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‘The heart of the Church’s mission is prayer,’ Pope Francis says

June 28, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2019 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Sacred Heart of Jesus wishes to welcome all into ‘a revolution of tenderness’ through life-changing prayer, Pope Francis said Friday, while insisting that “the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer.”

“The Heart of Christ is so great that it wishes to welcome us all into the revolution of tenderness. The closeness to the Heart of the Lord urges our hearts to approach their brother with love, and helps to enter into this compassion for the world,” Pope Francis said June 28, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Francis addressed 6,000 members of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of its founding. The network aims to mobilize Catholics through prayer to address the challenges facing humanity and the mission of the Church.

“It is good, on this day of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to remember the foundation of our mission,” Pope Francis said. “It is a mission of compassion for the world, we could say a ‘journey of the heart,’ that is, a prayerful journey that transforms people’s lives.”

“We are called to be witnesses and messengers of God’s mercy, to offer the world a perspective of light where darkness is, of hope where despair reigns, of salvation where sin abounds,” the pope told the prayer network in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

“To enter into prayer is to enter with my heart into the heart of Jesus, to make a way inside the heart of Jesus, what Jesus feels, the feelings of compassion of Jesus, and also to make a journey inside my heart to change my heart in this relationship with the heart of Jesus,” he explained.

Pope Francis urged the importance of teaching children to pray, and said that it pains him to see so many children who do not even know how to make the sign of the cross.

“Teach children to pray. Because they immediately reach the heart of Jesus, immediately. Jesus wants them,” he said.

The pope also stressed the importance of intercessory prayer saying that all Catholics are called to pray for “the people who stand beside us … assuming their joys and sufferings in prayer.”

“The Bible tells us that Jesus is before the Father and intercedes for us. He is our intercessor, and we must imitate Jesus. Be intercessors,” he said.

“Throughout history, the greatest men and women of God have been intercessors like Jesus,” he added.

“The Apostolate of Prayer, with its worldwide network of prayer for the Pope and in communion with him, reminds us that the heart of the Church’s mission is prayer,” Pope Francis said, repeating, “The heart of the Church’s mission is prayer.”


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Pope gives chaplains of sailors same faculties as Missionaries of Mercy

June 27, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2019 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- In a meeting with the Apostleship of the Sea on Thursday, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of mercy, and said he was giving sea chaplains the same expansive faculties he had given to the Missionaries of Mercy.

“I would like to say a word about peace of heart. Many sailors approach or come to see chaplains and priests with problems of conscience that make them suffer greatly, problems that they have never had a chance to bring up in those circumstances, so far from home, far from their native land,” the Pope said June 27 in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall to participants in a meeting for chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea.

“Dialogue with a chaplain may well open up new horizons of hope. So I would say to you: be merciful, be merciful. And to favour that mercy, I grant to all chaplains of sailors the same faculties I have gave to the Missionaries of Mercy. In this way, you will be able to bring peace to so many hearts.”

During the Jubilee of Mercy, the Missionaries of Mercy had no limits on where they could validly and licitly hear confessions, and they were able to absolve sins otherwise reserved to the Holy See: rofaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose; the use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff; the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment; and a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

Pope Francis noted the importance of maritime industry, and thus the chaplains who minister to seamen.

“Without sailors, the global economy would come to a standstill; and without fishermen, many parts of the world would starve. I would ask you to convey my esteem and encouragement to the sailors and fishermen whom you meet, many of whom work for lengthy periods of time, thousands of miles away from their native land and their families,” he said.

The pope noted that in addition to isolation and distance, sailors and fishermen can face injustice, trafficking, forced labor, and piracy.

“As chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris, you have been entrusted with the mission of presence, bringing the Good News of the Lord Jesus to the complex and varied world of seafaring,” he told his audience.

“Your daily visits to the ships enable you to encounter people in concrete situations, at times serene, at other times anxious or even deeply troubled. With compassion and discretion, you give them a chance to pour out their hearts. This is the first and most precious service that you provide, above all to those who have few similar opportunities. Your ministry to sailors and fishermen is above all one of listening to them and to their material and spiritual needs.”

