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Franciscan Seculars

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Sincerely, in St. Francis, Dennis Mallon,OFS

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

“Silence implies consent.” St. Thomas More, OFS

A Christian can never remain silent in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power. – Pope Benedict XVI

The words of St. Francis

His words for  Politicians and Government leaders

I find many toiling for the body and few for the soul, for many toil for the body by breaking rocks, razing mountains, and performing other works fatiguing to the body, but who is there that labors so courageously and fervently for his soul? —Brother Giles, follower of St. Francis of Assisi


Pope Francis

Words from Pope Francis: Spiritual and Eucumenical Endeavors, and other colloquies.

We are a church of martyrs, Pope says

Jesus cannot be understood without his mother: Pope Francis


The expectant Blessed Mother


Immaculate Conception Fraternity Jonesboro, Georgia

To the Point by Dennis Mallon, OFS The War on Women

St. Padre Pio The fascinating story by Bret Thoman, OFS


For information about Secular Franciscans and books for inquires, order here-> -> -> ->

What’s in the news Let us pray for our Country and Church


Franciscan Poverty – Sine Proprio:

Without Anything of One’s Own

Before you begin this lesson, I’d like for you to take out a sheet of paper. Draw a line vertically down the middle of the page and make two columns. On the top of the left column, write, “Things I value”; on the top of the right, write, “Things that concern me.” Take 4 or 5 minutes to list the things you value in the left column and things that concern you in the right column. [wait 5 minutes]. Now put the piece of paper aside as I begin this lesson.

Q: What is Franciscan poverty?

Francis defines his way of life and that of the brothers in the first sentence of his Rule of life: In Chapter 1 of the Earlier Rule of 1221 (Regula non Bullata), he says, “The rule and life of these brothers is this: to live in obedience, in chastity, and without anything of their own [sine proprio], and to follow the teaching and the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the Later Rule of 1223 (Regula Bullata), Francis reiterated himself: “The Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own [sine proprio], and in chastity.” In the Rules, the term, sine proprio, was a technical term used as part of a formula commonly used in the 12th century, which described the vow of poverty as one of the three evangelical counsels. So, this was not something new that Francis added to religious life.

I’d like to some other, slightly deeper, examples of Franciscan poverty. Francis used the same term, sine proprio, in other instances. In Chapter XI of one of his Admonitions, he said:

Nothing should displease a servant of God except sin. And no matter how another person may sin, if a servant of God becomes disturbed and angry because of this and not because of charity, he is storing up guilt for himself. That servant of God who does not become angry or upset at anything, lives justly and without anything of his own [sine proprio].

Here Francis extended the meaning of the term beyond one of mere technical form (as in the rules), and implies that poverty is more than a mandate or a material concern. In this description of living “without anything of his own” [sine proprio], Francis implies that poverty is a proper inner disposition; it is a serene response to another’s sins, defects, or vices. Thus, poverty reflects not just material issues (and their absence), but a “poverty of the spirit” – an emotional and spiritual detachment from another’s state of being around us. How is this an example of sine proprio? Ask yourself how you respond to others’ defects and vices? Do you get upset? If so, it’s an invitation to work on poverty in this sense.

In other writings, Francis used variations of the word, “proprio”. In Fragments Found in a Manuscript in the Worchester Cathedral, we find a form of the Latin verb appropriare which is the infinitive verb form of the word proprio, meaning “to appropriate”, “to make one’s own” or “to appro­priate to one’s self.” Francis writes, “No minister or preacher may make a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching his own, (appropriet sibi ministerium vel officium praedicationis) but, when he is told, let him set it aside without objection.” Appropriare sibi can be translated “to appropriate to oneself.” Therefore, the sentence could be translated “No minister or preacher may appropriate to himself a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching.” Here Francis is saying that the brothers should not become too attached to their ministries; they should humbly surrender them when required to do so. In this case, Francis describes a poverty of “detachment” a willingness to detach from those things around us – even when those things are good and you are doing the will of God. Francis says that even when we are in service and doing God’s will, we can “sin” against poverty. Have you ever “appropriated” to yourself a particular ministry, service, or apostolate?

