Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope: Homily for inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry


     Pope: Homily for inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry [full text]
(Vatican Radio) Homily of the Holy Father at the Inauguration of his Papal Ministry 19 March 2013:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, the leader of a large urban archdiocese in Latin America, was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis.

He is the first pope in history to come from the Western Hemisphere and the first non-European to be elected in almost 1,300 years. The Jesuit was also the first member of his order to be elected pope, and the first member of any religious order to be elected in nearly two centuries.

Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital city, Dec. 17, 1936

He studied and received a master's degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, but later decided to become a Jesuit priest and studied at the Jesuit seminary of Villa Devoto. The last pope to have belonged to a religious order was Pope Gregory XVI, a Benedictine elected in 1831.

He studied liberal arts in Santiago, Chile, and in 1960 earned a degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires. Between 1964 and 1965 he was a teacher of literature and psychology at Inmaculada high school in the province of Santa Fe, and in 1966 he taught the same courses at the prestigious Colegio del Salvador in Buenos Aires

In 1967, he returned to his theological studies and was ordained a priest Dec. 13, 1969. After his perpetual profession as a Jesuit in 1973, he became master of novices at the Seminary of Villa Barilari in San Miguel. Later that same year, he was elected superior of the Jesuit province of Argentina

In 1980, he returned to San Miguel as a teacher at the Jesuit school, a job rarely taken by a former provincial superior. In May 1992 he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires. He was one of three auxiliaries and he kept a low profile, spending most of his time caring for the Catholic university, counseling priests and preaching and hearing confessions.

On June 3, 1997, he was named coadjutor archbishop. He was installed as the new archbishop of Buenos Aires Feb. 28, 1998

Since 1998, he has been archbishop of Buenos Aires, where his style is low-key and close to the people. 

He rides the bus, visits the poor, lives in a simple apartment and cooks his own meals. To many in Buenos Aires, he is known simply as "Father Jorge."

He also has created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, led pro-life initiatives and started new pastoral programs, such as a commission for divorcees. He co-presided over the 2001 Synod of Bishops and was elected to the synod council, so he is well-known to the world's bishops.

The pope has also written books on spirituality and meditation and has been outspoken against abortion and same-sex marriages.

Some controversy had arisen over the position taken by Pope Francis during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship, which cracked down brutally on political opponents. Estimates of the number of people killed and forcibly disappeared during those years range from about 13,000 to more than 30,000. 

Citing a case in which two young priests were detained by the military regime, critics say that the cardinal, who was Jesuit provincial at the time, did not do enough to support church workers against the military dictatorship. 

Others, however, have said that he attempted to negotiate behind the scenes for the priests' release, and a spokesman for the cardinal, quoted in the daily newspaper La Nacion, called the accusation "old slander."

After becoming archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he created new parishes, restructured the administrative offices, taken personal care of the seminary and started new pastoral projects, such as the commission for divorcees. He mediated in almost all social or political conflicts in the city; recently ordained priests have been described as "the Bergoglio generation"; and no political or social figure missed requesting a private encounter with him. 

While not overtly political, Pope Francis has not tried to hide the political and social impact of the Gospel message, particularly in a country still recovering from a serious economic crisis. 

In 2006, he criticized an Argentine proposal to legalize abortion under certain circumstances as part of a wide-ranging legal reform. He accused the government of lacking respect for the values held by the majority of Argentines and of trying to convince the Catholic Church "to waver in our defense of the dignity of the person." 

His role often forced him to speak publicly about the economic, social and political problems facing his country. His homilies and speeches are filled with references to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters and that the church and the country need to do what they can to make sure that everyone feels welcome, respected and cared for. 

In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Pope Francis encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could "seriously injure the family."

He also said adoption by same-sex couples would result in "depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother." 

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told reporters it was "beautiful that a Latin American was chosen."

"I don't know him well, even though we are part of same religious family," he said "I greeted him the other day, but didn't expect to see him again dressed in white."

A respected Italian journal said Pope Francis I had the second-highest number of votes on each of the four ballots in the 2005 conclave.

Pope Francis has had a growing reputation as a very spiritual man with a talent for pastoral leadership serving in a region with the largest number of the world's Catholics.

Contributing to this story were Carol Zimmermann and Carol Glatz in Rome.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Apostle of Bilbao and A Missionary of Gujarat- Fr.Pablo Gil S.j


An  Apostle of Bilbao and A Missionary of Gujarat
1935 - 2013
Pablo Gil SJ

It was a shock for me to hear the news that Fr Daniel Baztarrika had passed away. Over the years he had been a close friend. In fact he had been close to many of our missionaries in Gujarat. He was in love with the Gujarat Mission. He had visited it several times. He knew it well and he was aware of its needs. He was universal in his generosity. Being a Jesuit, it is natural that he would help mainly Jesuits, especially those who had been his companions in the Society of Jesus. But he extended his generosity to other missionaries, chiefly religious Sisters. He helped regularly the Leper Hospital at Surat, and the Cloistered Carmel at Baroda.