This listening can lead to action, he advised, encouraging them to confront “human trafficking, forced labour and violations of the human and labour rights of so many men and women who live and work on the seas.”

“Through your service, you can help restore to these persons their sense of dignity,” he said.

The pope added that “thanks to you, those who are most vulnerable can find hope for a better future. Your efforts can help them not to give up in the face of a life that is precarious and at times marked by exploitation. Your presence in the ports, large and small, is already a sign of God’s fatherhood and the fact that, in his eyes, we are all children, brothers and sisters to one another.”

He said that “your presence is also a sign of the primordial worth of the human person, prior to and above every other interest, and an incentive for everyone, starting with the poorest, to work for justice and respect for fundamental rights.”


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Spanish bishops offer collaboration with attorney general in abuse investigation

June 27, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Madrid, Spain, Jun 27, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The spokesman for the Spanish bishops’ conference has expressed the desire of the Church in Spain to collaborate with the attorney general’s office, after the publication of a report accusing the bishops of opacity in the identification of sexual abuse.

“We are willing and everything that we can do to join forces is good for everyone,” said Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of Valladolid.

On June 24, the nation’s attorney general’s office pointed to a “deficient” response from the Church in Spain regarding the problem of sexual abuse committed by its members.

The report of the AG’s Office was made at the request of the Department of Justice and was announced through the newspaper El País. So far it has not been sent to the Spanish bishops’ conference.

The document states that in the Church in Spain there are “environments traditionally endowed with a certain opacity where the identification of cases presents difficulties for various reasons.”

The report also encourages the creation of commissions like those in Australia, the Netherlands, or Austria, and it calls for “avoiding the case first being checked out or internal filters applied by the institution where it occurred before it being reported to the competent authorities, and that without prejudice to the measures that the institution should or could adopt to prevent reoccurrences of similar incidents within the scope of its competencies.”

In face of these accusations, Bishop Argüello explained that they learned of the report of the AG’s Office “only through the media” and expressed their desire to have it in its entirety “in order to evaluate it,” and stressed that “when they speak of opacity, I don’t know what they are referring to.”

“We are facing a matter of serious societal concern, we would like a dialogue with the AG’s Office spoken of in the report. Because we are willing and everything we can do to join forces is good for everyone,” the spokesman said.

The AG Office’s report states that in 2017 and 2018 about 1,000 cases were recorded per year, while the convictions were around 500 in 2017 and 737 in 2018.

Argüello said they would like to know how many of these complaints and convictions were against members of the Catholic Church: “We would like to be able to know … how many of these verdicts were convictions and how many were acquittals and how many cleric there were. Our perception is that the clerics convicted in those two years were quite few, but we don’t know and we would like to know. As we would like to know in what other sectors of society…We understand the reluctance of the AG’s Office, because it prosecutes persons, not social sectors.”

The report by the attorney general’s office was made at the request of the Minister of Justice, Dolores Delgado, who asked that cases of sexual abuse be investigated just in the environment of the Catholic Church in Spain. Argüello said that this request “doesn’t seem right to us, it’s unsettling to us, that only abuse within the Church be investigated. We couldn’t understand  that the minister only inquired about the Church. It is just and necessary to inquire about the abuses that affect society as a whole.”

“If we want to address the prevention and cause, it would be good for us to know what social sectors are involved and the AG’s Office doesn’t say because it can’t say, because it is subject to the ground rules of criminal proceedings. This affects all of us, and that’s why we can have a conversation about this,” he stressed.

As part of the efforts being made in the Church in Spain to put an end to sexual abuse,  Argüello said they have been waiting since April for the authorization by the Holy See of a general decree which would directly oblige all the dioceses and religious orders to act jointly and according to an established protocol.

The general decree could be approved in November during the bishops’ general assembly.

In addition, in late 2018 a commission was created to update the protocols in the fight against the abuse of minors in Spain, which until now had a juridical canonical profile. However, Argüello said this commission will admit from now on “people with different characteristics and will have the possibility of having professionals, men and women, who can help us look to the future and work for prevention.”