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Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 21 May 2017



Dear Brothers and Sisters,
good morning!

Today’s Gospel (cf. Jn 14:15-21), the continuation of that of last Sunday, takes us back to the moving and dramatic moment of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. John the Evangelist gathers from the lips and heart of the Lord His last teachings, before His Passion and death. Jesus promises his friends, at that sad, dark moment, that after him, they will receive “another Paraclete” (v. 16). This word means another “Advocate”, another Defender, another Counsellor: “the Spirit of Truth” (v. 17); and he adds, “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (v. 18). 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 his new coming, he reveals our union with him and with the Father: “You will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (v. 20).

Today, by meditating on these words of Jesus, we perceive with the sense of faith that we are the People of God in communion with the Father and with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The Church finds the inexhaustible source of her very mission, which is achieved through love, in this mystery of communion. Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (v. 21). So, love introduces us to the knowledge of Jesus, thanks to the action of this “Advocate” that Jesus sent, that is, the Holy Spirit. Love for God and neighbour is the greatest commandment of the Gospel. The Lord today calls us to respond generously to the Gospel’s call to love, placing God at the centre of our lives and dedicating ourselves to the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those most in need of support and consolation.

If ever there is an attitude that is never easy, even for a Christian community, it is precisely how to love oneself, to love after the Lord’s example and with his grace. Sometimes disagreements, pride, envy, divisions, leave their mark even on the beautiful face of the Church. A community of Christians should live in the charity of Christ, and instead, it is precisely there that the evil one “sets his foot in” and sometimes we allow ourselves to be deceived. And those who pay the price are those who are spiritually weaker. How many of them — and you know some of them — how many of them have distanced themselves because they did not feel welcomed, did not feel understood, did not feel loved. How many people have distanced themselves, for example, from some parish or community because of the environment of gossip, jealousy, and envy they found there. Even for a Christian, knowing how to love is never a thing acquired once and for all. We must begin anew every day. We must practice it so that our love for the brothers and sisters we encounter may become mature and purified from those limitations or sins that render it incomplete, egotistical, sterile, and unfaithful. We have to learn the art of loving every day. Listen to this: every day we must learn the art of loving; every day we must patiently follow the school of Christ. Every day we must forgive and look to Jesus, and do this with the help of this “Advocate”, of this Counsellor whom Jesus has sent to us that is the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary, the perfect disciple of her Son and Lord, help us to be more and more docile to the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, to learn every day how to love each other as Jesus loved us.

After the Regina Caeli:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Distressing news comes from the Central African Republic, which I carry in my heart, especially following my visit in November 2015. Armed clashes have claimed many victims and displaced many people, and threaten the peace process. I am close to the people and to the bishops and to all those who work for the good of the people and for peaceful coexistence. I pray for the dead and the wounded and renew my Appeal: may weapons be silenced and may the good will to dialogue prevail so as to give the country peace and development.

On 24 May, we will all join in spirit the Catholic faithful in China for the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Help of Christians” venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. To the Catholics of China I say: let us lift our gaze to our Mother Mary, to help us discern God’s will concerning the concrete journey of the Church in China and to support us in generously welcoming his project of love. May Mary encourage us to offer our personal contribution to the communion of believers and to the harmony of the whole of society. Let us not forget to bear witness to the faith with prayer and with love, always remaining open to encounter and to dialogue.

I extend my cordial greeting to you, the faithful of Rome and pilgrims. Especially to the Capilla de Música of the Pamplona Cathedral; to the Colégio São Tomás group from Lisbon; the faithful of the Chapelle Saint-Charles de la Croix-Saint-Simon Hospital in Paris; to those from Torrent, Valencia, Spain, from Canada and from the United States of America, including those from the island of Guam.

A special greeting goes to the confirmed youngsters and the confirmands of the Diocese of Genoa: with the help of God, I will come to visit your city next Saturday. As well as to the Coccinelle from Frosinone and the faithful from the Parish of Santa Maria Goretti in Rome.

I wish everyone a happy Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch. Arrivederci!

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I wish to announce that I will hold a Consistory for the appointment of five new Cardinals on Wednesday, 28 June. Coming from different parts of the world, they manifest the Catholicity of the Church spread out across the entire Earth. The assignment of a title or diaconate in the city expresses the Cardinals’ membership in the Diocese of Rome that, according to the well known expression of Saint Ignatius [of Antioch], presides over the charity of all the Churches. And on Thursday, 29 June, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostle Saints Peter and Paul, I will concelebrate Holy Mass with the new Cardinals, the College of Cardinals, the new Bishops, the Metropolitan Archbishops, the Bishops and several priests.

Here are the names of the new Cardinals:

Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali; Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain; Bishop Anders Arborelius, ocd, of Stockholm, Sweden; Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, titular Bishop of Acquae novae in Proconsulari, Vicar Apostolic of Paksé, in Laos; Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chávez, titular Bishop of Mulli, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Salvador.

Let us entrust the new Cardinals to the protection of Saints Peter and Paul, so that with the intercession of the Prince of the Apostles, they may be authentic servants of ecclesial communion, and with that of the Apostle of the Gentiles, they may be joyful announcers of the Gospel throughout the world, and with their witness and their counsel, support me more intensely in my service as Bishop of Rome, the universal Pastor of the Church.


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