other people. The last guest excuses himself saying that he is married and doesn’t want to bring his bride to the dinner. He wanted to keep her affection all to himself: selfishness”.
Pope Francis noted: “In the end prefer their own interests rather than sharing dinner together: They do not know what it means to celebrate”. This form of self-interest is what Jesus described as “repayment”.
“If the invitation had been for example: ‘Come, I have two or three business friends from a foreign country, we can do something together’, no one would have excused themselves. But what shocked them was the gratuity. Being one among the others, there…this form of egoism of being at the centre of everything..It is so difficult to listen to the voice of Jesus, the voice of God, when you believe that that the whole world revolves around you: there is no horizon, because you become your own horizon. And there is more behind all of this, something far deeper: fear of gratuity. We are afraid of God’s gratuity. He is so great that we fear Him”.
This, he said, "is because quite often our life experiences have made us suffer”, like the disciples of Emmaus who turn away from Jerusalem or Thomas who wants to touch to believe. The Pope then used a popular proverb: When "the offer is so great even the Saint is suspicious", because "the gratuity is too much". And when God gives us a feast like this," he said, we think it is "better not to get involved".
"We feel safer in our sins, in our limitations, but feel at home; leaving our home to answer God's invitation, go to God’s house, with others? No. I'm afraid. And all of us Christians have this fear hidden deep inside ... but not too hidden. Catholics, but not too Catholic. Trusting in the Lord, but not too much. This 'but not too', marks our lives, it belittles us".
Pope Francis continued "One thing that makes me think is that when the servant reported this to his master, the master is angry because he had been despised. He sends his servant to call the poor, the crippled, he sends him to the squares and the streets of the city. The Lord asks the servant to compel people to come to the dinner. "So often the Lord has to do with us the same: with trials, so many trials":
"Compel them, for here is the celebration. Gratuity. Compel that heart, that soul to believe in God's gratuity, that God’s gift is free, that salvation cannot be bought: it is a great gift, the love of God ... is the greatest gift! This is gratuity. But we are a little afraid and this is why we think that we can obtain holiness with our own things and we become a little Pelagian eh! Holiness, salvation is gratuity".
Pope Francis concluded: Jesus “paid for the banquet, with His humiliation unto death, death on a cross. And this is the great gratuity. When we look at the crucifix, we should think of it as an invitation to the banquet. Yes, Lord, I am a sinner, I have many things, but I look at you and go to the banquet of the Father. I trust. I will not be disappointed, because you have paid for everything. Today, the Church asks us not to be afraid of the gratuitousness of God". “Instead we must open our hearts, do our part as much as we can, because He will prepare the banquet".
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday, November 3, celebrated Mass in remembrance of all the Cardinals and Bishops who died during the past year.
During the Mass, which was held in St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope reminded us that thanks to the Resurrection of Jesus our faith is full of the joy of truth and eternal life.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Reflecting on the reading from the second Book of Maccabees in which the ruler of Jerusalem collects “two thousand silver drachmas for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection” (2 Mac 12, 43-46), – the Pope said – that thanks to God’s Word this celebration is enlightened by our faith in the Resurrection.
The whole of Divine Revelation – he said – is the fruit of dialogue between God and his people, and faith too is bound to this dialogue that accompanies the people of God in history.
It is no wonder – Pope Francis said – that such a great, important and superhuman mystery as the Resurrection required such a long journey in time, up until the coming of Jesus Christ.
Jesus can say: “I am the Resurrection and the life” (John 11, 25) because in Him this mystery not only is fully revealed, through Him, for the first time, it becomes reality.
And recalling the Gospel of Mark that tells of the death of Jesus and of the empty tomb, the Pope pointed out that this episode represents the culmination of that journey in time: the event of the Resurrection that responds to the quest of God’s people, to the quest of every man and of the whole of humanity.
Each of us – Pope Francis said – is invited to be part of this event. We are called to stand before the Cross of Jesus, like Mary, like the women, like the centurion listening to his cry, to his last breath and finally to the silence; that silence that persists throughout Holy Saturday. And then we are called to go to the tomb to see that the large stone has been rolled back and to listen to the news: “He has been raised, he is not here” (Mark 16, 6). That is where the answer is, that is where the foundation is, the rock. Not in “wise and persuasive words” – the Pope said - but in the living Word of the Cross and in the Resurrection of Christ.
This is what the Apostle Paul preaches – the Pope continued – the Resurrection of the crucified Jesus Christ. If He has not risen, our faith is empty and inconsistent. But seeing that He has risen, that He is the Resurrection, then our faith is full of truth and eternal life.
So – Pope Francis concluded – renewing tradition today we offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharist in suffrage of our brother Cardinals and Bishops who have died during the past twelve months. And our prayer is enriched by the sentiments, the memories, and the gratitude for the testimonies of people we have known, and with whom we have shared service within the Church. Many of their faces – he said – are before our eyes, and all of them are lovingly and mercifully looked upon by our heavenly Father.
And invoking the intercession of our celestial Mother for these beloved sons of Hers, Pope Francis prayed that they may relish the joy of the New Jerusalem together with all the faithful that have served on earth.
(Vatican Radio) Rivalry and vainglory are two worms that weaken the Church; instead we must act in a spirit of humility and harmony, without seeking our own interests said Pope Francis Monday morning at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.
Taking a cue from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, the Pope noted that a bishop’s joy lies in seeing love, unity and harmony in his Church. "This harmony - he said - is a grace, which the Holy Spirit creates, but we must do our part, we must do everything to help the Holy Spirit to create this harmony in the Church". This is why St. Paul calls the Philippians to do nothing "out of selfishness or out of vainglory" or "fight against each other, just to be seen, to give themselves the air of being better than others". "You see – he noted - this is not just something new to today", but "goes way back".
