The church on the hill

cross background

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

This is the first laundry with Down syndrome workers in Latin America

Concepción, Chile, May 28, 2017 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Three years ago the Church in Chile launched “Lavandería 21,” a new work inclusion project for people with Downs syndrome, whose results today far exceed what was hoped.

It all began in 2012 when the Archbishop Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib of Concepción learned of this successful initiative in Europe and the United States, and so he decided to organize one in his archdiocese.

Thus was opened in 2014 “Lavandería 21” – which takes its name from the third copy of chromosome 21 which causes Down syndrome.

“It is a unique project in Latin America,” Paula Abarzua, a special ed teacher and part of the team in charge of the laundry, told CNA.

Abarzua explained that the project began with 11 young people and currently there are 15, in addition to six others who now work at the Archdiocese of Concepción or the Betania Retirement Home.

There are two work shifts, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Customers include clinics, hotels, and buses.

As regards the work process, Abarzua said that “the guys are the ones who sort out, separate, weigh the laundry, and load the machines.”

“Also, when the washing process is over, they remove the laundry and put it in the dryer. After that it goes on to be ironed and folded.”

Abarzua has been working with the young people since the project started and said that “they've changed a lot.”

“They now feel more autonomous, independent, the fact they receive their salary increases their sense of self worth a lot,” she said.

In addition, “the personal growth, the maturity they've gained and the commitment to their work is very satisfying for us here. They value their work.”

For Abarzua “the fact that we're under the Church's wing shows that it is really committed to the issue of inclusion and it ought to be an idea that is replicated throughout the world.”

Our task is to make the Gospel accessible, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, May 28, 2017 / 04:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis said that when Jesus rose into heaven, he entrusted his Church with the great and dignified responsibility of spreading his Word and making it accessible to everyone.

In addition to signaling the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus’ Ascension reminds us of his constant assistance and that of his Spirit, “who gives strength and security to our Christian witness in the world,” the Pope said May 28.

The Holy Spirit “reveals to us why the Church exists: she exists to announce the Gospel” he said. “Only for that. And also, the joy of the Church is to announce the Gospel.”

Francis said the Church includes all faithful that have been baptized, who today “are invited to better understand that God has given us the great dignity and responsibility of announcing it to the world, of making it accessible to humanity.”

“This is our dignity, this is the greatest honor of the Church!” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Regina Coeli address, which is prayed during the Easter season instead of the Angelus.

In his brief speech, the Pope said Jesus’ ascension into heaven signaled the end of his own earthly ministry, and the beginning of the Church’s mission.

“From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by his disciples, by those who believe in him and announce him,” he said, adding that this mission will last “until the end of history and will enjoy every day the assistance of the Risen Lord,” who promised to be with his disciples “until the end of the age.”

Jesus’ constant presence, he said, “brings strength in persecution, comfort in tribulation, support in situations of difficulty that the mission and the announcement of the Gospel encounter.”

As the Church throughout the world turns their gaze toward heaven, where Christ ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father, Christians must strengthen their own steps so as “continue with enthusiasm and courage our journey, our mission of bearing witness to and living the Gospel in every environment,” the Pope said.

However, he cautioned that this mission doesn’t depend on human efforts, resources or our ability to organize, because only the “light and strength” of the Holy Spirit makes it possible to “effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus’ love and tenderness more known and experienced.”

Pope Francis then asked for Mary’s intercession in becoming “more credible” witnesses of the Resurrection, and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.

After the prayer, voiced his closeness to Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II following the May 26 attack on buses carrying Coptic Orthodox en route to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya.

Gunmen who stopped the buses opened fire, killing 29 and injuring at least 22 others, including children. The attack marked the latest act in a string of violence against the community in recent months.

In his comments to pilgrims, Pope Francis prayed for the Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt after undergoing “another act of ferocious violence.”

“The victims, among whom were also children, are faithful who were going to the shrine to pray, and were killed after they refused to deny their Christian faith,” he said, and prayed that God would “welcome into his peace these courageous witnesses, and convert the hearts of the violent.”

