Thursday, September 24, 2015

Following the Shepherd along "greener pastures"


Pope Francis is currently in the United States, having just planed in from Cuba where he spent three days of his 8-day apostolic journey in America. No doubt this is one of the most vital trips he is taking, since the United States is where much of the developments in the political and social spheres worldwide originate, whether we like it or not. Indeed, when the US sneezes, the whole world catches a cold (well, the "whole" can be an exaggeration but you know what I mean).

If you're active in social media, you'll see loads of materials (articles, videos, memes, opinion pieces, news reports, etc.) on the 78-year-old Pope's apostolic visit and the response of the people of Cuba and the United States. So much to sift through, quite a lot to figure out. To help anyone interested to at least know a little of what's been going on and what the Pope has really been saying, below are links to a couple of speeches and transcript of an in-flight interview which he has made on the trip.

Excerpt from the Pope's speech to families in Cuba (Sept. 22):
It is in the home that we learn fraternity, solidarity, and not to be overbearing. It is in the home that we learn to receive, to appreciate life as a blessing and to realize that we need one another to move forward. It is in the home that we experience forgiveness, that we are continually asked to forgive and to grow. In the home there is no room for 'putting on masks': we are who we are, and in one way or another we are called to do our best for others. That is why the Christian community calls families 'domestic churches'. It is in the warmth of the home that faith fills every corner, lights up every space, builds community. At those moments, people learn to discover God’s love present and at work.

In many cultures today, these spaces are shrinking, these experiences of family are disappearing, and everything is slowly breaking up, growing apart. We have fewer moments in common, to stay together, to stay at home as a family. As a result, we don’t know how to be patient, we don’t know how to ask permission or forgiveness, or even to say 'thank you', because our homes are growing empty. Empty of relationships, empty of contacts, empty of encounters.
The family is a school of humanity which teaches us to open our hearts to others’ needs, to be attentive to their lives. Amid all the difficulties troubling our families today, please, never forget one thing: families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity. An opportunity which we have to care for, protect and support.

Text of the Pope's speech to families in Santiago, Cuba

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Excerpt from the Pope's in-flight interview from Cuba to the USA:
Jean Louis de la Vaissiere, AFP: In the last trip to Latin America, you harshly criticized the capitalist liberal system. In Cuba, it appears that your critiques of the communist system weren’t very strong, but “soft.” Why these differences?

Pope Francis: In the speeches that I made in Cuba, I always put the accent on the social doctrine of the Church. But the things that must be corrected I said clearly, not “perfumed,” or soft. But, also the first part of your question, more than what I have written – and harshly – in the encyclical, also in Evangelii gaudium, about wild, liberal capitalism – I didn’t say it. All that is written there. I don’t remember having said anything more than that. If you remember, let me know. I’ve said what I’ve written, which is enough, enough.

Full transcript of the in-flight interview from Cuba to US

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Excerpt from the Pope's speech to the bishops of the USA (Sept. 23):

We all know the anguish felt by the first Eleven, huddled together, assailed and overwhelmed by the fear of sheep scattered because the shepherd had been struck. But we also know that we have been given a spirit of courage and not of timidity. So we cannot let ourselves be paralyzed by fear.

I know that you face many challenges, that the field in which you sow is unyielding and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one’s wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition.

And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter. We are living sacraments of the embrace between God’s riches and our poverty. We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response.

Dialogue is our method, not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting the marketplace, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love (Mt 20:1-16).

Text of the Pope's speech to the bishops of the USA

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Two interesting articles:

Pope Francis is not 'progressive' -- he's a priest
How to read the pontiff as he visits the United States of America

Pope Francis' popularity bridges great divides

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And here's something that will certainly delight a lot of infanticipating moms:

The Pope delivers a rare blessing to pregnant women from Cuba (text and video)

Schedule of the papal visit in the USA


Excerpt from the Pope's speech at the US Congress (Sept. 24)

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Pope Francis' speech before the US Congress

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More interesting articles:

Pope Francis' awesome drop mic moment on religious liberty

Pope Francis makes unscheduled visit to Little Sisters of the Poor to show his support

Away from Capitol, Pope Francis sees face of St. Joseph in homeless

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