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

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.

"How many times do we see some people asleep, chatting or going out to smoke a cigarette during the homily," the pope asked those gathered for the audience in the Paul VI audience hall.

A homily must be prepared well with prayer and study, and be delivered clearly and briefly — "it must not go longer than 10 minutes, please," the pope said.

Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the proclamation of the Gospel and the homily.

Whoever gives the homily must recognize that isn't about himself, but that he is "giving voice to Jesus, he is preaching the word of Jesus," the pope said.

The homily isn't a lecture, a lesson, a catechesis or just small talk, he said; it's the minister continuing a dialogue the Lord has already established with His people so that His word may become part of their lives.

"The word of the Lord ends its journey becoming flesh in us, translating itself into action, as happened in (the lives of) Mary and the saints," he said.

Just as the preacher must try to offer "a real service" to the congregation, the pope said, the people in the pews must do their part, above all by paying attention and listening with a proper attitude — free from "subjective pretenses" and prejudices, "knowing that every preacher has virtues and limitations."

The word of the Lord — whether in the Mass readings or the homily — is meant to "enter into the ears, to get to the heart and go to the hands by doing good works," the pope said.

To get His message across, "Christ also needs the words of the priest who gives the homily after the Gospel" reading, he said.

A Gospel passage is read at Mass not simply to tell people about events in the past, the pope said. "We listen to the Gospel in order to become aware of what Jesus did and said once" in order to reflect on how He says it again to everyone today.

"Therefore, if we listen to the 'good news,' we will be converted and transformed by this and consequently be capable of changing ourselves and the world," he said. 

Pope and Erdogan discuss Jerusalem, Mideast peace

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Vatican Feb. 5 for a private discussion that included the status of Jerusalem and the need to achieve peace in the Middle East through dialogue and respect for human rights.

During a 50-minute meeting, the two leaders discussed the current situation in Turkey, "the condition of the Catholic community, efforts in the reception of the many refugees and the challenges linked to this," the Vatican said in a statement.

Aided by interpreters, Pope Francis and Erdogan also focused on "the situation in the Middle East, with particular reference to the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law."

The same topics were brought up during Erdogan's separate meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister.

Erdogan arrived in Rome amid heavy security measures for a two-day visit that was to include meetings with Italian authorities and business leaders. More than 3,000 police officers had been deployed for the visit, according to Agence France-Presse, and demonstrations had been banned in Rome's center for 24 hours.

Exchanging gifts, Erdogan gave Pope Francis a boxed collection of works by Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, the 13th-century Muslim mystic, philosopher and poet.

Pope Francis then gave Erdogan a large bronze medallion of an "angel of peace," who, the pope said, "strangles the demon of war."

Speaking to reporters at Istanbul's airport prior to his departure for Rome, Erdogan said his visit to the Vatican to see the pope — the first by a Turkish president in 59 years — was "a significant opportunity to draw attention to common human values."

Erdogan had telephoned the pope in December to discuss his concern over the status of Jerusalem after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Dec. 6 that he was formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld Vatican calls for a special, internationally guaranteed statute on the status of Jerusalem as the only way to preserve its unique identity as a place considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service 


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