Please note the presence of Cardinal "deacons"
The English translation of the Italian homily:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Has Christ been divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). The urgent appeal which Saint Paul makes at the beginning of his First Letter to the Corinthians, and which has been proclaimed at this evening’s liturgy, was chosen by a group of our fellow Christians in Canada as the theme for our meditation during this year’s Week of Prayer.
The Apostle was grieved to learn that the Christians of Corinth had split into different factions. Some claimed: “I belong to Paul”; while others claimed: “I belong to Apollos” or “I belong to Cephas”, and others yet claimed: “I belong to Christ” (cf. v. 12). Paul could not even praise those who claimed to belong to Christ, since they were using the name of the one Saviour to set themselves apart from their other brothers and sisters within the community. In other words, the particular experience of each individual, or an attachment to certain significant persons in the community, had become a yardstick for judging the faith of others.
Amid this divisiveness, Paul appeals to the Christians of Corinth “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” to be in agreement, so that divisions will not reign among them, but rather a perfect union of mind and purpose (cf. v. 10). The communion for which the Apostle pleads, however, cannot be the fruit of human strategies. Perfect union among brothers and sisters can only come from looking to the mind and heart of Christ Jesus (cf. Phil 2:5). This evening, as we gather here in prayer, may we realize that Christ, who cannot be divided, wants to draw us to himself, to the sentiments of his heart, to his complete and confident surrender into the hands of the Father, to his radical self-emptying for love of humanity. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity.
As we find ourselves in his presence, we realize all the more that we may not regard divisions in the Church as something natural, inevitable in any form of human association. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world. The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, appealing to the text of Saint Paul which we have reflected on, significantly states: “Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communities present themselves to people as the true inheritance of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but they differ in outlook and go their different ways, as if Christ were divided”. And the Council continues: “Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the sacred cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).
Christ, dear friends, cannot be divided! This conviction must sustain and encourage us to persevere with humility and trust on the way to the restoration of full visible unity among all believers in Christ. Tonight I think of the work of two great Popes: Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II. In the course of their own lives, both came to realize the urgency of the cause of unity and, once elected to the See of Peter, they guided the entire Catholic flock decisively on the paths of ecumenism. Pope John blazed new trails which earlier would have been almost unthinkable. Pope John Paul held up ecumenical dialogue as an ordinary and indispensable aspect of the life of each Particular Church. With them, I think too of Pope Paul VI, another great promoter of dialogue; in these very days we are commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his historic embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.
The work of these, my predecessors, enabled ecumenical dialogue to become an essential dimension of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, so that today the Petrine ministry cannot be fully understood without this openness to dialogue with all believers in Christ. We can say also that the journey of ecumenism has allowed us to come to a deeper understanding of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, and we must be confident that it will continue to do so in the future. As we look with gratitude to the progress which the Lord has enabled us to make, and without ignoring the difficulties which ecumenical dialogue is presently experiencing, let us all pray that we may put on the mind of Christ and thus progress towards the unity which he wills.
In this climate of prayer for the gift of unity, I address a cordial and fraternal greeting to His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and to His Grace David Moxon, the personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the representatives of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here this evening.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who has made us living members of his body, to keep us deeply united to him, to help us overcome our conflicts, our divisions and our self-seeking, and to be united to one another by one force, by the power of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).
And on another front Pope Francis is calling for women's first and primary place in the home with her children as well as collaborating with priests as the Blessed Virgin Mary did at the wedding feast of Cana and in many other situations especially at Calvary.
Of course, in the USA and other parts of the world, women have had and continue to have prominent places in the Church, first as baptized Christians and thus evangelizing wherever they find themselves, at home, work, with friends, strangers and acquaintances, and secondly as workers in the vineyard as religious women have done so now for generations especially in monastic prayer and labor, teaching, nursing and social work. In the parish they are pastoral assistants and catechists and direct many important ministries as heads of schools, colleges and universities.
But Pope Francis continues to emphasize for married women who are mothers the primacy of the home and being a good Catholic wife to her husband and mother to her children thus heading up with her husband the domestic Church and making abundantly clear the spousal relationship of Christ the Bridegroom to the Church His bride.
Of course the Holy Father had previously reiterated the infallible teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church that women may not be admitted to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, that of deacon, priest and bishop due to the spousal relationship that this Sacrament conveys on men to be an image of the Bridegroom of the Church as well as Son of Man and High Priest.
Radio) Pope Francis earlier today met with participants at a national
conference sponsored by the Italian Women’s Centre, which is due to
celebrate the 70th anniversary of its foundation in October
of this year. The Italian Women’s Centre (Centro Italiano Femminile, or
CIF) was set up in 1944 as a federation of Catholic women’s
associations. It was established in response to the need for guidance on
civic and social issues which arose at the end of the Second World War,
when Italy introduced universal suffrage and millions of women were
called to vote for the first time ever.
Pope Francis opened his
address by giving thanks for the organization's work over the past 70
years and for its value as witness to the changing role of women within
Catholic communities and Italian society as a whole. In recent decades,
the Pope said, within the context of other cultural and societal
developments, the role of women has been greatly transformed, their
participation and responsibilities have increased. It is with great joy,
he added, that I see many women sharing pastoral responsibilities with
priests, both in theological reflection and by supporting individuals,
families and communities, and I hope the space for women to contribute
incisively to the life of our Church may continue to increase.
the contribution of women to the public or professional sphere is
important, Pope Francis went on, their contribution to family life is
even more vital. But at this point, he said, the question arises
naturally – how is it possible for any woman to develop an incisive
presence in the many areas of public and professional life where
important decisions are made, and at the same time to maintain a special
presence within the family? This, the Pope said, is the field of
discernment, which requires assiduousness and perseverance in prayer, as
well as reflection on the reality of women within society.
is in dialogue with God, Pope Francis concluded, that Christian women
must answer his call – a dialogue which is always supported by Mary. May
she – who cherished her divine son, who propitiated his first miracle
at the wedding in Cana, who was present on Calvary and at Pentecost –
show you the path to understanding the role of women within society.
Listen to Giulia Cirillo’s report: