Monday, October 31, 2016

Pope and President of LWF sign Joint statement

IMG_7748.JPGPope Francis and the President of the Lutheran World Federation signed a Joint Statement on Monday in which Catholics and Lutherans pledged to pursue their dialogue in order to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder them from reaching full unity. 

They also stressed their commitment to common witness on behalf of the poor, the needy and the victims of injustice. 

The Declaration was signed during the ecumenical prayer service held in Lund’s Lutheran Cathedral on the first day of the Pope’s visit to Sweden.

Please find below the full text of the Statement:


on the occasion of the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation
Lund, 31 October 2016

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. (John 15:4).

With thankful hearts
With this Joint Statement, we express joyful gratitude to God for this moment of common prayer in the Cathedral of Lund, as we begin the year commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. 

Fifty years of sustained and fruitful ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans have helped us to overcome many differences, and have deepened our mutual understanding and trust. At the same time, we have drawn closer to one another through joint service to our neighbours – often in circumstances of suffering and persecution. Through dialogue and shared witness we are no longer strangers. Rather, we have learned that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

Moving from conflict to communion

While we are profoundly thankful for the spiritual and theological gifts received through the Reformation, we also confess and lament before Christ that Lutherans and Catholics have wounded the visible unity of the Church. Theological differences were accompanied by prejudice and conflicts, and religion was instrumentalized for political ends. 

Our common faith in Jesus Christ and our baptism demand of us a daily conversion, by which we cast off the historical disagreements and conflicts that impede the ministry of reconciliation. 

 While the past cannot be changed, what is remembered and how it is remembered can be transformed. We pray for the healing of our wounds and of the memories that cloud our view of one another. We emphatically reject all hatred and violence, past and present, especially that expressed in the name of religion. 

Today, we hear God’s command to set aside all conflict. We recognize that we are freed by grace to move towards the communion to which God continually calls us.

Our commitment to common witness
As we move beyond those episodes in history that burden us, we pledge to witness together to God’s merciful grace, made visible in the crucified and risen Christ. Aware that the way we relate to one another shapes our witness to the Gospel, we commit ourselves to further growth in communion rooted in Baptism, as we seek to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder us from attaining full unity. Christ desires that we be one, so that the world may believe (cf. John 17:21).

Many members of our communities yearn to receive the Eucharist at one table, as the concrete expression of full unity. We experience the pain of those who share their whole lives, but cannot share God’s redeeming presence at the Eucharistic table. We acknowledge our joint pastoral responsibility to respond to the spiritual thirst and hunger of our people to be one in Christ. We long for this wound in the Body of Christ to be healed. This is the goal of our ecumenical endeavours, which we wish to advance, also by renewing our commitment to theological dialogue.

We pray to God that Catholics and Lutherans will be able to witness together to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, inviting humanity to hear and receive the good news of God’s redeeming action. We pray to God for inspiration, encouragement and strength so that we may stand together in service, upholding human dignity and rights, especially for the poor, working for justice, and rejecting all forms of violence. God summons us to be close to all those who yearn for dignity, justice, peace and reconciliation. 

Today in particular, we raise our voices for an end to the violence and extremism which affect so many countries and communities, and countless sisters and brothers in Christ. We urge Lutherans and Catholics to work together to welcome the stranger, to come to the aid of those forced to flee because of war and persecution, and to defend the rights of refugees and those who seek asylum.

More than ever before, we realize that our joint service in this world must extend to God’s creation, which suffers exploitation and the effects of insatiable greed. We recognize the right of future generations to enjoy God’s world in all its potential and beauty. We pray for a change of hearts and minds that leads to a loving and responsible way to care for creation.

One in Christ
On this auspicious occasion, we express our gratitude to our brothers and sisters representing the various Christian World Communions and Fellowships who are present and join us in prayer. 

As we recommit ourselves to move from conflict to communion, we do so as part of the one Body of Christ, into which we are incorporated through Baptism. 

