Vatican News

U.S. Catholic media must inspire unity amid division, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis is seen in a file photo making a point. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See CMC-VIRTUAL-POPE June 30, 2020.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic media outlets in the United States are called to break down barriers that prevent dialogue and honest communication between people and communities, Pope Francis said.

The national motto "e pluribus unum" ("out of many, one") can serve as an inspiration of the ideal of unity amid diversity "in an age marked by conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune," the pope said in a June 30 message sent to participants of the Catholic Media Conference.

The church, he added, needs "men and women of conviction who protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes."

"We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home," he said.

The annual event, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association, was originally scheduled for June 29-July 2 in Portland, Oregon. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers opted to hold a virtual gathering for participants.

Reflecting on the conference's theme -- "Together While Apart" -- the pope said it expressed the "sense of togetherness that emerged, paradoxically, from the experience of social distancing imposed by the pandemic."

"Indeed, the experience of these past months has shown how essential is the mission of the communications media for bringing people together, shortening distances, providing necessary information and opening minds and hearts to truth," he said.

Since the establishment of the first Catholic newspapers in the United States, the pope said, local communities have relied on the ever-expanding forms of media "to share, to communicate, to inform and to unite."

True communicators, he added, are called dedicate themselves completely "to the welfare of others, at every level, from the life of each individual to the life of the entire human family."

"We cannot truly communicate unless we become personally involved, unless we can personally attest to the truth of the message we convey," the pope said. "All communication has its ultimate source in the life of the triune God, who shares with us the richness of his divine life and calls us in turn to communicate that treasure to others by our unity in the service of his truth."

Pope Francis encouraged conference participants to continue their work and said the Holy Spirit's gifts of "wisdom, understanding and good counsel" allow people to see "those who suffer and to seek the true good of all."

While the world may only see conflict and division, members of the Catholic media in the United States should remain focused on those who suffer and "give voice to the plea of our brothers and sisters in need of mercy and understanding."

"Only with that gaze can we effectively work to overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference that disfigure the face of our common family," the pope said.

"Where our world all too readily speaks with adjectives and adverbs, may Christian communicators speak with nouns that acknowledge and advance the quiet claims of truth and promote human dignity," he said.

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Editors: The pope's message can be found at

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Pope asks prayers for Syria, Yemen, Ukraine

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Reuters

A woman and children walk along a street affected by heavy rainfall and flooding in Lanchyn, Ukraine, June 25, 2020. During his June 28 Angelus at the Vatican, Pope Francis asked people to remember the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen, and he offered prayers to the thousands of people in western Ukraine suffering the effects of flooding. (CNS photo/Reuters) See POPE-SYRIA-YEMEN-UKRAINE June 29, 2020.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, Pope Francis asked people to also remember the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen, and he offered prayers to the thousands of people in western Ukraine suffering the effects of violent flooding.

After reciting the Angelus prayer June 28 with visitors in St. Peter's Square, the pope noted that June 30, the European Union and the United Nations were to hold their fourth conference on "supporting the future of Syria and the region."

Because of the pandemic, the conference was to be held virtually. A statement from the EU said that "with the conflict entering its 10th year, the situation in Syria and the region remains highly critical: the dire humanitarian situation, with millions of Syrians internally displaced and having sought refuge in Syria's neighboring countries, is now being further compounded by the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic."

Pope Francis asked Catholics to "pray for this important meeting, so that it may improve the dramatic situation of the Syrian people and neighboring peoples, particularly Lebanon, in the context of serious sociopolitical and economic crises that have been made even more difficult by the pandemic."

"Think of the fact that there are small children who are hungry, who do not have anything to eat," the pope said. "Please, may the leaders be capable of making peace."

The other dire situation in the region is Yemen, which has been locked in civil strife for five years. The U.N. defines the situation in the country as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," with some 80 percent of the population relying on humanitarian aid -- which is slowing because of the pandemic -- and millions of children suffering malnutrition and the threat of starvation.

Pope Francis asked "everyone to pray for the population of Yemen, especially the children, who are suffering as a result of the very serious humanitarian crisis."

He also asked people to pray "for those affected by the severe floods in western Ukraine; may they experience the comfort of the Lord and the help of their brothers and sisters."

Heavy rainfall June 22-23 led to extensive flooding; three people died, hundreds were left homeless, roads and bridges were washed out and farmers' crops were swept away.


Pope at pallium Mass: World needs to pray more, complain less

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis places a pallium on Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, as he celebrates Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-PALLIUM-MASS-ANGELUS June 29, 2020.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Some people always will want to destroy unity and stifle prophets, Pope Francis said on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

And yet, Jesus challenges everyone to be -- like Peter -- a rock for building a renewed church and renewed humanity, and -- like Paul -- a missionary who brings the Gospel to others, he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica June 29.

People also need to complain less and pray more, especially for those who govern, the pope said.

People must ask themselves whether they "simply talk and do nothing" because God wants people to pray and "be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive."

The feast day celebration in St. Peter's Basilica was markedly different from other years because of ongoing restrictions in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Normally archbishops appointed over the course of the previous year would have been invited to concelebrate the feast day Mass with the pope and watch as he blessed their palliums, woolen bands worn around their shoulders.

