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Pope Francis: God's law brings freedom

Vatican City, Feb 16, 2020 / 06:26 am (CNA).- God gives the grace both to follow his law exteriorly and to accept it in one’s heart, which is what gives true freedom from passion and sin, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.

“Let’s not forget this: living the Law as an instrument of freedom, which helps me to be freer, which helps me not to be a slave to passions and sin,” the pope said Feb. 16.

In his catechesis before the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between “formal compliance” and “substantive compliance” with the law, which is to accept the law also in one’s “the center of the intentions, decisions, words, and gestures of each of us.”

“Good and bad deeds,” he said, “start from the heart.”

The pope explained that “by accepting the Law of God in your heart, you understand that when you do not love your neighbor, you kill yourself and others to some extent, because hatred, rivalry and division kill the fraternal charity that underlies interpersonal relationships.” This is also true of gossip, he added.

Jesus knows it is not always easy to live the Ten Commandments in this way, “for this reason he offers us the help of his love,” Francis assured.

“He came into the world not only to fulfill the Law,” the pope continued, “but also to give us his Grace, so that we can do the will of God, loving him and our brothers.”

“Everything, everything we can do with the grace of God!”

Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, encourages his followers to have a correct understanding of the law, Francis explained.

“Jesus wants to help his listeners to have a correct approach to the rules of the Commandments given to Moses, urging us to be available to God who educates us to true freedom and responsibility through the Law,” he said.

“It is about living [the law] as an instrument of freedom.”

Pope Francis said: “It is a matter of trusting and entrusting ourselves to him, to his grace, to that gratuitousness that he has given us and to welcome the hand that he constantly extends to us, so that our efforts and our necessary commitment can be supported by his help, full of goodness and of mercy.”

According to the pope, war is also an example of succumbing to one’s passions.

He recalled the death of an 18-month-old girl, who died of cold in a refugee camp in Afrin, Syria Feb. 14.

War has many consequences. “This is the result of passions,” he said. “People who make war cannot control their passions.”

“Today, Jesus asks us to progress on the path of love that he has shown us, and which starts from the heart,” he said.

“This is the way forward to live as a Christian. May the Virgin Mary help us to follow the path traced by her Son, to reach true joy and spread justice and peace everywhere.”


Next ordinary synod of bishops to be held in 2022

Vatican City, Feb 15, 2020 / 11:03 am (CNA).- The next ordinary assembly of the synod of bishops is to be held in the fall of 2022, according to a press release from the Vatican on Saturday.

The theme has not yet been decided, but will be up to Pope Francis, who was presented with three possible options by the council of the general secretariat of the synod in a meeting last week.

An ordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops is usually convoked by the pope every three years to discuss a matter of importance to the Church in general.

The last ordinary assembly was the 2018 synod of bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.

A Feb. 15 statement said the pope chose to call the next ordinary assembly for 2022, at a space of four years instead of three from the previous one, “so as to ensure greater involvement of the whole Church in the preparation and celebration of the next Ordinary Synod.”

The most recent synod of bishops was the 2019 Amazon synod. A special assembly of the synod, it focused on a specific geographical area of the Church, in this case, the Amazon region, which spans nine countries in South America.

The third type of synodal meeting the pope can call is an extraordinary general assembly, which is organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The secretariat of the synod of bishops consists of a council led by Secretary General Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and Pro-Secretary General Bishop Mario Grech.

The secretariat met Feb. 6-7 for the purpose of communicating to Pope Francis ideas for the next synod and to discuss the work carried out since the 2018 youth synod.

The Feb. 15 statement did not indicate what themes were proposed to Pope Francis, but said the three were decided last year through consultations with bishops’ conferences, synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, dicasteries of the Roman curia, and the Union of Superiors General.

The secretariat also released a message Feb. 15, stating it discussed the issue of migration, saying it reflected “among other things, on consequences of the migratory phenomenon taking place in different regions of the planet.”

