Pope Francis
Pope Francis devoted his July 13 Angelus address to the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:1-23), the Gospel reading at Mass that day.

Calling the seed “the true protagonist of this parable,” the Pope reviewed Jesus’ explanation of the path, the rocky ground, the thorns, and the good soil in which the seed fell. After describing the Virgin Mary as the “perfect model” of the good soil, Pope Francis asked those gathered at St. Peter’s Square to reflect upon what kind of soil our heart is.

“And we will do well not to forget that we also are sowers,” he added. “What kind of seed comes from our heart and our mouth? Our words can do so much good and also so much evil … Our Lady teaches us, with her example, to welcome the Word, keep it, and make it bear fruit in ourselves and others.”


What kind of soil is your heart?
Pope Francis surprised Vatican workers on July 25 by dropping into the staff cafeteria for lunch.

Arriving without warning just after noon, the Pope took a tray, chose a Friday lunch of fish and pasta, and ate at a table alongside Vatican workmen.

The cafeteria director, Franco Pai’ni, told Vatican Radio that the Holy Father’s appearance was “like a thunderbolt out of the blue.” The Pope was introduced to the kitchen staff, posed for a group photo, and gave his blessing before he left.

(07-28-2014, 04:35 AM)Poche Wrote: Pope Francis surprised Vatican workers on July 25 by dropping into the staff cafeteria for lunch.

Arriving without warning just after noon, the Pope took a tray, chose a Friday lunch of fish and pasta, and ate at a table alongside Vatican workmen.

The cafeteria director, Franco Pai’ni, told Vatican Radio that the Holy Father’s appearance was “like a thunderbolt out of the blue.” The Pope was introduced to the kitchen staff, posed for a group photo, and gave his blessing before he left.


That was nice of him.
Pope Francis recently offered Mass in Domus Sanctae Marthae for the repose of the soul of Natalia Di Giorgi Maovaz, the wife of an employee of the Vatican Museums.

Maovaz drowned off the coast of Sardinia while trying to rescue her seven-year-old boy and his friend, according to L’Osservatore Romano. Her husband was able to rescue the children but not his wife.

Maovaz’s family was present at the Mass, which took place on July 25.

Pope Francis started his five-day visit to South Korea by making a public speech in English for the first time and riding inside a compact Kia hatchback.

The pope read a 10-minute speech in English at the Presidential office in Seoul, noting Korea’s lack of peace, challenges facing solidarity and reconciliation, and the need to educate the young. Although he did not directly mention North Korea, the references were clear, with his speech following an address by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who dedicated most of her message slamming the North.

“Catholics in North Korea had been stripped of their assets, religious leaders kidnapped and murdered,” she said at the welcome ceremonial speech. The South Korean government is “trying best to follow the road of peace, instead of war and nuclear weapons,” she stressed.

“We trust the pope’s wish is also a denuclearized Korean peninsula,” she said
Before the pope’s arrival, North Korea test-fired three short-range projectiles from Wonsan, the North’s eastern coast. Two more were fired after he landed. The projectiles flew about 135 miles, according to the Ministry of Defense. North Korea this year has conducted an unusually high number of artillery tests expressing anger over joint military exercises between the United States and South Korean forces.

Excitement and anticipation is high in the streets of Seoul with images of the pope decorating roadside banners and subway stations, mega-size welcome posters hanging from buildings and Korean television stations broadcasting his every public moment.

Pope Francis, 77, has been studying his English to communicate better with the English-speaking Asians without a translator, according to a news release by the preparatory Committee of the Papal Visit to Korea. He sent a video message in English to the Philippines last year, but never a public speech.

“English is the only universal language that he could communicate with people in Asia,” said Lionel Jensen, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Notre Dame.

”It’s a symbolic gesture, making an overture to connect with the Asian youth, but it does put an enormous amount of pressure on him that his English is understandable.”

Unlike his predecessors Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who fluently spoke eight and seven languages, respectively, Pope Francis normally speaks Italian at public appearances, at times – but rarely – his mother tongue, Spanish. In his biography, El Jesuita, written by Sergio Rubin, he had admitted difficulties in learning phonetics of English words because he is “tone deaf.”

