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Pope Francis: Trust in the mercy and justice of God

Vatican City, Mar 30, 2020 / 04:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Monday that the Church can trust in the mercy and justice of God.

“Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own sins. And if you do not remember them, think a little: you will find them,” Pope Francis said March 30 in his daily Mass broadcast.

“Let us look to the Lord who acts with justice, but is very merciful. Let us not be ashamed of being in the Church: let us be ashamed of being sinners. The Church is the mother of all,” he said.

In his homily, the pope compared the lives and circumstances of two women described in the day’s Mass readings: Susanna and the woman caught in adultery.

The first reading from the Book of Daniel describes a “beautiful and God-fearing woman”, Susanna, who is falsely accused of infidelity by two elders and ultimately justified after Daniel’s examination of the deceitful old men.

The Gospel of John describes an encounter between Jesus and a woman charged by the scribes and Pharisees of committing adultery. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” and then to the woman: “Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Pope Francis said: “The innocent and the sinner. The Fathers of the Church saw a figure of the Church in these women: holy, but with sinful children."

“Both women were in a dark valley … one fell into the hands of hypocrites and the other into the hands of the corrupt," he said.

Francis noted that both women, the innocent and the sinner, faced a death sentence. The woman accused by the corrupt was “an innocent woman, falsely accused, slandered,” while the one condemned by hypocrites was a sinful woman.

“What does the Lord do with these people? To the innocent woman, he saves her, he brings justice. To the sinful woman, he forgives her. To the corrupt judges, he condemns them; to the hypocrites, he helps them to convert,” the pope said.

“In the first case, the people praise the Lord; in the second case, the people learn what God's mercy is like,” he said.

Francis said that the corrupt put themselves in the place of God and “were unable to ask for forgiveness.”

“May each one of us, seeing how Jesus acted in these cases, entrust ourselves to God's mercy and pray, trusting in God's mercy, asking forgiveness” the pope said.

In his livestramed Mass from the chapel in his Vatican City residence, Casa Santa Marta, the pope prayed for people who are paralyzed by fear because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“May the Lord help them to stand up, to act for the good of all society, of the whole community,” he said.

“Because God guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley -- the valley of sin --  I fear no harm for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage,” Pope Francis said at the end of his homily.

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Vatican City, Mar 29, 2020 / 07:30 am (CNA).- In his Sunday homily, Pope Francis said it is a grace to weep with those who weep as many people suffer from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Many cry today. And we, from this altar, from this sacrifice of Jesus -- of Jesus who was not ashamed to cry -- ask for the grace to cry. May today be for everyone like a Sunday of tears,” Pope Francis said in his homily on March 29.

Before offering Mass in the chapel of his Vatican City residence, Casa Santa Marta, the pope said that he was praying for people who are weeping because of coronavirus loneliness, loss, or economic hardship.

“I think of so many people crying: isolated people in quarantine, lonely elderly people, hospitalized people, people in therapy, parents who see that since there is no salary they will not be able to feed their children,” he said.

“Many people cry. We too, from our hearts, accompany them. And it won't hurt us to cry a little with the Lord's weeping for all of his people,” he added.

Pope Francis focused his homily on one line from the Gospel of John’s account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus: “And Jesus wept.”

“How tenderly Jesus weeps!” Pope Francis said. “He cries from the heart, cries with love, cries with his [people] who cry.”

“The cry of Jesus. Perhaps, he wept at other times in his life - we do not know -- certainly in the Garden of Olives. But Jesus cries for love, always,” he added.

The pope said that Jesus cannot help but to look upon people with compassion:“How many times have we heard in the Gospel this emotion of Jesus, with a phrase that is repeated: 'Seeing, he had compassion.’”

“Today, facing a world that suffers so much, in which so many people suffer the consequences of this pandemic, I ask myself: ‘Am I capable of crying as … Jesus is now? Does my heart resemble that of Jesus?'” he said.

In his livestreamed Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected again on the Gospel account of the death of Lazarus.

“Jesus could have avoided the death of his friend Lazarus, but he wanted to make our pain for the death of loved ones his own, and above all he wanted to show God's dominion over death,” the pope said.

When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days, Francis explained. Lazarus’ sister Martha runs to meet Jesus and says to him: "If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

“Jesus replies: ‘Your brother will rise’ and adds: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.' Jesus shows himself as the Lord of life, the One who is capable of giving life even to the dead,” the pope said after quoting the Gospel.

“Have faith! In the midst of crying, you continue to have faith, even if death seems to have won,” he said. “Let the Word of God bring life back to where there is death.”

Pope Francis said: “God's answer to the problem of death is Jesus.”

The pope called on each person  to remove “everything that tastes of death” from their lives, including hypocrisy, criticism of others, slander, and the marginalization of the poor.

“Christ lives, and whoever welcomes him and adheres to him comes into contact with life,” Francis said.

“May the Virgin Mary help us to be compassionate like her Son Jesus, who made our pain his own. Each of us is close to those who are in affliction, become for them a reflection of the love and tenderness of God, who frees us from death and makes life victorious,” Pope Francis said.

'COVID-19 knows no borders': Pope Francis calls for global ceasefire

Vatican City, Mar 29, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis appealed for a global ceasefire on Sunday as countries work to defend their populations from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The current emergency of COVID-19 … knows no borders,” Pope Francis said March 29 in his Angelus broadcast.

The pope urged nations in conflict to respond to an appeal made by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on March 23 for an “immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” to “focus together on the true fight of our lives,” the “battle” against the coronavirus.

The pope said: “I invite everyone to follow up by stopping all forms of war hostility, promoting the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, attention to those in a situation of greater vulnerability.”

“Conflicts are not resolved through war,” he added. “It is necessary to overcome antagonism and differences through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.”

After first appearing in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the coronavirus has now spread to more than 180 countries.

The UN Secretary General said that a global ceasefire would “help create corridors for life-saving aid” and “bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.” He pointed out that refugee camps and people with existing health conditions are most at risk of suffering “devastating losses.”

Guterres appealed in particular to those fighting in Yemen to end hostilities, as UN humanitarian advocates fear the potentially devastating consequences of a Yemeni COVID-19 outbreak because the country already faces a significant humanitarian crisis.

Both the Saudi-led forces and Iran-aligned Houthi movement fighting in Yemen both responded to the UN appeal for a ceasefire on March 25, according to Reuters.

“The joint commitment against the pandemic can lead everyone to recognize our need to strengthen fraternal bonds as members of a single family,” Pope Francis said.

The pope also appealed for government authorities to be sensitive to the vulnerability of prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I read an official memo from the Human Rights Commission that talks about the problem of overcrowded prisons, which could become a tragedy,” he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a warning on March 25 about the potentially devastating effects COVID-19 could have in overcrowded prisons and immigrant detention centers around the world.

“In many countries, detention facilities are overcrowded, in some cases dangerously so. People are often held in unhygienic conditions and health services are inadequate or even non-existent. Physical distancing and self-isolation in such conditions are practically impossible,” Bachelet said.

“With outbreaks of the disease, and an increasing number of deaths, already reported in prisons and other institutions in an expanding number of countries, authorities should act now to prevent further loss of life among detainees and staff,” she said.

The High Commissioner also appealed for governments to release political prisoners and to implement health measures in other facilities where people are confined together, such as mental health facilities, nursing homes, and orphanages.

“At this moment my thoughts go in a special way to all people who suffer the vulnerability of being forced to live in a group,” Pope Francis said.

“I ask the authorities to be sensitive to this serious problem and to take the necessary measures to avoid future tragedies," he said.