St. Charbel mosaic blessed by Pope Francis installed in Vatican grottoes


Pope Francis blesses a mosaic of St. Charbel after his general audience Nov. 15, 2023, in St. Peter’s Square. / Credit: Vatican Media ACI Prensa Staff, Jan 19, 2024 / 18:30 pm (CNA). A mosaic of St. Charbel blessed by Pope Francis was installed this morning in the Vatican grottoes located beneath St. Peter’s Basilica.On Jan. 19, the vicar general of His Holiness for the Vatican City State and archpriest of the Vatican basilica, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, participated in placing the framed mosaic in the grotto where the papal tombs are located.After the installation of the mosaic, attended by Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, a Maronite-rite Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Hungarian chapel of the Vatican crypt by the Maronite patriarchal vicar to the Holy See, Bishop Rafik Warsha.The image of the Lebanese saint, who is revered in both East and West, was blessed by Pope Francis after the Nov. 15, 2023, general audience and was hung next to the tomb of St. Paul VI, the pontiff who declared him a saint on Oct. 9, 1977.This initiative was promoted by the Lebanese ambassador to the Holy See, Farid Elias Khazen, who explained to ACI Mena, CNA’s Arabic-language news partner, that the project was conceived a few years ago but it had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Khazen said the mosaic was made in the Fabric of St. Peter, an institution that maintains the basilica.“Cardenal Gambetti agreed to continue working on the project and decided that it would be the last mosaic placed in the basilica,” he noted.For Khazen, “it’s an event that happens once in history,” and because of it, “there is a Lebanese presence within the basilica.”Devotion to St. Charbel has spread within Lebanon but also beyond, including to very distant countries with very different cultures. There is particularly strong devotion to the saint in Mexico and other parts of South America.Devotion to the saint in Mexico is largely due to Maronite immigration to the country, which began in the 19th century, as well as the increase in miracles attributed to the intercession of the Lebanese saint.Coinciding with this event at the Vatican, the bells of Maronite churches in Lebanon rang this morning for five minutes and a Divine Liturgy was also celebrated at the saint’s tomb, located in St. Maron monastery in Lebanon.This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

St. Charbel mosaic blessed by Pope Francis installed in Vatican grottoes2024-01-20T12:56:36+08:00

Vatican prefect: Fiducia Supplicans draws ‘some negative reactions’ from Christian leaders


Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, speaks with EWTN Vatican Bureau Chief Andreas Thonhauser on Jan. 18, 2024. / Credit: EWTN Rome Newsroom, Jan 19, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA). Orthodox and other Christian leaders have raised concerns to the Vatican about its recent declaration allowing nonliturgical blessings of same-sex couples, according to a top cardinal in charge of ecumenical affairs.In an exclusive interview with EWTN and in separate comments to the Vatican’s news agency, Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, revealed that he has received negative reactions to the Dec. 18, 2023, declaration Fiducia Supplicans. Both interviews were conducted in connection with this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from Jan. 18–25.“I have received a long letter from all the Oriental Orthodox churches. They want to have some explanation and clarification about this document,” Koch told EWTN.In his interview with EWTN, which will be aired on Sunday, Jan. 21, on “Vaticano,” Koch further discussed the implications of the Orthodox churches’ reception of Fiducia Supplicans and how the issue of same-sex blessings has divided the Western churches.“We have a great division in the Anglican world, when the Church of England has introduced the possibility to have blessings for same-sex ... couples. They have a very strong opposition, above all in Africa,” the 73-year old Swiss prelate said, reflecting on the Church of England’s 2023 decision to permit the blessings of same-sex couples.The cardinal said he also spoke with Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest, of the Russian Orthodox Church, who expressed a “great shock when he read this document.”When asked what the next steps would be in this process of dialoguing with the churches, Koch noted that during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity there will be the International Mixed Commission between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox churches in Rome.“We have the plenary assembly of the Oriental Orthodox here in Rome just next week, and they have already announced that they can talk about these issues,” the Swiss prelate told EWTN.Koch also indicated that in light of the feedback he has received from the Orthodox churches, he wrote to Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, for clarification ahead of this meeting, in order “to have some explanations.”The plenary meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue is held between the Catholic Church and the 14 autocephalous, or “self-headed,” Orthodox churches and will be held Jan. 22–26.‘Some negative reactions’In a separate interview with the German section of Vatican News, Koch said that he had “received some negative reactions from the ecumenical world about Fiducia Supplicans.”​​Asked whether a reading of Fiducia Supplicans might “almost justify Eucharistic hospitality [the extension of the Eucharist to non-Catholics] under certain narrowly defined conditions,” Koch said: “I believe that in ecumenical dialogue we need to think about this anew: What is blessing, and what is the relationship between doctrine and pastoral care?”“These questions have

