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A couple offered Pope Francis pastries June 16 as he visited families living in temporary housing near Camerino, Italy. The couple’s home was destroyed when an earthquake struck central Italy in October 2016.
A couple offered Pope Francis pastries June 16 as he visited families living in temporary housing near Camerino, Italy. The couple’s home was destroyed when an earthquake struck central Italy in October 2016.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

POPE’S MESSAGE | Unity is first sign of true Christian witness

Pope Francis continued series of talks on the Acts of the Apostles at audience June 12

The Catholic Church gives an authentic witness of God’s love for all men and women only when it fosters the grace of unity and communion, Pope Francis said.

Unity is part of “the DNA of the Christian community,” the pope said June 12 during his weekly general audience.

The gift of unity, he said, “allows us not to fear diversity, not to attach ourselves to things and gifts,” but “to become martyrs, luminous witnesses of God who lives and works in history.”

“We, too, need to rediscover the beauty of giving witness to the Risen Lord, going beyond self-referential attitudes, renouncing the desire to stifle God’s gifts and not yielding to mediocrity,” he said.

Despite the sweltering Roman heat, thousands of people filled St. Peter’s Square for the audience, which began with Pope Francis circling the square in the popemobile, occasionally stopping to greet pilgrims and even comfort a crying child.

In his main talk, the pope continued his series on the Acts of the Apostles, looking specifically at the apostles who, after the Resurrection, “prepare to receive God’s power — not passively but by consolidating communion between them.”

Before ultimately taking his own life, Judas’ separation from Christ and the apostles began with his attachment to money and losing sight of the importance of self-giving “until he allowed the virus of pride to infect his mind and heart, transforming him from a friend into an enemy.”

Judas “stopped belonging to the heart to Jesus and placed himself outside of communion with Him and His companions. He stopped being a disciple and placed himself above the master,” the pope explained.

Nevertheless, unlike Judas who “preferred death to life” and created a “wound in the body of the community,” the 11 apostles choose “life and blessing.”

Pope Francis said that by discerning together to find a suitable replacement, the apostles gave “a sign that communion overcomes divisions, isolation and the mentality that absolutizes the private space.”

“The Twelve manifest in the Acts of the Apostles the Lord’s style,” the pope said. “They are the accredited witnesses of Christ’s work of salvation and do not manifest to the world their presumed perfection but rather, through the grace of unity, reveal another one who now lives in a new way in the midst of his people: our Lord Jesus.”

The Vatican’s translation of the full message into English was not available at press time. Read the full transcript at www.bit.ly/2WO2Euh

Don’t let quake shake your hope, pope says

By Catholic News Service

CAMERINO, Italy — Wearing a firefighter’s helmet painted white and gold for the occasion, Pope Francis entered the earthquake-damaged cathedral in Camerino and prayed before a statue of Mary missing the top of its head.

The pope began his visit June 16 outside the historic city by visiting the temporary modular homes of dozens of families who lost everything when an earthquake struck the region in October 2016.

Pope Francis arrived in the town early in the morning, and the first couple he visited insisted he try a pastry.

“I had breakfast before I left,” he explained. But the woman said she would be offended if he didn’t try just one, so he did.

The centerpiece of the pope’s visit was the celebration of Mass in the small square outside the still-closed cathedral.

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the question from Psalm 8: “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

“With what you have seen and suffered, with houses collapsed and buildings reduced to rubble,” the pope said, it is a legitimate question for people to ask.

Faith and experience, though, make it clear that God always is mindful of His human creatures, “each one is of infinite value to Him,” the pope said. “We are small under the heavens and powerless when the earth trembles, but for God we are more precious than anything.”

Visiting the families in temporary housing, Pope Francis kept urging them to keep hold of hope, and he did the same in his homily.

“Earthly hopes are fleeting, they have an expiration date,” the pope said. But the Christian virtue of hope, a gift of the Holy Spirit “does not expire because it is based on God’s faithfulness.”

Such hope, he said, gives birth to “peace and joy inside, independently of what happens outside. It is a hope that has strong roots, one that no storm can uproot.”

Pope Francis told the people he wanted to visit just to show his closeness.

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