In another writing, the 2nd Admonition, Francis says, “For that person eats of the tree of the knowledge of good who makes his will his own [who appropriates his will to himself] (qui sibi suam volun­tatem appropriat) and, in this way, exalts himself over the good things the Lord says and does in him.” What does this mean to you?

In this writing, Francis is extending the teaching on poverty to obedience. He is essentially saying that the person who appropriates his will to himself and in this way does not see that it is God who does good things through him is following Adam in disobedience and is sinning against poverty. There is the Scripture of the vines and the branches. (cf. John 15: 5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

And this holds true even when one wills something good; i.e. someone wishes to be helpful towards another or service oriented towards another. However, if that does not materialize, it is not God’s will, and the person should surrender his will to God’s. I remember one time hearing a Protestant missionary tell his story of his experience in China. He said that as a young pastor, he had gone to China and began preaching to the people. After a significant period of time, no one was coming to his church or listening to him. But he continued preaching. And still no one came. Finally, he cried out to God, “If you don’t convert the people and bring them to my church, I’m going to leave this country and go back home an atheist!” Then people began coming to his church. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was imposing his own will on God – if he was commanding God to do his will. It seemed to me that he was appropriating his will to himself and not God’s will. Obviously, one is appropriating his will to himself when he wills something bad to happen; for God never wishes for evil.

Scripture: The Lord says in the Gospel: “Whoever does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple; and Whoever wishes to save his life must lose it. That person who offers himself totally to obedience in the hands of his prelate leaves all that he possesses and loses his body.” (find quote)

So, once we scratch the surface, we discover a deeper understanding of what Francis meant by poverty. We see how poverty (or lack of it) characterizes one’s inner disposition and attitude. In Francis’s view, true poverty is not appropriating to one’s self what is not meant for one to have or keep. It refers to a way of life that is not merely void of material possessions, but that is free of self, liberated from personal desires, willing to let go of ambition, surrendered to God’s will. This is true even when one wishes to do good. Thus, the opposite of poverty is appropriating things to one’s self; i.e., clinging or grasping to one’s will, storing up treasures, possessing.

Francis believed that we have nothing of our own; everything that we have is not ultimately ours; it originates in God and will return to God. It is as if our possessions are actually “on loan” from God. Thus, Franciscan poverty is equally about attitudes and values as it is about wealth or the lack of it. When we come to a deeper understanding of Franciscan poverty, we discover a better ordered way to properly relate to (a) our brothers, (b) our selves, and (c) God.

See Admonition V: “Nothing belongs to you”

  • Now, take your sheet of paper that I asked you to make at the beginning of the lesson. Look back at your values and the things that concern you. Now consider the things on the two lists.

a. Only “keep” the things that are valuable to God and the things that concern God. We can have an idea of the things that God values by considering if you will take them with you to heaven after you die. Can you take your earthly inheritance? Can you take material things? No, but you will take your charity and love. Therefore, discard the things that are of no value to God; keep only the ones that are of value to God.

Every vice and sin that exists is a form of taking to ourselves what is not ours to take; i.e. the 7 deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony

b. Now let’s look at the things that are of value to God. Even these things have their origin in God. Even these things do not belong to you. While not abandoning the things that you value and that concern you, even these things have to be surrendered to God. They are from God, and they must be always given back to God. When we go through life with this spirit, we are much more at peace. We give thanks, we rejoice, and we praise God for the things that he has given us – even if they are taken away.

Yet, even the good things that God gives us can be “appropriated to ourselves” when we fail to recognize that they come from God and are temporary gifts for our use

Are you appropriating to yourself that which is not yours to take? Or if has been given to you, are you putting it ahead of God?

c. Can you see how “appropriating things to yourself” is a violation of the first commandment. Do you see how living “sine proprio” – without anything of one’s own – is following the first commandment? How can you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, when you are keeping something for yourself that is not yours to keep?