Vatican prefect: Fiducia Supplicans draws ‘some negative reactions’ from Christian leaders2024-01-20T12:56:34+08:00

Could Pope Francis become the first pope to visit Vietnam?


Pope Francis receives a delegation from Vietnam’s Communist Party government at the Vatican on Jan. 18, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media Rome Newsroom, Jan 18, 2024 / 15:13 pm (CNA). Vietnam has one of the largest Catholic populations among countries never visited by a pope. According to the Vatican’s foreign minister, Pope Francis is keen to visit the Southeast Asian country.Pope Francis received a delegation from Vietnam’s Communist Party government at the Vatican on Jan. 18. Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for relations with states, described the meeting as “very positive,” according to Reuters.The meeting comes amid a warming in Vatican-Vietnam relations after Vietnam agreed to allow the Vatican to send an official papal representative to live in the country and open an office in Hanoi.Gallagher said he thinks a papal trip to Vietnam will take place but added that “there are a few further steps to be taken before that would be appropriate.”“But I think the Holy Father is keen to go and certainly the Catholic community in Vietnam is very happy to want the Holy Father to go. I think it [a papal trip] would send a very good message to the region,” he said.Archbishop Paul Gallagher speaks with a delegation from Vietnam’s Communist Party government at the Vatican on Jan. 18, 2024. Credit: Vatican MediaVietnam is home to an estimated 7 million Catholics. An additional 700,000 Vietnamese Catholics live in the United States today, many of whom are refugees or descendants of refugees who fled by boat during the Vietnam War.Last month, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Marek Zalewski, a Polish Vatican diplomat, as the resident papal representative to Vietnam. Zalewski’s appointment was a historic step toward the possibility of someday establishing full diplomatic relations. Vietnam severed ties with the Holy See after the communist takeover of Saigon in 1975. With the new appointment, Vietnam is the only Asian communist country to have a resident papal envoy live in the country. Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang, the president of the Vietnamese bishops’ conference, called Zalewski’s appointment the “fruit of progress” of 14 years of dialogue through the “Vietnam-Vatican Joint Working Group.” Zalewski previously served as the Holy See’s nonresident papal representative to Vietnam when he was made the apostolic nuncio to Singapore in 2018.Gallagher shared that he has plans to visit Vietnam in April and that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin could also make a trip to the country later this year, which would be an historic high-level visit.The Catholic Church in Vietnam has also seen a rising number of religious vocations in recent years. The country has 8,000 priests and 41 bishops, according to government data. More than 2,800 seminarians were studying for the priesthood across Vietnam in 2020, 100 times more than in Ireland. More than 20,000 Vietnamese Catholics attended a Mass last Saturday in the Diocese of Phan Thiet, according to Asia News, to mark the opening of the cause of beatification of Monsignor Pierre Lambert de la Motte, a 17th-century French missionary who was the first bishop

Could Pope Francis become the first pope to visit Vietnam?2024-01-19T12:02:04+08:00

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity commemorates historic meeting of two lungs of the Church


