Francis highlights the Gospel’s universal relevance

russelcroweMy last interview at Vatican Insider ... 

Professor, the television series “The Bible” has been tremendously popular in Italy and the rest of the world. How do you explain this?

“Given the historical crisis we are going through right now, people need real reasons to hope for a better future. They need to believe that there is “Someone” who mysteriously steers history and that God doesn’t abandon those who believe in Him. I think this is one of the reasons the TV series on the Bible has been so popular. But I think there is now another reason too. Pope Francis’ crystal clear language encourages us to approach the Holy Scriptures in a simple way, accepting supernatural reality fully, whilst welcoming the extraordinary message intended for all humanity, not just Jews and Christians.”


What is it about the Holy Scriptures that fascinates millions of people across the globe - aside from artistic qualities of a single film?
“The possibility of immersing oneself in a world – God’s world – that penetrates and transforms man and the contexts in which he lives. Today, this world is often miserably reduced to mere human fantasies or figments of our imagination when it is in fact real and continues to manifest itself clearly throughout history. Immersing ourselves in God’s world does not alienate us from everyday reality but allows us to see it and understand it in its deepest dimension. The Bible does not just talk about a distant and buried past but about events that continue to repeat themselves in the individual and collective lives of people.”

“Read the Gospel on the bus when you’re not watching your pockets”

Bus“Don’t be ashamed of faith. Let us purify our eyes, we see too many worldly things. God asks us to go on a journey but not as tourists,” Francis stressed, urging faithful to “read the Gospel on the bus when you’re not busy watching your pockets.” People even climbed up onto roofs to greet the Pope who visited the local parish of Setteville di Guidonia outside Rome this afternoon. Flags, jerseys, rosaries and scarves were being waved about in celebration of the Pope’s arrival. In his homily, the Pope invited faithful to “listen” to the Word of God.

We listen to “the radio, the TV, people’s gossip, we listen to many things but do we take a little bit of time every day to listen to the Word of Jesus?” We need to ask for grace so that we do not feel ashamed by our faith,” Francis said. Francis asked children to say the following prayer: “Jesus I ask you to send me the Holy Spirit so that it gives me courage and takes away my fear.”

The first meeting the Pope had upon arrival at the parish, was with a hundred or so disabled people and their relatives, followed by about 300 children and teens who were accompanied by their parents. After this Francis met with members of the Neocatechumenal Way and encouraged them to go move forward, not to take the wrong route and to always walk along Jesus’ path. A huge crowd gathered to greet the Pope who arrived at the parish of Santa Maria dell’Orazione is in the Setteville neighbourhood east of Rome at 4 pm (CET). The Pope listened to some confessions before celebrating mass.

The great refusal

librosegrratzingerThe February Eleven at 11:45 Benedict XVI announced that from February 28 will no longer be pope. After more than eight hundred years, a pontiff dares to repeat the "great refusal" of Celestino V. It is possible to understand the meaning of such historical gesture only if we analyze the facts inside a much broader context. The existence of Joseph Ratzinger takes place during the most serious and deep crisis of faith in the Western world.

After the Second Vatican Council this crisis began to penetrate even into the Church, leading also to undermine its center, the Holy See. Along with heroic figures, like John Paul I and John Paul II, Benedict XVI is a true successor of Peter, transmitting the authentic faith and protecting Christian unity. For this reason Ratzinger begins to be fiercely attacked both from outside and, especially, from inside of the Vatican.

Francis could be joining facebook

facebookFrancis may one day not long from now have his very own profile on the world’s favourite social network. The Vatican is looking into the possibility of creating a papal Facebook page. Vatican Insider has learnt from Curia members that the process is well under way and the Vatican’s tech experts are working on it. The Vatican has assigned a team of IT technicians to look into ways in which to prevent offensive or inappropriate messages and other such material from being posted on the Pope’s page. This is the biggest obstacle that would need to be overcome.

Figures show that new technologies open up a sea of opportunities for this incredibly popular Pope who is adored by young people across the world, to spread his teachings. The Pope currently has 12 million followers on Twitter and his tweets are retweeted more frequently that even President Obama’s posts are. Francis’ tweets reach as many as sixty million users.

The papal Twitter account @Pontifex was launched at Joseph Ratzinger’s request on 12 December 2012, in eight different language versions. Latin was later added, on 17 January 2014, sparking great interest and clocking up a surprising number of followers. By the time Benedict XVI left the pontificate on 28 February, he had about 3 million followers on Twitter. The account went into “hibernation” temporarily during the sede vacante period and was then re-activated on 17 March, five days after Francis’ election. Since then, its popularity has soared. The Spanish account currently has the most followers, followed by English and Italian. But the Pope’s message are not just read by direct followers, five times more Twitter users receive them thanks to the retweeting option. The President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Mgr. Claudio Maria Celli, said over 60 million people receive the Pope’s tweets, which the archbishop calls a “pill” or “a drop of spirituality and hope.”

Young and Old

giovanievecchi“It's good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young, and is good for young people to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom, and carry it forward,” Francis said, proposing a pact between generations and focusing on the “mystery of encounter.” Today the Pope presided a mass with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in St. Peter’s Basilica, on the occasion of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the Day of Consecrated Life.

 

The Pope co-celebrated the mass with priests from various religious orders, congregations and institutes. During the course of the mass, the blessing and procession of the candles took place, followed by the Eucharistic celebration and a powerful homily on the sharing and passing on of knowledge between the young and the old. “The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,” Francis said, “is also called the Feast of the Encounter: The encounter between Jesus and his people, when Mary and Joseph brought their child to the Temple in Jerusalem , the first meeting between Jesus and his people took place, represented by the elderly couple Simeon and Anna. This was also an encounter within the history of the people, an encounter between the young and old: the young were Mary and Joseph with their infant, and the old were Simeon and Anna, two characters who always attended the Temple.”