Francis, Go and Rebuild My House

by Bret Thoman, OFS

These were the words St. Francis of Assisi heard spoken to him through a crucifix in 1205 when he was just 23 years old. While much has been of the reasons why our new Pope took the name of the Saint of Assisi, little mention has been made of this significant event in St. Francis’s life. And, with all the challenges and scandals that have come out of our Church, I believe it is quite significant.

Francis of Assisi heard these words during a time of transition in the young, not-quite-yet-saintly life. Just a short period earlier, Francis had desired more than anything to become a knight. He grew up in a privileged household of ease and luxury, his merchant father having amassed a fortune in the then booming cloth business. Francis was enamored by the chivalric deeds recounted by the wandering minstrels who passed through Assisi singing chansons of the great knights like Galahad, Arthur, Lancelot, and Tristan. These knights rode on horseback and fought for honor, mercy, courtesy, courage, justice. Their mottos were the protection of the weakest, amour, courtly love, gallantry toward women, and service to God. So Francis sought to prove himself on the battlefield in hopes of becoming knighted.

For Francis, however, the reality of war proved not quite so romantic. After the Assisian army he was fighting with was ambushed by the Perugians, he spent a year in a dungeon in Perugia and became quite sickly. After recovering somewhat, he once again set out to fight – this time in the Crusades in southern Italy. That, too, proved a failure when he turned back after only one day’s journey. In a dream, he heard a voice tell him it was better to serve the Lord rather than servants. So he laid down his arms and sought to follow the true Lord. Now, Francis, the once carefree playboy who had been the life of the parties, spent his time praying in caves, wearing a penitential horsehair shirt, giving alms, and serving lepers.

During this time, he passed by a little run-down church outside the old medieval city walls of Assisi when he felt prompted to go inside. The ruined church was dedicated to the twin physician saintly brothers from eastern Europe, Saints Cosmos and Damian. Francis knelt down before the crucifix which spoke to him saying, Francisce vade, et repara domum meam, quae, ut cernis, tota destruitur (Francis, go, and repair my house, which, as you can see, is totally destroyed). Immediately, he set out to do just that — literally.

Francis went to his father’s warehouse, took a bolt of fine cloth, and set out on horseback to the nearby town of Foligno. There he sold his cloth and horse and took the money back to the church of San Damiano with the naïve intent of rebuilding the church. The priest there, however, knowing of the ill temper of Francis’s father would not accept the money. That event proved the final rift between father and son and would soon lead to their permanent and irreconcilable separation. Soon thereafter, Francis would disinherit himself from his earthly father claiming only one Father — Our Father who art in Heaven. Francis then set out to rebuild the little church of San Damiano one stone at a time. He later rebuilt several other ruined churches around Assisi in addition to churches elsewhere in central Italy.

Pope’s Visit: What is the theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate?

It’s the family.
By Dr. Jeff Mirus Sep 28, 2015

It is a great mistake, I think, to sell Pope Francis short when he does not say exactly what we wish he would say. I’ve written about this before. (See, for example, How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? in January and Pope Francis: Get it? Got it? Good! in June.) It is reasonable to be disappointed, within due limits, if the Pope does not take advantage of what appears to be an obvious opportunity to make an important point. But let’s be honest: It is spiritually immature—not to mention a scandal to others—to respond derisively or dismissively to the Holy Father.

Among the many comments I’ve read about the points Pope Francis has made during his visit to the United States, I have seen few which attempted to place his remarks in the context of the overarching themes of his pontificate. The focus always seems to be on whether Pope Francis won or lost this particular round, and especially on whether the Pope’s strategy on this occasion was good or bad, and whether he has revealed a failure or a weakness. That sort of commentary has some value, but it can be terribly self-centered and, even if it isn’t, it is likely to be myopic, missing the big picture.