Pope Paul VI meets Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I at his residence of the apostolic delegation on Jan. 5, 1964. The meeting between the two church leaders ended a 900-year standoff between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. / Credit: EPU FILES/AFP via Getty Images Rome Newsroom, Jan 18, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA). The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated by Catholics and other Christians worldwide from Jan. 18–25.The theme for 2024, “You shall love the Lord your God ... and your neighbor as yourself,” is taken from the Gospel of Luke and selected by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, and the ecumenical community of Chemin Neuf in Burkina Faso. Each day of the weeklong celebration is centered on different Scripture readings and meditations, which can be found on the website of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. Other material prepared for the weeklong celebration includes the text for an ecumenical service, a historical overview, and key dates in ecumenical relations since the launch of the project. The internationally observed effort first started in 1908 under the leadership of Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, the founder of an Anglican religious community and later a convert to Catholicism. It was initially called the Octave of Christian Unity, with the approval of Pope Pius X, and was subsequently promoted by Pope Benedict XV. The octave is celebrated from Jan. 18–25 in the Northern Hemisphere and is typically observed around the feast of Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere.This year’s celebration also marks the 60th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in 1964. That was the first formal meeting of a pope and ecumenical patriarch since 1438, marking a paradigm shift in the ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. On the 60th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras I, we recall the landmark encounter through several images and the voice of the Holy Father.Watch now:— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) January 4, 2024 In 1965, the two leaders met in Rome, where they published the “Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I,” lifting the mutual excommunication between the churches from 1054. The document stated: “They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences of excommunication which followed these events, the memory of which has influenced actions up to our day and has hindered closer relations in charity.” On Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, Pope Francis in his Angelus reflection said the anniversary marked a turning point in ecumenical relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which broke “a wall of incommunicability that for centuries had kept Catholics and Orthodox apart.” The pope added: “And thinking of that historic gesture of fraternity in Jerusalem, let us pray

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity commemorates historic meeting of two lungs of the Church2024-01-19T00:01:16+08:00

Pope: World Economic Forum meeting an opportunity to find ‘ways to build a better world’


Pope Francis delivers a speech to all of the world’s ambassadors to the Vatican on Jan. 8, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media Rome Newsroom, Jan 17, 2024 / 15:30 pm (CNA). On the occasion of the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pope Francis sent a letter to the group’s leader to express his hope that it will be an opportunity to find “ways to build a better world.” The pope’s Jan. 17 letter, addressed to the organization’s chairperson, Klaus Schwab, comes against the backdrop of what the pontiff described as an “increasingly lacerated world” and a “troubling climate of international instability.”The letter opened with the pope’s characterization of modern wars, which “no longer take place only on clearly defined battlefields, nor do they involve soldiers alone.” “In a context where it appears that the distinction between military and civil targets is no longer respected, there is no conflict that does not end up in some way indiscriminately striking the civilian population,” the pope wrote in his letter, quoting from his Jan. 8 address to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See.The pope noted that the cessation of armed conflict “calls for more than simply setting aside the instruments of war. It demands addressing the injustices that are the root causes of conflict.” Francis’ letter touched upon many of the core themes of his pontificate, including the climate crisis, global food scarcity, economic inequality, and the exploitation of laborers in developing countries. “The exploitation of natural resources continues to enrich a few while leaving entire populations, who are the natural beneficiaries of these resources, in a state of destitution and poverty,” Francis wrote. The pope’s letter went on to also highlight the massive social changes brought about by the globalization of financial markets, which has “demonstrated the interdependence of the world’s nations and peoples.” The Holy Father appealed for a “fundamentally moral dimension” that “must make itself felt in the economic, cultural, political, and religious discussions that aim to shape the future of the international community.”Speaking to the importance of harmonizing state policy and business practices to arrive at more sustainable models of growth and economic development, the pope reiterated that these new economic paradigms must be “farsighted” and “ethically sound,” which “by their very nature must entail subordinating the pursuit of power and individual gain, be it political or economic, to the common good of our human family, giving priority to the poor, the needy, and those in the most vulnerable situations.” Pope Francis also emphasized the role nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) play as critical stakeholders in advancing social and economic development.The Holy Father wrote that they must be free “to exercise their functions of control and guidance in the economic sector, since the achievement of the common good is an objective beyond the reach of individual states, even those that are dominant in terms of power, wealth, and political strength.” “International organizations are also challenged to ensure the achievement of that equality, which is the basis of

Pope: World Economic Forum meeting an opportunity to find ‘ways to build a better world’2024-01-18T16:11:10+08:00

Pope Francis: ‘In Christianity, there is no condemnation of the sexual instinct’


Pope Francis gives a blessing at his general audience on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media Rome Newsroom, Jan 17, 2024 / 09:12 am (CNA). In a continuation of his catechetical series on vice and virtue, Pope Francis on Wednesday dedicated his general audience to highlighting the difference between love and lust, arguing that “in Christianity, there is no condemnation of the sexual instinct.” Centering his reflection on the “human experience,” the pope drew upon the Song of Songs, also referred to as the Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Solomon, which he called a “wonderful poem of love between two lovers” that reveals falling in love “is one of the most astonishing realities of existence.” The pope observed that in this process there is an altruistic factor in which “a person in love becomes generous, enjoys giving gifts, writes letters and poems. He stops thinking of himself to be completely focused on the other.” “To love is to respect the other, to seek his or her happiness, to cultivate empathy for his or her feelings, to dispose oneself in the knowledge of a body, a psychology, and a soul that are not our own, and that must be contemplated for the beauty they bear,” the pope said to the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican MediaThe Holy Father noted, however, that this notion of love requires “patience,” especially if it is “naive,” whereby “the lover does not truly know the face of the other, they tend to idealize them, they are ready to make promises whose weight they do not immediately grasp.” The pope said that while “falling in love is one of the purest feelings” there is the risk that it could be “polluted by vice.”“This ‘garden’ where wonders are multiplied is not, however, safe from evil” as it has been “defiled by the demon of lust,” a vice that is “particularly odious” because it “destroys relationships between people,” Francis said. Reflecting on the modern paradigm of dating and romance, the pope asked: “How many relationships that began in the best of ways have then turned into toxic relationships, of possession of the other, lacking respect and a sense of limits?”  “These are loves in which chastity has been missing: a virtue not to be confused with sexual abstinence, but rather with the will never to possess the other,” the Holy Father continued. “It plunders, it robs, it consumes in haste, it does not want to listen to the other but only to its own need and pleasure. Lust judges every courtship a bore, it does not seek that synthesis between reason, drive, and feeling that would help us to conduct existence wisely.”Pope Francis blesses a newly married couple during his general audience on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican. Credit:

Pope Francis: ‘In Christianity, there is no condemnation of the sexual instinct’2024-01-18T00:01:12+08:00

Pope Francis to hold private Lenten retreat for fifth consecutive year


Pope Francis takes part in the Roman Curia’s Lenten retreat in Ariccia, Italy, on March 6-10, 2016. / Credit: Vatican Media Rome Newsroom, Jan 16, 2024 / 13:48 pm (CNA). Pope Francis and the Roman Curia will take their traditional Lenten retreats separately and not as an organized group for another year, the Holy See Press Office announced on Tuesday morning. For the fifth consecutive year the joint retreat between the Holy Father and the Curia has been canceled. Curial officials will make their own retreat arrangements to commence the 40-day penitential season of Lent.The tradition of a weeklong papal retreat dates back to the pontificate of Pius XI. It was first held in 1925 during the season of Advent. In 1964 Pope Paul VI changed the date of the retreat to the first week in Lent. In 2014 Pope Francis changed the location of the tradition from the Vatican to the town of Ariccia, which sits in the Alban Hills, 20 miles southwest of Rome.This year’s retreat will start on the first Sunday of Lent, Feb. 18, following the recitation of the Angelus at noon. It will conclude the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 23. As in the past, the Holy Father’s regular activities are fully suspended during the retreat, including the Wednesday general audience, which would have been held on Feb. 21. In 2020 the Holy See Press Office announced that the pope had withdrawn from the retreat due to a lingering cold. In 2021 and 2022 the retreat for the pope and curial officials was held separately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retreat was also private in 2023.This year’s private retreat comes after a year of tumultuous health issues for the pontiff.In March 2023 the pope spent four days at Rome’s Gemelli hospital after suffering from a respiratory infection. Several months later Francis underwent a three-hour abdominal surgery to correct an incisional hernia and spent nine days in postoperative recovery before being released on June 16. In November 2023, meanwhile, Francis suffered from what the Holy Father described as “very acute infectious bronchitis.” At the behest of his doctors, the pope canceled his highly anticipated December trip to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai due to that infection.

Pope Francis to hold private Lenten retreat for fifth consecutive year2024-01-17T12:01:27+08:00

Pope Francis responds to resistance to Fiducia Supplicans: ‘The Lord blesses everyone’


Pope Francis speaks at a meeting with priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on Jan. 13, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media Rome Newsroom, Jan 15, 2024 / 09:37 am (CNA). Pope Francis responded publicly to questions about the Vatican’s declaration on blessings for same-sex couples for the first time in a television interview on Sunday night. In an appearance on an Italian talk show on Jan. 14, the 87-year-old pope was asked if he “felt alone” after the publication of Fiducia Supplicans was met with some resistance.“Sometimes decisions are not accepted,” Pope Francis replied. “But in most cases, when you don’t accept a decision, it’s because you don’t understand.”The pope underlined that “the Lord blesses everyone” and that a blessing is an invitation to enter into a conversation “to see what the road is that the Lord proposes to them.”“The Lord blesses everyone who is capable of being baptized, that is, every person,” Francis repeated. “But we are to take them by the hand and help them go down that road, not condemn them from the beginning,” he added. “And this is the pastoral work of the Church. This is very important work for confessors.”The Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s Dec. 18 declaration made it permissible for priests to offer nonliturgical blessings for couples in “irregular” situations, including same-sex couples, noting “that it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings.”Following widespread backlash from bishops’ conferences in Africa and Eastern Europe, and strong denouncements from some of the Church’s senior prelates, the Vatican’s doctrine office issued a five-page press release on Jan. 4 to provide clarification on the document, writing that its application will depend “on local contexts and the discernment of each diocesan bishop with his diocese.”Speaking to the Italian program “Che Tempo Che Fa” via video link from his Vatican City residence, the pope said that when someone disagrees with a decision, they should express their concerns in “a fraternal discussion.”“The danger is when I don’t like something and I set it in my heart, I become a resistance and come to ugly conclusions,” Pope Francis said. “This has happened with this last decision about blessing everyone.”Pope Francis also responded to questions about the declaration on same-sex blessings during a closed-door meeting with 800 priests from the Diocese of Rome in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on Saturday morning. According to the Vatican-owned media outlet Vatican News, the pope said that the Church’s doctrine on the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman has not changed and that “people are blessed, not sin.”Other Italian media outlets, including the Italian news channel Sky TG24, reported that Pope Francis told the priests that an LGBT organization cannot be blessed, but people can always be blessed and that the declaration will not be implemented in Africa “because the culture does not accept it.”Cardinal Angelo De Donatis,

Pope Francis responds to resistance to Fiducia Supplicans: ‘The Lord blesses everyone’2024-01-16T12:06:03+08:00

Pope Francis: ‘I like to think of hell as empty’


