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November 17, 2017
Archive of September 10, 2017

Vatican: Pope Francis 'is fine' after hitting face on popemobile

Vatican City, Sep 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis is fine after a mishap on the popemobile in Colombia, when he slipped and hit himself trying to reach a child, prompting a wave of concern on social media.

“The Pope is fine,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told members of the press corps traveling with Pope Francis in Colombia. He said Francis hit his cheek and eyebrow on the popemobile when it stopped abruptly as he was reaching for a child, and is using ice to lower the swelling.

In a tweet sent by Colombian radio station “Caracol Radio,” the Pope is seen with a black eye and bandage near his eyebrow, with a few spots of blood on his white cassock. In the video, when the journalist asks the Pope if he's alright, Francis nods and then jests, saying “somebody punched me!”


???? #URGENTE "Me di una puñada, estoy bien" dice #ElPapaEnCaracol.

— Caracol Radio (@CaracolRadio) September 10, 2017


The incident happened in Cartagena on the last day of his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia, which also took him to the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Villavicencio.

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True peace hinges on the people, not bureaucracy, Pope says

Cartagena, Colombia, Sep 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - On his last day in Colombia, Pope Francis said the peace process shouldn't be reduced to bureaucratic talks between two parties, but must above all focus on and involve the people, who themselves must take steps toward reconciliation, rather than revenge.

“We have learned that these ways of making peace, of placing reason above revenge, of the delicate harmony between politics and law, cannot ignore the involvement of the people,” the Pope said Sept. 10.

“Peace is not achieved by normative frameworks and institutional arrangements between well-intentioned political or economic groups,” he said. Rather, “Jesus finds the solution to the harm inflicted through a personal encounter between the parties.”

It's also necessary that any peace processes draw on the experience “of those sectors that have often been overlooked, so that communities themselves can influence the development of collective memory.”

“The principal author, the historic subject of this process, is the people as a whole and their culture, and not a single class, minority, group or elite,” he said. While Colombia has sought peace for decades, two sides meeting for dialogue “is not enough; it has also been necessary to involve many more actors in this dialogue aimed at healing sins.”

“We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact.”

Pope Francis offered his reflections during Mass at the port of Contecar in Cartagena on the last day of his Sept. 6-11 visit to Colombia. Prior to celebrating the liturgy, he blessed and laid the cornerstones for a homeless shelter and prayed the Angelus at the Shrine of Jesuit priest St. Peter Claver y Corberó.

In his homily, the Pope began by noting that Cartagena has for the past 32 years been known as a champion of human rights, and was called “heroic” for it's role in fighting to maintain independence in the early 1800s.

On the human rights front, Francis quoted the 1985 Congress of Colombia praising the role of Jesuit priests Peter Claver, Alonso de Sandoval and Br. Nicolás González, who in the 7th century sought to “alleviate the situation of the oppressed of that time, especially of slaves, of those who implored fair treatment and freedom.”

With this backdrop, the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, which recounts the parable of the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the one lost sheep, offers timely and relevant insights into forgiveness, correction, community and prayer, he said.

“This fact pervades the entire text: there is no one too lost to deserve our care, our closeness and our forgiveness,” the Pope said, adding that from this perspective, “we can see that a fault or a sin committed by one person challenges us all, but involves, primarily, the victim of someone’s sin.”

“He or she is called to take the initiative so that whoever has caused the harm is not lost,” he said, recalling the many testimonies he heard throughout the visit from people who suffered “irreparable losses,”but who, despite their own suffering, were able to reach out and “take the first step” on a path other than violence or revenge.

Francis said peace above all begins with the people, and the path to reintegration into the community “begins with a dialogue of two persons.”

“Nothing can replace that healing encounter; no collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving,” he said, explaining that the deep, historic wounds the country has suffered “necessarily require moments where justice is done.”

This means giving victims the opportunity to know the truth, ensuring that damages are adequately repaired and making clear and firm commitments to not repeat the same crimes in the future.