"And how often in our institutions, in the Church, in the parish, for example, in schools, do we find that, no? Rivalry; the need to be seen; vainglory. We see that there are two worms that eat the fabric of the Church, weakening her. Rivalry and vainglory go against this harmony, this agreement. Instead of rivalry and vainglory, what does Paul recommend? ‘Rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves’. He felt this himself. He qualifies himself as ‘not worthy to be called an apostle,' the least [among others]. He even strongly humbles himself there. This was his sentiment: He thought others were superior to him".
The Pope then quoted St. Martin de Porres, a "humble Dominican friar," whom the Church remembers today: "His spirituality was in service, because he felt that all the others, even the greatest sinners, were superior to him. He really felt this". St. Paul then urges everyone not to look out for his own interests:
"Look for the good of others. Serving others. But this is the joy of a bishop, when he sees his Church like this: the same sentiment, the same charity, being in unanimous accord. This is the air that Jesus wants in the Church. You can have a different opinion, that’s fine, but always within this air, this atmosphere: humility, charity, without despising anyone".
Referring to the Gospel of the day, Pope Francis added: "It’s bad, when we find people who seek their own interests not service, not love, in Church institutions, in dioceses, in parishes. And this is what Jesus says in the Gospel: Do not seek your own interests; do not take the road of seeking repayment. 'Look, I have done this for you, but you have to do this for me’. And, with this parable, of inviting to dinner those who cannot repay you with anything. This is gratuity. When there is harmony in a Church, there is unity, no one seeks his or her own interests, and there is an attitude of gratitude. I do good; I don't strike a deal with good".
In conclusion, the Pope invited everyone to examine their conscience, "what is my parish like ... my community? Does it have this spirit? What is my institution like? Is this spirit, this sentiment of love, unanimity, concord, without selfishness or vainglory, of humility, is this vision that others are superior to us, in our parish, in our community ... and perhaps we will find that there is something to improve. Now, how can I help to improve this?
(Vatican Radio) On the Feast of All Souls, Pope Francis has asked people to pray for the world’s forgotten dead, “those who no one remembers”, the “victims of war and violence; the many "little ones" of the world crushed by hunger and poverty” and “the anonymous who rest in common graves”.
Above all he has asked people to offer prays of suffrage and the celebration of the Eucharist for those “our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left over the last year”.
Emer McCarthy reports, Listen:
Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good day!
Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today the liturgy invites us to commemorate the faithful departed. These two occurrences are intimately linked to each other, just as joy and tears find a synthesis in Jesus Christ, that is the foundation of our faith and our hope. On the one hand, in fact, the Church, a pilgrim in history, rejoices through the intercession of the saints and blessed who support her in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel; on the other, she, like Jesus, shares the tears of those who suffer the separation from loved ones, and like Him and through Him echoes thanks to the Father who has delivered us from the dominion of sin and death.
Yesterday and today many people visit the cemetery, which, as the word itself implies, is the "place of rest", as we wait for the final awakening. It is lovely to think that it will be Jesus who will awaken us. Jesus himself revealed that the death of the body is like a sleep from which he awakens us. With this faith we stop - even spiritually - at the graves of our loved ones, those who have loved us and have done good deeds for us. But today we are called to remember everyone, to remember everyone, even those who no one remembers. We remember the victims of war and violence; the many "little ones" of the world crushed by hunger and poverty. We remember the anonymous who rest in common graves. We remember our brothers and sisters killed because they are Christians; and those who sacrificed their lives to serve others. We especially entrust to the Lord, those who have left over the last year.
Church tradition has always urged prayer for the dead, in particular by offering the celebration of the Eucharist for them: it is the best spiritual help that we can give to their souls, particularly to the most abandoned ones. The foundation of prayers in suffrage of souls is in the communion of the Mystical Body. As the Second Vatican Council reiterates, "fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead" (Lumen Gentium, 50 ).
Remembering the dead, caring for their graves and prayers of suffrage, are witness of confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death is not the last word on human fate, death is not the last word, because man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment in God. Let us raise this prayer to God:
God of infinite mercy,
we entrust to Your immense goodness all those who have left this world for eternity, where you await all humanity, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ Your Son, who died to save us from our sins.
Look not Lord, at our poverty, misery and human weaknesses when we present ourselves before You to be judged in happiness or condemned.
Gaze upon us with pity, born of Your tender heart and help us to walk the path of purification.
May none of your children be lost to the eternal fires of hell, where repentance is no more.
We entrust to You Lord, the souls of our beloved departed, of those who died without the comfort of the Sacraments or who did not have the opportunity to repent, not even at the end of their life.
May no one fear the encounter with You at the end of their earthly pilgrimage, in the hope of being welcomed within the embrace of your infinite mercy. May sister death find us in prayerful vigilance, and full of all the good we have done during our existence, be it long or short.
Lord, may nothing distance us from you on this earth, may everything and everyone support us in our ardent hope to serenely and eternally rest in You.
With this faith in man’s supreme destiny, we now turn to the Virgin Mary, who suffered the drama of Christ's death under the Cross and participated in the joy of His resurrection. May she, Gate of Heaven, help us to understand more and more the value of prayers for the dead. They are close to us. May she support us in our daily pilgrimage on earth and help us not to lose sight of the ultimate goal of life which is Heaven. And we with this hope that never disappoints we move forward!