We invite our ecumenical partners to remind us of our commitments and to encourage us. 

We ask them to continue to pray for us, to walk with us, to support us in living out the prayerful commitments we express today.

Calling upon Catholics and Lutherans worldwide
We call upon all Lutheran and Catholic parishes and communities to be bold and creative, joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us. 

Rather than conflicts of the past, God’s gift of unity among us shall guide cooperation and deepen our solidarity. 

By drawing close in faith to Christ, by praying together, by listening to one another, by living Christ’s love in our relationships, we, Catholics and Lutherans, open ourselves to the power of the Triune God. 

Rooted in Christ and witnessing to him, we renew our determination to be faithful heralds of God’s boundless love for all humanity.

The saints stand out – because they're happy, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis at the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square on June 24, 2015. Credit: Daniel Iba?n?ez/CNA.The saints of the Church have many different qualities, but one thing that unites them all is a sense of joy, Pope Francis said in his All Saints Day Mass in Sweden.
“If there is one thing typical of the saints, it is that they are genuinely happy,” the Pope said in his homily Nov. 1, All Saints Day.

The saints, he said, “found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God. That is why we call the saints blessed.”

He then pointed to the Beatitudes, explaining that they are both the path saints take as well as their final goal: “the Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps.”

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Swedbank Stadium in Malmö on the last day of his Oct. 31-Nov. 1 visit to Sweden for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. 

He participated in a joint prayer service and ecumenical encounter to commemorate the Reformation on the day of his arrival. The event also serves as a recognition of 50 years of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation. 

After celebrating Mass, Pope Francis will have an official farewell ceremony and board the plane back to Rome.

In his homily, the Pope said that the celebration of All Saints Day in the Church is “a celebration of holiness” seen not so much in great gestures or events, but rather “in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism.”

This holiness “consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others,” he said, and pointed to the many sacrifices mothers and fathers make for their children, as an example.

Francis then pointed to the Beatitudes, saying they are the image of Christ and consequently “of each Christian.”

Referring specifically to the Beatitude “Blessed are the Meek,” the Pope said this “spiritual portrait” shows us the abundance of God’s love. Meekness, he said, “is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another.”

“It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity,” he said, and mentioned St. Mary Hasselblad and St. Bridget of Vadesta as examples of people who “worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship” among Christians. 

Pope Francis also noted now the joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is taking place in Sweden, a country marked by the coexistence of people from different religions and cultures. 

The saints, he said, “bring about change through meekness of heart. With that meekness, we come to understand the grandeur of God and worship him with sincere hearts.”

He said the Beatitudes “are in some sense the Christian’s identity card,” because they identify us as followers of Jesus. 

“We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy.” 

Francis closed his homily saying that the saints “spur us on by their lives and their intercession before God,” and stressed that each of us needs one another if we are also to become saints. 

“Together let us implore the grace to accept this call with joy and to join in bringing it to fulfillment,” he said, and entrusted to Mary, Queen of All Saints, “our intentions and the dialogue aimed at the full communion of all Christians, so that we may be blessed in our efforts and may attain holiness in unity.”

After Mass Pope Francis was greeted by Bishop Anders Arborelius, OCD of Stockholm before leading pilgrims in praying the Angelus.

In his brief address before the prayer, the Pope thanked all who helped to organize and plan his visit, specifically the Lutheran World Federation and greeted the different ecumenical delegations present.

“I thank God that I was able to visit this land and to meet with you, many of whom have come from all over the world,” he said, explaining that as Catholics, “we are part of a great family and are sustained in the same communion.”

He encouraged them to live their faith in prayer and the sacraments, as well as in service to those who are suffering and needy. 

“I urge you to be salt and light, wherever you find yourselves, through the way you live and act as followers of Jesus, and to show great respect and solidarity with our brothers and sisters of other churches and Christian communities, and with all people of good will,” he said.

Pope Francis then turned to Mary and asked for her protection. He also asked Mass attendees to pray for him, saying, “I keep you all very present in my own.”

