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Pope Francis

Pope to award 2016 Ratzinger Prize to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles

October 20, 2016. The winners of this year's Ratzinger Prize will be Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The former, an Italian priest, is an expert in Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology. The latter is Greek and an Orthodox. He is an expert in History of Dogmas and Dogmatic Theology. He will be the first Orthodox to be awarded the prize given by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, considered by many the Nobel Prize of Theology.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis sends his condolences to Thais after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

October 14, 2016. Pope Francis has sent a message to the Prime Minister of Thailand to express his condolences for the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was 88 years old, and his reign spanned seven decades. Pope Francis said he is "deeply saddened” and he expresses his closeness to the members of the royal family and the Thai people.
Pope Francis

Pope sends 100,000 dollars for Hurricane Matthew victims

October 14, 2016. Through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Pope Francis will send $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The money will fund relief efforts in the first stages of recovery after the devastating effects of the hurricane. With this gesture, the pope wants to express his "closeness of spirit and fatherly support” to everyone in the affected area.
Pope Francis

Pope authorizes new decrees of heroic virtues for four potential saints

October 11, 2016. Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues to four people, who are being investigated by the Church for possible sainthood. The decrees were given to the following "Servants of God:”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis rejects death penalty on Twitter: #NoDeathPenalty

October 10, 2016. The Pope has has given his support via Twitter to the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The following message can be read in each of his nine accounts, in their respective languages: "Punishment should necessarily include hope! #NoDeathPenalty.”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis announces Synod about youth and vocation

October 6, 2016. It will be held in 2018 under the name "Youth, faith, and vocational discernment.” Preparations for the second Synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis are well underway.

Theme chosen for 2017 World Communications Day

September 29, 2016. The theme for the 2017 World Communications Day has officially been announced. Coming from the book of Isiah, the theme is: "Fear not, for I am with you: communicating hope and trust in our time.”
Pope Francis

Pope will not be able to travel to Israel on Friday to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres

September 28, 2016. Despite the rumors that Pope Francis will travel to Israel to attend Shimon Peres funeral, the Vatican has issued a statement officially announcing a confirmation for the pope's scheduled visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan will remain as planned on Friday. The pope spoke warmly about the former leader and sent out a telegram of condolences:
Pope Francis

Pope's schedule during his trip to Sweden

September 27, 2016. Pope Francis will travel to Sweden next October 31 and November 1, for the occasion of the Lutheran–Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation.This will be the 17th trip of his pontificate.

Third priest found dead in Mexico

September 26, 2016.Mexican priest, Alfredo Lopez Guillen, was found dead this weekend on a rural road about 350 km east of Mexico City, after being allegedly abducted and assaulted in his parish on Monday September 19. This is the third case of violence against priests in Mexico in just one week. On Monday, September 19, Fr. Nabor Jiménez and Fr. José Alfredo Juarez were also kidnapped in the church of Our Lady of Fatima. Hours later they found them lifeless in a ditch in Poza Rica, Veracruz. The Catholic Church wants clarification on the murders, because it is not yet known who could be the alleged perpetrators.

Pope Francis' meditation at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption


(VIDEO ONLY) Pope Francis' meditation during a meeting with bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption in Paraguay. He discussed the nature of prayer and said that it "expresses what we experience and what we ought to experience in our daily lives.”


How good it is for all of us to pray Vespers together!  How can we not dream of of a Church which reflects and echoes the harmony of voices and song in her daily life!  That is what we are doing in this Cathedral, rebuilt so many times over the years.  This Cathedral symbolizes the Church and each one of us.  At times, storms from without and within force us to tear down what had been built and to begin again, but always with the hope given us by God. When we look at this building, we can surely say that it has not disappointed the hopes of the Paraguayan people… because God never disappoints!  For this we give thankful praise.

Liturgical prayer, in its unhurried structure, is meant to be an expression of the whole Church, the Spouse of Christ, as she strives to be ever more conformed to her Lord.  Each one of us, in prayer, wants to become more like Jesus.

Prayer expresses what we experience and what we ought to experience in our daily lives.  At least that is true of prayer that is not self-centered or merely for show.  Prayer makes us put into practice, or examine our consciences about, what we have prayed for in the Psalms.  We are the hands of the God who "lifts up the poor from the dust”.  We work to turn what is dry and barren into fertile ground.  We cry out that "precious in the eyes of the Lord is the life of his faithful ones”.  We are those who fight, speak up and defend the dignity of every human life, from birth to old age, when our years are many and our strength fails.  Prayer is the reflection of our love for God, for others and for all creation.  The commandment of love is the greatest way for the missionary disciple to be conformed to Jesus.  Union with Jesus deepens our Christian vocation, which is concerned with what Jesus "does” – which is something much greater than mere "activities” – with becoming more like him in all that we do. The beauty of the ecclesial community is born of this union of each of her members to the person of Jesus, creating an "ensemble of vocations” in the richness of harmonic diversity.

The antiphons of the Gospel canticles for this weekend evoke for us the sending of the Twelve by Jesus.  It is always good to grow in this awareness that apostolic work is carried out in communion!  It is admirable to see you cooperating pastorally, with respect for the nature and ecclesial role of each of the vocations and charisms.  I want to encourage all of you, priests, men and women religious, laity and seminarians to be committed to this ecclesial collaboration, especially with regard to diocesan pastoral plans and the continental mission, and to work together with complete availability in the service of the common good.  If our divisions lead to barrenness (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 98-101), then there is no doubt that communion and harmony lead to fruitfulness, because they are deeply attuned to the Holy Spirit.

Each of us has his or her limitations, and no one is able to reproduce Jesus in all his fullness.  Although all vocations are associated with certain aspects of the life and work of Jesus, some vocations are more general and essential.  Just now we praised the Lord for "he did not regard equality God as something to be exploited”.  This is the case with every Christian vocation: a person called by God does not show off; he or she does not seek recognition or applause; he or she does claim to be better than others, standing apart as if on a pedestal.   

Christ’s supremacy is clearly described in the liturgy of the Letter to the Hebrews.  As we just read from the final part of that Letter, we are to become perfect like "the great Shepherd of the sheep”.  This means that all consecrated persons are to be conformed to Jesus, who in his earthly life, "with prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” achieved perfection when, through suffering, he learned the meaning of obedience.  This too is part of our calling.

Let us conclude our celebration of Vespers.  The bell tower of this Cathedral was rebuilt a number of times.  The sound of its bells anticipates and accompanies our liturgical prayer on so many occasions.  Rebuilt for God whenever we pray, steadfast like a bell tower, joyful in ringing out the wonders of God, let us share the Magnificat and, through our consecrated life, allow the Lord to accomplish great things in Paraguay.