For South Koreans, it was the pope’s choice of a modest, locally made Kia Soul car that fascinated the public rather than his new attempt at an English speech. The papal ride from the airport to the city was broadcast live, showing images of the entourage in the dark gray car escorted front and back by dozens of luxury SUVs and police motorbikes.

“It was just funny, how he climbed into a tiny car like a cat going for a small cozy space,” said Kim Ji-hwan, a journalism student in Seoul. “It’s humbling and at the same time respectful. The Korean Protestant priests at mega-churches ride Mercedes-Benz.”

The five-day papal visit is tightly-scheduled, with the pontiff expected to travel more than 620 miles. He plans to meet with children; relatives of the 300 victims, mostly school children, from the sunken Sewol ferry in April; the disabled; immigrants; as well as officials.

He is to meet about 6,000 children Friday and answer questions at the Asian Youth Day event in Solmoe, 64 miles south of Seoul.

The main reason for his visit is the beatification of 124 martyrs on Saturday at the heart of Seoul city, Gwanghwamun.

More than 5.4 million, or 11 percent of the Korean population is Catholic, growing at a dynamic pace, especially after Saint John Paul II travelled here twice in 1984 and 1989. The Christian faith “was born in a very particular way” in South Korea, with residents researching the Christian faith and visiting China to meet with missionaries there, according to Father Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Vatican. The early Christians were persecuted and thousands of missionaries suffered death, martyrdom.

On a broader scope, Asia as a whole offers the Vatican potential for growth and influence. Roughly 60 percent of world population resides in Asia, but it is home to only 12 percent of the world’s Catholics.

Catholicism, especially in China, has been growing dramatically in recent years. Official count stands at 9 to 10 million registered with the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that refuses to acknowledge the Vatican.

“That number is largely misrepresented because it does not reflect the underground church that grew steadily over many years,” Jensen said.

On his way to Seoul passing through Chinese airspace, the pope sent a goodwill telegram message to China in accordance with tradition as all popes do as they fly over countries.

“I extend best wishes to your Excellency and your fellow citizens and I invoke the divine blessing of peace and well-being upon the nation,” he said in a written message to President Xi Jinping.

Beijing had refused to allow Pope John Paul II to fly over its airspace in previous visits.

Pope Francis’ message on the trip will also be directed at North Korea, where religious freedom is virtually nonexistent. Pyongyang had declined Seoul’s invitation for its state-run church members to attend a papal mass for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula scheduled on Monday in Seoul’s Myondong cathedral, the symbolic church of the Korean catholic community.

I had no idea so many Koreans were Catholic. That is interesting.
On Sunday morning Pope Francis baptized 62-year-old Lee Ho-Jin – the father of one of the victims from the Sewol Ferry tragedy earlier this year – who took on the baptismal name “Francis.”

Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi reported that the baptism was celebrated in 20 minutes without Mass. It was officiated by a Korean priest, who is acting as the Pope's translator, with Pope Francis conducting the immersion and anointing.

According to the nunciature in Korea where the the baptism took place, the ceremony was attended by Lee Ho-Jin's son, daughter, and a priest of the Suwon diocese.

On Aug. 15, Fr. Lombardi told CNA that the Pope met with some of the family members from the ferry tragedy before a Mass with thousands of Koreans at the World Cup stadium in Daejon earlier in the week.

He approached, blessed and “touched the head of each one of them and he shared his closeness” with them, Fr. Lombardi said.

Lee spoke to the Pope, the Vatican Spokesman said, after “having made a long pilgrimage carrying a cross and praying for his young son who died on the ferry.”

Fr. Lombardi underscored that Lee “solicited baptism. Obviously, he was not Christian and that is why he asked for it, but it is clear that he has had preparation with prayer, and with this pilgrimage that he made, we can say that he has been on a spiritual journey.”

According to official sources, the cause of the ferry's shipwreck of Sewol was a sharp turn. At least 36 people were officially declared dead, an d around 280 have not yet been found.

