Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pope Francis says diversity in the Church work of Holy Spirit

Pope Francis recently said that "the Holy Spirit is the source of diversity in the church. This diversity is very rich and beautiful. But then the same Holy Spirit creates unity. And in this way the church is one in diversity." The Holy Spirit, according to Pope Francis, is behind the diversity in the Church. He has affirmed that Pentecostals and other Protestants are part of the fabric of the Church family, and that the Holy Spirit creates unity in diversity. 

Even within the Catholic family, there is diversity. Within the Roman Communion, there are over twenty Rites, including Melkite, Byzantine, Ukrainian, and the largest, the Roman Rite. The diversity of Roman Catholicism also includes Old Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, and Independent Catholics.

Old Roman Catholics typically descend from the ancient Catholic See of Utrecht via the Apostolic line of Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew. Utrecht was granted administrative autonomy in 1145, which was confirmed by various Popes and Councils, and thus Old Roman Catholics maintain that they have never split from the Catholic Church. Traditional Catholic liturgy and doctrine (usually pre-1955) is a common hallmark of Old Roman Catholicism, which may be found in many parts of the world today.

Old Catholics share a similar heritage with Old Roman Catholics, but diverged at the First Vatican Council over the issue of Papal Infallibility. The See of Utrecht today is Old Catholic and also has a parallel Roman Catholic diocese. There are various Old Catholic jurisdictions around the world today. 

Independent Catholics sometimes stem from Old Catholicism. Others come from Apostolic lines such as Roman Catholic Bishop Duarte-Costa in Brazil. Still others may be found in traditional Catholic organizations such as the Society of Saint Pius X, founded by Roman Catholic Archbishop Lefebvre to preserve the traditional liturgy and doctrine of the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. 

All these lineages, and others not mentioned here, form the diverse fabric of the Roman Catholic tradition. Much like a large family, not everyone always gets along. However, as the Holy Father recently stated, "this diversity is very rich and beautiful." 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Flag of the Patriarchate - Our Identity and Purpose

30 July 2014 ( ORCNS) - The flag of the Patriarchal See of Saint Stephen represents its spiritual and temporal heritage as a traditional Old Roman Catholic patriarchate with Anglican patrimony. It consists of three vertical bands in green, white, and red, with the middle arms of the Patriarchal See depicted in the center upon a red St. Stephen cross. Red and white are the common colors among the various temporal territories of the Patriarchal States. Green is used to represent the Catholic faith and the martyr's palm of Saint Stephen the Deacon. Red is also a color of Saint Stephen, and white also is an ancient Marian color still often used today at Marian feasts.

If you think that looks somewhat like an Italian flag, you are correct! The use of those colors originated in Northern Italy during the conquest by Napoleon. Red and white were taken from the colors of the flag of Milan, and green came from the color of their guard uniform. The flag of the City of Milan from which the colors derive is the St. George cross. Saint George is the Patron Saint of England and chivalry, both of which also have clear significance to the See of Saint Stephen. The Saint George cross is featured within the patronal arms of the Patriarchal See, the arms of the Governor-General, and the badge of the Patriarchal Curia.

The temporal and territorial patrimony of the Stephenian Patriarchate is centered primarily within the Holy Roman Empire territories of Italy and areas with historic Italian linkage. The See of St. Stephen also continues the Anglican patrimony of the Tuscan region of Italy. English-speaking people have been in that area for centuries and continue as part of its culture and heritage.

Over time, the three colors eventually had a religious meaning attributed, namely that of faith, hope, and charity. This is a particularly nice symbolism that also applies to the Patriarchate’s mandate of mission, service, and charity. Mission flows from the altar of God and thus is a direct product of faith. Mission is putting faith into action. Hope means never giving up and not giving into despair. It is the belief that God is present in every human life, and this this is why we engage in service.

In the center, the coat of arms of the Patriarchal See are depicted upon a red cross of Saint Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr, our celestrial Patron. The left side of shield (as you are looking at it) contains the principle armorial achievements of spiritual patrimony, and the right side contains those of the principal temporal patrimony. In the center is an oval displaying the emblem of the Patriarch. Behind the shield are crossed the key and sword, the symbols of spiritual and temporal authority, along with two lily sceptres of Our Lady of Walsingham, Patroness of English-Speaking Catholics and of the Patriarchal Household. Atop the shield is a crown representative of the territorial patrimony of the Patriarchate. The pallium of Metropolitan authority is suspended from the bottom of the shield, and the ombrellino of the cardinalatial dignity is seen at the top. Also pendant from the shield are the collars of the Legion of the Eagle and the Orders of St. Stephen and Mary Immaculate.