The 54 archbishops from 33 different countries who were named over the past 12 months included: Archbishops Paul D. Etienne of Seattle; Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia; Andrew E. Bellisario of Anchorage-Juneau, Alaska; Mitchell T. Rozanski of St. Louis; Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta; Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa-Cornwall, Ontario; and Patrick M. O'Regan of Adelaide, Australia. 

But the archbishops were not there. Instead, a congregation of about 90 people attended the Mass concelebrated by the pope, nine of the 11 cardinal-bishops resident in Rome and the archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri.

While the actual imposition of the pallium was to take place in each archbishop's archdiocese, Pope Francis did place a pallium on Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the new dean of the College of Cardinals. Conferring a pallium on a new dean was a custom begun by St. John Paul II.

The pallium symbolizes an archbishop's unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him. The pope blessed the palliums after they were brought up from the crypt above the tomb of St. Peter.

In his homily, the pope said Sts. Peter and Paul demonstrate unity in diversity; they were two very different individuals, who sometimes argued heatedly, but they saw one another as brothers, united by Jesus.

Jesus "did not command us to like one another, but to love one another," the pope said. "He is the one who unites us, without making us all alike."

When the early church faced fierce persecution, the pope said, "no one ran away, no one thought about saving his own skin, no one abandoned the others, but all joined in prayer," which created "a unity more powerful than any threat."

They also prayed instead of complaining about the injustice they faced, the pope added.

"It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right," he said. "Complaints change nothing."

"Are we protecting our unity with prayer, the unity of the church?" the pope suggested people ask themselves. "Are we praying for one another? What would happen if we prayed more and complained less?"

The answer, he said, is what happened to Peter in prison: closed doors open and chains break.

The pope asked people to pray for everyone, especially those who govern.

"God will judge them, but we should pray for those who govern. Pray. They need prayers. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. Are we carrying it out? Or do we simply talk, insult them and that's all?" he said.

The feast day also highlights the importance of prophecy, which is "born whenever we allow ourselves to be challenged by God, not when we are concerned to keep everything quiet and under control," Pope Francis said.

"Today the world needs real prophecy, not fast talkers who promise the impossible, but testimonies that the Gospel is possible," he said.

"What is needed are not miraculous shows," he said, "but lives that show the miracle of God's love. Not forcefulness, but forthrightness."

The world needs "not speeches, but service. Not theory, but testimony," he said. "We are not to become rich, but rather to love the poor. We are not to save up for ourselves, but to spend ourselves for others. To seek not the approval of this world, but the joy of the world to come. Not better pastoral plans, but pastors who offer their lives -- lovers of God."

Before the Mass, the pope had spent a few minutes alone praying in the crypt above St. Peter's tomb. Customarily, he would have been joined by the head of a delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, but "it was not possible because of the pandemic," the pope said after praying the Angelus.

"Spiritually I send an embrace to dear brother Patriarch Bartholomew, in the hope that our mutual visits may resume as soon as possible," the pope said.

During his Angelus address, the pope said Jesus called Simon, "Peter" or "rock," not because he was a "solid and trustworthy man. No, he made many mistakes," even denying Jesus.

Peter is the rock because "he chose to build his life on Jesus," not on himself, the pope said. "Jesus is the rock on which Simon became stone." 

St. Peter became a hero "because he gave his life here. His gift transformed a place of execution into the beautiful place of hope in which we find ourselves," the pope said to the sparse crowd spread out in St. Peter's Square.  

No true love without the cross, pope says at Angelus

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from his window at the Vatican June 29, 2020, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. At his June 28 Angelus, the pope said in order to follow Christ's call to take up the cross and follow him, Christians must take the same path he did "without looking for shortcuts." (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters) See POPE-ANGELUS-GRATITUDE June 29, 2020.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- True love is not defined by preserving one's personal interests but by willingness to sacrifice oneself for the good of others, Pope Francis said.

In order to follow Christ's call to take up the cross and follow him, Christians must take the same path he did "without looking for shortcuts," the pope said June 28 before praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

"There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay," he said. "And when borne with Jesus, the cross is not scary because he is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage. Nor is it necessary to get agitated to preserve one's own life through fearful or egotistical behavior."

In his address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples that whoever loves father, mother, son or daughter "more than me is not worthy of me."

Whoever "does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it," Jesus said.

The pope said that Christ's words are a call for his disciples "to take the demands of the Gospel seriously, even when that requires sacrifice and effort."

Jesus' words of caution to those who love their families more than him are not meant "to undervalue love for parents and children," but instead serve as a warning that family ties, "if put in first place, can deviate from the true good."

"We see this (when) some forms of corruption in governments come about precisely because love for the family is greater than love for one's country and so they place family members in office," he said.

Instead, when love for parents or children is "inspired and purified" by one's love for Jesus, "it then becomes totally fruitful and produces fruit for the good of the family itself as well as beyond it," the pope said.

The "Gospel paradox" of losing one's life to find it, he added, can be seen today in the many people who sacrificed themselves "to help others who are in need in this pandemic."

Pope Francis recalled the story of a priest who was moved by a child in his parish who gave him the little bit of money he saved up "for the poor, for those who are in need because of the pandemic."

The consequence of generously giving one's life for others, he said, "is a contagious gratitude that helps every one of us to be grateful toward those who take care of our needs."

"Gratitude, appreciation is, first of all, good manners, but it is also characteristic of a Christian," the pope said. "It is a simple but genuine sign of the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of gratuitous and grateful love."

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