Category: Vatican News

October 14, 2018: Celebrating One of History’s Most Refined, and Recognizably Human, Popes

Pope St. Paul VI

 

St. John’s celebrates the canonizations of Pope St. Paul VI & St. Oscar Romero, martyr on Sunday, October 14, at 10:00 am, Rome time (beginning at 3:00 am, CST).  Please refer to EWTN for up to the minute coverage of this event!

ROME – According to the Catholic theology of sainthood, canonization amounts to a judgment that a particular individual is already in heaven enjoying the beatific vision, meaning the unmediated presence of God – to quote St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, no longer seeing the splendor of God “indistinctly, as in a mirror, but face to face.”

As such, canonization means very little for the person getting the halo. A formal papal declaration does not “make” anyone a saint; it always comes ex post facto. By the time it rolls around, the saints are well beyond such earthly considerations.

Instead, canonization is for the rest of us. It’s a way of holding a particular figure up as an exemplar, someone whose example is worthy of being followed and whose intercession can be of help along the way.

A canonization, in other words, is a “teaching moment.”

It’s always instructive to ask, therefore, what exactly is being taught with any given canonization. It’s an especially apt question when the new saint is a pope, since it may be hard for ordinary folk to imagine there’s much they could emulate in someone whose life was, almost by definition, highly extraordinary.

Yet Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who famously described the Catholic Church as an “expert in humanity” in a 1965 address to the United Nations, was one of the most recognizably human figures ever to sit on the Throne of Peter – a pastor who both rejoiced and grieved in public, a man who felt deeply and thought widely, and a leader who sometimes struggled but, in the end, always found his inner compass.

Summing it all up, there are at least three lessons from Pope Paul’s life that would seem to be of broad application in the countdown to his canonization along with Archbishop Oscar Romero and five other new saints on Sunday.

1. Passion for humanity

Although the story is apocryphal, it used to be said of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) that when he would use the telephone to contact one of his subordinates in the Vatican, the other person would drop to his or her knees to receive the call. The mere fact that myth caught on in many circles illustrates how popes used to be seen – almost as particles of divinity, somehow lifted out of the human condition.

All that began to change with St. Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), “Good Pope John,” who came across as an unpretentious peasant’s son from Bergamo who wanted to be the whole world’s beloved uncle.

In many ways, Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, the man who would become Paul VI, was an unlikely choice to continue this humanizing trend. He was born in 1897 into rarified circles, with a father who was a journalist and a member of the Italian parliament and a mother who came from rural nobility. He studied in Milan and Rome, entering the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State at the age of 25.

From there, Montini became the quintessential court mandarin, never once holding an appointment as a parish priest in his entire life. He founded a publishing house, became a patron of Italian intellectuals and university students, and a friend and admirer of renowned thinkers such as the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain.

He was the sostituto, or “substitute” under Pius XII, wielding power from the very pinnacle of the ecclesiastical system, yet Montini was also a thinker of the first order. When he was elected pope in 1963, the story goes that Montini had some 250 boxes of books shipped to Rome from Milan, where he had been the cardinal-archbishop.

The “common man,” in other words, Montini really wasn’t.

Yet Montini was also a deeply gracious soul, famed as a conversation partner with the widest possible range of people precisely because of his keen interest in the concrete individual in front of him, no matter what station in life or worldview they embodied. Monsignor Guido Mazzotta, a consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints who worked on Paul VI’s case, said the most beautiful testimony they collected during the process came from people who had Montini as their spiritual director.

Because of his deep culture, Paul VI had a genius for being able to relate to what the outside world was feeling in a given moment. Consider, for instance, his famous July 1969 message for the Apollo moon landing: “Honor, greetings and blessings to you, conquerors of the moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams.”

(The line is also a reminder that Paul VI was just a flat-out terrific writer, the true son of a journalist father.)

Despite his restrained veneer, Paul VI also gave the world occasional glimpses of his own heart. That was never more dramatically true than towards the end, when, in effect, he became the first pope to all but rebuke God in public.

On May 9, 1978, Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was executed by a left-wing Italian terrorist movement called the “Red Brigades.” Moro was a close friend of Pope Paul VI, who had made great efforts to save him, and he was devastated by the loss.

Three days later, the pope addressed himself directly to God in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, saying: “You did not grant our plea for the safety of Aldo Moro, of this good and gentle man, wise and innocent … who was my friend.” The question he left hanging, unstated but clear to everyone present, was, “Why didn’t you help?”

If that isn’t a recognizably human question, it’s hard to know what is. Paul VI showed the world not only that even popes wrestle with such existential doubts, but also that holiness and heartbreak sometimes go hand in hand.

2. Balance

As Mazzotta put it recently, “Probably if there had been no Montini, the council wouldn’t have happened,” referring to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), over which Paul VI presided and whose conclusions it fell to him to implement.

Beyond anything else, it was Vatican II which marked the real drama of Paul’s papacy, and which today represents the cornerstone of his legacy.

It may have been his predecessor John XXIII who once said “I have to be pope both of those with their foot on the brake and those with their foot on the gas,” but Paul VI was the one who really lived the motto amid the tensions unleashed during the council and which threatened to split everything to pieces afterwards.

All that, of course, played out against the backdrop of the upheaval of 1968 and everything that followed, from race riots and student protests to the ugliness of the Vietnam War and the disillusionment of Watergate, a time when, to quote Yeats, it seemed “things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”

In that context, the fact that Paul VI managed to hold the Church together now seems, all by itself, something of a miracle. Perhaps more than anything else, he pulled it off due to his keen sense of balance.

Facing a seeming intractable stalemate between progressives and conservatives, between aggiornamento and ressourcement (“updating” and a “return to the sources”), Paul VI always tried to do justice to the wisdom in both instincts.

