Vatican City, Oct 30, 2014 / 08:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily on Thursday, Pope Francis said that the devil is more than an idea, and in order to fight him, we must follow St. Paul’s instructions and put on the armor of God which protects us.
“In this generation, like so many others, people have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists and we must fight against him,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha house for his Oct. 30 daily Mass.
He turned to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, from which the day’s first reading was taken and in which the apostle warns against the temptations of the devil, telling Christians to clothe themselves with the armor of God so they can resist.
Pope Francis said that a Christian life requires both strength and courage, and needs to be defended because it is a constant battle with the devil, who tempts with worldly attractions, the passions and our flesh.
“From whom do I have to defend myself? What must I do?” he asked, saying that St. Paul tells us to “put on God’s full armor, meaning that God acts as a defense, helping us to resist Satan’s temptations. Is this clear?”
No spiritual or Christian life is possible without the need to resist temptation, the Roman Pontiff observed, explaining how our battle is not with small, trivial things, but rather with the principalities and ruling forces of this world, which are rooted in the devil and his followers.
The Bishop of Rome pointed out how there are many in the current generation who no longer believe in the devil, but rather think of him as “a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil.”
However the devil does exist and we must constantly be on guard, he said, noting how “Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it! The Word of God is telling us this. But we’re not all convinced of this.”
Pope Francis then recounted St. Paul’s description of the armor of God, of which the apostle says there are different types.
The apostle also urges the Ephesians to stand firm with the truth as “a belt around your waist,” the Pope observed, saying that the devil is a liar, and that in order to defeat him we always fight with the truth and with faith in God.
Like Saint Paul says, our faith in God is a shield to defend ourselves against Satan, who “doesn’t throw flowers at us (but) burning arrows” intended to kill, the pontiff explained.
“Life is a military endeavor. Christian life is a battle, a beautiful battle, because when God emerges victorious in every step of our life, this gives us joy, a great happiness,” the Pope continued, saying that our joy lies in the fact that it is the Lord who is the victor within us, giving us the free gift of salvation.
However, Pope Francis also cautioned that “we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations.”
This is because each one of us is a sinner, he said, telling those present to not be discouraged, but rather to have courage and take strength in the knowledge that the Lord is with us.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2014 / 07:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the publication of a new text by Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari in 'La Repubblica' suggesting that Pope Francis believes in relativism, the Holy See spokesman has questioned whether Scalfari is advancing his own views.
In a recent op-ed in the leftist Italian newspaper, Scalfari mentioned one of his recent conversations with Pope Francis, saying the Pope had acknowledged that truth is relative; and he used this comment to support the idea that the Gospels do not tell the whole truth.
According to Scalfari, “the Pope refuses the word 'relativism,' i.e. a real movement with aspects of religious politics; but he does not refuse the word ‘relative’. No to relativism, but that truth is relative is a matter of fact that Pope Francis acknowledges.”
Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, told CNA Oct. 28 that “Scalfari pursues his own discourse” and, “if there are no words published by the Holy See press office and not officially confirmed, the writer takes full responsibility for what he has written.”
The founder of 'La Repubblica' and a self-proclaimed atheist, Scalfari has made it understood that he often has private conversations with the Pope, saying “these conversations started eight months ago” and that “the last of our meetings took place in September.”
Scalfari had already published two of his conversations with Pope Francis, on Oct. 1, 2013 and July 13, 2014; both of those texts were dismissed by Fr. Lombardi.
While not denying the meetings, Fr. Lombardi had stressed that the meetings were private and that the words of Pope Francis had been biased by the interviewer.
Shortly after the publication of the first conversation, Scalfari himself admitted that he never uses a recording devices nor takes notes, and that he writes by memory, also sometimes putting within quotes words that the interviewed had not said, but that in Scalfari’s view better explain their thought.
This third round of excerpts of the Scalfari-Bergoglio conversations have not been presented as an interview, but are inserted in a wider comment on a lecture given by the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman.
In his lecture, Bauman claimed that “truth is an agnostic idea for origins and for nature,” since it can emerge “only from a meeting with its contrary,” and this is the reason why “using the word ‘truth’ in singular mode in a polyphonic world is like applauding with one only hand.”
According to Bauman, “Pope Francis not only preaches the need for dialogue, but he practices it,” and proof of this is that he had granted his first interview to Scalfari.
Scalfari takes the moves from this to comment that “Pope Francis is one of the very few (Popes), in my view the only one, in fact, who faces the quest for truth this way” – that is, in the way Bauman put it.
For this purpose, Scalfari reported he had asked Pope Francis what a missionary Church is in his view.
Pope Francis replied, underscoring his full belonging to the Society of Jesus, and that despite this he had chosen the papal name of Francis.
Scalfari reportedly objected that the Pope chose the name of Francis because “Francis was a mystic; and you love mystics, though you are not a mystic.”
“This is certainly one of the reasons, but it is not the only reason,” Pope Francis reportedly responded.
The Pope stressed that St. Francis “loved a travelling brotherhood that had renounced all the pleasures of life, but did not renounce joy, or love. Some of them, especially Francis, were profoundly mystic in every moment of their life, since they identified with the Lord and forgot their ego.”
However, St. Francis also took care of “practical matters,” and wrote a rule for his order, that “the then Pope approved many years later.” But – Pope Francis reportedly said – “the Pope approved the rules under a condition: a portion of the Franciscans had to live in convents, while only a portion could be missionary and travelling. Francis accepted. The friars in the convents rediscovered St. Benedict, and study, work, begging; but the real Franciscan and missionary Church is the travelling one.”