He also voiced his sorrow for the May 23 terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena in England, killing some 22 people, most of whom were youth who had be enjoying a concert by popular teen artist Ariana Grande.

Francis prayed for the victims of the “horrible attack,” which left many young lives “cruelly shattered,” and voiced his closeness to the families and “all who mourn the deceased.”

Finally, the Pope noted that the day also marks World Day of Social Communications, which this year holds the theme “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

Social networks, he said, “offer the opportunity to share and disseminate the news in an instant; this news can be good or bad, true or false.” He prayed that communications, in every form, would be “constructive, at the service of the truth by refusing prejudices, and spread hope and trust in our time.”

Pope says murdered Copts are martyrs and prays for conversion of terrorists

(Vatican Radio) On the second day running, Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Egypt's Coptic Christians following an attack on a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a remote desert monastery.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

Leading thousands of pilgrims in the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope said he wished to express, yet again, his closeness to his dear brother, Pope Tawadros II and to the whole Egyptian nation that two days ago suffered “another act of ferocious violence.”

“The victims, amongst which were also children, were killed after having refused to renounce their Christian faith” he said.

The Pope prayed that the Lord “may welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the terrorists”.

The Islamic so-called State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, which killed 29 people.

On Saturday during a visit to Genoa, Francis prayed for the victims and lamented that there were more martyrs today than in early Christian times.

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis prays for victims of Manchester attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for the victims of the Manchester concert attack and decried how “so many young lives were cruelly broken”.

Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis also said he is “close to the relatives and all those who are weeping for the dead.”

British investigators are still looking for other suspects in the May 22 bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people. Police have 11 suspects in custody but are looking for other members of the network of attacker Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Denver to provide lockers for city's homeless

Denver, Colo., May 27, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In response to Denver's large homeless population, the city is providing lockers for the homeless to place their belongings so they can take better advantage of local outreach programs.

If the homeless are worried about where to place their belongings and “don't have access to safe, secure storage and those are all your possessions in the world,” then they aren't going to utilize available resources said Julie Smith, a spokesperson from Denver Human Services, to the Denverite May 23.

Ten storage units were added to a street downtown, where many homeless shelters are located. Smith explained the containers will hold about as much stuff as will fit into a shopping cart, and can be reserved for 30 days with the option of an additional 30 day renewal. The sidewalk lockers cost about $3,000 for each installment.

Teaming up with the Saint Francis Center, Denver is also planning on adding 200 more storage spaces at the organizations employment service center, located near the city's capital building. The contract between the city of Denver and the Saint Francis Center will start on June 1 and with $130,000 for the first year of storage space. After that, the center will then be given $100,000 a year if the contract continues.

Smith said the pilot program will measure the use and frequency of the storage systems, and will reassess in year. However, she said in order to access these lockers the person must be actively involved in one of Denver's many homeless services.

Denver's Road Home has over 20 community based organizations aiding thousands of homeless people to find a job, skill train, long term and short term shelters as well as providing food and clothing. According to their website, nearly a thousand people were provided with housing last year.

Part of Denver's many programs is the Saint Francis Center, an Episcopal ministry serving homeless and ex-offenders. It was established in 1983 and has since developed career services and a housing program. An additional program providing permanent lower income housing will be made available in 2017 or 2018.

In 2015, the center served an average of 811 people per day, distributed nearly 90,000 units of clothing, and facilitated jobs for just under 400 people.

Colorado has a large homeless population, and it has increased by over six percent between 2015 and 2016, according to an annual report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over 10,000 people were considered homeless in 2016, and less than one third of that do not have a shelter.

Pope Francis: Jesus intercedes for us – every day, every moment

Genoa, Italy, May 27, 2017 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of the Ascension in Genoa Saturday, telling faithful that Jesus never leaves us alone and is constantly praying and interceding for us to the Father.

