pope francis

Lent is time to notice God’s work, receive God’s mercy

Pope Francis imposed ashes on the head of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, at Ash Wednesday Mass Feb. 14 at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome.

ROME — Lent is a time for Christians to get their hearts in sync with the heart of Jesus, Pope Francis said.

"Let the Lord heal the wounds of sin and fulfill the prophecy made to our fathers: 'A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,'" the pope said Feb. 14, celebrating Mass and distributing ashes at the beginning of Lent.

POPE’S MESSAGE | People have right to receive God’s word, so preach it well

Pope Francis greeted the crowd during his general audience Feb. 14 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY — Everyone who attends Mass has the right to hear the word of God in all its fullness, which means it must be read and explained with "fervor," Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Feb. 14.

The pope continued his series of audience talks on the Mass, underlining the importance of receiving "abundantly from the treasury of God's word" present in the Mass readings and the homily.

POPE’S MESSAGE | Homilies must help people reflect, not nap

Pope Francis talked to the congregation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at a private meeting Feb. 5 at the Vatican. The talk included discussion on the status of Jerusalem and the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through dialogue and respect for human rights.

VATICAN CITY — Catholic priests must deliver good homilies so the "good news" of the Gospel can take root in people's hearts and help them live holier lives, Pope Francis said.

But the faithful in the pews need to do their part, too, the pope said at his weekly general audience Feb. 7.

Catholics need to read the Bible more regularly so they can better understand the Mass readings, and they need to be patient with the homilist, especially if the sermon is boring, meandering or hard to understand.

Pope revises norms for theology, philosophy studies

VATICAN CITY — Catholic university programs in philosophy, theology and canon law — especially those designed for future priests — must be marked by fidelity to Church tradition, academic rigor and an awareness of the challenges to belief in the modern world, Pope Francis said.

In the apostolic constitution "Veritatis Gaudium" ("The Joy of Truth"), the pope issued revised norms for "ecclesiastical universities and faculties" that grant Vatican-recognized degrees, which are necessary for teaching most philosophy, theology and canon law courses in seminaries and pontifical universities.

POPE’S MESSAGE | Readings at Mass offer God’s ‘real-time’ help

Pope Francis and Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, released doves at the end of the pope’s meeting with the Ukrainian Catholic community Jan. 28 at the Basilica of Santa Sophia in Rome. The pope offered a reflection on the theme of a multiyear renewal effort in Ukrainian Catholic parishes around the world.

VATICAN CITY — Listening to the Scripture readings at Mass is hearing God speak directly to His people, offering spiritual sustenance and needed guidance for life's difficult journey, Pope Francis said.

For that reason, the prescribed texts should never be skipped or substituted at Mass, lectors should read clearly and people should always listen with an open heart so that the words may eventually bear fruit in good deeds, the pope said at his weekly general audience Jan. 31.

Congo’s bishops criticize excessive force to break up protests

A priest and other demonstrators chanted slogans at a protest organized by Catholic activists in Kinshasa, Congo. At least six people were killed during demonstrations across the country against Congolese President Joseph Kabila and delayed elections.

KINSHASA, Congo — Congo's bishops condemned the "excessive and disproportionate use of force" by security forces that dispersed protesters demanding President Joseph Kabila hold fresh elections in line with a Church-brokered accord.

In a Jan. 22 report, the bishops' conference said "peaceful marches" had been "violently repressed and smothered with tear gas and bursts of fire" in 95 Catholic parishes, leaving six dead and 127 injured, some by police bullets.

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