Pope Francis appearing on Che Tempo Che Fa on Jan. 14/ / NOVE Rome Newsroom, Jan 15, 2024 / 13:05 pm (CNA). Pope Francis appeared on Italy’s most popular prime-time talk show on Sunday night where the pontiff shared how he hopes that hell is “empty.”Three million people in Italy tuned in to watch the nearly hourlong television interview with Pope Francis on Jan. 14 in which the pope responded to resistance to the recent Vatican declaration on same-sex blessings, previewed prospective papal trips to Polynesia and Argentina, and spoke of his fear of nuclear armageddon.The 87-year-old pope began his appearance on the television show “Che Tempo Che Fa” by joking that he is “still alive” and has no plans to resign.“For as long as I feel I still have the capacity to serve, I will go on. When I can no longer do it, it will be time to think about it,” Francis said.Hell as ‘empty’?When asked by the interviewer, Fabio Fazio, how he “imagines hell,” Pope Francis gave a short response.“What I am going to say is not a dogma of faith but my own personal view: I like to think of hell as empty; I hope it is,” Pope Francis said.The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Catholic teaching “affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.”The catechism also says: “In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved.’”Theologians like Hans Urs von Balthasar in his book “Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?” have put forward the possibility that one could “hope” that hell might be empty because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, making the distinction between universal salvation as a hope and universal salvation as a doctrine, which he rejects.American Catholic evangelist Ralph Martin wrote in his 2012 book “Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” that “what motivated the Apostles and the whole history of Christian missions was knowing from divine revelation that the human race is lost, eternally lost, without Christ, and even though it is possible for people to be saved under certain stringent conditions without explicit faith and baptism, ‘very often,’ this is not actually the case.”Pope Francis has previously spoken about the existence of hell in public speeches during the past 10 years of his pontificate. In March 2014 he said in an address that members of the Mafia should change their lives “while there is still time, so that you do not end up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path.”A long-awaited trip to Argentina?In the interview, Pope Francis also confirmed

Pope Francis: ‘I like to think of hell as empty’2024-01-16T12:06:03+08:00

Pope Francis: ‘War itself is a crime against humanity’


Pope Francis appears in the window of the Apostolic Palace to give his Sunday Angelus address on Jan. 14, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media Vatican City, Jan 14, 2024 / 08:45 am (CNA). Pope Francis made a strong appeal for peace on Sunday calling modern warfare “a crime against humanity” that sows death among civilians and destroys cities.Speaking at the end of his Angelus address on Jan. 14, the pope urged people to pray for all who are suffering due to “the cruelty of war,” especially in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel.“We pray that those who have power over these conflicts will reflect that war is not the way to resolve them because it sows death among civilians and destroys cities and infrastructure. In other words, war today is in itself a crime against humanity,” Pope Francis said.“Let’s not forget this: War itself is a crime against humanity. People need peace. The world needs peace.”The pope shared how he was moved by a testimony by a Franciscan priest in the Holy Land on a television program on Sunday morning.He said that he had seen Father Ibrahim Faltas, an Egyptian priest who serves as vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, speaking on the Italian television show “A Sua Immagine” (“In His image”) about the importance of “education for peace.”Pope Francis added that all of humanity is in need of “an education to stop every war.”“Let us always pray for this grace: to educate for peace,” he said.During his Angelus address, the 87-year-old pope appeared energetic and read his entire speech without assistance — two days after saying in one of his audiences late last week that he had “a bit of bronchitis.”Pope Francis speaks from the window of the Apostolic Palace during his Angelus address on Jan. 14, 2024. Credit: Vatican MediaIn his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope spoke about Jesus’ first encounter with his disciples and encouraged everyone to try to think of when they had their first personal encounter with the Lord. “Each one of us has had a first encounter with Jesus — as a child, as an adolescent, as a young person, as an adult,” he said. “When did I encounter Jesus for the first time? Try to remember this.”“And after this thought, this memory, renew the joy of following him and to ask ourselves … What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?”The crowd in St. Peter's Square for the pope's Angelus address on Jan. 14, 2024. Credit: Vatican MediaPope Francis underlined that being a disciple of Jesus requires three things: “to seek Jesus, to remain with Jesus, and to proclaim Jesus.”“In short, faith is not a theory; it is an encounter,” he said. “And let us ask ourselves: Are we still disciples in love with the Lord? Do we seek the Lord or do we settle into a faith made up of habits? Do we stay with him in prayer? Do we know how to stay in silence with him? …

Pope Francis: ‘War itself is a crime against humanity’2024-01-15T00:01:11+08:00