“Jesus is truly with us and for us: in heaven, he always shows the Father his humanity, our humanity,” the Pope said during his May 27 day trip to Genoa.

He noted in the day’s Gospel from Matthew, before he ascends into heaven, tells his disciples, “all power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

This power and strength “connect heaven and earth,” Francis said, explaining that when Jesus ascended into heaven “our human flesh crossed the threshold of heaven: our humanity is there, in God, forever.”

A keyword that can be used to describe Jesus’ strength and power, he said, is “intercession,” because “Jesus intercedes for us with the Father every day, every moment. In every prayer, in every request of ours for forgiveness, above all in every Mass, Jesus intervenes.

Pope Francis offered Mass to conclude his trip to the Italian diocese of Genoa, which is guided by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who just finished his term as president of the Italian Bishops Conference, and has been replaced by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia.

After arriving to the city, Francis immediately had back-to-back meetings with members of the working force in Genoa, with the diocese’s bishops, priests and religious, and with youth, giving off-the-cuff responses to questions asked in each encounter.

He then had lunch with some 100 poor, refugees and prisoners before stopping by the city’s pediatric hospital and making his way to Kennedy Square to offer Mass before heading back to Rome.

In his homily, the Pope said the ability to intercede isn’t just a task Jesus carries out, but is also one that he has entrusted to the entire Church. Each of us has the power to pray for others, he said, asking: “Do I pray? Do we, as a Church, as Christians, exercise this power bringing people and situations to God?”

“The world needs it. We ourselves need it,” Francis said, noting that for many people, their days are spent running between work and various commitments. The risk with this, he said, is that “we can get lost, close in on ourselves and become restless about nothing.”

In order to avoid this, he said we have to “throw the anchor to God,” entrusting to him the burdens, people and situations we deal with on a daily basis.

“This is the strength of prayer, which connects heaven and earth, which allows God to enter into our time,” he said, noting that prayer isn’t something we do to find peace or internal harmony for ourselves, but is an active intercession to God.

“It’s not tranquility, it’s charity...It’s to put yourself into play to intercede, insisting assiduously to God for each other,” he said, adding that prayerful intercession is “our first responsibility,” because it gives us the strength to go forward.

“This is our power: not to prevail or to cry out louder, according to the logic of the world, but to exercise with strength the meekness of prayer, with which wars can be stopped and peace obtained.”

A second keyword from the Gospel that shows the nature of Jesus’ strength and power is “announcement,” Pope Francis said, pointing to the moment when Jesus invites his disciples to “go forth and make disciples of all nations.

This is “an extreme act of trust in us,” the Pope said, noting that Jesus believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. He sends us out despite our shortcomings, knowing that “we will never be perfect and that, if we wait to become better to evangelize, we will never start.”

However, one thing that is important to overcome right away is “closure,” he said, insisting that “the Gospel cannot be locked up and sealed, because the love of God is dynamic and wants to reach everyone.”

“To announce, then, means moving, going out of ourselves,” Francis said, adding that with the Lord, “we cannot be quiet, accommodated in your own world or nostalgic for memories of the past; with him it is forbidden to lay down in the securities acquired.”

For Jesus, security is moving forward with trust and confidence. Because of this, he prefers “discomfort and constant revivals” to ease and comfort.

“(Jesus) wants us going out, free from the temptations of contenting ourselves when we are doing well and when we have control,” the Pope continued.

Pointing to Jesus command to “go,” Francis said this going out “into the world” is something the Lord still asks of us today, and which “belongs to the Christian identity.”

A Christian is never stationary, but constantly moving with the Lord and with others, Francis said, but cautioned that this doesn’t mean a Christian is a runner that tries to beat others to the finish line.

Instead, a Christian is a pilgrim and a “hopeful marathonist,” who is meek, faithful, creative and enterprising, while also being decisive, active, respectful and open, he said.

Pope Francis closed his homily telling faithful to imitate the disciples, and bring the announcement of the Good News to “the streets of the world.”