The most celebrated example of that approach came in November 1964, when he issued his Nota Praevia, or “preliminary note,” prior to the vote in the Vatican over its dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. In effect, the note reasserted the core principles of papal primacy, thereby balancing the document’s emphasis on collegiality. To put it all in crass political terms, publishing the note addressed the concerns of the conservatives; allowing the vote on the document to go forward satisfied the liberals.

Mazzotta described the note as Paul’s way of “ensuring the unanimity of the council’s vote” and a reflection of his “passion for unity.”

One measure of Paul’s success is that Vatican II was the lone ecumenical council in the history of the Church which wasn’t immediately followed by a schism. (Whatever one makes of whether the traditionalist Lefebvrist movement is or isn’t “schismatic,” the formal breach didn’t come until 1988 under St. Pope John Paul II.)

As another expression of that belief in balance, Paul VI was a man of dialogue to the very core. The classic expression came in the 1964 encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, in which he described patient, respectful dialogue not merely as a hallmark of good governance but an expression of God’s very nature.

“No physical pressure was brought on anyone to accept the dialogue of salvation,” Paul wrote. “Far from it, it was a tremendous appeal of love.”

Though the point may seem obvious, it may be worth spelling out anyway: In a polarized and angry culture, Paul VI’s gift for balance, as well as patience, may be more relevant than ever.

3. Courage

Paul VI was often described as a “Hamlet pope,” wracked by doubt and indecision, anguishing over every choice, with critics suggesting that he sometimes lost his nerve when walking up to the brink of making a significant decision.

Before his death in 2006, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, who had been Pope Paul’s personal secretary, told me he rejected that image of his mentor as fundamentally false. Paul VI was perfectly capable of being resolute, Macchi insisted – and the fact that he didn’t disappoint people or cause them pain casually, he insisted, hardly should count against him.

In fact, one could make the argument that no pope of the modern era showed greater courage over the years than Paul VI, given the nature of the choices he faced and the deep uncertainty of their consequences.

That courage, for instance, was manifest in the way Paul VI consistently backed the liturgical reforms called for by Vatican II, despite the depth of opposition they aroused. On all the points that mattered, he never wavered from the council’s basic vision, and the renewed worship in the vernacular languages that three generations of Catholics now take for granted is the result.

Most famously, that courage was the basis for Humanae Vitae, Paul’s 1968 encyclical letter reaffirming the traditional Catholic opposition to artificial birth control.

Contraception was hardly the only concern of Humanae Vitae, which admirers describe as a compelling and original treatment of both the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage. Still given the cultural currents of the late 1960s and the sexual revolution, it hardly seems fair to describe a pope willing to buck all of that as timid or lacking fortitude.

Paul VI also had the courage to break the mold in a staggering variety of ways, despite being a consummate man of Catholic tradition. He became the first pope to travel overseas, the first pope to meet an Orthodox patriarch and begin the process of ecumenical healing, the first pope to renounce the papal tiara, and on and on.

It likewise required courage in 1967 to release Populorum Progressio, his social encyclical on development, which he knew full well would be criticized in some circles as a way of sprinkling holy water over socialist, liberationist and anti-colonial movements across the Third World. Yet Paul was unwavering, even plaintive: ““The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance …[they] ask each and every person to hear his brother’s plea and answer it lovingly.”

It also required a bold leader to stick to his policy of Ostpolitik, despite ferocious opposition from those who saw it as a form of appeasement and capitulation in the face of the Soviet Empire.

Most fundamentally, Paul VI had the courage to see Vatican II through to its completion, even though many observers thought the council might die with John XXIII, the pope who had summoned it, and the fact that Montini himself once told a trusted friend that his predecessor had “no idea what a hornet’s nest he’s stirring up.”

None of these were the actions of a weak-kneed, do-nothing pontiff. Far from being Hamlet, in other words, Paul VI actually could be seen as a profile in courage, and a reminder that doubt and weakness are not always the same thing.

A legacy of decency

In the finale of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “Newsroom”, the beloved veteran director of the news division has died and his protégé, the anchor of the main nightly news show, delivers a tribute. Perhaps the most moving line comes when he says of his mentor, “His religion was decency, and he spent a lifetime fighting its enemies.”

Pope Paul VI’s religion, of course, was not decency. He was an ardent Roman Catholic, profoundly convinced that Jesus Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of the human heart. He believed, in tandem with his good friend Maritain, that “it is impossible for a Christian to be a relativist.”

Yet at the same time, Giovanni Battista Montini was a model of decency to all. He had an abiding respect for people with convictions that differed from his own, whether he found them inside or outside the Catholic Church. He was curious, attentive, and unfailingly gracious, whether addressing the Red Brigades or traditionalist opposition in his own fold. He was a “gentleman” in the fullest, most etymological sense of the term.

To be honest, that didn’t always serve him well. Paul VI reminds one of Pope Benedict XVI a bit in that regard, a leader who just never seemed to catch a break in PR terms. Ironically, he was often mocked for possessing qualities in abundance people typically say they admire – patience, forbearance, an unwillingness to close doors or end conversations until the very last possibility had been exhausted, and a deep confidence that some piece of the truth can be found virtually anywhere if one has but eyes to see.

The world of his day didn’t always want to see. So bad were things by 1967, even before Humanae Vitae appeared, that when the Beatles released “Fool on the Hill,” some rock critics actually thought it was a reference to the pope:

His head in a cloud
The man with a foolish grin is talking perfectly loud
But nobody wants to hear him
They can see that he’s just a fool

Had those same critics been able to anticipate how Paul VI would seem in retrospect, however, it might have been another couplet from the ballad that caught their attention:

And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Paul VI not only saw the world spinning around, but spinning out of control, fueled by the trajectories of ideological warfare and personal animosity as a spectator sport which have come to full flower in our day, in the era of Donald Trump in America, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and on and on.

