Vatican News

Pope denounces increasing violence against Jewish people

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 13, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-AUDIENCE-JEWS Nov. 13, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis warned that violence against Jewish people, which reached a state of horror during World War II, is on the rise again.

During his weekly general audience Nov. 13, the pope reflected on the lives of Priscilla and Aquila, a first-century married couple who accompanied St. Paul in his ministry and were among the Jews expelled from Rome by Claudius Caesar.

Departing from his prepared remarks, the pope said that the world has "seen so many brutalities done against the Jewish people, and we were convinced that this was over."

"But today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn," he said. "Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?"

The pope's warning came as more countries have reported an escalation in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism across Europe.

In Denmark and Sweden, neo-Nazi groups coordinated acts of vandalism Nov. 10, placing yellow stars inscribed with the German word "Jude" ("Jew") on Jewish gravestones, homes and businesses, the Times of Israel reported.

During the Holocaust, the Nazi regime forced Jewish men, women and children to wear yellow stars on their clothing.

The attacks coincided with the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), when more than 1,400 synagogues, prayer halls and thousands of Jewish shops, apartments and cemeteries were destroyed.

The 2018 Hate Crime Statistics, released Nov. 12 by the FBI, reported that of the 1,617 victims of anti-religious hate crimes reported in the United States, "56.9 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders' anti-Jewish bias."

In his main audience talk, the pope continued his series on the Acts of the Apostles, recalling the important role played by Priscilla and Aquila in the early beginnings of the church.

Following their expulsion from Rome, the Jewish couple settled in Corinth where they met St. Paul and welcomed him into their home. Priscilla and Aquila also accompanied the apostle on his travels to Syria.

Pope Francis said that among all of St. Paul's collaborators, Priscilla and Aquila "emerge as models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community."

The couple, he added, serve as a reminder that "thanks to the faith and commitment to evangelization by so many laypeople like them, Christianity has come to us."

"Let us ask the Father, who has chosen to make of this couple his 'true, living sculpture,' to pour out his Spirit on all Christian couples so that, following the example of Aquila and Priscilla, they may open the doors of their hearts to Christ and their brothers and sisters and transform their homes into domestic churches where they can live a life of faith, hope and charity in fellowship and worship," the pope said.

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Don't join devil's game of jealousy, pope says at Mass

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Vatican Media

Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican Nov. 12, 2019. In his homily, the pope said the devil is jealous and tries everything he can to destroy humanity. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-MASS-DEVIL Nov. 12, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is real and is so jealous of Jesus and the salvation Jesus offers that he tries everything he can to divide people and make them attack each other, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass in the chapel of his residence Nov. 12, the pope preached about the day's first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which says: "God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world."

"Some people say, 'But, Father, the devil doesn't exist,'" the pope told the small congregation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "But the word of God is clear."

The devil's envy, which the Book of Wisdom cites, is the root of all his efforts to get people to hate and kill one another. But his first steps, the pope said, are to sow "jealousy, envy and competition" instead of allow people to enjoy brotherhood and peace.

Some people will say, "'But, Father, I don't destroy anyone.' No? And your gossiping? When you speak ill of another? You destroy that person," the pope said.

Someone else might say, "But, Father, I've been baptized. I'm a practicing Catholic, how's it possible that I could become an assassin?"

The answer to that is that "we have war inside of us," the pope said.

Pointing to the beginning of Genesis, he noted that "Cain and Abel were brothers, but out of jealousy, envy, one destroyed the other." And even today, he said, just turn on the TV news and you see wars, destruction and people dying either because of hatred or because others are too selfish to help.

"Behind all this, there is someone who moves us to do these things. It's what we call temptation," he said. "Someone is touching your heart to make you follow the wrong path, someone who sows destruction in our hearts, who sows hatred."

Pope Francis said he cannot help wondering why countries spend so much money on weapons and waging war when that money can be used to feed children at risk of dying of hunger or to bring clean water, education and health care to everyone.

What is happening in the world, he said, happens also "in my soul and in yours" because of the "devil's seeds of envy" sown abundantly.

Pope Francis asked the people at Mass with him to pray for an increased faith in Jesus, who became human to battle and to defeat the devil, and for the strength "to not join the game of this great envier, the great liar, the sower of hate."


Evangelization must take culture seriously, pope says at award ceremony

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Vatican Media

Pope Francis presents the Ratzinger prize to Jesuit Father Paul Bere during a ceremony at the Vatican Nov. 9, 2019. Father Bere and philosopher Charles Taylor were chosen as prize winners by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-RATZINGER-PRIZE Nov. 11, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Giving the Ratzinger prize to a philosopher from Canada and a Scripture scholar from Burkina Faso, Pope Francis said they demonstrate that "in the variety of cultures, diverse across time and space, one can and should always seek the way to God and the encounter with Christ."

Pope Francis presented the awards Nov. 9 to Charles Taylor, a philosopher who has focused much of his work on secularism, and to Jesuit Father Paul Bere, who is known particularly for his contributions to developing an African theology.