Jesus, he said, “wants the announcement to be carried with his strength: not with the strength of the world, but with the clear and gentle strength of joyful testimony. This is urgent.”

He urged faithful to pray for the grace “to not fossilize ourselves” by getting caught up on things that don’t matter, but to work concretely for peace and the common good.

“Let us put ourselves into play with courage, convinced that there is more joy in giving than in receiving,” he said, adding that “the Lord is alive and risen, who always intercedes for us, whether in the strength of our going, or the courage our path.”

The power of Christians lies in prayer and preaching – Pope in Genoa

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up an intense 1-day apostolic visit to the Italian port city of Genoa with the celebration of Mass.

To the faithful present for the open-air ceremony in Genoa’s Kennedy Square, the Pope said Christians must never tire of working for the common good, they must never fear going out into the world with Christ’s message of peace and hope…

Listen to the report by Robin Gomes:

“Christian prayer is not a way of being a little bit at peace with oneself or finding some interior harmony; we pray in order to bring all to God, to entrust the world to Him,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  He was delivering a homily at an evening Mass in the Italian port city of Genoa.  The Mass at the Kennedy Square seafront was the final event of his day-long visit to the city, during which he met the clergy and religious, youth, prisoners, children and staff of a pediatric hospital and lunched with the poor and the marginalized.   

Prayer – God's power and strength

Commenting on the scripture readings of Sunday, the Pope explained that in Christ’s Ascensio n “the power of Jesus, the strength of God” is revealed that has “linked earth with heaven for us”.  And this power continues even today and will last forever in Christ’s unceasing prayers and intercession for us before the Father, every moment….especially at every Mass.  And  “Jesus has gifted this capacity to intercede also to us, to his Church, that has the power and also the duty to intercede and pray for all.”

The power of prayer lies in anchoring ourselves on God with our burdens, persons and situations in order not to be submerged by what he described as this “evil of living”.  Prayer allows God to enter our time.   “Prayer is intercession. It’s not tranquility, it’s charity,” the Pope stressed. 

The Pope said our power lies not in triumphing or shouting loud according to the logic of the world but in exercising the ‘gentle power of prayer’, with which one can even stop wars and obtain peace. 

Proclamation - reachig out, not closed in

Another power of Jesus revealed in the Ascension is that of proclamation.   When Jesus sent his disciples to proclaim Him with the power of the Holy Spirit, He trusted us with all our shortcomings.  And in this, a great imperfection that we need to overcome immediately is that of closing ourselves.  It’s because the Gospel cannot be shut in and sealed, because God's love is dynamic and wants to reach others.  Hence to proclaim Him, one needs to go out, come out of oneself.

With the Lord is it is forbidden to relax in acquired comforts.  A Christian is always on the move with the Lord towards other.  He is a pilgrim, a missionary, a hopeful marathon man, gentle but intent on walking, the Pope said.  The Lord desires that the proclamation goes ahead with his strength, not with that of the world, with the limpid and meek strength of joyful witnessing.  This, the Pope said, is urgent. 

(from Vatican Radio)

In Genoa, Pope challenges workers, religious and youth

Vatican City, May 27, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis paid a visit to the Italian diocese of Genoa, where he had lengthy Q&A sessions with youth, the city’s working class, and their bishops, priests and religious, challenging them and offering anecdotes to modern problems.  

After landing just around 8a.m. local time May 27, the Pope was greeted by Genoa’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who just finished his term as president of the Italian Bishops Conference. He was replaced by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop of Perugia.
 
Once he left the airport, Francis immediately went to a warehouse where he met with the city’s workers. Afterward, he met the diocese’s bishops, priests and religious at the city’s cathedral before heading to a special shrine where he spoke with youth.

In each of the meetings Pope Francis responded to questions, taking his time to respond well to each of their concerns.  

After the meetings, he is slated to eat lunch with the poor, refugees and prisoners before greeting sick children at the Pediatric Gianna Gaslini Hospital. The Pope made a phone call to the hospital earlier this week to tell the children that he was coming to see them, and assured them that Jesus is always with us difficult moments.

