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For Immediate Release From Vatican News!

"I thank you from my heart, my brothers and sisters, for who you are and what you do, for your witness to the Church and to the world. Do not be discouraged, because we need you! You are precious and important."

Pope to South Sudan's Clergy: By Deborah Castellano Lubov

We need courageous souls ready to die for Africa

While addressing clergy in Juba for his long-awaited ecumenical pilgrimage in South Sudan, Pope Francis insists we need courageous, generous souls ready to die and suffer for Africa.

We need courageous, generous souls ready to suffer and die for Africa.

Pope Francis stressed this when speaking to bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and lay pastoral workers, of South Sudan, in the Cathedral of Saint Therese in the African nation's capital of Juba, on Saturday morning.
This encounter marks the first event of the Pope's second day in the country, before meeting with his Jesuit confreres, internally displaced peoples, and participating in an ecumenical prayer gathering, later on in the day. The Pope will celebrate Mass for the nation's faithful on Sunday morning.

The Holy Father is in South Sudan as a "pilgrim of peace," where he is embarking upon a three-day ecumenical pilgrimage for peace, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The visit to the country marks the second leg of his two-nation, 40th, Apostolic Journey abroad, and his fifth Journey to Africa.

Pope Francis visited the DRC from 31 January to 3 February, following in the footsteps of Pope St. John Paul II, who visited there in 1980 and 1985.

So many shattered lives

In his remarks, Pope Francis recalled that in his address yesterday, he drew upon the image of the waters of the Nile, which flows through the country. In the Bible, he recalled, water is often associated with God’s activity in creation, and cleanses and sanctifies.

From the same biblical perspective, the Pope said he wished to take another look at the waters of the Nile.

Listen to our report: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...

The waters of that great river, the Pope lamented, collect "the sighs and sufferings of your communities, the pain of so many shattered lives, the tragedy of a people in flight, the sorrow and fear in the hearts and eyes of so many women and children."

They also, he added, bring to mind the story of Moses, "a story of liberation and salvation."

Ministering amid innocent blood

Remembering the story of Moses, who led God’s people through the desert, the Pope invited, "let us ask ourselves what it means for us to be ministers of God in a land scarred by war, hatred, violence, and poverty."

“How can we exercise our ministry in this land, along the banks of a river bathed in so much innocent blood, among the tear-stained faces of the people entrusted to us?”

To try to answer this, the Pope suggested the clergy reflect on two aspects of Moses’ character, namely his meekness and intercession.

Moses' meekness, "his docile response to God’s initiative," he stressed, was exemplary, but "we must not think, though, that it was always this way." The Pope recalled that "at first," Moses "attempted to fight injustice and oppression on his own."

Moses’ mistake, the Holy Father suggested, was putting himself at the centre, and relying on his strength alone, which led him "to remain trapped in the worst of our human ways of doing things," responding "to violence with violence."

The Pope warned clergy against the tendency to think at times that they are at the centre of everything.

All we accomplish is from the Lord

The Pope warned against when, as a Church, we sometimes think we can find an answer to people’s suffering and needs through human resources, like money, cleverness or power.

Instead, he insisted, "everything we accomplish comes from God: He is the Lord, and we are called to be docile instruments in His hands."

This, the Pope said, is the kind of meekness that we need in our ministry, "a readiness to approach God in wonder and humility, to let ourselves be drawn to Him and guided by Him, and to realize that the primacy is His."

“Let us allow ourselves to be drawn to the Lord and spend time with Him in prayer, daily approach the mystery of God, so that he can burn away the dead wood of our pride and our immoderate ambitions, and make us humble travelling companions of all those entrusted to our care.”

A Church willing to dirty its hands

The Pope then turned to the second aspect of Moses' character, being an intercessor, pointing out that Moses' meekness before God made him capable of interceding for them, bringing them closer to God.

“Our first duty is not to be a Church that is perfectly organized, but a Church that, in the name of Christ, stands in the midst of people’s troubled lives, a Church that is willing to dirty its hands for people.”

The Holy Father urged pastors to work together, walk alongside the people, and never chase prestige.

He urged them to make every effort to banish the temptation of "individualism," of pursuing "partisan interests," and lamented how sad it is "when the Church’s pastors are incapable of communion," "fail to cooperate," "and even ignore one another!"

Inviting them to cultivate mutual respect, closeness and practical cooperation, the Pope asked, "If we fail to do this ourselves, how can we preach it to others?"

Violating fundamental rights, 'an offence against Christ'
Reflecting on the art of intercession, Pope Francis said to look at Moses' hands, noting that Scripture offers us three images in this regard: Moses with staff in hand, with outstretched hands, and with his hands raised to heaven.

The first image, Moses with staff in hand, the Pope said, tells us that he intercedes with prophecy.

With that staff, the Holy Father observed, Moses works wonders, signs of God’s presence and power, and speaks in God’s name, forcefully denouncing the oppression that the people are suffering, and demanding Pharaoh to let them depart.

"Brothers and sisters," he continued, "we too are called to intercede for our people, to raise our voices against the injustice and the abuses of power that oppress and use violence to suit their own ends amid the cloud of conflicts."