The flag of the Patriarchate represents who we are, the legacy we follow, and what we do in the fulfillment of our sacred mission. It represents our identity and our purpose.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Vatican City, 29 July 2014 (VIS) – Unity in diversity and the plea for forgiveness for the lack of understanding shown by some Catholics towards their Pentecostal brothers were the key themes of the Pope's address at the Pentecostal Church of the Reconciliation in Caserta yesterday, during his meeting with his friend, the pastor Giovanni Traettino, whom he known for many years, both in Buenos Aires and as bishop of Rome, engaged in ecumenism. The meeting took place in a cheerful and intimate atmosphere, and was attended by 200 people, mostly Pentecostals from Italy, the United States and Argentina, as well as other countries. “With men like you”, said Pastor Traettino to his friend, Pope Francis, “there is hope for us, as Christians”.

The Pope's address responded to the discourse pronounced by Pastor Traettino, who had remarked that the presence of Jesus and walking in the presence of Jesus should be at the centre of our life. Francis remarked that “walk” was God's first commandment to his people, represented by Abraham – “walk before me faithfully and be blameless” – and added, “I don't understand a Christian who stands still! I don't understand a Christian who doesn't walk. A Christian must walk … because that which is still, that does not move ahead, becomes corrupt. Like still water, which is the first to become stagnant. … There are Christians who confuse walking and moving ahead with moving around. These, instead, are errants who saunter here and there; these are people who lack parrhesia, the boldness to go ahead; they lack hope”.

He went on to cite the story of Jacob who, during a time of famine, sent his eleven sons – ten of whom were guilty of betrayal, having sold their brother Joseph – to Egypt to buy grain. There, they once again found Joseph, who in the meantime had become the vizier. “When we walk in God's presence, we find brotherhood”, asserted the Pope. “When instead we stop, we scrutinise each other too much, and we set out on another path, that of gossip. … And in this way it begins, from the first moment the division of the Church began. And it is not the Holy Spirit who causes division! … From the very beginning there has been this temptation in the Christian community. 'I am from this group, you are from that one', 'No! I am the Church, you are a sect', and so on. … The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church … diversity, rich and beautiful. But, at the same time, the Holy Spirit creates unity, and so the Church is one in her diversity. To borrow a phrase used by an evangelical, a phrase I love, it is the 'reconciled diversity' of the Holy Spirit, Who creates both of these things: diversity in charisms, and harmony in charisms”.

To offer an image of how unity in the Church could be, Pope Francis first described a sphere, all of whose points are equidistant from the centre. This, he said, was an example of uniformity, and “the Holy Spirit does not create uniformity”. “Let us imagine, instead, a polyhedron: it is an example of unity, but with many different parts, each with its own peculiarity and charism. This is unity in diversity. This is the path that we Christians take, giving it the theological name of ecumenism: we seek to ensure that this diversity is harmonised by the Holy Spirit and becomes a unity; we seek to walk in the presence of God to be blameless”.

Pastor Traettino had also referred to the incarnation of Jesus, and the Holy Father responded that “the incarnation of the Word is the foundation – it is Jesus Christ! God and man, Son of God and Son of man, true God and true man. This is how the first Christians understood Him to be and they fought hard to maintain this truth: the Lord is God and man. It is the mystery of Christ's flesh. … I love the poor, the widow, the slave, the imprisoned. … I love them all, as these people who suffer are Christ's flesh. … It is not possible to preach a purely intellectual Gospel: the Gospel is the truth but it is also love and beauty! And this is the joy of the Gospel!”.

“On this path, many times we have done the same thing as the brothers of Joseph, when jealous and envy have divided us”, he remarked. “That sad story in which the Gospel for some was lived as truth and they did not realise that behind this attitude there were bad things, things that were not the Lord's, an ugly attempt at division. That sad history, in which there are repeated the same things that Joseph's brother did: denouncements, the laws of these people who 'are against the purity of the race'. … And these laws were ratified by baptised persons! Some of those who enacted these laws, and some of those who persecuted, denounced their pentecostal brothers because they were 'enthusiastic', almost 'crazy', who spoiled the race. … I am a pastor of Catholics, and I beg forgiveness for this. I ask your forgiveness on behalf of those Catholic brothers and sisters who did not understand and who were tempted by the devil, and who did the same thing that Joseph's brothers did. I ask the Lord for the grace to recognise and to forgive”.

