Mother Cabrini's care for immigrants remains relevant, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2017 / 11:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a letter Tuesday to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis reflected on the role of their foundress, St. Frances Cabrini, explaining how her example is a fitting guide for the challenges of migration we face today.

“The centennial of the death of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is one of the main events marking the journey of the Church,” the Pope said Sept. 19. “Both because of the greatness of the figure commemorated and because of the contemporary nature of her charism and message, not just for the ecclesial community but for society as a whole.”

With the “inevitable tensions” caused by the high levels of migration around the world today, Mother Cabrini becomes a contemporary figure, he continued.

Pointing to her example, he said “the great migrations underway today need guidance filled with love and intelligence similar to what characterizes the Cabrinian charism. In this way the meeting of peoples will enrich all and generate union and dialogue, not separation and hostility.”

The Pope’s words on Mother Cabrini and immigration were sent to participants in the General Assembly of the Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

They are meeting in Chicago Sept. 17-23, marking the 100th anniversary of the death of their foundress, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants.

An Italian missionary, Mother Cabrini died on Dec. 22, 1917 after spending much of her life working with Italian immigrants in the United States.

She spent nearly 30 years traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean as well as around the United States setting up orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools for the often marginalized Italian immigrants. Her feast is celebrated Nov. 13.

We must not forget, Pope Francis noted, St. Cabrini’s missionary sensitivity, which was not “sectorial, but universal.”

“That is the vocation of every Christian and of every community of the disciples of Jesus,” he said.

Mother Cabrini’s charism gave her the strength to devote herself to Italian immigrants, particularly orphans and miners, the Pope stated, and always in cooperation with the local authorities.

She helped them to fully integrate with the culture of their new countries, accompanying the Italian immigrants in becoming “fully Italian and fully American.” At the same time she worked to preserve and revive within them the Christian tradition of their country of origin, Francis pointed out.

“The human and Christian vitality of the immigrants thus became a gift to the churches and to the peoples who welcomed them.”

In addition to all of this, she accepted the call from God to be a missionary at a time when it would have been considered unusual for women to be sent all over the world to do missionary work with their own charism as consecrated women religious.

But her “clearly feminine, missionary consecration” came from her “total and loving union with the Heart of Christ whose compassion surpasses all limits.”

St. Frances Cabrini's love for the Heart of Christ gave her the evangelical fervor and strength to care for those on the edges of society, Francis said.

“She lived and instilled in her sisters the impelling desire of reparation for the ills of the world and to overcome separation from Christ, an impetus that sustained the missionary in tasks beyond human strength.”

This year’s centennial celebration gives us the opportunity to look at Mother Cabrini and the charism of the Institute of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with “intimate and joyful gratitude to God,” the Pope continued.

“This is a great gift above all for you, the spiritual daughters of Mother Cabrini,” he concluded. “May your whole Institute, every community and every religious receive an abundant effusion of the Holy Spirit that revitalizes faith and the following of Jesus in accordance with the missionary charism of your Foundress.

Pope Francis retools John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2017 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio changing the legal status of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, making it a theological institute charged with studying marriage and the family from a scientific perspective.

The motu proprio, titled “Summa Familiae Cura,” meaning “Highest Care of Families,” was published Sept. 19 and officially established the John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family, replacing the former institute founded by John Paul II in 1981.

In the document, Francis noted that John Paul II made great strides in the area of the family, first of all with his 1980 Synod of Bishops on the topic and the subsequent publication of his post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the conclusions of the gathering, “Familiaris Consortio.”

He then established the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in 1981 with the Apostolic Constitution “Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum” in order develop the themes in his 1960 book “Love and Responsibility,” written when he was still Cardinal Wojtyla, and as well as the theology of the body he developed while Pope.

“Since then it has developed a profitable work of theological and pastoral education both in its central headquarters in Rome and in the territorial sections, present on all continents,” Francis said.

