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Pope Francis, recovering from ‘mild flu,’ renews call for peace in Ukraine

February 25, 2024 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Feb. 25, 2024, during his weekly Angelus reflection. The pope canceled his audiences the day before due to mild flu conditions, according to the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Feb 25, 2024 / 09:55 am (CNA).

A day after canceling his audiences due to what the Vatican called a “mild flu-like condition,” Pope Francis appeared in good form during his weekly Angelus address Sunday, marking the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine with a call for peace while urging the faithful to “never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus.”

“How many victims, injuries, destruction, anguish, tears in a period that is becoming terribly long and of which the end is not yet in sight,” the pope said about the war, which began with Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, adding that the conflict has “unleash[ed] a global wave of fear and hatred.”

“While I renew my deepest affection for the tormented Ukrainian people and pray for everyone, in particular for the numerous innocent victims,” Pope Francis said, “I implore that that bit of humanity be found that allows us to create the conditions for a diplomatic solution in search of a just and lasting peace.”

The Vatican said Pope Francis canceled his audiences on Feb. 24 as a “precaution.” When the Vatican said that Francis had a “mild flu” in November, the pope underwent precautionary testing at a Rome hospital. The 87-year-old pope canceled a trip to Dubai in December after his doctors advised him not to travel because of a bronchial infection.

But on Sunday he was back in public view for the weekly Angelus. Reflecting on the Gospel reading for the second Sunday in Lent — Mark’s account of the Transfiguration — the pope described the apostles’ mountaintop experience with Jesus as a transformative moment where Christ “physically manifests himself there in all his light.”

The Transfiguration, he said, sums up all of Jesus’ works up until that point of his ministry, while foreshadowing his Passion.

“The preaching of the Kingdom, the forgiveness of sins, the healings, and the performed signs were, indeed, sparks of a greater light, namely, of the light of Jesus,” the pope said from the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace, overlooking nearly 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Holy Father stressed that it is an event that reminds all Christians that “God is light,” which allows us to “seek his face, that is full of mercy, fidelity, and hope.” In this way we can keep Christ fixed as a singular point of reference as “we journey through life.”

The pope declared: “Always keep the luminous face of Christ before our eyes,” adding, “never direct your eyes away from the light of Jesus.”

Pilgrims gather in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican for Pope Francis' weekly Angelus address on Feb. 25, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for Pope Francis’ weekly Angelus address on Feb. 25, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis suggested that this encounter with the living God is done principally through “prayer, listening to the Word, the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.” But, underscoring the sacramental dimension, is also a deeply personal, human element.

It is a call for the faithful, the pope suggested, to seek God in one another, noting that it can serve as a “Lenten resolution” that enables us to become “seekers of the light of Jesus.”

“But it also helps to look people in the eyes,” he continued, “learning to see God’s light in everyone and cultivating the ability to marvel at this beauty that shines in each one, without exception: in those close to us and in those we do not know; in the happy gazes of those who are joyful and in the tears of those who are sorrowful; in the sad and dimmed eyes of those who are tried by life and of those who have lost their enthusiasm; and even in those whom we find it difficult to look in the face, preferring to turn away.”

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Pope Francis: ‘The devil always takes away your freedom’

January 28, 2024 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis delivers the Sunday Angelus from the window of his study overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Jan. 28, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2024 / 12:18 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis warned on Sunday that the devil wants to “chain our souls” and enslave us with many temptations, while “Jesus came to free us from all of these chains.”

In his Angelus address on Jan. 28, the pope said that “the devil always takes away your freedom” and named some of the temptations that the evil one uses to ensnare us.

Pope Francis encouraged people to learn how to “say ‘no’ to the temptations of evil before they creep into the soul” by invoking the name of Jesus.

When facing a temptation, do not attempt to “negotiate with the devil,” Pope Francis said.

“We must call on Jesus,” he underlined. “Call on him where we feel the chains of evil and fear tighten most strongly.”

“There are many chains in our life,” the pope explained.

“I am thinking of addictions, which enslave [so we are] always dissatisfied, and devour energy, goods, and affections; I am thinking of dominant fashions, which push us toward impossible perfectionism, consumerism, and hedonism, which commodify people and spoil their relationships.”

“And other chains: There are the temptations and conditioning that undermine self-esteem, serenity, and the ability to choose and love life,” he said.

Pope Francis added that another chain is “fear, which makes one look at the future with pessimism and impatience, which always casts blame on others.”