Concerning his visit to the United States, then, let us begin by taking the Pope at his word when he said before Congress that:

It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

The further along the Pope got in his visit, particularly in New York and Philadelphia, he delivered repeatedly on this promise, offering a profoundly Christian vision of the family:

From time immemorial, in the depths of our heart, we have heard those powerful words: it is not good for you to be alone. The family is the great blessing, the great gift of this “God with us”, who did not want to abandon us to the solitude of a life without others, without challenges, without a home….

As Christians, we appreciate the beauty of the family and of family life as the place where we come to learn the meaning and value of human relationships. We learn that “to love someone is not just a strong feeling – it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise” (Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving). We learn to stake everything on another person, and we learn that it is worth it.

Jesus was not a confirmed bachelor, far from it! He took the Church as his bride, and made her a people of his own. He laid down his life for those he loved, so that his bride, the Church, could always know that he is God with us, his people, his family. We cannot understand Christ without his Church, just as we cannot understand the Church without her spouse, Christ Jesus, who gave his life out of love, and who makes us see that it is worth the price.

These extracts are from the official text of the Pope’s talk at the Prayer Vigil for the Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 26th. (Note: I have quoted the Pope’s speech as published by the Vatican for the occasion, even though the Pope, as he often does, deviated from his prepared text to speak less formally at the actual event.)

Who can doubt that the family—created, formed, redeemed and strengthened by Christ—lies at the heart of this pontificate? Francis decided to focus so much on the family that he made it the central purpose of not one but two major synods (the second one coming up in October), ensuring that this subject would dominate Catholic discussions for a period of two to three years. In the year between the synods, he used his Wednesday general audiences to offer an extended catechesis on the family, which he completed earlier this month.

And when he came to consider a visit to the most powerful country in the world, why did he come when he did? Because the World Meeting of Families was taking place in Philadelphia at this time.

Closely-Related Issues
Pope Francis sees all too clearly the widespread destruction of families. The particular agents of this destruction all stem from the modern rejection of nature as a gift from the Creator, to which the proper responses are gratitude and good stewardship. Instead, we too often instrumentalize nature, seeing it not as a “given” but as material to be manipulated to create imagined “realities”, to erect false castles of individual selfishness.

This, for example, is the message that lies at the heart of Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. The Pope teaches that the technocratic instrumentalization of nature results in not only massive environmental destruction, but the destruction of our very selves: sex-change operations, contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, gay marriage, domestic violence, child abuse, and the general desire to inhabit a soul-sapping and counterfeit world in which pleasure is always perverted and genuine happiness inevitably lost.

Drawing partly from key thinkers in the Orthodox Churches, Francis has considerably deepened Catholic reflection on nature as a whole. He sees that just as a proper response to God engenders a coherent and positive response to all of Creation, so too will a proper reception of nature assist us in responding properly to God—the loving Father who gives good gifts to His children. Clearly, he sees environmental concerns as a kind of bridge to a deeper understanding of all of reality, with family questions at the center.

In fact, nearly all of the broader social issues Pope Francis speaks about are those which he believes most adversely affect the family: immigration problems, environmental depredation, unemployment, poverty, human trafficking, and the general division of the world into “haves” and “have nots”, where the rich destroy not only their own families, through a chronic selfishness which kills the soul, but also the families of the poor, through this same chronic selfishness which excludes them from the goods necessary to keep body and soul—and family—together.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict showed the deep connections between what we call the “life issues” and the “social issues”. Referring to them as “sexual” and “social” might serve better to highlight their intimate connection (I use the term “intimate” advisedly). In any case, Pope Francis understands that all of these issues appear with a human face in the family. And no matter how hard we may try, in the family they cannot be separated completely.

A Vital Context
Of course, nobody speaks only of one thing, and I do not mean to argue that Pope Francis never says anything without the family in mind. But if we keep the family in mind—marriage, children, nuclear families, broken families, suffering families, counterfeit families, extended families, the family of grace created by Our Lord’s espousal of the Church as His Bride, nations which inescapably live or die based on the health of their families, and even the international possibilities of a network of families reaching across barriers to support each other—if we keep the family in mind, I suggest we will frequently make much better sense of this Pope’s message.