Pope Francis went on to comment on Pastor Traettino's words, “The truth is an encounter”. “An encounter between people”, he emphasised. “The truth is not made in a laboratory, it is made in life, seeking Jesus in order to find Him. But the greatest and most beautiful mystery is that when we find Jesus, we realise that He sought us first, that He had found us first, because He arrives before us. I like to use the Spanish verb 'primerea' to describe this, meaning that He precedes us, and always awaits us. … That encounter that transforms us: everything comes from that encounter. This is the path of Christian sanctity: seeking Jesus every day in order to meet him, and letting oneself be sought and found by Jesus every day”.

“We are on that path of unity, among brothers”, he concluded. “Some people will be surprised: they will say, the Pope has gone to the evangelicals! He has gone to meet his brothers! Yes! Because – and this is the truth – they came to me first, in Buenos Aires. … And so this friendship began, this closeness between the pastors in Buenos Aires, and here today. I thank you, and I ask you to pray for me, as I need your prayers”.

Following the meeting, in the mid afternoon, the Pope returned to the Vatican by helicopter.

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Monday, July 28, 2014


Vatican City, 27 July 2014 (VIS) – After today's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father, remarking that tomorrow marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, launched a new appeal for peace in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine, and called for a cessation of hostilities.

“Tomorrow is the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which claimed millions of lives and caused immense destruction. This conflict, defined by Pope Benedict XV as a 'senseless slaughter', persisted for four long years and led to a more fragile peace. Tomorrow will be a day of mourning in remembrance of this tragedy. While we remember this tragic event, I hope that we will not repeat the errors of the past, but will instead pay heed to the lessons of history, ensuring that the reason of peace always prevails by means of patient and courageous dialogue”.

“Today, my thoughts extend to three areas of crisis, in particular: the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine. I ask you to continue to join with me in prayer that the Lord may grant the populations and authorities of these areas the wisdom and strength necessary to proceed with determination along the path of peace, facing every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation, and the strength of reconciliation. May the common good and respect for every person be at the centre of every decision, rather than particular interests. Let us remember that all is lost with war, but nothing is lost with peace”.

“Brothers and sisters: no more war! No more war! I think especially of the children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future: children killed, children injured, children mutilated, children orphaned, children who have as toys the remnants of war, children who do not know how to smile. Stop, please! I ask you with all my heart. The time has come to stop. Stop, please!”

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Vatican City, 28 July 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday, Sunday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, presided at the Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle of the Chaldeans in San Diego, U.S.A. He prayed for the Christians persecuted in Iraq, the motherland of the Chaldean Church, and also included in his prayer those in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, as well as those who belong to the Greek-Catholic community in Ukraine, who are currently experiencing difficult situations.

The bishop of the eparchy, Sarhad Yawsip Hermiz Jammo, thanked the cardinal for the consolation that his visit and his prayers, as the representative of Pope Francis, offered to al the Christians of the East, and added that, in communion with Peter's Successor, they would persist in the faith of Abraham and, like the patriarch, they would prepare to leave for the land God will show to them, learning to read history in a higher dimension.

In his homily, Cardinal Sandri thanked those present and those Christians who suffer for their faith in the Gospel in situations of conflict, and assured them of Pope Francis' prayers and blessing and the closeness of all the Church. He expressed his hope for peace and justice for all those who have been afflicted by incredible and senseless violence.

The prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in his visit to California, met with the Maronite and Syro-Malabar communities of Los Angeles and San Diego. During the coming days he will visit the Armenians and greet the priests of the Syrian, Coptic, Greek-Melkite and Romanian Greek-Catholic Churches who exercise their pastoral ministry in this region of the United States. The already populous Eastern is expected to increase significantly, especially from Iraq, due to the current conflict. He underlined that immigration is a pastoral challenge of historical proportions, and requires great efforts on the part of the Latin Church in support of the Oriental Churches.

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