He said that “the idolatry of power” is a “very ugly chain” that creates conflicts and can lead to weapons that kill, the manipulation of thought, or economic injustices.

“And Jesus came to free us from all these chains,” Pope Francis said.

“Jesus has the power to cast out the devil. Jesus frees us from the power of evil.”

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis described how Jesus freed a person possessed by an “evil spirit” in Mark’s Gospel, noting that the possession tormented her and caused her to scream.

“This is what the devil does: He wants to possess us in order to ‘chain our souls,’” he said.

Pope Francis noted that in the Gospel, Jesus casts out the devil, “but does not dialogue with him,” noting that during the temptation in the desert, Jesus only answered with words from Scripture.

“The Lord, with the strength of his Spirit, wishes to repeat to the evil one today too: ‘Go away! Leave that heart alone. Do not divide the world, families, communities; let them live peacefully, so that the fruits of my Spirit may flourish, not yours,’ so says Jesus, ‘so that love, joy, meekness may reign among them, and instead of violence and cries of hatred there may be freedom and peace.’”

“So let’s ask ourselves: Do I really want freedom from those chains that tighten my heart? … Do I invoke Jesus, do I allow him to act in me, to heal me inside? May the Holy Virgin protect us from evil,” he said.

Speaking from a window in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace to the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.

Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for reconciliation in Myanmar, marking three years since the country’s military coup.

“For three years now, the crying of pain and the noise of weapons have taken the place of the smile that characterizes the population of Myanmar. I therefore join the voice of some Burmese bishops, ‘so that the weapons of destruction are transformed into tools for growth in humanity and justice,’” he said.

“Peace is a path and I invite all parties involved to take steps of dialogue and to clothe themselves with understanding, so that the land of Myanmar reaches the goal of fraternal reconciliation. The transit of humanitarian aid is allowed to guarantee the necessities of every person.”

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the Catholic community in Istanbul, where one man died in an armed attack during Sunday Mass.

The pope added that he was relieved to hear of the release of six religious sisters who were kidnapped in Haiti last week and called for an end to all acts of violence in the country, urging the international community to support Haiti’s peaceful development.

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Pope Francis at Sunday Angelus: ‘Only in God do we find the light of life’

December 17, 2023 Catholic News Agency 1
A member of the crowd in St. Peter’s Square holds up a baby Jesus figure for a blessing by Pope Francis at his Sunday Angelus Dec. 17, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Dec 17, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis reflected on St. John the Baptist as a luminous figure who testifies to the light and teaches us that “only in God do we find the light of life” during his Angelus address Dec. 17 on the third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday.

Observing this as the first lesson that we can learn from John the Baptist, the Holy Father told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican that the second is that “through service, consistency, humility, witness of life” we “can be a lamp that shines and helps others find the way on which to meet Jesus.”

Today’s message built upon the Holy Father’s Angelus message from the previous Sunday, where he highlighted John’s ministry as a voice that “is linked to the genuineness of his experience and the clarity of his heart.”

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Dec. 17, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 17, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Expanding on this observation, the pontiff noted that John’s mission is characterized by his “frank language” and is underscored by his “sincere behavior, his austerity of life.” Thus it is through his example that the Holy Father suggested we look to John the Baptist as a figure who “motivate[s] us to rise above mediocrity and to be in turn models of good living for others.”

Expanding upon this point, the pope noted that we can see John as a “luminous” figure not only because he is “upright, free, and courageous” but because he submitted himself to God’s will, to carry out a mission to pronounce the light that is “Jesus, the Lamb of God” who “redeems, frees, heals, and enlightens.”

To that end, the luminosity of John is not self-aggrandizing, but instead he is at the service of others, a voice “who accompanies his brothers and sisters to the Word; he serves without seeking honors or the spotlight.” In this way the pope encouraged the faithful to look at John as a counterpoint to “other famous and powerful people” who “invested a lot in appearances.”

Drawing a connection between the biblical context and today, the pope noted that “in every age the Lord sends men and women like this,” but he asked the faithful: “Do we know how to recognize them? Do we try to learn from their witness, allowing ourselves to be challenged? Or rather, do we allow ourselves to be bedazzled by fashionable people?”

Pilgrims gather in St. Peter's Square for Pope Francis' Angelus message on Dec. 17, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ Angelus message on Dec. 17, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

Following the recitation of the Angelus prayer, the Holy Father noted that on Saturday, Dec. 16, Argentine Cardinal Eduardo Francisco Pironio was beatified. The pope described Pironio as a “humble and zealous pastor, witness of hope, defender of the poor” who “collaborated with St. John Paul II in the promotion of the laity and in the World Youth Days.”

