Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Pope laments closed parishes at first general audience

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Vatican City, March 27 - Pope Francis recalled his
predecessor Benedict XVI and lamented the rising number of
closed parish churches in the developed world in his first
general audience since becoming pontiff two weeks ago Wednesday.
"Brothers and sisters, good morning," said the Argentine
pontiff.
"I'm pleased to welcome you to this my first general
audience.
"I take the baton from the hands of my beloved predecessor
Benedict XVI".
Francis, the first pope from the Americas, visited Benedict
at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo at the weekend
and the two prayed together.
Benedict, 85, shocked the world last month by announcing he
was retiring from a role that is usually for life, saying he no
longer had the mental and physical strength to continue to lead
the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Francis went on to say he was saddened at seeing so many
parish churches closed and called on the faithful to go out and
take the "joy" of Catholicism to others to combat the
phenomenon.
"Holy Week is a time of grace which the Lord gives us to
open the doors of our hearts, our lives, our parishes - what a
pity, so many parishes are closed! - in our parishes, movements,
associations, and to step outside towards others, to draw close
to them so we can bring the light and joy of our faith," he said
referring to the week that leads to Easter.
"Always step outside yourself! And with the love and
tenderness of God, with respect and patience, knowing that we
put our hands, our feet, our hearts, but then it is God who
guides them and makes all our actions fruitful.
The new pope broke tradition for the umpteenth time since
being elected by greeting the different language groups
attending the general audience in Italian, rather than in
their native languages.
Some commentators said this could be a sign of his
intention to stress that he is the Bishop of Rome as well as the
head of the whole Church.
Francis also made an appeal for an end to violence and
conflict in the Central African Republic in the wake of a
weekend coup.
"I am closely following what is currently happening in the
Central African Republic and wish to assure my prayers for all
those who are suffering, especially the relatives of the
victims, the wounded and those who have lost their homes and
have been forced to flee," Francis said.
"I call for an immediate halt to the violence and looting,
and a political solution to the crisis to be found as soon as
possible that would restore peace and harmony to that dear
country for too long marked by conflict and division".
Francis tweeted after the audience.
"To experience Holy Week is to enter more and more into
God's logic of love and self-giving," read the post on the papal
account, @pontifex.
Pope Francis compared talking badly about other people to
Judas's betrayal of Jesus in a short homily he gave at a Mass
inside the Vatican on Wednesday, Vatican radio reported.
Referring to Judas selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of
silver, Francis said during a Mass at the Casa Santa Marta
residence that "sometimes we, with our brothers, with our
friends, amongst ourselves, do almost the same thing".
He said that this happens "when we chatter about each
other," saying that this is effectively selling and that "the
person who we chat about is merchandise, they become
merchandise".
He added: "and how easily we do this. It's the same thing
Judas did".
The pope also paid a surprise visit to Vatican employees
who were attending Mass in St Peter's early on Wednesday.
It was also revealed Wednesday that Francis' first words
after being elected pontiff two weeks ago were that he was a
"great sinner".
The head of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV), Dario
Vigano' said Cardinal Angelo Comastri had told him that
Francis's first words as pope were: "I'm a great sinner.
Trusting in the mercy and patience of God, with suffering, I
accept".

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