Paul VI leaves behind a vast legacy for the Church he led, beginning with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the vast transformation in Catholic life that flowed, and continues to flow, from it. This month is a reminder of that heritage in Rome, as bishops from all around the world are participating in an event called a “synod,” designed to give them a voice in governance of the universal Church, founded by Pope Paul in 1965.

For the wider world, however, if Paul VI offers nothing else, perhaps it’s the example of a decent man who refused to lose himself in an increasingly indecent age. By now, that alone might be enough for many even outside the Church to join Pope Francis on Sunday in hailing him as a saint.

ROME – According to the Catholic theology of sainthood, canonization amounts to a judgment that a particular individual is already in heaven enjoying the beatific vision, meaning the unmediated presence of God – to quote St. Paul in 1 Corinthians, no longer seeing the splendor of God “indistinctly, as in a mirror, but face to face.”

As such, canonization means very little for the person getting the halo. A formal papal declaration does not “make” anyone a saint; it always comes ex post facto. By the time it rolls around, the saints are well beyond such earthly considerations.

Instead, canonization is for the rest of us. It’s a way of holding a particular figure up as an exemplar, someone whose example is worthy of being followed and whose intercession can be of help along the way.

A canonization, in other words, is a “teaching moment.”

It’s always instructive to ask, therefore, what exactly is being taught with any given canonization. It’s an especially apt question when the new saint is a pope, since it may be hard for ordinary folk to imagine there’s much they could emulate in someone whose life was, almost by definition, highly extraordinary.

Yet Pope Paul VI, the pontiff who famously described the Catholic Church as an “expert in humanity” in a 1965 address to the United Nations, was one of the most recognizably human figures ever to sit on the Throne of Peter – a pastor who both rejoiced and grieved in public, a man who felt deeply and thought widely, and a leader who sometimes struggled but, in the end, always found his inner compass.

Summing it all up, there are at least three lessons from Pope Paul’s life that would seem to be of broad application in the countdown to his canonization along with Archbishop Oscar Romero and five other new saints on Sunday.

1. Passion for humanity

Although the story is apocryphal, it used to be said of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) that when he would use the telephone to contact one of his subordinates in the Vatican, the other person would drop to his or her knees to receive the call. The mere fact that myth caught on in many circles illustrates how popes used to be seen – almost as particles of divinity, somehow lifted out of the human condition.

All that began to change with St. Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), “Good Pope John,” who came across as an unpretentious peasant’s son from Bergamo who wanted to be the whole world’s beloved uncle.

In many ways, Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, the man who would become Paul VI, was an unlikely choice to continue this humanizing trend. He was born in 1897 into rarified circles, with a father who was a journalist and a member of the Italian parliament and a mother who came from rural nobility. He studied in Milan and Rome, entering the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State at the age of 25.

From there, Montini became the quintessential court mandarin, never once holding an appointment as a parish priest in his entire life. He founded a publishing house, became a patron of Italian intellectuals and university students, and a friend and admirer of renowned thinkers such as the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain.

He was the sostituto, or “substitute” under Pius XII, wielding power from the very pinnacle of the ecclesiastical system, yet Montini was also a thinker of the first order. When he was elected pope in 1963, the story goes that Montini had some 250 boxes of books shipped to Rome from Milan, where he had been the cardinal-archbishop.

The “common man,” in other words, Montini really wasn’t.

Yet Montini was also a deeply gracious soul, famed as a conversation partner with the widest possible range of people precisely because of his keen interest in the concrete individual in front of him, no matter what station in life or worldview they embodied. Monsignor Guido Mazzotta, a consultor to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints who worked on Paul VI’s case, said the most beautiful testimony they collected during the process came from people who had Montini as their spiritual director.

Because of his deep culture, Paul VI had a genius for being able to relate to what the outside world was feeling in a given moment. Consider, for instance, his famous July 1969 message for the Apollo moon landing: “Honor, greetings and blessings to you, conquerors of the moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams.”

(The line is also a reminder that Paul VI was just a flat-out terrific writer, the true son of a journalist father.)

Despite his restrained veneer, Paul VI also gave the world occasional glimpses of his own heart. That was never more dramatically true than towards the end, when, in effect, he became the first pope to all but rebuke God in public.

On May 9, 1978, Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was executed by a left-wing Italian terrorist movement called the “Red Brigades.” Moro was a close friend of Pope Paul VI, who had made great efforts to save him, and he was devastated by the loss.

Three days later, the pope addressed himself directly to God in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, saying: “You did not grant our plea for the safety of Aldo Moro, of this good and gentle man, wise and innocent … who was my friend.” The question he left hanging, unstated but clear to everyone present, was, “Why didn’t you help?”

If that isn’t a recognizably human question, it’s hard to know what is. Paul VI showed the world not only that even popes wrestle with such existential doubts, but also that holiness and heartbreak sometimes go hand in hand.

2. Balance

As Mazzotta put it recently, “Probably if there had been no Montini, the council wouldn’t have happened,” referring to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), over which Paul VI presided and whose conclusions it fell to him to implement.

Beyond anything else, it was Vatican II which marked the real drama of Paul’s papacy, and which today represents the cornerstone of his legacy.

It may have been his predecessor John XXIII who once said “I have to be pope both of those with their foot on the brake and those with their foot on the gas,” but Paul VI was the one who really lived the motto amid the tensions unleashed during the council and which threatened to split everything to pieces afterwards.

All that, of course, played out against the backdrop of the upheaval of 1968 and everything that followed, from race riots and student protests to the ugliness of the Vietnam War and the disillusionment of Watergate, a time when, to quote Yeats, it seemed “things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”

In that context, the fact that Paul VI managed to hold the Church together now seems, all by itself, something of a miracle. Perhaps more than anything else, he pulled it off due to his keen sense of balance.

Facing a seeming intractable stalemate between progressives and conservatives, between aggiornamento and ressourcement (“updating” and a “return to the sources”), Paul VI always tried to do justice to the wisdom in both instincts.