Established in 1931, the hospital is linked to the University of Genoa and is considered as one of the most prestigious children’s hospitals in Europe. It has formally recognized as a scientific institute for research, hospitalization and healthcare.

After greeting the children, Pope Francis will head to the city’s Kennedy Square to celebrate Mass before returning to Rome.

Workers

In his audience with the workforce, Francis responded to four questions: one from an entrepreneur, the head of a company, who asked for a word of encouragement in his responsibilities; two questions from workers on how to recover from the economic crisis and how to avoid careerism and foster fraternity, and one question from an unemployed woman who asked how to stay strong despite challenges of not having consistent work.

In his responses, Francis said that in the world today, work today is “at risk,” because “it’s a world where work isn’t considered with the dignity it has and gives.” Work, he said, “is a human priority,” and because of this, “it’s a Christian priority, and also a priority of the Pope!”

Speaking inside a warehouse, the Pope said he wanted to meet with them there because the Church is where the people are, “in your places of work, in the places where you are.”

In his response to the first question, the Pope said, “there is no good economy without good businessmen,” adding that they are “the figure of a good economy,” since society functions well when there are honest and caring people in charge.

He cautioned against the temptation to do one’s work well just because they get paid to do it, saying this mentality is an injustice to the working system, “because it negates the dignity of work, which begins with working for dignity, for honor.”

On the other hand, a good boss “knows his workers, because he works beside them, with them,” the Pope said. “Let’s not forget that a businessman above all must be a worker. If he doesn’t have this sense of the dignity of work, he won’t be a good businessman.”

The Pope then warned against the temptation to solve problems in a company by firing people, explaining that a person who does this “is not a businessman, he is a commercialist. Today he sells his employees, tomorrow he sells his own dignity.”

“A sickness of the economy is the progressive transformation of workers into speculators, profiteers,” he said, adding that “workers must absolutely not be confused with profiteers,” because they are different things.

Profiteers, he said, “eat” people, leaving the economy abstract and “without a face.” In addition, laws intended to help the honest then end up penalizing the honest and profiting the corrupt.

He also warned the workers against competition in the workplace, calling it “an anthropological and Christian error,” as well as an “economic error,” since it forces people to work against each other.

Too much competition destroys the “fabric of trust” that binds every organization, he said, noting that when a crisis arrives, “the company implodes” because there is no longer a sense of collegiality uniting it.

Francis then issued a stern warning against the “non-virtue” of meritocracy, referring to the political philosophy that power ought to be invested in individuals solely based on their abilities and talents.

This attitude “denatures” the human being and creates inequality, he said, explaining that under this mentality the poor are faulted for their disadvantage and the rich are “exonerated.”

On the economic crisis, Francis noted that with unemployment, there often come illegal contracts and inhumane working conditions.

He noted that he's heard of people who are forced into working 11 hours a day for just 800 euro a month, or they who are paid illegally under the table with no contract or benefits.

In these cases, work becomes about survival, he said, noting that while this is part of it, work is about “much, much more,” because by working, “we become more human,” since we participate in God’s act of creation.

“Work is man’s friend, and man is work’s friend,” he said, explaining that there are few joys greater than what one experiences in a good and healthy workplace, and there are fewer sorrows greater than when work harms, exploits or even “kills” people.

He pointed to the societal paradox that there is an increasing number of people who are unemployed but want to work, and fewer and fewer people who work too much and want time off.

This is based on the logic of consumption, Francis said, calling it “an idol of our time” that eventually leads us to worship “pure pleasure,” rather than appreciating the value of “fatigue and sweat,” which are the backbone of work.

Bishops, Priests and Religious

Pope Francis opened his nearly 2-hour conversation with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians by leading them in a moment of silent prayer for the victims of yesterday’s attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, that killed 28.