Scalfari wrote that he asked the Pope “why the Church must be above all travelling and missionary,” and Pope Francis responded: “We have to speak the 'languages' of all the world, which does not necessarily mean the real language – consider that in China there are some 50,000 different languages.”
“A missionary Church must above all understand the people it meets, their way of thinking… this is the premise, that is at once Franciscan and Jesuit, as our Society has always done: understand the other, whether they are socially miserable and culturally poor, or cultivated, remarkable in social life and important for the public life of people, but not for religion.”
Pope Francis also reportedly underscored that “religion abhors political language, which must not be our thing. If we intend with politics a vision of the common good that for us is that of our religion, yes, politics becomes important, and institutions become important for everyone's good. People should commit to and realize these institution, but not elevating them to the name of a god. No one can appropriate the name of a god that is ecumenical and creator.”
In the end, Scalfari underscored that Pope Francis wants to get in touch with the modern world, and “this means, if I understood well, that the Church must be in harmony with it.”
And what about the truth? “The Pope refuses the word “relativism,” i.e. a real movement with aspects of religious politics; but he does not refuse the word ‘relative’. No to relativism, but that truth is relative is a matter of fact that Pope Francis acknowledges.”
This reasoning brings Scalfari to stress that doctrine was elaborate by “religious thinkers” in the course of centuries, on the basis of the preaching of St. Paul and the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem.
Scalfari also dismissed the Gospels, saying “they are the narrations written by people who had never met or seen Jesus of Nazareth … second or third-hand narrations which provided a doctrinal structure.”
Likewise – Scalfari says – “monotheistic religions were born of stories,” because “God has no voice, and no imaginable figure,” while “the Son has, and this is the reason why Christians invented it.”
This is how the culture of encounter pursued by Pope Francis has been completely overturned.
How much Scalfari’s words and reports are reliable, one cannot assess: no proofs are provided that Pope Francis has worded his thoughts the way Scalfari wrote them down.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2014 / 12:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke out against oppression of the poor due to greed and warned again of the growing presence of a “globalization of indifference” – a warning, he said, which has wrongly type-casted him.
“It is not possible to tackle poverty by promoting containment strategies to merely reassure, rendering the poor 'domesticated,' harmless and passive,” the Pope told those gathered for his Oct. 28 encounter with leaders of various Church movements.
He called the basic needs for land, housing and work an “aspiration that should be within the reach of all but which we sadly see is increasingly unavailable to the majority.”
“It's strange, but if I talk about this, there are those who think that the Pope is Communist,” he said.
“The fact that the love for the poor is in the center of the gospel is misunderstood,” the Pope added. “Those (values) for which you’re fighting for are sacred rights. It’s the Church’s social doctrine.”
Held in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall, where previous synods took place before the construction of the Paul VI Hall, the meeting was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, along with the leaders of various movements.
Solidarity, the Pope observed in his speech, is a word that is often forgotten in today’s society, and which extends far beyond sporadic acts of generosity.
Instead it requires thinking in communal terms, and includes fighting structural causes of poverty such as inequality, unemployment, lack of land and housing, and the denial of social and labor rights, he said. It also requires facing the destructive effects of the “empire of money” such as forced displacement, painful migration, human trafficking, drugs, war and violence.
“Today the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression assumes a new dimension, a graphical and hard edge of social injustice,” the Pope noted, explaining that this “throwaway culture” makes it so that those who are unable to integrate are marginalized and discarded as “cast-offs.”
Situations such as this arise when economic systems make money their god and put it at the heart of their work rather than centering on the human person, created in the image of God, the pontiff continued.
He then turned his attention to the phenomenon of unemployment, saying that each person who works, whether part of the formal system of paid work or not, “has the right to fair remuneration, social security and a pension.”
These people, the pontiff noted, include those who recycle waste, street vendors, garment makers, craftsmen, fishermen, farmers, builders, miners, workers in companies in receivership, cooperatives and common trades which are often excluded from employment rights and denied the option of forming trades unions, as well as those who don’t receive a stable or sufficient income.
“I wish to unite my voice to theirs and to accompany them in their struggle,” Pope Francis said.
On the theme of peace and ecology, the Pope said that it is not possible to pursue land, housing or work if we can’t maintain the planet, or if we destroy it.
“Creation is not our property which we may exploit as we please, (and) even less so the property of the few,” he explained, saying that instead creation is a gift from God that we must care for and use for the good of all humanity with respect and gratitude.
Pope Francis went on to question those present in the audience, asking why, instead of viewing the world as our gift and fighting for justice, do we instead see work taken away, families evicted, peasants expelled from their land, war and harm done to nature.
“Because this system has removed humanity from the center and replaced it with something else! Because of the idolatrous worship of money! Because of the globalization of indifference – ‘what does it matter to me what happens to others, I'll defend myself,’” the Pope explained.
The world, said the pontiff, has forgotten God and so become “an orphan” because it has turned away from him.
However, Christians have been given a strong guide and “revolutionary program” for how to act, which can be found in the Beatitudes, the Bishop of Rome noted, and encouraged all to read them.
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of walking together, saying that popular movements express urgent need of revitalizing our democracies, which “so often (are) hijacked by many factors.”
“It is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of the majority, and this role extends beyond the logical procedures of formal democracy,” he said.