While the institute's main headquarters remains in Rome, they have campuses all over the world, including Washington DC, Nigeria, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, India and South Korea, among others.

This path of development has continued, Francis said, with the recent 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the Family, which resulted in Pope Francis' own apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” published in 2015.

In the text, which was signed on the Sept. 8 Feast of the Nativity of Mary, the Pope said that in light of the new challenges families today face and increasing cultural changes, he wanted to establish the new entity so that the work of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family can be “better known and appreciated in its fruitfulness and relevance.”

Francis said this is why he chose to make it a theological institute with a scientific perspective, “expanding the field of interest, both in terms of the new dimensions of the pastoral task and the ecclesial mission, as well as in the development of human sciences and the anthropological culture in such a crucial field for the culture of life.”

Composed of six articles, the motu proprio said the new John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family, linked to the Pontifical Lateran University, will officially “substitute” the prior entity, annulling the 1981 constitution that established it.

However, Francis stressed that “the original inspiration” that led to the founding of the original institute will “continue to fertilize the vast field of engagement” of the new entity, “effectively contributing to make it fully correspond to the modern needs of the pastoral mission of the Church.”

The motu proprio stated that the new institute will be a “center of academic reference” on matters of scientific interest regarding marriage and the family, particularly on topics “connected with the fundamental alliance of man and woman for the care of generation and of creation.”

The new institute will be tied to the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy for Life, and the dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. It will also be required to adapt its structures to offer the necessary personnel, professors, programs and administrative staff needed to carry out its new task.

Students who attend the institute will now be able to obtain various degrees, including a Doctorate, Licentiate or diploma in the Sciences of Marriage and Family.

Although the statutes for the new institute still need to be defined, the leadership will remain the same, and will continue to be headed by the Institute's Grand Chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Chairman Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, and the entity's Board of Directors.

Until new statutes are in place, the theological institute will temporarily be governed by the norms under which the previous institute operated.

In a Sept. 19 press breifing on the motu proprio, Archbishop Paglia said the decision to establish a completely new entity was due to the importance of the family today.

The two key aspects of the new institute, he said, are that it is now “theological” and “scientific.”

Adding “theological” to the title points to “the ecclesial dimension in its fullness, the moral perspective, the sacramental perspective, but the biblical and dogmatic perspective, the perspective of history, of law,” he said.

By adding “sciences,” Paglia said it gives the institute the ability to study and explore topics in the “entire realm of human studies,” including the sociological, anthropological and psychological view from a more scientific perspective.

He said Pope Francis' 2015 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia will be new “magna carta” of-sorts for the institute, noting that Chapter 2 of the document is dedicated to the social and anthropological aspects of the family, while Chapter 4 is dedicated to scripture.

“The family, for Pope Francis, is not simply an abstract reality,” the archbishop said. “Families for Pope Francis are families who today must be helped and accompanied to rediscover their historical task, both in the Church and in society.”

Because of this, he said, there is a special link between the new motu proprio and the 2014 and 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.

In addition, he said faculty will not be cut, but rather expanded, bringing in new professors and experts to discuss themes relevant to the the Sciences of Marriage and Family, including those who aren't Catholic.

Because it is a scientific entity and due to its link to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the institute “dialogues with everyone who reflects on this theme,” Paglia said, adding that “it clear that the dialogue with those who aren't Catholic must be done.”

Pope Francis: Colombia is proof that love is stronger than death

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2017 / 09:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wendesday Pope Francis recalled his recent visit to Colombia, saying the desire for peace in the country is proof that the violence of their past doesn't have the last word, but rather, the love and mercy of Christ.

“Colombia, like most Latin American countries, is a country in which the Christian roots are strong,” the Pope said in his Sept. 13 general audience.

“And if this fact makes the pain due to the tragedy of the war that has torn it apart even more acute, at the same time it constitutes the guarantee of peace, the solid foundation of its reconstruction, the lifeblood of its invincible hope,” he said.