After then reciting a Hail Mary for the deceased, the wounded and their families, the Pope took four questions on how to maintain a good spiritual life daily, how to keep the charism of an order fresh as time passes, how to foster priestly brotherhood and what to do about the current vocational crisis.

When it comes to having a good spiritual life, the Pope said two things are essential: a constant encounter with God through prayer, and being close to the people.

He noted that the world today is constantly “in a hurry,” and that it’s often difficult to take time to be with people and listen to their problems and concerns. But this doesn’t mean being inactive, he said, adding that “I am afraid of static priests.”

Priests who are obsessed with structure and organization are better “businessman” than pastors, he said, noting that they might pray and celebrate Mass, Jesus himself was “always a man on the street,” in the midst of his people and “open to the surprises of God.”

There’s a certain tension between these two extremes, he said, but urged consecrated people to “not be afraid of this tension,” because it’s a sign of “vitality” and movement.

He told priests to be flexible in their prayer, always seeking a true encounter with God, and urged them to allow themselves to “get worn out be the people,” and not to “defend your own tranquility,” since Jesus himself prioritized relationships with the people, yet always set aside time to be with his Father.

When it comes to fostering a stronger sense of brotherhood among priests, the Pope said that first of all this means letting go of “that image of the priest who knows everything,” and who doesn’t need the input of others.

Self-sufficiency does a lot of harm to a consecrated person, he said, and asked the priests and religious how many times during a meeting they stop paying attention to what a fellow brother or sister is saying, and let their minds go “into orbit” with other things.

Even if what the other person says isn’t necessarily of immediate interest, it’s important to pay attention, he said, explaining that each person “is a richness.” He told them to look for moments to pray together, go for lunch or play sports together, which all help to form stronger ties.

He also warned against “murmuring” and “jealousy,” noting that at times when he reviews information collected on possible candidates for bishops, “you find true calumny or opinions (that) devalue the priest.”

To speak poorly of a brother is to “betray” him, Francis said, and warned, as he often does, about the dangers of gossip and the importance of forgiveness.

When it comes to keeping charisms fresh, the Pope emphasized the importance of staying attached to the concrete realities of a diocese or project.

While a congregation might be “universal” in the sense that it has houses throughout the world, the “concreteness” of involvement in the diocese helps give the order “roots,” allowing it to remain and also to grow as they see different needs come up.

On the vocational crisis, Francis immediately pointed out the low birthrate in Europe, particularly Italy, saying the lack of vocations is also tied to the “demographic problem” that people don’t want to get married or have children.

“If there are no young men and women, there are no vocations,” he said, explaining that while this is not the only reason for the crisis, it’s something that must be kept in mind.  

He also stressed the importance of looking critically at what is happening in the world and posing the question: “what is the Lord asking right now?”

“The vocational crisis is affecting the entire Church,” including the priesthood, religious life and even marriage, he said, noting that many young couples don’t want to commit themselves to the vocation of marriage, but instead prefer to cohabitate.

Given the widespread nature of the crisis, “it’s a time to ask ourselves, to ask the Lord, what must we do? What must we change?” he said, adding that “to face problems is necessary, (but) to learn from problems is obligatory.”

His words have a special resonance given that the next Synod of Bishops, set to take place in October 2018, will address the topic: “Young People, Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

Francis cautioned against the temptation of “conquest” when it comes to filling empty convents and seminaries, stressing that true vocational work “is hard, but we must do it.”

“It’s a challenge, but we must be creative,” he said, and emphasized the importance of bearing personal witness through the living of one’s own vocation, which “is key” to showing youth how rewarding a life offered for Christ and others can be.

Youth

In a meeting with youth at Genoa’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Guard, he also took questions from four youth, two boys and two girls, telling them he wouldn’t give them “pre-made answers,” but personal answers.  

In their questions, the youth asked how to be a missionary in the face modern challenges; how to go beyond modern distractions and love those in difficulty and crisis around us; how to have a strong spiritual life, and how to have sincere relationships in a culture of indifference.

Francis said that being a missionary above all “means letting yourself be transformed by the Lord.”