Considering the many complications and difficulties migrants and refugees can face, including the risk of trafficking, forced prostitution, and abuse, the council of the secretariat said it “wishes to recall that the Church, while deploring the reasons that cause such a massive movement of people, is called to offer comfort, consolation and welcome to all those who are suffering in one way or another.”

Synods of bishops convened by the pope serve a mainly consultative role, as indicated in the Code of Canon Law.

Their main purpose is to foster unity between the pope and the bishops around the world, and to offer their input as the pope considers questions pertaining to the Church’s activity in different parts of the world, on issues of faith and morals, and “in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline.”

Pope Francis speaks about financial reforms to Vatican tribunal

Vatican City, Feb 15, 2020 / 05:24 am (CNA).- As the Holy See awaits the results of a scheduled financial inspection, Pope Francis spoke about ongoing financial reform and investigations at the opening of the judicial year of the Vatican City State’s court, which he attended for the first time.

He said Feb. 15 the Holy See is trying to conform to international law and has put in place processes to combat “illegality in the international finance sector.”

To do this, the Vatican has put in place internal surveillance and intervention systems, which “have recently brought to light suspicious financial situations,” he stated.

Situations, which, he continued, “beyond any possible illegality, are difficult to reconcile with the nature and purposes of the Church, and which have generated disorientation and uneasiness in the community of the faithful.”

Addressing the promotor of justice, prelate auditors, officials, lawyers, and collaborators of the tribunal of Vatican City State, he said “these are events for the attention of the judiciary,” and have not yet been determined to have been criminal and therefore are not pronounced on.

Pope Francis called it “positive” that first reports of the possibly illegal activities came from internal Vatican authorities, thus demonstrating “the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement actions, as required by international standards.”

“The Holy See is firmly willing to continue on the path undertaken,” he said, not only with the legislative reforms in place, but with “new forms of judicial cooperation,” meeting international standards and practices.

Pope Francis’ address at the Vatican City State tribunal’s opening of the judicial year was the first of his pontificate. It has sometimes been attended by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state.

The tribunal is composed of three judges, a president, and a notary, each nominated by the pope.

In early October 2019, Pope Francis named a new president of the Vatican City State’s tribunal, Italian prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone.

The appointment was announced just two days after the Vatican gendarmes carried out a search on the offices of the Secretariat of State and the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF), resulting in the suspension of five employees.

Among these five was AIF’s director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, who Pope Francis said at the end of November is still suspended, because of suspected “bad administration.”

Meanwhile, the Egmont Group, through which 164 financial intelligence authorities share information and coordinate their work, suspended the AIF in mid-November.

The suspension was followed five days later by the resignation of AIF president René Brüelhart. His replacement, Carmelo Barbagallo, was named by Pope Francis at the end of November.

Barbagallo announced Jan. 23 that the Egmont Group had revoked the suspension and the AIF could resume collaboration with foreign financial intelligence bodies.

Before being readmitted to the Egmont Group’s secure communications network, the Vatican tribunal had to guarantee the processing of confidential intelligence data that had been acquired in the course of investigations into the purchase and sale of a London property, according to ACI Stampa.

Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, is scheduled to carry out an inspection of the Vatican this spring, after the Holy See was due to send a report in December.

The inspection comes after the Vatican in 2012 agreed to comply with a set of “recommendations” from Moneyval, incorporating them into internal policies.

CNA has reported a series of allegations concerning two major Vatican investments arranged by the Secretariat of State, one of which involves the Secretariat’s purchase of a London property earmarked for development into luxury apartments.

In his speech to the tribunal Saturday, Pope Francis spoke about justice, quoting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “For as you judge, so will you be judged.”

“These words must not frighten us, but only spur us to do our duty with seriousness and humility,” he said.

The pope emphasized the importance of personal conversion and that justice be accompanied by the other three cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, and fortitude.

If bad takes over the good in their interior lives, “no judicial system could save us,” he stated. “In this sense, I invite everyone to feel involved not only in an external commitment that concerns others, but also in personal work within each of us; our personal conversion.”

“This is the only justice that generates justice!”


