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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis commissioned hundreds of “Missionaries of Mercy” during Mass on Ash Wednesday at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.In his Bull announcing the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Holy Father said the Missionaries of Mercy “would be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.” Priests chosen to be Missionaries of Mercy have also been given the authority to pardon “even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Above all, the Pope said, they will be “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”During Ash Wednesday Mass, the Pope focused on the theme of mercy as we begin the season of Lent.In his homily during the Mass, Pope Francis said the day’s readings present two invitations: First, to be reconciled to God. In order to do so, he said, we must first r...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has donated 500 rosaries to the detainees in a prison in the Italian city of Padua. The priest entrusted with delivering the gift is Don Marco Sanavio, who had the idea “more directly” to  involve prisoners in the “Moment of Peace” (Un’ attimo di pace) initiative launched four years ago on the web in Italy.The Vatican's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reports that the request for the rosaries came from Zhang Augustine Jianqing, a young Chinese man currently incarcerated in the Padua prison, who also participated in Rome at the presentation of the book-length interview of Pope Francis by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, The Name of God is Mercy.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis flies to the Cuban capital on Friday for an unprecedented meeting with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill. The private conversation between the two leaders will take place at Havana airport and is expected to last for a couple of hours, after which Pope Francis will continue onto Mexico City at the start of his pastoral visit to that Latin American nation.The Pope and the Patriarch will also sign a common declaration on issues of shared concern, such as the problem of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, the challenges of secularization, the protection of life, and other areas where Catholics and Orthodox can cooperate more closely together.The President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch will be accompanying Pope Francis in Havana for this historic encounter. He talked to Philippa Hitchen about the conditions that made this long awaited meeting possible….Listen:  The ca...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis departs for Mexico on Friday, for a week-long visit to the country and the people under the sign of mercy and peace. Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick is in Mexico ahead of the Holy Father’s arrival, and spoke with the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. “Many people think that the Pope will come [with] solutions to their problems,” said Archbishop Pierre, “obviously, the Pope does not come for that.” The Apostolic Nuncio went on to say, “I think it is just a question of respect for the people – the people are responsible.”Click below to hear the extended conversation of Vatican Radio's special envoy in Mexico, Veronica Scarisbrick, with the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre Asked about the role of the Church in Mexican history, culture and society, Archbishop Pierre said, “The Pope knows that the faith has a long history in the life of the M...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has asked for prayers for the sick in the run-up to the World Day of the Sick.Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope invited them to pray for the sick and make their love felt to them.He recalled that the “World Day of the Sick” takes place on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes and that this XXIVth edition will culminate in a celebration in Nazareth.The Pope mentioned the fact that in his message for this World Day Sick he reflected on the irreplaceable role of Mary at the Wedding in Cana and said that Mary’s concern and attention reflects the tenderness of God and the immense mercy of Jesus.May that same tenderness – he said – be present in the life of so many people who are close to the sick and help them to be attentive to all of their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they look at them with eyes full of love.   
Two Capuchin Franciscan friars were ordained on February 8 by His Exc. Mgr John Barwa in the district of Kandhamal, which had seen  horrific anti-Christian violence in 2008. "A gift and a blessing, in the Year of Mercy": is how the Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in Orissa, His Exc. Mgr. John Barwa described the two new priests. As Fides learns, the two Capuchin Franciscan friars: Fr. Bonifacio Kanhar OFMCap and Fr. Chandulal Baliarsingh OFM Cap, were ordained by Mgr. Barwa on February 8 in Simon Badi, in Kandhamal district, which is part of the diocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.The new priests belong to the Capuchin province of Andhra-Orissa. The ordination celebration was attended by about 50 priests and more than 1,500 faithful.Archbishop Barwa said that "we are all called to be instruments of the mercy of God. Even Fr. Kanhar and Fr. Baliarsingh and their families were affected by the violence. Their reaction was mercy"."I thank God for the g...
(Vatican Radio) The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of Vatican City State has announced the 2016 Vatican coins will soon be released. These include the 8 usual Euro coins (2 and 1 Euro, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 euro-cent), bearing the image of Pope Francis, as Sovereign of the Vatican City State. This year, the €20 Silver coin and the €50 Gold coin have images chosen for the Year of Mercy. The Silver coin has an image of Pope Francis embracing a teenager, while the back has an image of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Gold coin has an image of the Holy Father opening the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, while the back has an image of the Jubilee logo, which features Jesus carrying a man – representing humanity – on his shoulders.The Philatelic and Numismatic Office is also releasing a Jubilee of Mercy coin card.
The Church in Kenya has launched the 2016 National Lenten campaign with a huge procession through the town of Ngong right through to the main Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker.The event was attended by the Bishop of Ngong Diocese, John Oballa Owaa; representatives from the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA); officials of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB); many Kenyan government officials and the Catholic faithful of Kenya.In his homily during the launch of the Lenten Campaign at St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral, the Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of KCCB, Bishop Cornelius Korir said Kenya is a blessed country and her people, beginning with her leaders, needed to shun corruption, negative ethnicity and radicalization that tears the country apart. The CJPC Chairman called on Kenyans to embrace oneness, tolerance of one another and to strive towards the creation of job opportunities for the youth.The Bishop furt...
Dt: 26: 4-10, Rom 10:8-13, Lk 4: 1-13As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West.  Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I'm trying to prove that the bridge won't break." In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren't designed to see if He would sin, but to prove that He couldn't. Introduction: Lent begins with a reflection on the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The first reading describes the ancient Jewish ritual of presenting the first fruits and gifts to God to thank Him for liberating His people from Egypt and for strengthening them during the years of their trials and temptatio...
WASHINGTON-The Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, February 1, on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference and several Christian partners in support of a Texas law mandating health and safety standards protecting women who undergo abortions. Other groups joining the brief include the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The case is Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court."There is ample evidence in this case that hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements protect women's lives and health," said the brief. "When such requirements are not enforced, abuses detrimental to women's lives and health arise."The brief noted that some abortion clinics have decla...
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