We do not have to like everything about any pope. My life has spanned the pontificates of Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. At one time or another I have stared open-mouthed at each, unable to do anything but scratch my head (though only in retrospect for Pius XII, as I was just ten years old when he died). Each pontiff in his turn “failed” to recognize something that was absolutely clear—indeed, blazingly obvious—to me.

Sometimes I may even have been right. Popes are, after all, human, like me. But I’m very glad I never stopped trying to internalize the central message of each one. So let us take very seriously the central message of Pope Francis. For him, thus far, the family is priority one. And this means all families: Not just those “others” out there—the ones with the problems we see so clearly—but also yours and mine.

Pope’s visit: Answers the reporters

I’m Not a Star, But the Servant of the Servants of God
Pope Francis:
Good evening to all and thank you for the work because you went about from one place to the other and I was in a car but you… thank you very much.

Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine:
Thank you so much Holy Father Elizabeth Dias from TIME magazine. We are all so curious…this was your first visit to the US. What surprised you about the US and what was different to what you might have expected?
Pope Francis:
It was my first visit. I’d never been here before. What surprised me was the warmth, the warmth of the people, so lovable. It was a beautiful thing and also different: in Washington the welcome was warm but more formal; New York was a bit exuberant. Philadelphia very expressive. Three different kinds of welcome. I was very struck by this kindness and welcome but also by the religious ceremonies and also by the piety, the religiosity of the people… you could see the people pray and this struck me a lot. Beautiful.

Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine:
Was there some sort of challenge that you didn’t expect in the United States?
Pope Francis:
No, thank God no…everything was good. No challenge. No provocation. Everyone was polite. No insults and nothing bad.

Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine:
Well, what is the challenge?
Pope Francis:
We must continue to work with the faithful like we have always done, until now. Accompanying people in their growth – through the good times but also through the difficult ones – accompanying people in their joy and in their bad moments, in their difficulties when there is no work, ill health. The challenge of the Church… now I understand: the Church’s challenge is staying close to the people. Close to the United States… not being a Church which is detached from the people but close to them, close, close and this is something that the Church in America has understood, and understood well.

David O’Reilly, Philadelphia Inquirer:
Holy Father: Philadelphia, as you know, has had a very difficult time with sex abuse. It’s still an open wound in Philadelphia. So I know many people in Philadelphia were surprised that you offered bishops comfort and consolation and I think many in Philadelphia would ask you why did you feel the need to offer compassion to the bishops?
Pope Francis:
In Washington I spoke to all the US bishops… they were all there no? I felt the need to express compassion because something really terrible happened. And many of them suffered who did not know of this. I used words from the bible from Apocalypse: You are coming from a large tribulation. What happened was a great tribulation. But also the suffering (emotional). What I said today to the victims of abuse. I wouldn’t say an apotheosis but almost a sacrilege. We know abuses are everywhere: in families, in neighborhoods, in schools, in gyms. But when a priest abuses it is very serious because the vocation of the priest is to make that boy, that girl, grow towards the love of God, toward maturity, and towards good. Instead this is squashed and this is nearly a sacrilege and he betrayed his vocation, the calling of the Lord.
For this reason the Church is strong on this and one must not cover these things up. Those who covered this up are guilty. Even some bishops who covered this up, It is a terrible thing and the words of comfort were not to say: ”Don’t worry that was nothing… no, no, no even some bishops who covered this up, It’s a terrible thing and the words of comfort were not to say “don’t worry that was nothing…no, no , no, but it was so bad that I imagine that you cried hard”… that was the sense of what I meant and today I spoke strongly.