However, the Pope said this is “only the beginning” of the Christian response. Followers of Christ, he said, must generate a change in culture “from below,” so that we “respond to the culture of death and violence, with the culture of life and encounter.”

Francis then questioned those present on both how hard they have worked for peace, and, on the contrary, how much they have neglected in the process, “allowing barbarity to become enfleshed in the life of our people.”

“How many times have we 'normalized' the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices!” he said, noting that there were thousands of Christians around during the time of St. Peter Claver, including many who were consecrated, “but only a handful started a counter-cultural movement of encounter.”

St. Peter Claver didn't have “prestigious academic qualifications, and he even said of himself that he was mediocre in terms of intelligence,” the Pope observed. “But he had the genius to live the Gospel to the full, to meet those whom others considered merely as waste material.”

In the process of encountering others, we discover our rights and rebuild our lives so they can reemerge as “authentically human,” he said, and urged all men and women to defend the sacredness “of every human life, of every man and every woman, the poor, the elderly, children, the infirm, the unborn, the unemployed, the abandoned, those considered disposable because they are only considered as part of a statistic.”

However, when looking to the Gospel, Jesus shows us that some choose to stay closed, continuing to do evil.

“We cannot deny that there are people who persist in sins that damage the fabric of our coexistence and community,” he said, and pointed to the “heartbreaking drama” of drugs, the destruction of nature due to pollution, the exploitation of labor and money laundering and human trafficking.

The Pope went off-the-cuff briefly to emphasize the evil of trafficking.

"This evil is a direct attack against the dignity of the human person and progressively breaks the image that the creator infused in us," he said. "I firmly condemn this scourge which has put an end to so many lives and which is sustained by unscrupulous men.

"You cannot play with the life of a human being, nor manipulate their dignity. I make a call to find ways to end drug trafficking, which sows death everywhere, truncating so many hopes and dreams and destroys so many families." 

Returning to his script, Pope Francis then spoke about prostitution, “which ever day reaps innocent victims, especially the young, robbing them of their future,” and condemned the crimes and abuses against minors, as well as the “frequently overlooked” plight of migrants, “who are often victims of disgraceful and illegal manipulation.”

Society must be prepared for this, “and solidly base ourselves upon principles of justice that in no way diminish charity,” the Pope said, adding that “it is only possible to live peacefully by avoiding actions that corrupt or harm life.”

Finally, Pope Francis said Jesus asks everyone to pray together for peace, so that this prayer, “even with its personal nuances and different emphases, becomes symphonic and arises as one single cry.”

“I am sure that today we pray together for the rescue of those who were wrong and not for their destruction, for justice and not revenge, for healing in truth and not for oblivion,” he said, and, pointing to the theme of the trip “let us take the first step,” voiced hope that “this first step be in a common direction.”

The Pope closed his speech saying that if Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, “ it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands.”

“Only if we help to untie the knots of violence, will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements,” he said, and urged the people to go out and meet others, taking the risk of making a correction “that does not want to expel but to integrate.”

“We are asked to be charitably firm in that which is not negotiable,” the Pope said, adding that the Lord “is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time, and will bring to fruition all our efforts.”

After Mass, Pope Francis gave a final greeting to the people before heading to the airport to return to Rome.

He said the final word he wanted to leave them with is to “not be content with 'taking the first step,'” but to instead “continue our journey anew each day, going forth to encounter others and to encourage concord and fraternity.”

“We cannot just stand still,” he said, and pointed to the example of St. Peter Claver, who died in Cartagena after 40 years of  tireless work on behalf of the poor, as an example.

“He did not stand still: his first step was followed by many others. His example draws us out of ourselves to encounter our neighbors,” Francis said, telling Colombians that “your brothers and sisters need you. Go out to meet them. Bring them the embrace of peace, free of all violence.”

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Be humble in serving your brothers and sisters in need, Pope says in Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia, Sep 10, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his Angelus address Sunday, Pope Francis said the story of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, the patroness of Colombia, provides an example of the humility with which all Christians should serve each other. 

“The Lord teaches us through the example of the humble and those who are not valued,” the Pope said Sept. 10. “They are the poor, humble ones, who contemplate the presence of God and to whom the mystery of God's love is revealed most clearly.”