“May his example help us to be an outgoing Church, which becomes a traveling companion for everyone, especially the weakest,” the pope added.

The Mass of beatification was presided over by the 78-year-old Spanish Cardinal Vérgez Alzaga at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Luján in Argentina, where Pironio is buried.

Also after the Angelus the pope sharply condemned the reported killing of two women outside a Catholic church in Gaza City on Saturday, allegedly by an Israeli sniper.

“I continue to receive very serious and painful news from Gaza,” the pope lamented. “Unarmed civilians are subjected to bombings and shootings. And this even happened inside the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists but families, children, sick and disabled people, nuns.”

“Someone says, ‘It’s terrorism, it’s war.’ Yes, it’s war, it’s terrorism. This is why Scripture states that ‘God stops wars … breaks bows and breaks spears,’” the pope said. “Let us pray to the Lord for peace.”

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Pope Francis: Do not be afraid to suffer criticism or economic loss to be faithful to the Gospel

June 25, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
Pope Francis waves to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address on June 25, 2023. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has urged Christians not to be afraid of suffering criticism, economic loss, and persecution for being faithful to what the Church teaches.

“There is a cost to remain faithful to what counts. The cost is going against the tide, freeing oneself from being conditioned by popular opinion, being separated from those who ‘follow the current,’” Pope Francis said on June 25.

In his Sunday Angelus address, the pope underlined how Jesus’ words “do not be afraid” still apply today. He reflected in particular on Jesus’ warning in the Gospel of Matthew: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt. 10:28).

Pope Francis said: “It was like saying: You do not need so much to be afraid of suffering misunderstanding and criticism, of losing prestige and economic advantages to remain faithful to the Gospel, but of wasting your existence in the pursuit of trivial things that do not fill life with meaning.”

Pope Francis gives his Sunday Angelus address on June 25, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis gives his Sunday Angelus address on June 25, 2023. Vatican Media

The pope explained how Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid shortly after telling them about the persecutions that they would have to undergo for the Gospel, something, he noted, that still applies today.

“Since her beginning, in fact, the Church has experienced many persecutions, along with joys—of which there have been many. It seems paradoxical: the proclamation of the Kingdom of God is a message of peace and justice, founded on fraternal charity and on forgiveness; and yet it meets with opposition, violence, and persecution,” he said.

“Jesus, however, says not to fear, not because everything will be all right in the world, no, but because we are precious to his Father and nothing that is good will be lost.”

Pope Francis added that Jesus’ warning means that the only true fear one should have is of throwing one’s life away chasing things that do not ultimately matter.

“Even today, in fact, some are ridiculed or discriminated against for not following certain fads, which, however, place second-rate realities at the center – for example, to follow after things instead of people, achievement instead of relationships,” he said.

The pope gave the example of a priest or religious sister who dedicates his or her time to service, while forgetting to dedicate time to being with Jesus, falling into spiritual worldliness, or parents who spend all their time working to provide for their family without spending enough time with their children.

He added that young people can also get so caught up in sports, school, social media, and their cell phones that they focus too much of their time on “passing things.”

“All of this requires some renunciation regarding the idols of efficiency and consumerism. … Think of the least who are often treated like waste products and unwanted objects,” Pope Francis said.

“What matters is not to throw away the greatest good: life. This is the only thing that should frighten us,” he added.

After praying the Angelus prayer in Latin with the crowd gathered below in St. Peter’s Square, the pope gave a shoutout to volunteers with Radio Maria Italy who held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vatican Media
Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square held up a long banner inviting everyone to place themselves “under the mantle” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vatican Media

The pope said that he was saddened to learn of the prison riot in the Támara Women’s Penitentiary Center in Honduras earlier this week in which 46 inmates were killed.

“Terrible violence between rival gangs sowed death and suffering,” he said. “I pray for the deceased, I pray for the family members. May the Virgin of Suyapa, Mother of Honduras, help hearts open to reconciliation and make room for fraternal coexistence, even within prisons.”

Pope Francis also marked the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old girl who went missing in Rome on June 22, 1983, after leaving her home in Vatican City State.

“I would like to use this anniversary to express, once again, my closeness to the family members, especially her mother, and assure them of my prayers. I extend a remembrance to all families who bear the sorrow of a dear one who has disappeared,” he said.

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