Pope Francis discusses 'Querida Amazonia' with US bishops in Rome

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2020 / 02:17 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis this week discussed his new post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Querida Amazonia, with United States bishops in Rome for their ad limina visits to the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul.

In a two and half hour-long Feb. 10 meeting with the bishops of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, Francis spoke about his document following October’s Amazon synod, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver told CNA.

“He brought up to us that he was going to release it and with that he brought up too the question of celibacy,” Archbishop Aquila said.

Pope Francis was expected to focus in Querida Amazonia on a proposal to ordain married men as priests in the Amazon region. He instead emphasized the importance of collaboration in apostolic ministry by Catholics in various states of life.

About the proposal, Vatican’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, wrote Feb. 12 that Pope Francis “has decided to respond not by foreseeing changes or further possibilities of exceptions from those already provided for by current ecclesiastical discipline.”

According to Archbishop Aquila, the pope said Feb. 10 that his “primary concern is that the Gospel be proclaimed in the Amazon. And that all of us need to focus on Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel first. Because if we proclaim the Gospel and are faithful to the Gospel then vocations will come forth.”

The pope also spoke, Archbishop Aquila said, “about the importance of having catechists who are well-trained and well-formed and who are true disciples of Christ and the Church, who have a deep love for the Church, to go into those regions [where there are few priests] and catechize.”

Francis said the Church in Africa has done this and is seeing vocations to the priesthood and religious life flourish.

Bishop William Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee was among a group of bishops who met with Pope Francis Feb. 13.

Bishop Wack told CNA Pope Francis “expressed a little frustration” that many people had “reduced” the entire Amazon synod, which took place over three weeks, to only the issue of priestly celibacy, and they were either “disappointed or elated” that it was not a part of the papal exhortation.

The pope said the issue of priestly celibacy, according to Bishop Wack, “wasn’t really part of the synod at all.”

The bishops of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina met with the pope for nearly three hours Feb. 13. During their meeting they asked the pope what key points of Querida Amazonia he would like them to bring back to their dioceses.

“The synod is about being missionaries, bringing the Gospel of Jesus to our brothers and sisters, especially amidst a lot of difficulties and a tremendous shortage of priests,” Bishop Wack said. “It’s a rich document and it really challenges us to be missionary disciples.”

Archbishop Aquila said in his meeting the bishops also spoke with Pope Francis about transgenderism.

“The Holy Father was very clear,” the archbishop noted. “He said [transgenderism] is one of the great challenges in the United States right now and he said the other is abortion.”

“Both of them really deal with the dignity of human life,” Aquila said. “There are only two genders, male and female, and so how do we open our hearts to receiving that as gift.”

An “ad limina apostolorum” visit is a papal meeting required for every diocesan bishop in the world to provide an update on the state of one’s diocese. The trip to Rome, usually made together with all the bishops from a country or region, typically takes place every five years. It also will usually include meetings with many of the offices in the Roman curia.

The last set of U.S. bishops to make their ad limina visit will be those of the Eastern Catholic Churches, who will be in Rome Feb. 17-21. 

Pope Francis meets again with Knights of Columbus

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2020 / 01:45 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis met with leadership of the Knights of Columbus on Wednesday, for the second time in a week, in the Cappella Paolina of the Apostolic Palace.

The pope met with the Knights' officers and directors with their families Feb. 12, following a Mass said by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain to the Knights.

Francis prayed an Our Father and a Hail Mary with the Knights, promising to pray for them and asking their prayers in turn.

Archbishop Lori gave the pope an Italian edition of a biography of Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights.

Francis had already received the leadership in an audience in the Clementine Hall Feb. 10.

“It was a great honor for our delegation to meet with the Pope not just once, but twice,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said.

“We are touched by the fact that Pope Francis took so much time with us, and we remain inspired by his words and grateful for his prayers. I ask all brother Knights and their families to take seriously the Holy Father’s request and commit to praying for him each day.”

The administrative council of the Knights of Columbus is on a pilgrimage to Rome to mark 100 years of charitable activity in the Eternal City.

At their Feb. 10 meeting, Pope Francis had praised the organization's charitable work in Rome and in defense of life.

“Today the Knights of Columbus continue their work of evangelical charity and fraternity in a variety of fields,” the pope said. “I think in particular of your faithful witness to the sacredness and dignity of human life, evident at both the local and national levels.”

He also noted the Knights’ dedication to aiding, “both materially and spiritually, those Christian communities in the Middle East that are suffering the effects of violence, war and poverty.”

“I thank all the members of your Order for seeing in our persecuted and displaced brothers and sisters of that region neighbors for whom you are a sign of God’s infinite love,” he said.

Pope Francis noted the centenary of the group’s humanitarian aid in Rome, which started after World War I at the invitation of Benedict XV.

“The Knights responded generously, establishing sports centers for youth that quickly became places for education, catechesis and the distribution of food and other essentials so needed at that time,” he said.

Francis also praised the group for its “unswerving devotion to the Successor of Peter,” including through the Vicarius Christi fund, the annual proceeds of which are given to the pope for his personal charities.

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order, was founded in New Haven, Conn., in 1882 by Venerable Michael J. McGivney, a parish priest. It has 1.8 million members worldwide who perform volunteer service and advance the order’s key principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.

Analysis: 'Querida Amazonia' and the German synod

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Whatever Pope Francis wrote in this week’s apostolic exhortation on the Amazon, the impact of his text was always expected to reach far beyond the region it addressed.

Querida Amazonia, published Wednesday, offered a serious treatment of the situation facing the Church in parts of South America. It addressed the environment, social and cultural issues, and the importance of evangelization and inculturation among indigenous peoples.

But most of the reaction to the document focused not on what it said, but on what it did not say. Specifically, the pope ignored – perhaps pointedly – the calls made at last year’s Synod on the Amazon for the ordination of married men to the priesthood, and for consideration of some kind of female diaconate.

While these ideas were presented in the synod’s final document within the narrow context of the Amazon’s special circumstances, synodal participants made no efforts to conceal that their intended scope for the recommendations went far beyond Amazonia.

The bishops of Germany, notably, were clear that these proposals – and the pope’s expected favorable reception of them – would be a crucial support for the “binding synodal process” unfolding in their own country.

Together with the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), the bishops opened that process at the beginning of Advent last year. The aim of the participants, by their own admission, is to “reform” the Church in Germany by doing away with clerical celibacy, bringing in the ordination of women, and allowing the Church to recognize and bless same-sex unions.

After a back-and-forth with the Vatican last year, in which first Pope Francis, along with several senior curial officials, rejected the German synod’s plans and priorities, anticipation was high that the Amazonian exhortation would provide new cover for the German agenda.

In light of all that, the pope’s silence this week on the issue of celibacy, and his words on the importance and dignity of women’s ministry outside of the clerical state, were seen, at least by the ZdK, as a defeat for their progressive aims.

“This letter is of course the view of the situation in the Amazon region,” the committee said in a statement issued in response to Querida Amazonia, which apparently sought to limit the scope of an intervention they had initially intended to broaden.

The ZdK said that, before the pope issued his exhortation, “expectations regarding concrete steps towards reform, especially with regard to access to the priestly office and the role of women, were very high.”

“Unfortunately, he does not find the courage to implement real reforms on the issues of consecration of married men and the liturgical skills of women that have been discussed for 50 years.” 

“Rather, [the exhortation] strengthens the existing positions of the Roman Church both in terms of access to the priesthood and the participation of women in ministries and ministries.”

Yet, even while Querida Amazonia “strengthens of the existing positions of the Roman Church,” there are no signs the exhortation will slow, let alone halt, the German’s progressive synodal march.

The ZdK claimed in their statement that “with this message, [Francis] encourages us in our Church in Germany to continue the synodal path that we started very successfully.” 

Their inference is difficult to square with the pope’s previous characterization of the German process as a “well organized and even ‘modernized’ ecclesiastical body, but without soul and evangelical novelty.”

In his own response to the pope’s exhortation, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops’ conference, noted that two-thirds of the Amazon synod’s participants had voted for exceptions to clerical celibacy and “further reflection” on some kind of women clergy.

“Against the background of the reform proposals discussed in Germany, these issues were particularly well received by the Church and public,” Marx called the pope’s magisterial document a “framework for reflection,” while noting that he had given no “concrete decisions” on the matter.

“This discussion will continue,” Marx concluded.

Following the German reaction to Querida Amazonia, it is not clear what, if anything, could bring their synodal discussions to an end, even if they have been now revealed as considerably out of step with the pope’s own plans for the Church. 

Last month, the secretary of the German bishops’ conference gave an interview in which he said it is “unacceptable” for Rome continue to have full discretion over universal teaching and discipline.

Fr. Father Hans Langendörfer, SJ, called for other regions of the Catholic Church to follow the German example, and effectively force through a new federal model on the Church.

Roman pushback against the German synodal plans has largely been left to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. It was Ouellet who sent Marx the Vatican’s blunt legal assessment of the German synodal plans, which concluded they were “ecclesiologically invalid.” It was also Ouellet who Roman opposition to the German-led campaign against clerical celibacy at the Amazon synod last October, publishing a book on the subject just as the sessions began.

Oullet turned 75 in June last year, the legal age of retirement for curial positions, and many in Rome have predicted that Francis will replace him in 2020. The unexpected decision of Cardinal Marx this week to step back from leading the German bishops could signal his hope – or expectation – that Ouellet’s job is his for the asking.

If Marx were to move to Rome, he would likely be able to influence more directly the final draft of the forthcoming apostolic constitution to reform the Roman curia, and with it Rome’s relationship with national bishops’ conferences. That document is already seen by some in Rome as the German bishops’ ultimate hope for rebalancing the exercise of authority in the Church, weighting it more firmly in favor of national and regional decision making.

Whether Marx is destined for a curial promotion or not, for the moment he is right in one thing: his discussion, the German discussion, will continue, regardless of what Pope Francis wants.

Pope Francis to laity: 'It is time for you' to share the Gospel

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2020 / 09:47 am (CNA).- Laypeople have a mandate to spread the Gospel in their concrete circumstances through the witness of their lives, Pope Francis said in a message sent Friday to Catholics attending a congress on laity in Spain.

“The living Word of God needs to be preached with passion and joy through Christian witness, to be able to tear down even the highest walls that isolate and exclude,” the pope wrote in the message, delivered Feb. 14.

“It is time for you, men and women engaged in the world of culture, politics, industry... that with their way of life are able to bring the novelty and joy of the Gospel wherever they are.”

Francis encouraged lay people to live their vocation “immersed in the world” and “with God and with the Church” to listen to the people around them.

He also asked lay Catholics to be careful of the temptations of clericalism, competitiveness, stiffness, negativity, and “ecclesial careerism.”

These temptations “suffocate the specificity of [the laity’s] call to holiness in today’s world,” he added.

The pope emphasized that “we are part of a Christian community. We are not one more group, nor an NGO, but the family of God summoned around the same Lord.”

“Remembering this leads us to deepen our faith every day: a gift that is lived in liturgical action, in the common prayer of the whole Church, and which must be announced.”

He said “the missionary mandate is always current.”

Pope Francis sent his message on the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Europe along with St. Benedict.

Brothers, priests, and missionaries, Sts. Cyril and Methodius “promoted a great evangelization in this continent, bringing the message of the Gospel to those who did not know it, making it comprehensible and close to the people of their time,” the pope said.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius are sometimes called the “Apostles of the Slavs,” for their work spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century.

“With their ingenuity and testimony, they were able to bring the light and joy of the Gospel to a complex and hostile world,” Francis said about the saints, noting that their example teaches people to live the faith, not in isolation, but in community, “as people loved and cherished by God.”

The National Laity Congress is taking place in Madrid Feb. 14-16.

Pope Francis on St John Paul II: 'I learned from him'

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2020 / 10:33 am (CNA).- In a newly published book, Pope Francis answers questions about himself and St. John Paul II, saying he learned the importance of joy and mercy from his predecessor, and they are in “total harmony” on the subject of priestly ministry.

“I think that joy is the most important characteristic of the encounter with the risen Jesus,” Pope Francis said, noting the joy and mercy of John Paul II’s pontificate, “I learned from him.”

Pope Francis’ thoughts on his predecessor and other topics are recorded in the Italian-language book “St. John Paul the Great,” published Feb. 11 and co-authored with Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco.

The book is divided into five chapters, each with information on an aspect or period of the life of John Paul II, written by Epicoco. These are followed by conversations with Pope Francis on related topics which took place from June 2019 to January 2020.

In one chapter, Fr. Epicoco, 39, quotes at length from John Paul II’s letter “Gift and Mystery,” which the Polish saint wrote for the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Francis said he believes it is enough to read letters he wrote on Holy Thursday or some of the homilies he gave as a bishop in Buenos Aires “to see that there is total harmony with the thought of St. John Paul II with respect to the priesthood.”

Pope Francis goes on to say he is “convinced celibacy is a gift, a grace, and walking in the footsteps of Paul VI and then of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, I am convinced that celibacy is a decisive grace that characterizes the Latin Catholic Church. I repeat: It is a grace, not a limit.”

Pope Francis was a provincial superior of the Jesuits when John Paul II was elected Bishop of Rome. He noted that at the moment the news of the new pope’s election was announced, he was driving. Hearing the name “Wojtyla” and not recognizing it, he said he first thought the new pope was African.

“I heard his first words and had a very good feeling,” Francis recalled. “And this impression was strengthened immediately afterwards, when they told me that he had been a university chaplain, a professor of philosophy, a mountain climber, a skier, a sportsman, a man who prayed a lot. I liked him a lot. I immediately felt a great fondness for him.”

The first encounter between the two men took place when John Paul II visited Argentina in 1987. It was “a dark moment in my life,” Francis said. Then still Fr. Jorge Bergoglio, he had returned to Argentina after being in Germany to write his doctorate “and to get away from a tense atmosphere in my religious province itself.”

Their second meeting was in 1994 during the Synod of Bishops on Consecrated Life, when Bergoglio was auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires.

The two also met during later synods and ad limina visits.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II made Archbishop Bergoglio a cardinal.

Francis shared a memory from the moment he received the red hat from the pope: “I felt the strong desire, while I was kneeling to receive the cardinal’s biretta, to not limit myself only to the exchange of the sign of peace, but to kiss [John Paul II’s] hand.”

“Some people criticized me for this gesture,” he added, “but it was spontaneous for me.”

Pope Francis canonized St. John Paul II in 2014.

“It is enough to look at his life” to see that John Paul II had “the smell of the sheep,” Francis said. “He was a pastor who loved people and the people returned it with an immense love.”

5 things to know about 'Querida Amazonia'

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis promulgated on Wednesday a new apostolic exhortation, or letter of encouragement, about the Church in the Amazon region. The document is a follow-up to a synod, or meeting, of bishops convened last year to discuss the Church in the region.

Here are five things to know about Querida Amazonia:

The Eucharist is the heart of the document.

Pope Francis spends much of the document talking about the needs of the Church in the Amazon region, where at least 20 million people live, across 8 countries. But the most important need of the Church, Pope Francis says, “is the celebration of the Eucharist because it ‘makes the Church.’

Quoting from the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis says that “no Christian community is built up which does not grow from and hinge on the celebration of the most holy Eucharist.”

Because the Eucharist is at the center of the Church, Pope Francis encourages the promotion of vocations, missionary priests in the Amazon, along with teaching and formation about what the Eucharist is, and why it matters so much.

The document does not permit married priests. 

The 2019 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon recommended to Pope Francis that diocesan bishops in the Amazon region should be permitted to ordain as priests married and mature permanent deacons to serve in communities without a priest. The idea gained traction, and became the source of debate, in many corners of the Church.

The pope did not accept that recommendation, and, Vatican officials said Wednesday, has no plans to accept it.

Seriously, the document is not about married priests, or priestly celibacy. 

Querida Amazonia discusses evangelization, cultural, missionary life, the environment and economic concerns, and the need for priests to collaborate with lay people, and especially women, to proclaim the Gospel and witness to Christ. It also discusses the importance of the priesthood in the life of the Church.

But for all the debate in recent months among some people about married priests, Pope Francis never even mentions the idea in his document. The pope has said for years that he thinks priestly celibacy is an important value for the Church, but did not raise the question at all in Querida Amazonia.

The pope encourages Catholics to read the recommendations of the 2019 Synod of Bishops.

At the conclusion of the 2019 Synod of Bishops, participants approved a document making recommendations to the pope about the Church’s ministry in the Amazon, including the possibility of ordaining married men as priests.

In Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis recommended that Catholics read that document. He did not endorse all its proposals, or any of them specifically, nor did he approve them with the magisterial authority of his office. He commended them for reading, study, and discussion.

The document ends with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pope Francis prays:

Mother of life,
in your maternal womb Jesus took flesh,
the Lord of all that exists.
Risen, he transfigured you by his light
and made you the Queen of all creation.
For that reason, we ask you, Mary, to reign
in the beating heart of Amazonia.


Pope Francis: The gift of tears is precious

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2020 / 12:49 pm (CNA).- During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis discussed the second beatitude, Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted, emphasizing the value of compunction.

Mourning “is an attitude that became central to Christian spirituality,” the pope said Feb. 12 at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

The desert fathers calld this “an inner pain that opens up to a relationship with the Lord and with one’s neighbour; a renewed relationship with the Lord and with one’s neighbour,” he said.

Mourning can have two aspects, Pope Francis said: “for death or for the suffering of someone” and “tears shed over sin – for our own sin, when the heart bleeds for the pain of having offended God and one’s neighbour.”

He said that it is “a question of loving the other in such a way that we are bound to him or her until we share his or her pain … it is important that others make a breach in our hearts.”

“I have often spoken about the gift of tears, and how precious it is,” he said.

“Can one love in a cold way? Can one love by function, by duty? Certainly not. There are the afflicted to console, but sometimes there are also the consoled to afflict, to awaken, who have a heart of stone and have forgotten how to weep. It is also necessary to reawaken people who do not know how to be moved by the pain of others.”

While bitter, mourning can “open one’s eyes to life and to the sacred and irreplaceable value of each person, and at that moment one realizes how short time is,” the pope reflected.

Turning to weeping over sin, Francis said that it is not anger at having made a mistake, which he called pride.

“Instead there are those who mourn the evil done, the good omitted, the betrayal of the relationship with God. This is mourning for not having loved, which springs from having the life of others at heart. Here one weeps because one does not correspond to the Lord Who loves us so much, and we are saddened by the thought of the good not done; this is the meaning of sin. They say, 'I have wounded the one I love', and it pains them to tears. God be blessed if these tears come!”

He said it is “difficult but vital” to face one's own errors.

“Let us think of the weeping of Saint Peter, which leads him to a new and far truer love: they are tears which purify, which renew. Peter looked to Jesus and wept: his heart was renewed.”

Pope Francis contrasted St. Peter with Judas, “who did not accept that he had made a mistake and, poor man, took his own life.”

“Understanding sin is a gift from God, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. We, by ourselves, are unable to understand sin. It is a grace we must ask for … This is a very great gift and after we have understood this, there comes the grief of repentance.”

The pope referred to St. Ephrem the Syrian's saying that “a face washed with tears is unspeakably beautiful.”

“The beauty of penitence, the beauty of tears, the beauty of contrition,” the pope exclaimed.

“Christian life finds its best expression in mercy. Wise and blessed is he who welcomes the pain linked to love, because he will receive the consolation of the Holy Spirit which God always forgives, even the worst sins, always is the tenderness of God Who forgives and corrects.”

He added that “God always forgives: let us never forget this.. The problem is in us, that we tire of asking for forgiveness, we become wrapped up in ourselves and we do not ask for forgiveness. This is the problem; but He is there to forgive.”