“As we pray the Angelus, recalling the incarnation of the Word, we also reflect on Mary who conceived Jesus and brought him into the world. We look to her this morning under the title of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá,” he said.

Our Lady of Chiquinquirá is the patroness of Colombia. Her image, which was painted on a piece of cloth in the 16th century was abandoned for a long time and allowed to become discolored and full of holes.

Tradition holds that a woman named Maria Ramos found the image in an old oratory in the town of Chiquinquirá in 1855 and “had the courage and faith to put this blurred and torn fabric in a special place, restoring its lost dignity,” Francis said.

It is said the painting was repaired to its former brilliancy through a miraculous restoration which occurred on Friday, Dec. 26, 1586.

The Pope pointed out how the Lord granted Maria Ramos, an ordinary woman, the grace to receive the poor image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even in its damaged and worn state; and he gave the indigenous Isabel and her son Miguel the grace of being the first people to witness the transformed image.

Maria Ramos, he continued, is a model “for all those who, in different ways, seek to restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters lost through the pain of life’s wounds, to restore the dignity of those who are excluded.”

She is also a model for all those who provide dignified accommodation and care to those without a home, he continued. Being, above all, “a model for all those who pray perseveringly so that the men and women who are suffering may regain the splendor of the children of God which they have been robbed of.”

Pope Francis led the Angelus at the Church of St. Peter Claver in Cartagena, in one of the last events of his Sept. 6-11 trip to Colombia.

He urged all gathered to pray for the intercession of Mary and St. Peter Claver, "the slave of the blacks forever," as he wanted to be known, who would wait for ships from Africa in the port city of Cartagena in order to help the slaves brought there.

Because of language differences, St. Peter Claver was often only able to communicate through his evangelical and charitable works. If he ever felt revulsion towards the slaves, he would kiss their wounds, the Pope said.

“He knew that the language of charity and mercy was understood by all. Indeed, charity helps us to know the truth and truth calls for acts of kindness,” Francis said.

The saint, who is buried beneath the altar in the church with his name, was “austere and charitable to the point of heroism,” the Pope said. And after helping hundreds of thousands of people, he himself spent the last four years of his life sick and confined to a bad cell.

St. Peter Claver is also a witness to the responsibility and care we should have for one another, he noted, despite the criticism he faced from those who hated his ministry and thought it would undermine the lucrative slave trade.

In Colombia and around the world millions of people are still being sold into slavery, the Pope emphasized. “They either beg for some expressions of humanity, moments of tenderness, or they flee by sea or land because they have lost everything, primarily their dignity and their rights.”

“María de Chiquinquirá and Peter Claver invite us to work to promote the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, particularly the poor and the excluded of society, those who are abandoned, immigrants, and those who suffer violence and human trafficking.”

They all have human dignity, he concluded, because they are living images of God. “We all are created in the image and likeness of God, and the Blessed Virgin holds each one of us in her arms as her beloved children.”

“Let us now turn to Our Blessed Virgin Mother in prayer, so that she may help us recognize the face of God in every man and woman of our time.”

After the Angelus, the Pope assured those present of his prayers for the countries of Latin America, particularly Venezuela, expressing his closeness to the nation and those from the nation who have been welcomed into Colombia.

“From this city, known as the seat of human rights, I appeal for the rejection of all violence in political life and for a solution to the current grave crisis, which affects everyone, particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged of society,” he said.

Before the Angelus in the Square of St. Peter Claver, Pope Francis blessed the cornerstones of two new homeless shelters being built in Cartagena. He also visited the home of a woman who opens her home daily to those in need, giving them food and affection.

“These visits have done me much good because they demonstrate how the love of God is made visible each day,” Francis said.

In his blessing of the cornerstones in St. Francis Square, the Pope prayed to the Lord that he would “fill with your blessings these servants of yours, who wish to devote themselves generously to the help of their brothers; so that, in urgent needs, they may serve you faithfully and fully in the person of their neighbor. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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