The most celebrated example of that approach came in November 1964, when he issued his Nota Praevia, or “preliminary note,” prior to the vote in the Vatican over its dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. In effect, the note reasserted the core principles of papal primacy, thereby balancing the document’s emphasis on collegiality. To put it all in crass political terms, publishing the note addressed the concerns of the conservatives; allowing the vote on the document to go forward satisfied the liberals.

Mazzotta described the note as Paul’s way of “ensuring the unanimity of the council’s vote” and a reflection of his “passion for unity.”

One measure of Paul’s success is that Vatican II was the lone ecumenical council in the history of the Church which wasn’t immediately followed by a schism. (Whatever one makes of whether the traditionalist Lefebvrist movement is or isn’t “schismatic,” the formal breach didn’t come until 1988 under St. Pope John Paul II.)

As another expression of that belief in balance, Paul VI was a man of dialogue to the very core. The classic expression came in the 1964 encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, in which he described patient, respectful dialogue not merely as a hallmark of good governance but an expression of God’s very nature.

“No physical pressure was brought on anyone to accept the dialogue of salvation,” Paul wrote. “Far from it, it was a tremendous appeal of love.”

Though the point may seem obvious, it may be worth spelling out anyway: In a polarized and angry culture, Paul VI’s gift for balance, as well as patience, may be more relevant than ever.

3. Courage

Paul VI was often described as a “Hamlet pope,” wracked by doubt and indecision, anguishing over every choice, with critics suggesting that he sometimes lost his nerve when walking up to the brink of making a significant decision.

Before his death in 2006, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, who had been Pope Paul’s personal secretary, told me he rejected that image of his mentor as fundamentally false. Paul VI was perfectly capable of being resolute, Macchi insisted – and the fact that he didn’t disappoint people or cause them pain casually, he insisted, hardly should count against him.

In fact, one could make the argument that no pope of the modern era showed greater courage over the years than Paul VI, given the nature of the choices he faced and the deep uncertainty of their consequences.

That courage, for instance, was manifest in the way Paul VI consistently backed the liturgical reforms called for by Vatican II, despite the depth of opposition they aroused. On all the points that mattered, he never wavered from the council’s basic vision, and the renewed worship in the vernacular languages that three generations of Catholics now take for granted is the result.

Most famously, that courage was the basis for Humanae Vitae, Paul’s 1968 encyclical letter reaffirming the traditional Catholic opposition to artificial birth control.

Contraception was hardly the only concern of Humanae Vitae, which admirers describe as a compelling and original treatment of both the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage. Still given the cultural currents of the late 1960s and the sexual revolution, it hardly seems fair to describe a pope willing to buck all of that as timid or lacking fortitude.

Paul VI also had the courage to break the mold in a staggering variety of ways, despite being a consummate man of Catholic tradition. He became the first pope to travel overseas, the first pope to meet an Orthodox patriarch and begin the process of ecumenical healing, the first pope to renounce the papal tiara, and on and on.

It likewise required courage in 1967 to release Populorum Progressio, his social encyclical on development, which he knew full well would be criticized in some circles as a way of sprinkling holy water over socialist, liberationist and anti-colonial movements across the Third World. Yet Paul was unwavering, even plaintive: ““The hungry nations of the world cry out to the peoples blessed with abundance …[they] ask each and every person to hear his brother’s plea and answer it lovingly.”

It also required a bold leader to stick to his policy of Ostpolitik, despite ferocious opposition from those who saw it as a form of appeasement and capitulation in the face of the Soviet Empire.

Most fundamentally, Paul VI had the courage to see Vatican II through to its completion, even though many observers thought the council might die with John XXIII, the pope who had summoned it, and the fact that Montini himself once told a trusted friend that his predecessor had “no idea what a hornet’s nest he’s stirring up.”

None of these were the actions of a weak-kneed, do-nothing pontiff. Far from being Hamlet, in other words, Paul VI actually could be seen as a profile in courage, and a reminder that doubt and weakness are not always the same thing.

A legacy of decency

In the finale of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “Newsroom”, the beloved veteran director of the news division has died and his protégé, the anchor of the main nightly news show, delivers a tribute. Perhaps the most moving line comes when he says of his mentor, “His religion was decency, and he spent a lifetime fighting its enemies.”

Pope Paul VI’s religion, of course, was not decency. He was an ardent Roman Catholic, profoundly convinced that Jesus Christ is the key that unlocks the mystery of the human heart. He believed, in tandem with his good friend Maritain, that “it is impossible for a Christian to be a relativist.”

Yet at the same time, Giovanni Battista Montini was a model of decency to all. He had an abiding respect for people with convictions that differed from his own, whether he found them inside or outside the Catholic Church. He was curious, attentive, and unfailingly gracious, whether addressing the Red Brigades or traditionalist opposition in his own fold. He was a “gentleman” in the fullest, most etymological sense of the term.

To be honest, that didn’t always serve him well. Paul VI reminds one of Pope Benedict XVI a bit in that regard, a leader who just never seemed to catch a break in PR terms. Ironically, he was often mocked for possessing qualities in abundance people typically say they admire – patience, forbearance, an unwillingness to close doors or end conversations until the very last possibility had been exhausted, and a deep confidence that some piece of the truth can be found virtually anywhere if one has but eyes to see.

The world of his day didn’t always want to see. So bad were things by 1967, even before Humanae Vitae appeared, that when the Beatles released “Fool on the Hill,” some rock critics actually thought it was a reference to the pope:

His head in a cloud
The man with a foolish grin is talking perfectly loud
But nobody wants to hear him
They can see that he’s just a fool

Had those same critics been able to anticipate how Paul VI would seem in retrospect, however, it might have been another couplet from the ballad that caught their attention:

And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Paul VI not only saw the world spinning around, but spinning out of control, fueled by the trajectories of ideological warfare and personal animosity as a spectator sport which have come to full flower in our day, in the era of Donald Trump in America, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and on and on.