Louisiana high court upholds seal of confession

Image result for louisiana supreme courtThe Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that priests are not required to report child abuse when they hear about the abuse in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“A priest when administering the sacrament of confession has no duty to report any confidential communications made during the confession that, by the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, he is authorized to hear and is also duty bound to keep confidential,” the court ruled on October 28.

The ruling comes in a long-running case in which Father Jeff Bayhi, a priest of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, had been directed to testify about what a 14-year-old allegedly told him in Confession. 

The young woman has said that she told Father Bayhi about being molested by a member of his parish. 

Father Bayhi had refused to testify, citing the inviolability of the confessional seal.

American successor named for accused archbishop in Guam

Image result for Bishop Michael ByrnesBishop Michael Byrnes, an auxiliary in the Archdiocese of Detroit, has been named coadjutor archbishop of Agana, Guam: an archdiocese troubled by multiple sex-abuse complaints against the current archbishop.

Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana was relieved of all pastoral responsibilities in June, after several young men came forward to say that the archbishop had molested them. 

The archbishop has denied the charges. He remains officially the Archbishop of Agana, although his authority is suspended while the charges against him are investigated.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, who was appointed in June as temporary caretaker of the Guam archdiocese, revealed in September that he is asking the Holy See to remove Archbishop Apuron permanently from his post and name a successor. 

As coadjutor, Bishop Byrnes will be in line to become the Archbishop of Agana when Archbishop Apuron resigns or is removed by Pope Francis. 

He was named as coadjutor “with special faculties,” suggesting that he could take over the day-to-day administration of the Guam archdiocese immediately.

Cardinal Koch: papal visit to Sweden could open path to full communion

Image result for Cardinal Kurt KochAs Pope Francis embarked on a two-day visit to Sweden, to join in commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity said that the papal trip could be an important step toward the restoration of full communion between Catholics and Lutherans.

Cardinal Kurt Koch said that it is “a very beautiful sign” that Catholics and Lutherans can join in a prayer service on the anniversary of the Reformation. In the past, he said, both groups tended to take a polemical approach to that anniversary, rather than looking for common ground. This week’s events, he said, reflect the progress made in “50 years of intensive theological dialogue.”

“I hope this event will be a good path for the future,” Cardinal Koch said.

4 Spanish Civil War martyrs beatified

Image result for Cardinal Angelo AmatoCardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the Mass of beatification of four Benedictine monks who were martyred in 1936.

Fathers José Antón Gómez, Antolín Pablos Villanueva, Juan Rafael Mariano Alcocer Martínez, and Luis Vidaurrázaga Gonzáles were monks of the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos in Burgos and lived in the Priory of Santa Maria de Montserrat in Madrid.

At the beginning of his homily on October 29, Cardinal Amato recalled the example of Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest slain while offering Mass this summer, and said that “he was not afraid of holiness, he was not afraid of martyrdom, nor were these four Benedictine martyrs.”

“The sociopolitical climate of the 1930s was characterized by a manifestation of terror against the Church, a bloody persecution,” he continued. “At that time there was darkness over the earth.”

After his Angelus address the following day, Pope Francis recalled the beatification of the martyrs and said, “We praise the Lord and entrust to their intercession the brothers and sisters that unfortunately, yet today, are persecuted for their faith in Christ in several parts of the world.”

World Council of Churches leader reflects on Reformation anniversary

Image result for Olav Fykse TveitOn the eve of Pope Francis’s apostolic journey to Sweden for the Lutheran-Catholic common commemoration of the Reformation, the general-secretary of the World Council of Churches reflected on the Reformation’s legacy.

Olav Fykse Tveit, who has led the ecumenical body since 2009, spoke at the Peterskirche, the University Church of Heidelberg, on six themes: mutual accountability, the need for accountability and reformation, the relevance of Luther’s 95 theses, migration, Israel and Palestine, and “the pilgrimage of justice and peace.”