Announced by the Vatican in March, the Pope's Aug. 13-18 trip follows an invitation from the president of the Korean Republic, Park Geun-hye, and the bishops of Korea.

During his time, the Pope traveled from the capital city of Seoul to Daejon, where he celebrated the Sixth Asian Youth Day with thousands of young people. He also visited the rehabilitation center for disabled persons in Kkottongnae, as well as a shrine in Haemi for a closing Mass with Asian youth.

The Preparatory Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea reported that it is the first time in 25 years that a Pope has baptized a Korean since a group were baptized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.

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Pope at Audience Warns Against Evil One Who Sows Discord Between People, Nations
But Says We Can Have Victory If We Remain in God's Love

Vatican City, August 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) Deborah Castellano Lubov | 481 hits

Reflecting on his five-day apostolic visit to South Korea that concluded Monday, Pope Francis affirmed that Christ never diminishes or cancels something 'good,' like culture, he only enriches them, and brings them to their full potential.

Speaking to the thousands gathered for this morning’s weekly Audience in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke on his visit and the Church in Korea, stressing, “Christ does not abolish what is good, but carries it on, and brings it to fruition.”

“My recent apostolic journey to Korea enabled me to visit a young and dynamic Church filled with missionary zeal, a point of encounter between ancient Asian cultures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said, noting this visit’s significance “can be summed up in three words: memory, witness and hope.”

“As a guardian of memory and hope,” he said, the Church is "a spiritual family in which adults convey to young people the torch of faith received from the elderly; the memory of the witnesses of the past becomes the new testimony in the present and hope for the future.” 

He underscored how these roles were clearly seen in both the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and in the celebration of the 6th Asian Youth Day.

On being a guardian of witness, the Holy Father said, “A young person is always looking for something that makes life worth living, and the martyr bears witness to something, indeed, to Someone for whom it is worth giving one's life,” he said. "This reality is Love, it is God, who took flesh in Jesus, Witness of the Father.”

The Church in Korea, he said, “is founded on faith, on missionary efforts and martyrdom of lay faithful,” stressing it grew largely because of these laity “who saw the attractiveness of the Gospel” and “sought to live like the first Christians, in equal dignity and solidarity with the poor.”

Reflecting on the nation's history of the faith, the Pontiff said, “Christ does not cancel cultures, Christ does not cancel cultures. He doesn’t suppress the progress of the people who, through the centuries and millennia, seek truth and practice love for God and neighbor.”

Typical of the Argentine Pontiff, Francis warned against the devil’s tricks, and explained how the faithful can steer clear.

“Who Christ fights and defeats is the evil one,” he said, “who sows discord between man and man, between nation and nation; who generates exclusion because of idolatry of money; who sows poison into the hearts of young people."

However, the Pope reminded those present, “Jesus Christ has fought and won over him with His sacrifice of love,” so if “we remain in Him, in His love, we too, like the martyrs, can live and witness his victory.”

Francis' hope for the peninsula's people, he expressed, is they continue to grow in faith and love, overcome every division, and have a future of reconciliation and hope.

This trip, he concluded, was illuminated by the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.

From above, Mary accompanies the journey of God's people, “supporting even the most tiring steps,” “comforting those who are undergoing trials” and “keeping open the horizon of hope,” said the Pope.

The Pope entrusted the trip to Our Lady with stops at Rome’s Marian basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore, just before and after his trip.

Pope Francis describes a youthful encounter with Evita Peron, and says that he has always been “restless” about political matters, in a new biography published in his native Argentina.

The Pope said that he met Evita Peron when he and his brother went to a Peronist party office to collect some literature for a school project. He saw Juan Peron only on one occasion, from a distance, when he attended a meeting about educational affairs, the Pope reports.

The new book, Quel Franesco (“That Francis”) reports on how, as a young priest in Argentina, the future Pontiff met with activists from both left- and right-wing political parties. “I never joined any party,” the Pope reports, saying that he had friends in different camps and tried to understand them, but their approaches left him “restless” for a better perspective.


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