“If we want to be pastors who intercede, we cannot remain neutral before the pain caused by acts of injustice and violence. To violate the fundamental rights of any woman or man is an offence against Christ.”

The second image, the Pope stated, is that of Moses with outstretched hands, recalling that Scripture tells us that he “stretched out his hand over the sea.”

It is necessary to extend our arms to our brothers and sisters, to support them on their journey, the Pope reflected.

"Our hands," he continued, "were 'anointed with Spirit' not only for the sacred rites, but also to encourage, help and accompany people to leave behind whatever paralyzes them, keeps them closed in on themselves, and makes them fearful."
Bringing struggles of the people before God
The Pope then reflected on the third image of Moses with his hands raised to heaven.

"Moses stood with the people to the very end, raising his hands on their behalf. He did not think of saving himself alone; he did not sell out the people for his own interests!"

The task of intercessors, the Holy Father suggested, involves bringing people's struggles before God in prayer, obtaining forgiveness for them, and administering reconciliation as channels of God’s mercy.

"Beloved, these prophetic hands, outstretched and raised, demand great effort," the Pope said, acknowledging, "To be prophets, companions and intercessors, to show with our life the mystery of God’s closeness to His people, can cost us our lives."

Offering lives for the Gospel

"Many priests and religious have been victims of violence and attacks in which they lost their lives," the Pope lamented.

In a very real way, he said, they offered their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

"Their closeness to their brothers and sisters is a marvelous testimony that they bequeath to us, a legacy that invites us to carry forward their mission," the Pope said.

Read the full article HERE!: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/20...


Pope Urges Congo’s Bishops To Be Prophetic BY CINDY WOODEN

The bishops of Congo must be men of faith and prayer, close to their people and prophetic in their proclamations of hope and denunciations of injustice, Pope Francis told them.

Before leaving Kinshasa Feb. 3 and heading to Juba, South Sudan, the pope met with Congo’s bishops at the headquarters of the episcopal conference. He thanked them for working “twice as hard” preparing for his visit, referring to the fact that they had arranged almost everything for his planned visit in July before it was postponed because the pope was having trouble walking.

Turning to the ministry of bishops, Pope Francis insisted that “proclaiming the Gospel, enlivening pastoral life and exercising leadership cannot become ideas having little to do with the reality of daily life.”

Ministers of the Gospel, he said, “must touch wounds and communicate God’s closeness, so that people can realize their dignity as his beloved children and learn to walk with their heads held high, never lowering them in the face of humiliation and oppression.”

The bishops must make sure the Gospel speaks to a nation enduring violence, civil unrest and poverty, the pope said.

In fact, he said, like the bishops “I see Jesus suffering in the history of this people, crucified and oppressed, devastated by ruthless violence, marred by innocent suffering, forced to live with the tainted waters of corruption and injustice that pollute society, and to suffer poverty in so many of its children.”

The role of the bishops, he said, is to become “channels of consolation and reconciliation for others, to heal the wounds of those who suffer, to ease the pain of those who weep, to lift up the poor and to set individuals free from manifold forms of slavery and oppression.”

The bishops are called to be prophets in the style of Jeremiah, who was told by the Lord, “I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

The biblical mandate, he said, means the bishops have an obligation “to pluck up the poisonous plants of hatred and selfishness, anger, resentment and violence; to break down the altars erected to money and corruption; to build a coexistence based on justice, truth and peace; and finally, to plant the seeds of rebirth, so that tomorrow’s Congo will truly be what the Lord dreams of: a blessed and happy land, no longer exploited, oppressed and drenched in blood.”

Pope Francis insisted he was not talking about getting involved in partisan politics.

While Christian prophecy can and does have political and social implications, those areas usually should be left to lay Catholics, he said. Instead, the task of the bishops is “to proclaim the word, awakening consciences, denouncing evil and encouraging those who are broken-hearted and lacking hope.”

As he told priests, religious and catechists the day before, Pope Francis insisted the proclamation of the Gospel requires closeness to the people and personal witness of an upright and holy life.

“The Church’s pastors must first and foremost be credible, particularly in their work of fostering communion, in their moral life and in their administration of goods,” he said.

Pope Francis told the bishops, “May it never be the case that, while others are suffering from hunger, it could be said of you: ‘They didn’t care; some went to their fields, and some about their own business,’” as the Gospel of Matthew says.

“No, please, let us leave business affairs out of the Lord’s vineyard,” the pope told them. “Let us be shepherds and servants of the people, not entrepreneurs!”

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa told reporters that the pope’s visit had focused the world’s attention on Congo and on “what the pope himself called a silent genocide, a genocide no one wants to talk about” where people are slaughtered by militias fighting for or financed by those who want to control the country’s vast mineral wealth.

The pope told neighboring countries and multinational mining companies, “Take your hands off this country,” the cardinal said. “Congo is not Ali Baba’s cave where people come to take out what they want.”

Read the full article HERE!: https://cathstan.catholicadw.com/news/us-w...


WATCH Highlights HERE!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daPeQj6zlz...

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Posted By: agnes levine
Saturday, February 4th 2023 at 9:48AM
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