The MASS Each weekday morning Pope Francis celebrates Mass at 7:00 AM in the Chapel of his residence, Domus Sanctae Martae. Today, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, OFM, the Archbishop Emeritus of Seville in Spain, also concelebrated, together with a group of Italian priests.
"Scandals in the Church happen because there is no living relationship with God and His Word. Thus, corrupt priests, instead of giving the Bread of Life, give a poisoned meal to the holy people of God.
Commenting on the day's reading and responsorial Psalm which recount the crushing defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines, the Pope notes that the people of God at that time had forsaken the Lord. It was said that the Word of God was 'uncommon' at that time. The old priest Eli was 'lukewarm' and his sons 'corrupt; they frightened the people and beat them with sticks.' In their battle against the Philistines, the Israelites brought with them the Ark of the Covenant, but as something 'magical,' 'something external.' And they are defeated: the Ark is taken from them by their enemies. There is no true faith in God, in His real presence in life.
And of the scandals in the Church, Pope Francis said:
"But are we ashamed? So many scandals that I do not want to mention individually, but all of us know....We know where they are! Scandals, some who charged a lot of money....The shame of the Church! But are we all ashamed of those scandals, of those failings of priests, bishops, laity? Where was the Word of God in those scandals; where was the Word of God in those men and in those women? They did not have a relationship with God! They had a position in the Church, a position of power, even of comfort. But the Word of God, no! 'But I wear a medal, I carry the Cross.' Yes, just as those bore the Ark! Without the living relationship with God and the Word of God! I am reminded of the words of Jesus about those for whom scandals come ... And here the scandal hit: bringing decay to the people of God, including the weakness and corruption of priests."
Pope Francis concluded his homily, turning his thoughts to the people of God, saying:
"Poor people! We do not give the Bread of Life to eat; we do give--in those cases--the bread of Truth! And many times, we even offer a poisoned meal! Awaken! Why do you sleep, Lord? Let this be our prayer! Awaken! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? We ask the Lord never to forget the Word of God, which is alive, so that it enters into our hearts and to never forget the holy people faithful to God who ask us to nourish and strengthen them."
After Mass, the Holy Father greeted the priests and the lay people who had attended the Mass.
The AUDIENCE Later in the morning I had the great privilege of a private Audience with Pope Francis. Since my Italian is not fluent, we spoke in Spanish. Most of our conversation focused on the plight of migrants, immigrants, and refugees around the world. I recounted for the Pope that in 2012, during our last Ad Limina visit, Pope Benedict had requested a proposal on how to address the plight of these many peoples on the move. I had told Pope Benedict that the last Papal document on the pastoral care of peoples on the move was some 60 years ago--it was entitled Exsul Familia issued by Pope Pius XII. The Bishops of our Region had requested a possible updated pronouncement from the Holy Father.
Pope Francis expressed an interest in this entire matter, and pointed out that in Evangelii Gaudium he had made reference to some of these issues. He also saw the need for a possible new document dealing with today's vast numbers of peoples on the move.
He made it clear that he intends to keep bringing the dreadful plight of so many millions of people to the attention of the world and to all of us in the Church.
[Photos courtesy of Servizio Fotografico of the L'Osservatore Romano Publications, 00120 Vatican City]