Paul VI leaves behind a vast legacy for the Church he led, beginning with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the vast transformation in Catholic life that flowed, and continues to flow, from it. This month is a reminder of that heritage in Rome, as bishops from all around the world are participating in an event called a “synod,” designed to give them a voice in governance of the universal Church, founded by Pope Paul in 1965.

For the wider world, however, if Paul VI offers nothing else, perhaps it’s the example of a decent man who refused to lose himself in an increasingly indecent age. By now, that alone might be enough for many even outside the Church to join Pope Francis on Sunday in hailing him as a saint.

John Allen, Jr.: Editor, Crux

Blesseds Paul VI and Oscar Romero are two of seven new saints Pope Francis will canonize Oct. 14 at the Vatican. They are pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Equipo Maiz, courtesy CAFOD, Just One World)

July 25, 1968: The 50th Anniversary of the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae

Pope Pius XII & Giovanni Montini (Pope St. Paul VI)

Cardinal Roncalli (Pope St. John XXIII & Giovanni Montini (Pope St. Paul VI)

Pope (St.) Paul VI & Albino Luciani (Pope John Paul I)

Pope (St.) Paul VI & Karol Wojtyla (Pope St. John Paul II)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Message from Father Rich about the Rich Tradition of the Holy Year of Mercy

The following column was written by Father Rich at the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy.  We are re-printing it for you towards the end of this Holy Year and invite you to read it and view the documentary recommended below.  A trailer is provided and some information about it, too.

Don’t miss history being made in Holy Year of Mercy

father

 

Last December, 2015, was  the start of a pretty big deal. Several months beforehand, Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, starting Dec. 8 and running through 2016.

A Holy Year is very different from other themed years. You may remember the Year of St. Paul or the Year of Consecrated Life just concluding. These and others like them are simply different themes the recent popes have asked the church to focus on in any given year, but a Holy Year is a completely different animal with much greater significance.

When Pope Boniface called the first Christian Jubilee in 1300, he intended to keep the same biblical themes of forgiveness and the remission of sins. So too, Pope Francis has called for this to remain the same for the new Holy Year, which we will commence this month.Though the first Catholic Holy Year was established by Pope Boniface VIII for 1300, the concept of the Holy Year goes back to the Old Testament, when every 50th year was a year of “Yobel” (meaning “ram’s horn”), because the special year was proclaimed by the blast of the ram’s horns. In these years, slaves were to go free and debts were to be forgiven. In the Christian era, the word “Yobel” was transliterated to “Jubileus” (“jubilee”), meaning “joyous festivity.”

There are two types of Holy Years, “ordinary” and “extraordinary.” An ordinary Holy Year is one on the regular interval of every 25 years, so the next ordinary Holy Year will be in the year 2025. This 25-year interval was established by Pope Paul II in 1475. Before that, there was no set rule for the frequency.

Then there is the very rare extraordinary Holy Year, which is called outside that normal interval. We have had three previous extraordinary Holy Years in all of church history: 1390, 1933 and 1983 — and now 2016.

As far as the ordinary Holy Years, there have been occasions throughout history in which they were either suspended or greatly curtailed for political reasons in which the church was threatened. For example, 1825 was the only Holy Year of the nineteenth century in which the Holy Door was opened.

The primary symbol of the Holy Year is the Holy Door, which is strictly symbolic, showing that God’s mercy is open to everyone who seeks it. These Holy Doors are in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, and they are always bricked up and closed off except during the Holy Year.

The most significant of the doors is at St. Peter’s Basilica, but the other three major basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls have the same tradition. Each of these churches will have an ancient ritual played out to open the Holy Year. In the case of St. Peter’s, it will be the pope symbolically knocking on the door (often with a hammer) to open it. At each of other three major basilicas, a cardinal will do the same.

One of the other ancient traditions associated with the Holy Year is the acquiring of Holy Year bricks. There are approximately 3,000 bricks blocking the Holy Door of St. Peter’s.

In the early years of the celebration, when the pope and his assistants would open the sacred door at the beginning of the year there would be a frenzy by the public, scrambling to acquire full bricks or even portions of bricks relics. Often people would get hurt in this scramble, and at times even the pope got caught up in the crowd. For the opening of the Holy Year of 1575, eight people actually got trampled to death, and several of the pilgrims got through the door before Pope Gregory XIII did!

In recent years the Holy See has chosen different methods of distribution to avoid the unseemly behavior that may seem more like “Black Friday” shopping than an ancient papal ritual.

As a personal aside, I have a brick from every Holy Year since 1775 in my papal collection, as can be seen on http://www.papalartifacts.com/

So, early this month we will be able to witness history being made in the truest sense of the term, and although it may be a blip on the screen to the secular media, it is indeed monumental in the life of the church.

May this extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy inspire all of us to give thanks to God for his great mercy shown to us, and then in turn show it to others.

