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Vatican City, Oct 21, 2014 / 10:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christ wants to see us reconciled rather than living as enemies, Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass on Tuesday, explaining that a true Christian lives with this hope.

“We all know that when we are not in peace with others, there is a wall. There is a wall that divides us. But Jesus offers us his service to break down this wall so we can meet,” the Roman Pontiff told those gathered in the Vatican’s Saint Martha residence chapel for his Oct. 21 Mass.

The Pope centered his reflections on the day’s readings, taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel of Luke. Quoting from the Gospel passage, the Roman Pontiff said, “blessed are the servants who await their master’s return from a wedding with lighted lamps.”

In the biblical scene following the day’s passage, Christ speaks of how the disciples should prepare for his return like servants who, knowing the will of their master, await his arrival by keeping alert and putting everything in order.

He linked the passage to the day’s first reading, in which St. Paul describes how even those who are far off have an identity in the body of Christ, who restored peace by destroying “walls of enmity” with his death on the cross.

What Christ seeks to do is first of all to give his people an identity, the Roman Pontiff explained, drawing attention to how St. Paul tells the pagans that without Christ, they were alienated from people of Israel.

Because of the citizenship and belonging we have received from the Lord, we have gone from being enemies with no peace, to being one through the blood of Christ, who breaks down walls of division, he continued.

“If we are divided, we are not friends: we are enemies. And he has reconciled us all in God. He has reconciled us as friends, as enemies, as strangers, as sons and daughters.”

What God has done through his coming, the Bishop of Rome observed, is transform individuals into a common people, who are all members of the house of God. However, the Lord has one condition in order to be a part of this community: “they are to await him, like servants awaiting their master.”

“He who does not await Jesus, who closes his door to Jesus, does not allow him to go forward with his work of peace, of community, of citizenship,” the Pope noted, saying that this attitude of waiting is part of what constitutes Christian hope.

The Roman Pontiff explained how a true Christian is a man or woman who has this hope and knows that the Lord will come. However, when he comes, Christ will not come in search of enemies, but of friends living in the peace he left.

Pope Francis concluded by asking those present if they themselves believe in the return of Christ, asking, “Do I have faith in this hope that he will come? Is my heart open to hear him knocking on the door, to hear him entering the door?”

Unlike the “selfish pagans” who forget about Christ and think only of themselves, a Christian is someone who knows how to wait, the Pope repeated, warning attendees not to have the “I make do on my own” attitude of the pagans.

A person who has that mentality, he said, “does not end up well; he ends up without a name, without closeness, without citizenship.”

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2014 / 07:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In response to an invitation sent by Patriarch Bartolomeo I of Constantinople, Pope Francis will make a three-day trip to Turkey, during which he will visit the cities of Ankara and Istanbul.

Announced in September following the reception of an official letter of invitation signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the trip will take place Nov. 28-30, and falls just days after Pope Francis’ Nov. 25 address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The visit was largely made in response to an invitation sent to Pope Francis by Patriarch Bartolomeo I asking him to participate in the celebration of the feast of St. Andrew, who is the founder of the Eastern Church and patron of the Orthodox world.

In stark contrast with his previous trips, usually packed with various liturgies, audiences and meetings with diverse groups of people, Pope Francis is keeping his schedule light, and will only give 3 public speeches, one being a homily for Mass on the second day of his trip.

After departing from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, the Roman Pontiff will fly directly to the Turkish capital of Ankara, where he will receive an official welcoming ceremony at the airport.

He will then make his way to the Atatürk Mausoleum, and afterwards will go to the presidential palace, where he will pay a courtesy visit to the Turkish president and hold an audience with local authorities. He will also visit with Turkey’s Prime Minister and President of Religious Affairs that afternoon.

The following day the Bishop of Rome will travel by plane to Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, where he will visit the historic Hagia Sophia museum, which is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica that was later transformed into an imperial mosque.

He will then visit the historic Sultan Ahmet Mosque, also known as the “Blue Mosque” due to the blue tiles covering the inside.

After his visit to these two historically significant sites, the Pope will celebrate Mass in Istanbul’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. He will then participate in an ecumenical prayer at the Patriarchal church of St. George, after which he will have a private encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew I.

On his final day in Turkey Pope Francis will hold a private Mass in the morning before praying the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal church of St. George and signing a joint declaration with Bartolomeo I.

After having lunch with the patriarch, Pope Francis will head back to Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, and will land at Rome’s Ciampino airport at 6:40 p.m.


Please see below for the full itinerary of Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey:

Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

9:00a.m. Depart by plane from Rome's Fiumicino Airport
1:00p.m. Arrive to Ankara's Esembo?a Airport
 
Official Welcome

Visit to Atatürk Mausoleum

Presidential Palace:
Welcoming Ceremony
Courtesy visit to the president of the Republic
Encounter with authorities

Audience with Prime Minister

Visit to the president of Religious Affairs at Diyanet


Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014

9:30a.m. Depart by plan from Ankara's Esembo?a Airport
10:30a.m. Arrive to the international Atatürk Airport of Istanbul

Visit to the Saint Sofia Museum

Visit to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Holy Mass in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

Ecumenical Prayer in the Patriarchal church of St. George

Private Encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Patriarchal Palace


Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014

Holy Mass in private in the Apostolic Delegation

Diving Liturgy in the Patriarchal church of St. George

Ecumenical Blessing and signing of the Joint Declaration

Lunch between Pope Francis and His Holiness Bartolomeo I at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

4:45p.m. Leave for the Atatürk Airport of Istanbul

5:00p.m. Departure by plane from the international Atatürk Airport of Istanbul

6:40p.m. Arrive at Rome's Ciampino Airport

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2014 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Francesco di Felice worked at the Secretariat of State during the pontificate of Bl. Paul VI, and recently recounted the story behind the blessed Pope's 1968 encyclical which was received with widespread dissent.

In drafting Humanae vitae, his encyclical on the regulation of birth, Bl. Paul VI studied the work began by St. John XXIII, who created a “commission for the study of population problems, the family, and births” in order to have a better understanding of the effects of contraceptives, Fr. di Felice told CNA.

Hormonal contraceptives having been introduced in 1960, in March 1963 – three months before his death – St. John XXIII established a Pontifical Commission on Birth Control to, as Bl. Paul VI wrote in his encyclical, “examine views and opinions concerning married life, and especially on the correct regulation of births” and “to provide the teaching authority of the Church with such evidence as would enable it to give an apt reply in this matter.”

St. John XXIII had appointed six persons to the commission, which Bl. Paul VI soon increased to 12. Then, in 1965, he further increased it to 75 members, plus a president, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and two deputies, Cardinals Julius Doepfner and John Heenan.

During that time there was much lobbying, even among Churchmen, to accept artificial means of contraception. Cardinal Leo Suenens asked on Oct. 29, 1964 for an opening to artificial birth control, and his opinion was backed by many participants of the Second Vatican Council.
 
In April 1967, a document favorable toward the birth control pill was published simultaneously in the French newspaper “Le Monde,” the English magazine “The Tablet,” and the American magazine “National Catholic Reporter.”

The leaked report stressed that 70 members of the Pontifical Commission were favorable to the pill; but the document was in fact “just one of the 12 reports presented to the Holy Father,” Bernardo Colombo, a professor of demographics and a member of the commission, revealed in an article he wrote in Teologia, the journal of the theological faculty of Milan and Northern Italy.

The same report which had been leaked to the media was sent to Bl. Paul VI, and it was divided into two parts: the opinion of the majority, supporting artificial contraception, and the minority report, arguing for the maintenance of traditional Catholic teaching.

Fr. di Felice told CNA that “Paul VI took these two documents, one from the majority and the other from the minority. He brought them to his private chapel, and spent the entire night in prayer asking what he should do for the good of souls.”
 
“Then, in the first light of dawn, a strong decision came to him like an illumination, as if the Holy Spirit was comforting him, and he said, ‘This is what I should choose!’”

“And it was a huge choice,” the priest recounted, “because if we had allowed the use of pills that alter the mystery of life, we would have altered the natural course, and that would have been a disaster.”

Bl. Paul VI himself recounted in the encyclical that “when the evidence of the experts had been received, as well as the opinions and advice of a considerable number of Our brethren in the episcopate … We were in a position to weigh with more precision all the aspects of this complex subject.”

Acknowledging that he was departing from the majority opinion of the commission, the blessed Pope wrote that “the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.”

“Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions,” he concluded the first chapter of Humanae vitae.
 
When Bl. Paul VI published these words, public opinion was already oriented against the Church’s principles which he had reaffirmed, and bitter disputes arose against the Church.

In an interview with Corriere della Serra in March, Pope Francis applauded Bl. Paul VI's “prophetic genius,” saying that “he had the courage to take a stand against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to exercise a cultural restraint, to oppose present and future neo-Malthusianism.”

In his last address to the College of Cardinals, delivered June 23, 1978, Bl. Paul VI anticipated Humanae vitae's 10th anniversary, saying it suffered from “a certain climate of expectation that … engendered the idea of supposed concessions, or facilities, or liberalization in the Church's teaching on morality and marriage.”

“It seems to us that a decade having passed since its promulgation, a sufficient perioed allows us to evaluate better – following the confirmations of serious science – the scope of the decisions made before the Lord, and it will be an occasion, also, to reiterate the importante princiople that, in the wake of the recently completed Council, we might enunciate with a more accurate formulation: the principle of respect for the laws of nature, which – in the words of Dante – 'takes her course / from the divine intellect and his art'; the principle of a conscious and ethically responsible paternity.”

In fact, as a consequence of the contesting of the document worldwide, Bl. Paul VI never wrote another encyclical, though he remained Pope for another 10 years.

In the five years preceding Humanae vitae, he had written seven encyclicals.
 
Because of all this, Bl. Paul VI's Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, would later say, “On the morning of July 25, 1968, Paul VI celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, asked for light from on high and signed it. It was his most difficult signature, one of his most glorious signatures. He signed his own passion.”
 

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