“Normally when we live these activities, we are joyful when things go well, and this is good, but there is another transformation that you don’t see, it’s hidden and is born in the lives of all of us,” he said, adding that to be a missionary “allows us to learn how to look, how to see with new eyes.”

He told the youth to stop being “tourists,” many of whom come to the city and take pictures of everything, but “don’t look at anything.”

“To look at life with the eyes of tourists is superficial...it means I don’t touch reality, I don’t see things as they are,” he said, noting that going out on mission helps us to go beyond the superficial and “draw near to the heart of another."

It also destroys hypocrisy, he said, explaining that for adults, but especially for youth to have this attitude, “is suicide. Understand? It’s suicide.”

Accepting Jesus’ invitation to me a missionary, he said, helps us to look at each other in the eye and purifies us from seeing the Church divided into the “good” and the “bad.”

He said that to respond to the needs of people in difficulty – the poor, migrants, homeless and unemployed – we must first of all “love them. We can’t do anything without love.”

No matter how many projects we set up or are involved in, it’s useless without love, he said. The Pope explained that whenever he can he likes to ask people, when they give to the poor, if they “touch the hand of the person” they give to, or if they pull back immediately.

Love, he said, is the ability to take hold of the “dirty hand” and to look at people in situations of drugs, poverty and hardship, and to say that “for me, you are Jesus.”

Pope Francis said focusing on the person who has been wounded and excluded, rather than their situation, is part of “the madness of the faith,” and of the announcement of Jesus.

He told the youth to never ignore people or “make the person into an adjective,” calling them a “drunk,” because they are a person with a name. “Never make people into adjectives!” he said, adding that “God is the only one who can judge, and he will do it in the Final Judgement for each one of us.”

Giving advice for how to have a strong spiritual life, the Pope tied his answer to the city’s link with boaters and sailors, telling them that if they want to be a good disciple, “you need the same heart as a navigator: a horizon and courage.”

“If you don’t have a horizon...you will never be a good missionary,” he said, and warned against the distractions new media technologies can bring.

“You have the opportunity to know everything with new technologies, but these information technologies make you fall into a canal many times, because instead of informing us, the saturate us,” he said. And when you are saturated, the horizon “gets closer and closer” and soon “you have a wall in front of you.”

When this happens, the horizon is lost as is the ability to contemplate, he said, and told the youth to take time to contemplate and make good decisions, instead of “eating” whatever is put in front of them.

He also urged the youth to question what has become almost routine in today’s “normal culture.” He asked if it was normal that “so many migrants come from far away, bloodied by a selfishness that leads to death” end up living in difficulty in foreign countries. “Is it normal that the Mediterranean has become a cemetary?”  

Instead of just accepting that this is the norm, he told them to ask themselves: “is this normal, or is this not normal?” and to always “have courage to seek the truth.”

At the close of his meeting with youth, Francis offered a special greeting to prisoners of watching the meeting via television before heading to lunch with poor, refugees, homeless and prisoners from Genoa.

Pope Francis visits Genoa's Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital

“Faith works primarily through charity and without it, it is dead. So I encourage you to carry out your delicate work motivated by charity", said Pope Francis  to the staff members of  “Giannini Gaslini” Pediatric Hospital during his day long visit to the Italian city of Genoa on Saturday.  

The Pope said that he couldn’t miss this visit where children are cared for, because the suffering of children is certainly something very difficult to accept. And added that  it is there that the Lord called him to be,  though briefly, close to the children and their relatives.  "Often and again I ask myself: 'Why do children suffer?', and I don't find any explantion," the Pope said.  "I only look at the crucifix and stand still there." 

Pope Francis commended the devoted service of the hospital staff, the President of the Foundation, the Archbishop of Genoa, physicians, paramedics,  the various specialized staff, as well as the Cappucchin Friars Minor and all those who assist and help the children with love and dedication and said that they in fact also need their  gestures of friendship, of  understanding, of affection and paternal and maternal support.