About the Documentary Featured Here:

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Having recently viewed this incredible documentary, Jubilee, 700 Years Seeking Forgiveness, I can honestly say I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I was literally spellbound by the amount of detail and stunning images of the major basilicas in Rome and by the history of the Jubilee.  Watching it did more to acquaint me with a major tradition of our Church, that most of us probably are not aware of, than anything else I’ve read or heard about it.  You will know you’ve been in the presence of a holy celebration afterwards.  And here we are, in this Jubilee of Mercy, with the chance to participate in it, even on a diocesan level, for our own Cathedral has a Holy Door, where we might pass into sacred space to partake of this beautiful tradition.
Please take the time to watch the trailer and consider buying or renting the documentary.  You will be satisfied!
This is not just any year in Rome. Thousands of pilgrims are coming to the heart of Christianity because it is the Holy Year of Mercy. The tradition, dating back more than seven centuries,  now has a documentary.
“This is Pope Francis’ first Holy Year so 700 years of Jubilee traditions are being collected, but with their own label: the Jubilee of Mercy.”
The documentary by television news agency, Rome Reports, delves into the origins of the Jubilee, from its first announcement in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII to the extraordinary Jubilee this year.
“I grant a plenary indulgence to all Christians who come to Rome to visit the great shrines of St. Peter and St. Paul.”
To enrich the story, here is a collection of some of the most authoritative voices, including the spokesman for Pope John Paul II, the organizer of this Jubilee and the Vatican Secret Archives historian who discovers some clues hidden so far within the depths of history.
“The world knows nothing of these documents because no one has studied them in depth. Researchers have been carried away by the charm of that magical air and mystery.”
The almost 50-minute documentary delves into the problems Jubilees have faced throughout history, from floods in Rome to political problems with the new Italian state.
“On one side external religious manifestations were forbidden, they could not hold processions, parades, nothing religious in the streets of the city.”
The story reaches the last Jubilees, with the success of years 1950 and 2000, and the special emotion that a sick John Paul II found in Rome with millions of young people.
It also explains the novelty of this Holy Year of Mercy in comparison to all previous Jubilees.
‘Jubilee: 700 years seeking forgiveness’ can be seen on Vimeo in English, Spanishand Italian. It is a way to comprehend the great historical weight of this celebration for the Church before passing through the Holy Door.

 

Papal Minutes, the Papal Expert & the RPR Network

FR Hankshake 3 Kiss

A new Catholic radio station in our area, the RPR Network (www.yourcatholicradiostation.com) is featuring the Curator of Papal Artifacts in a series entitled, Papal Minutes with Fr. Richard Kunst.

All the Minutes (with the exception of Pope Benedict XIV) are connected to popes on Papal Artifacts.  They include some details we’ve not included in the past–for example, what occurred from a window in the Vatican just prior to the election of Pope Pius X?  Giuseppe Sarto’s surname is translated, “tailor.”  You can find out by accessing the above link.  

Enjoy the Papal Minutesa gift from the Curator of Papal Artifacts!

A gift from our Pastor!

And here is a link to the  RPR interview with Father Kunst on April 19: ( go to 43.00 minutes  to access Father’s interview.)

https://yourcatholicradiostation.com/real-presence-live-podcasts

WWEN, 88.1 FM: RPR Is Featuring Father Rich’s “Papal Minutes”

Coming Soon to Our Parish Library: Liberating a Continent

Liberating a Continent John Paul II

Liberating a Continent
John Paul II

St. John’s library will soon acquire this documentary about Saint John Paul’s role in the collapse of communism.  Please take a moment to view the trailer featured below.  And if you’re interested in viewing this production, either with a group or individually, let our secretary, Anny, know you’d like to be on a list.  722.6332

One of history’s greatest examples of the triumph of spiritual power over violence and oppression is vividly recounted in Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism, a new documentary film that poignantly captures the intricate role played by John Paul in the collapse of communism and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe.

Featuring the unique insights of intellectual and cultural leaders such as papal biographer George Weigel, esteemed Polish historian Norman Davies, Pontifical John Paul II Institute Vice President Carl Anderson, John Paul’s lifelong assistant Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Reagan National Security Advisor Richard Allen, and many others, this inspiring film gives an inside look at the improbable downfall of one of history’s most brutal regimes.

Narrated by Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest) and with original music by Joe Kraemer (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Jack Reacher) this is the incredible story of one man’s unwavering faith born of deep personal suffering, his steadfast defense of the dignity of the human person amidst the horrors of Nazi and Soviet Occupation, and his unyielding belief in the spiritual unity of Europe. Liberating a Continent convincingly reveals how these convictions toppled an evil empire and how they remain today the moral foundations for a prosperous and free Europe.

 

Here is a link to the home page of this production:

 

About

 

Liberating a Continent

Liberating a Continent

A Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel

Here is a link to the newly constructed Vatican website where you can find all kinds of information about the Sistine chapel as well as all other Vatican news.  It truly is one of the finest websites out there!  Enjoy!

http://vatican.com/

In the first stage of the visit, our guide explains that the Conclave, where Cardinals elect a new Pope, takes place right before Michelangelo’s  Last Judgment frescoes. Through the chimney installed at the Chapel, they communicate with the world. Black smoke means a candidate has not yet been elected and white smoke means there is a new Pope.

The second stop is in front of the Chapel’s frescoes. Anywhere they look, visitors are surrounded by biblical episodes. The north wall illustrates different passages in the history of Jesus Christ, including His Baptism, the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Supper. On the opposite side, the south wall features scenes from the life of Moses. To the east, one can view the resurrection of Jesus and the dispute over the body of Moses.

But undoubtedly, the third and final stop in the tour is the most impressive. Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Last Judgment. The biblical scene recounts the end of time, when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. All of humanity is depicted in front of the High Altar.

The guide also explains the history of Creation, through nine scenes from the book of Genesis, which are depicted on the Chapel’s ceiling. It’s the end of a relaxing and detailed 3D virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.

The website’s creators are already working on their next project, which includes a virtual tour of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

 

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart: The Jubilee for Priests–The Mass & Pope Francis’s Homily

Pope Francis: Homily for the Jubilee for Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart

Pope Francis: Homily for the Jubilee for Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart

This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.
The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).
The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), without ever imposing.
The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.
Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on, where is it directed, what is the treasure that it seeks? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21).
The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the Lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, but is turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer “a fluttering heart”, allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters.
To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek out, include and rejoice.
Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content.
Such is a heart that seeks out. A heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time, and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good name, but rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.
A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need. For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. Like every good Christian, and as an example for every Christian, he constantly goes out of himself. The epicentre of his heart is outside of himself. He is not drawn by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.
Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14). His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf. Jn 10:16).
So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. With a father’s loving gaze and heart, he welcomes and includes everyone, and if at times he has to correct, it is to draw people closer. He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty his hands. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. He listens patiently to the problems of his people and accompanies them, sowing God’s forgiveness with generous compassion. He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way, but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve difficulties and disagreements.
Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love.
This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.
Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own Christ’s words: “This is my body, which is given up for you”.
This is the meaning of our life; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I thank all of you for saying “yes” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy.