Given its recent bloody past, Francis said “it's evident that the Evil One wanted to divide the people in order to destroy the work of God, but it is equally evident that love of Christ and his infinite mercy is stronger than sin and death.”

The Pope spoke to pilgrims present at his general audience, which took place just two days after he returned from his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia.

The visit, which marked Francis' third tour of South America since his election in 2013, took him to a total of four cities, including Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín and Cartagena.

In his audience address, the Pope said that while in Colombia, he felt a strong continuity with Bl. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, who visited the country in 1968 and 1986, respectively. He described it as “a continuity strongly animated by the Spirit, which guides the people of God on the streets of history.”

Pointing to the theme of the trip, “Let us take the first step,” he said it refers to the process of reconciliation Colombia is going through after more than 50 years of conflict between the government and guerrilla and paramilitary groups.

Colombia, he said, is trying “to go out of a half century of internal conflict, which has sown suffering and enmities, causing many wounds that are difficult to heal.”

However, he said that “with the help of God the path is now underway,” adding that during his visit he wanted to “bless the effort of that people, confirm them in faith and in hope, and receive their testimony, which is a richness for my ministry and for the entire Church.”

“This visit was intended to bring the blessing of Christ, the blessing of the Church, to the desire for life and peace which overflows from the heart of that nation,” he said.

Francis then recounted the different stages of his visit to Colombia, recalling how in Bogotá he was able to see this desire in the eyes of the “thousands and thousands of children, teenagers and young people” who came to meet him at the Apostolic Nunciature, where he stayed during his visit.

He also noted that he was able to meet the bishops of Colombia and all of Latin America, and gave thanks “that I could embrace them and for having given them my pastoral encouragement for their mission in service to the sacramental Church of Christ.”

Then in Villavicencio, the day was dedicated to reconciliation, and included a large gathering for national reconciliation and a Mass in which the Pope beatified the two modern martyrs Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. María Ramírez Ramos.

The two martyrs, he said, was a reminder “that peace is founded also and above all on the blood of the many witnesses of love, truth, justice and even the true and real martyrs killed for the faith, like the two mentioned.”

Listening to their biographies “was moving to tears: tears of pain and joy together,” he said. And in front of their relics and their faces “the holy people of God felt their own identity strongly, with pain, thinking of the many, too many, victims, and with joy, for the mercy of God extending toward those who fear him.”

Then in Medellín, the perspective for the day was that of “Christian life as discipleship: vocation and mission,” Francis said.

“When Christians commit themselves until the end in the journey following Jesus Christ, becoming true salt, light and leaven in the world,...the fruits are seen abundantly,” he said, explaining that one of these fruits was the children's home he visited for youth who have lost their families due to violence or poverty.  

Finally, the Pope drew attention to his visit to Cartagena, where St. Peter Claver lived. The saint, who was referenced in many of Francis' speeches during the trip, was an “apostle of the slaves,” he said.

St. Peter Claver and St. Maria Bernarda Bütler, a missionary in Colombia, “gave their lives for the poor and marginalized, and so revealed the path to true revolution; evangelical, not ideological, which truly frees people and society from the slavery of yesterday and, unfortunately, today,” he said.

In this sense, “taking the first step” means above all “drawing near, bending down, touching the flesh of the wounded and abandoned brother,” the Pope said. “And in doing it with Christ, the Lord became a salve for us. Thanks to him there is hope, because he is mercy and peace.”

Pope Francis closed his address by entrusting Colombia to the care and intercession of Our Lady of  Chiquinquirá, whose statue he venerated in the cathedral of  Bogotá.

“With the help of Mary, each Colombian can everyday take the first step toward their brother and sister, and so build together, day by day, peace and love, in justice and in truth.”

After his audience, Pope Francis greeted individuals and groups of pilgrims from different countries around the world, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who became Catholic in 2007 and has established several foundations and non-profit organizations based on faith and global advancement.