He and I studied in the same school,  the Apostolic  School  of Javier, the birthplace of St. Francis Xavier and the fountainhead from which a copious stream of missionary vocations have flowed into many missions in all parts he world. But he was quite some years junior to me, so I came to know him personally in one of his visits to India. I was taken up by his enthusiasm and zeal. After that first meeting, I paid him a visit in Bilbao every time I went to Spain for a home visit.

He was born in Azcoitia just a stone’s throw from Loyola, the birthplace of Ignatius.  Being a Jesuit, and formed both in Javier and Loyola, it is only natural that he was inspired by the ideal of the missions. Yet he obediently remained in Spain and spent nearly all his life as a Jesuit in Bilbao.

For many years he was Students Counsellor and Spiritual Father in the College of our Lady of Begona in Bilbao. He had a special charism to deal with school boys, and he forged friendships with them that lasted a life time.

He was continuously on the move visiting people, but apart from a good pair of legs, he used no other vehicle, except the metro for longer trips. Walking along the streets of Bilbao gave him a chance to meet many old boys he had taught and counselled during the many years he had been Spiritual Father in the school. He did not waste time in light conversation with them, he went straight to inquiring about their spiritual health, and he would question them about frequent confession, the Rosary, Sunday Mass, and so on. No one would normally be so direct, but he could do it because he loved the old boys and they loved and respected him.

In my visits to Bilbao he would offer me a chance to speak about the mission of Gujarat to apostolic groups of parishioners he directed. He would accompany me to places or people I had to visit, and on the way he made so many stops to talk to persons he knew, that I thought he knew half the people of Bilbao. He would do this with every missionary of Gujarat that visited him. He encouraged his acquaintances, including his family members, to be generous with donations for Gujarat. God only knows how much financial help he sent to Gujarat over the years.

 He kept constant communication with Gujarat. He used to send personal short notes to Fr Del Rio for distribution among the many missionaries he was helping. When Fr Del Rio died, I had the privilege of being Fr Bastarrika’s postman, and distribute what he called “brief notes” to the missionaries, informing them about the donations he was sending them through Alboan and recommending that they acknowledged receipt of donations to the benefactors. How many missionaries were blessed through Fr Baztarrika’s zeal and generosity!

He spent long hours in the confessional of the Jesuit Residence. People knew that he would be there regularly wiithout fail and took advantage of his availability. He was often seen in the parlour attending to people’s spiritual needs. When I visited him in his room I witnessed that he was continuously being interrupted by telephone calls from people who needed his spiritual assistance.

The Lord cut short his apostolic journey through a painful cancer that little by little sapped his energy. He was operated, but the malignant cancer had already spread so much that the doctors despaired of saving him. I happened to be in Spain on vacation at the time, and  when I visited him  to say good bye, as I was returning to Gujarat , he  was still optimistic  about his recovery, but I had already been informed by Doctors that he wouldn’t  last long. It was painful to say good-bye to an old and dear friend, knowing that it was our last meeting here on earth.

 He will be missed by many of us and also by many of his old boys who till the end were calling him to bless their marriage or to baptize their children. We shall remember him as an example of a zealous priest and as a great missionary of Gujarat.

Friday, March 1, 2013

APX: 25 Years of Excellence - Mr Shapat

APX: 25 Years of Excellence
The Association of Past Xavierites (APX) of St Xavier’s High School Loyola Hall has completed 25 years. Many programs are planned to celebrate the occasion. A “Jayakar Bhojak” Musical Evening was hosted on the school grounds. Almost 1200 people were enthralled by this famous singer who rendered Gujarati
songs and Bollywood hits. Also, songs rendered by school students and teachers as well as a masterpiece by APX members, kept the audience regaled.

The 16 founding members of the APX were gratefully remembered for their lasting contributions. The Provincial, Fr Jose Changanacherry, and the Home Secretary Shri Manoj Antani IPS, an alumnus, were the Chief Guests at the function. Also present were many prominent personalities of the city, most of them being the alumni of St Xavier’s school. The founding Chairman of APX and the then Principal Fr Ornellas Coutinho was honoured and his presence was inspiring to all present. Fr Durai (Principal and Chairman of APX, and Province Coordinator for Alumni Association), and Fr M G Raj (Administrator) were
appreciated for their support, owing to which APX has flourished and is reaching out to more people and avenues. The current committee members are also giving their best and their efforts are also instrumental in getting APX to where it is today. (Mr Shapat)