The prize winners were chosen by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation, which was established in 2010 to support theological research and to promote studies on the theology and teaching of the retired pope.

Pope Francis used the prize presentation ceremony to express his "esteem and affection for my predecessor" and to thank him for "his teaching and for his exemplary service to the church, demonstrated by his reflections, his thought and study, his listening, dialogue and prayer."

The retired pope's aim as a theologian and pastor, he said, "was that we might consciously retain a lively faith despite the changing times and situations and that believers could give an account of their faith in a language that can be understood by their contemporaries, entering into dialogue with them, together seeking pathways of authentic encounter with God in our time."

As a professor and pope, he "never closed himself off in a disembodied culture of pure concepts but gave us the example of seeking truth where reason and faith, intelligence and spirituality are constantly integrated," Pope Francis said.

Theology must "be and remain in active dialogue with cultures, even as they change over time and evolve differently in various parts of the world," the pope said. That dialogue with cultures is necessary to keep the Christian faith vital and to make evangelization effective.

Taylor, the pope said, has looked at the cultural phenomenon of secularization with a "breadth of vision" few others have achieved. "We are indebted to him for the profound manner in which he has treated the problem, carefully analyzing the development of Western culture, the movements of the human mind and heart over time, identifying the characteristics of modernity in their complex relationships, in their shadows and lights."

Taylor's work "allows us to deal with Western secularization in a way that is neither superficial nor given to fatalistic discouragement," Pope Francis said. "This is needed not only for a reflection on contemporary culture, but also for an in-depth dialogue and discernment in order to adopt the spiritual attitudes suitable for living, witnessing, expressing and proclaiming the faith in our time."

He said Father Bere has worked for a "true African inculturation of the Christian message" by, for example, "his work on the interpretation of Old Testament texts in a context of oral culture, thus bringing to fruition the experience of African culture."

"In the first centuries of Christianity, northern Africa gave the church great figures -- Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine -- but the spread of Islam followed by centuries of colonialism prevented a true African inculturation of the Christian message until the second half of the last century," Pope Francis said.

He thanked Father Bere and other African scholars for their commitment to inculturating the faith in Africa.


Economy lacking ethics leads to 'throwaway' culture, pope says

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Akhtar Soomro, Reuters

A man in Karachi, Pakistan, retrieves circuit boards from discarded computer monitors Aug. 16, 2017. An economic system lacking any ethics leads to a "throwaway" culture of consumption and waste, Pope Francis said in a speech addressed to members of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism during an audience at the Vatican Nov. 11. (CNS photo/Akhtar Soomro, Reuters) See POPE-CAPITALISM-ECONOMY Nov. 11, 2019.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- An economic system lacking any ethics leads to a "throwaway" culture of consumption and waste, Pope Francis said.

"An economic system that is fair, trustworthy and capable of addressing the most profound challenges facing humanity and our planet is urgently needed," he said in a speech addressed to members of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism during an audience at the Vatican Nov. 11.

The council was created after the Fortune-Time Global Forum, which was held in Rome in 2016 and included a meeting with the pope. Dozens of CEOs from major global corporations attended the forum, where they agreed to specific actions addressing different economic and social problems around the world.

The pope thanked the new council for taking up "the challenge of realizing the vision of the forum by seeking ways to make capitalism become a more inclusive instrument for integral human well-being."

"This entails overcoming an economy of exclusion and reducing the gap separating the majority of people from the prosperity enjoyed by the few," he said.

"A glance at recent history, in particular the financial crisis of 2008, shows us that a healthy economic system cannot be based on short-term profit at the expense of long-term productive, sustainable and socially responsible development and investment," the pope said.

Business is a noble vocation as it creates jobs and prosperity and can improve the world, he said. However, "authentic development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone but must foster the growth of each person and of the whole person."

"This means more than balancing budgets, improving infrastructures or offering a wider variety of consumer goods," he said. It also includes "a renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models based on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need."

An economic system that is completely detached from ethical concerns does not create "a more just social order but leads instead to a 'throwaway' culture of consumption and waste," he said.

"On the other hand," the pope said, "when we recognize the moral dimension of economic life, which is one of the many aspects of Catholic social doctrine that must be integrally respected, we are able to act with fraternal charity, desiring, seeking and protecting the good of others and their integral development."

Pope Francis noted that members of the council hope to increase opportunities and benefits for all people.

"In the end, it is not simply a matter of 'having more,' but 'being more,'" which demands "a fundamental renewal of hearts and minds so that the human person may always be placed at the center of social, cultural and economic life."

"Your presence here is thus a sign of hope, because you have recognized the issues our world is facing and the imperative to act decisively in order to build a better future," he said.

He thanked the members for their commitment to fostering "a more just and humane economy, in line with the core principles of the social doctrine of the church."

"An inclusive capitalism that leaves no one behind, that discards none of our brothers or sisters, is a noble aspiration, worthy of your best efforts," he added.

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