The Most Prestigious Prize in Europe Is Awarded to Pope Francis

Pope Francis Full Text for Charlemagne Prize

Pope Francis Full Text for Charlemagne Prize

Full Text of Pope Francis’ Speech Upon Receiving this Prestigious Award:

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I offer you a cordial welcome and I thank you for your presence. I am particularly grateful to Messrs Marcel Philipp, Jürgen Linden, Martin Schulz, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk for their kind words. I would like to reiterate my intention to offer this prestigious award for Europe. For ours is not so much a celebration as a moment to express our shared hope for a new and courageous step forward for this beloved continent. 
Creativity, genius and a capacity for rebirth and renewal are part of the soul of Europe. In the last century, Europe bore witness to humanity that a new beginning was indeed possible. After years of tragic conflicts, culminating in the most horrific war ever known, there emerged, by God’s grace, something completely new in human history. The ashes of the ruins could not extinguish the ardent hope and the quest of solidarity that inspired the founders of the European project. They laid the foundations for a bastion of peace, an edifice made up of states united not by force but by free commitment to the common good and a definitive end to confrontation. Europe, so long divided, finally found its true self and began to build its house. 
This “family of peoples” which has commendably expanded in the meantime, seems of late to feel less at home within the walls of the common home. At times, those walls themselves have been built in a way varying from the insightful plans left by the original builders. Their new and exciting desire to create unity seems to be fading; we, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there. Nonetheless, I am convinced that resignation and weariness do not belong to the soul of Europe, and that even “our problems can become powerful forces for unity”.
In addressing the European Parliament, I used the image of Europe as a grandmother. I noted that there is a growing impression that Europe is weary, aging, no longer fertile and vital, that the great ideals that inspired Europe seem to have lost their appeal. There is an impression that Europe is declining, that it has lost its ability to be innovative and creative, and that it is more concerned with preserving and dominating spaces than with generating processes of inclusion and change. There is an impression that Europe is tending to become increasingly “entrenched”, rather than open to initiating new social processes capable of engaging all individuals and groups in the search for new and productive solutions to current problems. Europe, rather than protecting spaces, is called to be a mother who generates processes (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 223). 
What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom? What has happened to you, Europe, the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you, Europe, the mother of peoples and nations, the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters? 
The writer Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, has said that what we need today is a “memory transfusion”. We need to “remember”, to take a step back from the present to listen to the voice of our forebears. Remembering will help us not to repeat our past mistakes (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 108), but also to re-appropriate those experiences that enabled our peoples to surmount the crises of the past. A memory transfusion can free us from today’s temptation to build hastily on the shifting sands of immediate results, which may produce “quick and easy short-term political gains, but do not enhance human fulfilment” (ibid., 224). 
To this end, we would do well to turn to the founding fathers of Europe. They were prepared to pursue alternative and innovative paths in a world scarred by war. Not only did they boldly conceive the idea of Europe, but they dared to change radically the models that had led only to violence and destruction. They dared to seek multilateral solutions to increasingly shared problems. 
Robert Schuman, at the very birth of the first European community, stated that “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity”.Today, in our own world, marked by so much conflict and suffering, there is a need to return to the same de facto solidarity and concrete generosity that followed the Second World War, because, as Schuman noted, “world peace cannot be safeguarded without making creative efforts proportionate to the dangers threatening it.
The founding fathers were heralds of peace and prophets of the future. Today more than ever, their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls. That vision urges us not to be content with cosmetic retouches or convoluted compromises aimed at correcting this or that treaty, but courageously to lay new and solid foundations. As Alcide De Gasperi stated, “equally inspired by concern for the common good of our European homeland”, all are called to embark fearlessly on a “construction project that demands our full quota of patience and our ongoing cooperation”.
Such a “memory transfusion” can enable us to draw inspiration from the past in order to confront with courage the complex multipolar framework of our own day and to take up with determination the challenge of “updating” the idea of Europe. A Europe capable of giving birth to a new humanism based on three capacities: the capacity to integrate, the capacity for dialogue and the capacity to generate. 
The capacity to integrate 

Erich Przywara, in his splendid work Idee Europa [The Idea of Europe], challenges us to think of the city as a place where various instances and levels coexist. He was familiar with the reductionist tendency inherent in every attempt to rethink the social fabric. Many of our cities are remarkably beautiful precisely because they have managed to preserve over time traces of different ages, nations, styles and visions. We need but look at the inestimable cultural patrimony of Rome to realize that the richness and worth of a people is grounded in its ability to combine all these levels in a healthy coexistence. Forms of reductionism and attempts at uniformity, far from generating value, condemn our peoples to a cruel poverty: the poverty of exclusion. Far from bestowing grandeur, riches and beauty, exclusion leads to vulgarity, narrowness, and cruelty. Far from bestowing nobility of spirit, it brings meanness. 