This institute is an act of love of Senator Gerolamo  Gaslini he said who in honour of his daughter who died of a tender age had founded the hospital by sacrificing all he had: companies, establishments, property, money, and even his home. This is why this hospital is known and appreciated in Italy and around the world and has a special role of continuing to be a symbol of generosity and solidarity he said.   In founding of the Hospital he observed, Gaslini said: "It is my firm will that this Institute has the Catholic faith as its foundation and guide [...] that it ferments every activity and comforts every pain." The pope called them to  often think of the "good Samaritan" of the Gospel- attentive to the needs of their small patients, accepting tenderly  their fragility, and seeing the Lord in them. Whoever serves the sick with love serves Jesus who opens the Kingdom of Heaven he affirmed.

The Pope hoped that the Hospital, faithful to its mission, will continue its appreciated work of care and research through the generous and disinterested contribution and contribute to all categories and at all levels. He concluded assuring the staff, patients and their relatives of his prayer and blessings.

Earlier on Wednesday linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genova that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly programme especially dedicated to the children’s hospital, Pope Francis told the little patients that it is with joy that he is preparing to be with them.

"Istituto Giannina Gaslini" is a tertiary level pediatric hospital affiliated to the University of Genoa and  is considered one of the foremost children’s hospitals in Europe and is formally recognized as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare.

(from Vatican Radio)

In Iraq, necessity makes priests become engineers

Rome, Italy, May 27, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Priests in Iraq are helping reconstruct around 13,000 homes in the Plain of Nineveh which have been damaged or destroyed by ISIS so that Christians will have a place to come back to.

To accomplish this, the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has created a Commission for the Reconstruction of Nineveh.  

Besides celebrating Mass, the priests also serve as surveyors and obtain electric service and materials for the reconstruction of homes. The first work is being done in places that ISIS occupied for a short time and where there is not a lot of material damage.

One of the members of this project is Fr. Georges Jahola, a Syrian Catholic priest from Qaraqosh.

The priest told ACN that “here in Iraq if the Church doesn't do these things, who's going to do them? We have the capacity to act and do the talking, and also the contacts.”
 
The reconstruction of the Plain of Nineveh includes five Chaldean Christian villages: Badnaya, Karamlesh, Telleskof, Bakofa and Telkef, located in the eastern part.

Fr. Salar Boudagh, another member of this initiative, said that $7,000 is needed to renovate a lightly damaged home. To restore a burned home costs $25,000 and to reconstruct a totally destroyed home runs $65,000.

“We have begun the reconstruction of Telleskof and Bakofa, because there damage to the homes is not too serious, as opposed to what is happening in Badnaya where 80 percent of the homes are destroyed,” the priest said.

“Before the arrival of the Islamic State 1,450 families lived in Telleskof, 110 in Bakofa, 950 in Badnaya, another 700 in Telkef and 875 in Karamlesh,” said Fr. Boudagh, who is also the Vicar General of the Chaldean Diocese of Alqosh.

“For these families, the first condition to return to their villages is security.”

The priest emphasized that “our area, the eastern part of the Nineveh Plain, is controlled by a Christian security force, the Zeravani, who are guaranteeing us 100 percent security. It's an official militia which is paid by Kurdistan.”

In Qaraqosh, 6,327 houses  of Syrian Catholics and 400 homes of Syrian Orthodox Christians must be rebuilt.

Fr. Jahola explained that after the liberation of Qaraqosh from the control of the jihadists, an operation which took place in November and December of 2016, 6,000 houses in the city were photographed. These were divided into sectors and classified according to the level of damage.

“There are very damaged or totally destroyed homes that would would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, burned homes or hit by a missile that can be restored, and finally, there are homes partially damaged the we can renovate with little means,” he said.   

“When we began we had a team of 20 volunteer engineers; now we have 40 and some 2,000 workers ready to begin work. We're optimists, since electric service is slowly being restored throughout the city,” Fr. Jahola said.