CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Care for the poor make no room for anger and remember your roots pope says in Romania

BUCHAREST (CNS): “Only to the extent that a society is concerned for its most disadvantaged members, can it be considered truly civil,” Pope Francis told Romanian leaders as he arrived for his three day visit on May 31.
 
The path to building an inclusive society is one where every person is seen as a brother or sister and “where the weak, the poor and the least are no longer seen as undesirables that keep the ‘machine’ from functioning,” the pope told civil authorities and diplomats May 31, the first day of his visit to Romania.
 
The pope was welcomed at Henri Coanda International Airport in Otopeni, just north of the centre of Bucharest, by the president, Klaus Iohannis, and his wife, Carmen, as well as the country’s bishops.
 
Hundreds of well-wishers cheered and waved flags bearing the blue, yellow and red colours of Romania as well as the yellow and white colors of Vatican City State.
 
Thousands more lined the streets of Bucharest to welcome the papal motorcade as Pope Francis made his way to Cotroceni Palace, the presidential palace, where he met privately with Iohannis.
 
The pope was then greeted by Romanian prime minister, Viorica Dancila, before making his speech to the country’s civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps.
 
Thirty years after the fall of communist control of the country, the pope reflected on the path toward democracy “from a regime that oppressed civil and religious liberty, isolated the nation from other European countries and led to the stagnation of its economy and the exhaustion of its creative powers.”
 
Nevertheless, the pope said, Romania still faces challenges, especially “the several million people who have had to leave their homes and country in order to seek new opportunities for employment and a dignified existence.”
 
“I pay homage to the sacrifices endured by so many sons and daughters of Romania who, by their culture, their distinctive identity and their industriousness, have enriched those countries to which they have emigrated and by the fruit of their hard work have helped their families who have remained at home,” he said.
 
Emphasising the need for “heart and soul” to confront the challenges, Pope Francis said that the Christian churches can help promote political and social actions that places human dignity and the common good above all.
 
The Catholic Church, he said, hopes to “contribute to the building up of a society and of civil and spiritual life in your beautiful land of Romania.”
 
On the second day of his visit, Pope Francis visited Our Lady Queen of Iasi Cathedral, where hundreds of, including the elderly, sick and physically disadvantaged, greeted him.
 
Recalling Isai’s prominence as one of Romania’s oldest cities and the epicentre of Moldovan culture, the pope praised the community’s openness and creativity which can spread a hopeful message to young people across the globe.
 
Iasi was a starting point for pilgrims in the Middle Ages journeying to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Pope Francis said that it was emblematic of its mission to open new paths toward the future, toward Europe and many other parts of the world.
 
“You can be pilgrims of the 21st century, capable of imagining afresh the bonds that unite us,” the pope said. “In everything, let us make it our concern to open up paths that enable a sense of belonging.”
 
Pope Francis ended his second with a festive meeting with young people and families that encapsulated his message of fostering dialogue between younger and older generations.
 
“You look to the future and you open the door to it for your children, your grandchildren and your people by offering them the best lesson that you learned from your own journey: Never forget where you come from. Wherever you go and whatever you do, don’t forget your roots,” he told them.
 
On June 2 in Blaj, in Transylvania, Pope Francis beatified seven martyred Eastern-rite Catholic bishops: Bishop Ioan Suciu, the apostolic administrator of Fagaras and Alba Iulia; Auxiliary Bishop Vasile Aftenie of Fagaras and Alba Iulia; Bishop Valeriu Traian Frentiu of Oradea Mare; Auxiliary Bishop Tit Liviu Chinezu of Fagaras and Alba Iulia; Bishop Ioan Balan of Lugoj; Bishop Alexandru Rusu of Maramures and Bishop Iuliu Hossu of Gherla, who had been named a cardinal by St. Paul VI in pectore (in his heart), withholding publication of his name until 1973.
 
All seven were arrested by the communist regime in 1948, imprisoned and left to die of hunger, exposure, disease, or the effects of hard labour, and then buried in unmarked graves, according to Vatican News.
 
The pope said they are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions.
 
“These pastors, martyrs for the faith, re-appropriated and handed down to the Romanian people a precious legacy that we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy,” the pope said.
 
“The mercy they showed to their tormentors is a prophetic message, for it invites everyone today to conquer anger and resentment by love and forgiveness, and to live the Christian faith with consistency and courage,” he said.
 
However, Pope Francis warned that even today there are new ideologies that “attempt to assert themselves and to uproot our peoples from their richest cultural and religious traditions. Forms of ideological colonisation that devalue the person, life, marriage and the family, and above all, with alienating proposals as atheistic as those of the past, harm our young people and children, leaving them without roots from which they can grow.”
 
According to the Vatican, an estimated 60,000 people filled ‘s Liberty Field, while some 20,000 people followed the liturgy on big screens set up in various squares around the city.
 
On his final stop before returning Rome, Pope Francis visited members of the Roma community living in the neighbourhood of Barbu Lautaru. According to the Vatican, a newly erected church and pastoral centre were built to assist the Roma community to fully integrate within the social fabric of the city of Blaj.
 
“In the Church of Christ, there is room for everyone,” the pope told them, “otherwise it would not be the Church of Christ.”
 
The pope told the Roma community that his heart was heavy due to “the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities,” inflicted upon them, including by members of the Catholic Church.
 
He asked forgiveness “for those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you” instead of defending them in their “uniqueness.”
 
“Whenever anyone is left behind, the human family cannot move forward. Deep down, we are not Christians, and not even good human beings, unless we are able to see the person before his or her actions, before our own judgments and prejudices,” the pope said.
 
Pope Francis encouraged them to not go down the path of vengeance despite the trials they have endured, and instead to choose the “way of Jesus” which brings peace and can heal the wounds of injustice.
 
“May we not let ourselves be dragged along by the hurts we nurse within us; let there be no room for anger. For one evil never corrects another evil, no vendetta ever satisfies an injustice, no resentment is ever good for the heart and no rejection will ever bring us closer to others,” he said.

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