The roots of our peoples, the roots of Europe, were consolidated down the centuries by the constant need to integrate in new syntheses the most varied and discrete cultures. The identity of Europe is, and always has been, a dynamic and multicultural identity. Political activity cannot fail to see the urgency of this fundamental task. We know that “the whole is greater than the part, but it is also greater than the sum of the parts”, and this requires that we work to “broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all” (Evangelii Gaudium, 235). We are asked to promote an integration that finds in solidarity a way of acting, a means of making history. Solidarity should never be confused with charitable assistance, but understood as a means of creating opportunities for all the inhabitants of our cities – and of so many other cities – to live with dignity. Time is teaching us that it is not enough simply to settle individuals geographically: the challenge is that of a profound cultural integration. 
The community of European peoples will thus be able to overcome the temptation of falling back on unilateral paradigms and opting for forms of “ideological colonization”. Instead, it will rediscover the breadth of the European soul, born of the encounter of civilizations and peoples. The soul of Europe is in fact greater than the present borders of the Union and is called to become a model of new syntheses and of dialogue. The true face of Europe is seen not in confrontation, but in the richness of its various cultures and the beauty of its commitment to openness. Without this capacity for integration, the words once spoken by Konrad Adenauer will prove prophetic: “the future of the West is not threatened as much by political tensions as by the danger of conformism, uniformity of thoughts and feelings: in a word, by the whole system of life, by flight from responsibility, with concern only for oneself”.
The capacity for dialogue 
If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society. The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to. Today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building “a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter” and in creating “a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society” (Evangelii Gaudium, 239). Peace will be lasting in the measure that we arm our children with the weapons of dialogue, that we teach them to fight the good fight of encounter and negotiation. In this way, we will bequeath to them a culture capable of devising strategies of life, not death, and of inclusion, not exclusion. 
This culture of dialogue should be an integral part of the education imparted in our schools, cutting across disciplinary lines and helping to give young people the tools needed to settle conflicts differently than we are accustomed to do. Today we urgently need to build “coalitions” that are not only military and economic, but cultural, educational, philosophical and religious. Coalitions that can make clear that, behind many conflicts, there is often in play the power of economic groups. Coalitions capable of defending people from being exploited for improper ends. Let us arm our people with the culture of dialogue and encounter. 
The capacity to generate 
Dialogue, with all that it entails, reminds us that no one can remain a mere onlooker or bystander. Everyone, from the smallest to the greatest, has an active role to play in the creation of an integrated and reconciled society. This culture of dialogue can come about only if all of us take part in planning and building it. The present situation does not permit anyone to stand by and watch other people’s struggles. On the contrary, it is a forceful summons to personal and social responsibility. 
In this sense, our young people have a critical role. They are not the future of our peoples; they are the present. Even now, with their dreams and their lives they are forging the spirit of Europe. We cannot look to the future without offering them the real possibility to be catalysts of change and transformation. We cannot envision Europe without letting them be participants and protagonists in this dream. 
Lately I have given much thought to this. I ask myself: How we can involve our young people in this building project if we fail to offer them employment, dignified labour that lets them grow and develop through their handiwork, their intelligence and their abilities? How can we tell them that they are protagonists, when the levels of employment and underemployment of millions of young Europeans are continually rising? How can we avoid losing our young people, who end up going elsewhere in search of their dreams and a sense of belonging, because here, in their own countries, we don’t know how to offer them opportunities and values? 
The just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. If we want to rethink our society, we need to create dignified and well-paying jobs, especially for our young people. To do so requires coming up with new, more inclusive and equitable economic models, aimed not at serving the few, but at benefiting ordinary people and society as a whole. This calls for moving from a liquid economy to a social economy; I think for example of the social market economy encouraged by my predecessors (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, 8 November 1990). It would involve passing from an economy directed at revenue, profiting from speculation and lending at interest, to a social economy that invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training. 
We need to move from a liquid economy prepared to use corruption as a means of obtaining profits to a social economy that guarantees access to land and lodging through labour. Labour is in fact the setting in which individuals and communities bring into play “many aspects of life: creativity, planning for the future, developing talents, living out values, relating to others, giving glory to God. It follows that, in the reality of today’s global society, it is essential that we ‘continue to prioritize the role of access to steady employment for everyone, no matter the limited interests of business and dubious economic reasoning” (Encyclical Laudato Si’, 127).
If we want a dignified future, a future of peace for our societies, we will only be able to achieve it by working for genuine inclusion, “an inclusion which provides worthy, free, creative, participatory and solidary work”. 
This passage (from a liquid economy to a social economy) will not only offer new prospects and concrete opportunities for integration and inclusion, but will makes us once more capable of envisaging that humanism of which Europe has been the cradle and wellspring. 
To the rebirth of a Europe weary, yet still rich in energies and possibilities, the Church can and must play her part. Her task is one with her mission: the proclamation of the Gospel, which today more than ever finds expression in going forth to bind the wounds of humanity with the powerful yet simple presence of Jesus, and his mercy that consoles and encourages. God desires to dwell in our midst, but he can only do so through men and women who, like the great evangelizers of this continent, have been touched by him and live for the Gospel, seeking nothing else. Only a Church rich in witnesses will be able to bring back the pure water of the Gospel to the roots of Europe. In this enterprise, the path of Christians towards full unity is a great sign of the times and a response to the Lord’s prayer “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). 
With mind and heart, with hope and without vain nostalgia, like a son who rediscovers in Mother Europe his roots of life and faith, I dream of a new European humanism, one that involves “a constant work of humanization” and calls for “memory, courage, [and] a sound and humane utopian vision”. I dream of a Europe that is young, still capable of being a mother: a mother who has life because she respects life and offers hope for life. I dream of a Europe that cares for children, that offers fraternal help to the poor and those newcomers seeking acceptance because they have lost everything and need shelter. I dream of a Europe that is attentive to and concerned for the infirm and the elderly, lest they be simply set aside as useless. I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime but a summons to greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being. I dream of a Europe where young people breathe the pure air of honesty, where they love the beauty of a culture and a simple life undefiled by the insatiable needs of consumerism, where getting married and having children is a responsibility and a great joy, not a problem due to the lack of stable employment. 
I dream of a Europe of families, with truly effective policies concentrated on faces rather than numbers, on birth rates more than rates of consumption. I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties towards all. I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia.