During the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis speaks about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, instituted by Benedict XVI. Chinese Catholics must make a “personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society." AsiaNews Symposium on the Church in China is set for this week. Francis appeals for peace in the Central African Republic, and for loving “one another following the example of the Lord”. For him, “Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church.” Five new cardinals will be named, including a bishop from Laos.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "On 24 May, we shall all join spiritually Catholics in China on the occasion of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated at the Sheshan Shrine in Shanghai," said Pope Francis after today’s Regina Caeli prayer.
The pontiff mentioned the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China instituted by Pope Benedict XVI ten years ago. In his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics, the pope emeritus called for greater unity between underground and official Christians and communion with Peter's successor through prayers. He also urged the Lord to persevere in Christian witness amid the sufferings of persecution. The pontiff had also told Catholics to contribute to the good of Chinese society, praying for their persecutors as well.
Pope Francis cited some of the same themes. Currently the Holy See and the Chinese government are engaged in talks about the way to appoint bishops, an issue that has ostensibly polarised Catholic communities in China. For its part, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association continues to exert absolute power over the clergy, getting some temporarily arrested, and forcing unlawful bishops and those in communion with the Holy See to perform celebrations together.
"To Chinese Catholics, I say: Let us look up to our Mother Mary,” Francis said, “so that she may help us discern God's will about the actual path of the Church in China and support us in welcoming with generosity his project of love. May Mary encourage us to make our personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society. Let us not forget to bear witness to the faith through prayer and love, always open to encounter and dialogue."
AsiaNews will hold its annual Symposium on 24 May, World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
In his address, the Holy Father also appealed for peace in the Central African Republic, where he travelled in 2015 to inaugurate the Jubilee of Mercy. "Painful news come from the Central African Republic, which is in my heart, especially after my visit in November 2015,” Francis said. “Scores of people have been killed and displaced by armed clashes that threaten the peace process. I am close to the people and to the bishops [of that country] and to all those who work for the good of the people and for peaceful coexistence. I pray for those who have died or have been wounded and renew my appeal: May weapons fall silent and good will and dialogue prevail to give the country peace and development."
Earlier, Francis had commented today’s Gospel (Jn 14: 15-21) in which "Jesus promised his friends that, after him, they would receive ‘another Paraclete’ (16), that is another ‘advocate’, a defender and consoler, "the Spirit of truth" (17). I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you’ (18),” he had said.
"These words convey the joy of a new coming of Christ: He, risen and glorified, dwells in the Father, and at the same time comes to us in the Holy Spirit. And in this new coming, our union with him and with the Father is revealed:"[Y]ou will realize that I am in my my Father and you are in me and I in you' (20). By meditating on these words of Jesus, we now perceive with a sense of faith that we are the people of God in communion with the Father and with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In this mystery of communion, the Church finds the inexhaustible source of its mission, which is achieved through love.”
“Jesus says in today’s Gospel" 'Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him’ (21). This is the love that introduces us to the knowledge of Jesus, through the action of the Holy Spirit. The love for God and one’s neighbours is the greatest commandment of the Gospel. The Lord today calls us to respond generously to the evangelical call to love, placing God at the centre of our lives, dedicating ourselves to the service of our brothers, especially those who need support and consolation the most."
"If there is an attitude that is never easy, one that can never be taken for granted by the Christian community, it is that of knowing how to love, to love one another following the example of the Lord and his grace. Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church. A community of Christians should live in the charity of Christ, and instead it is precisely there the evil one ‘sneaks in’ and we sometimes allow ourselves to be deceived. Those who are spiritually weaker pay the price. How many of them – and you know some of them – have moved away because they did not feel welcomed, understood, and loved.”
“Even for Christians knowing how to love is never a given, once and for all. Every day we must start again, and must practice so that our love for the brothers and sisters we encounter becomes mature and purified from those limits or sins that make it partial, selfish, sterile, and unfaithful. Every day we must learn the art of love; every day we must patiently follow the school of Christ; every day we have to forgive and look at Jesus, with the help of His Spirit. May the Virgin Mary, the perfect disciple of her Son and Lord, help us be more and more docile to the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, to learn every day how to love ourselves as Jesus loved us."
Afterwards, the pope announced a consistory for 28 June during which he will appoint five new members from various countries around the world, including Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Paksé (Laos). The others are Mgr Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako (Mali), Mgr Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona (Spain), Mgr Anders Arborelius, OCD, bishop of Stockholm (Sweden), and Mgr Gregorio Rosa Chávez, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador (El Salvador).
In today’s general audience, Pope Francis noted that "Jesus saw a possibility of resurrection even in those who have accumulated so many wrong choices." Forgiven sinners are "psychologically relieved", but especially receive "a new life, a life marked by love" like Matthew, Zacchaeus, and the Samaritan woman. "We are all poor sinners, in need of of God's mercy." A Hail Mary is recited for Christian victim of violence in Nigeria and the Central African Republic.