weekly audience

POPE'S MESSAGE | Peace isn't mass-produced but handcrafted by ordinary people

Pope Francis walked with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher May 25, the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis called on the world's Christians to pray with him for peace in the Middle East, help convince governments to come to the aid of refugees and pray for Christian unity.

While peace is a gift from God, it also is built out of the day-to-day handiwork of individuals: true "artisans of peace," who are capable of crafting fraternity and reconciliation with people of all cultures and religions, he said at his general audience in St. Peter's Square May 28.

POPE'S MESSAGE | God makes no one struggle with life's challenges alone

Pope Francis laid his hands on a newly ordained priest during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican May 11. The pope ordained 13 men to the priesthood during the Mass.

VATICAN CITY -- God is always by our side, never giving us more than we can handle, Pope Francis said.

The countless women and men who stand tall through enormous difficulties, pain and especially persecution, are armed with the divine gift of fortitude that gives them the strength and hope to go on, he said.

"It will do us good to think about these people: If they can do it, why can't I? Let's ask the Lord for the gift of fortitude," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square May 14.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Take up God's offer to face life's problems with his love, wisdom

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth talked with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican April 3. The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, made a one-day visit to meet with the pope and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

VATICAN CITY -- People can choose either to tackle life's challenges with the loving and wise heart of God or be driven by their own passions and interests, Pope Francis said.

All people, whether they know it or not, have access to the gift of the Holy Spirit, "who teaches us to see with God's eyes, to feel with God's heart, to speak with God's words," helping people build a peaceful and loving home, church and world, he said.

Make sure your children are confirmed

Pope Francis watched as children released doves from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 26. The two young people at his side launched doves to highlight the Church’s call for peace in the world.

VATICAN CITY -- Many Catholic parents go to great lengths to ensure their children are baptized, and they must make similar efforts to see that their children are confirmed, Pope Francis said.

Without confirmation, he said, young people will remain "halfway" on the path of Christian maturity and membership in the Church.

Confirmation "unites us more solidly to Christ. It completes our bond with the Church," Pope Francis said Jan. 29 at his weekly general audience.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Divisions among Christians are 'a scandal'

Pope Francis embraced a boy during a pastoral visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome Jan. 19.

VATICAN CITY -- The divisions that exist among Christians are a source of pain and scandal, and damage the credibility and work of spreading the Gospel, Pope Francis said.

"Christ's name creates communion and unity, not division. He came to create communion among us, not to divide us!" the pope said during his general audience address Jan. 22 in St. Peter's Square.

The pope's audience took place during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. A group of Christians from different communities in Canada chose the theme for the 2014 observance -- "Has Christ been divided?"

Persecuted Christians must hunker down, hold tight to God, hope

Pope Francis baptized an infant in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 12. The pope baptized 32 children during the celebration on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

VATICAN CITY

Christians facing difficulties and discrimination, especially in the Middle East, can learn a valuable lesson from Japanese Christians who survived by clandestinely baptizing, praying and hiding during 250 years of harsh persecution, Pope Francis said.

"Difficulties and persecution, when they are lived with trust, confidence and hope, purify the faith and strengthen it," he said in his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square Jan. 15.

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