Maria Antonieta Collins, Univision:
You have spoken a lot about forgiveness, that God forgives us and that we often ask for forgiveness. I would like to ask you, after you were at the seminary today. There are many priests that have committed sexual abuses to minors and have not asked for forgiveness for their victims. Do you forgive them? And on the other hand, do you understand the victims or their relatives who can’t or don’t want to forgive?
Pope Francis:
If a person has done wrong, is conscious of what he has done and does not say sorry, I ask God to take him into account. I forgive him, but he does not receive that forgiveness, he is closed to forgiveness. We must forgive, because we were all forgiven. It is another thing to receive that forgiveness. If that priest is closed to forgiveness, he won’t receive it, because he locked the door from the inside. And what remains is to pray for the Lord to open that door. To forgive you must be willing. But not everyone can receive or know how to receive it, or are just not willing to receive it. What I’m saying is hard. And that is how you explain how there are people who finish their life hardened, badly, without receiving the tenderness of God.

Maria Antonieta Collins, Univision:
Regarding victims or relatives who don’t forgive – do you understand them?
Pope Francis:
Yes, I do. I pray for them. And I don’t judge them. Once, in one of these meetings, I met several people and I met a woman who told me “When my mother found out that I had been abused, she became blasphemous, she lost her faith and she died an atheist.” I understand that woman. I understand here. And God who is even better than me, understands her. And I’m sure that that woman has been received by God. Because what was abused, destroyed, was her own flesh, the flesh of her daughter. I understand her. I don’t judge someone who can’t forgive. I pray and I ask God… God is a champion in finding paths of solutions. I ask him to fix it.

Andres Beltramo, Notimex:
Pope Francis: Thanks, first of all for this moment. We’ve all heard you speak so much about the peace process in Colombia between the FARC and the government. Now, there’s an historic agreement. Do you feel involved in this agreement and you’ve said that you wished to go to Colombia when this agreement was made, right? Now there are a lot of Colombians awaiting you.
Pope Francis:
When I heard the news that in March the accord will be signed I said to the Lord, ‘Lord, help us reach March.’ The willingness is there on both sides. It is there, even in the small group, everyone is in agreement. We have to reach March, for the definitive accord, which is the point of international justice. I was very happy and I felt like I was a a part of it because I’ve always wanted this. I spoke to president Santos twice about this problem. Not only myself, but also the Holy See. The Holy See was always willing to help and do what it could.

Thomas Jansen, CIC:
Holy Father, I wanted to ask something about the migrant crisis in Europe. Many countries are building new barriers out of barbed wire. What do you think of this development?
Pope Francis:
You used a word, crisis. It’s become a state of crisis after a long process. For years, this process has exploded because wars for which those people leave and flee are wars waged for years. Hunger. It’s hunger for years. When I think of Africa… this is a bit simplistic. But I see it as an example. It comes to me to think about Africa, “the exploited continent.” They went to pick up the slaves there, then its great resources. It’s the exploited continent. And, now the wars, tribal or not. But they have economic interests behind them. And, I think that instead of exploiting a continent or a nation, make investments there instead so the people are able to work and this crisis would have been avoided. It’s true, as I said at Congress, it’s a refugee crisis not seen since World War II. It’s the biggest. You asked me about barriers. You know what happens to all walls. All of them. All walls fall. Today, tomorrow or in 100 years, they will fall. It’s not a solution. The Wall isn’t a solution. In this moment, Europe is in difficulty, it’s true. We have to be intelligent. We must find solutions. We must encourage dialogue between different nations, to find them. Walls are never solutions. But bridges are, always, always. I don’t know. What I think is that walls can last a little time or a long time. The problem remains but it also remains with more hatred. That’s what I think.

Jean Marie Guenois, Le Figaro:
Holy Father, you obviously cannot anticipate the debate of the synod fathers, we know that well. But we want to know just before the Synod, in your heart as a pastor, if you really want a solution for the divorced and remarried. We want to also know if your ‘motu proprio’ on the speeding-up of annulments has closed this debate. Finally, how do you respond to those who fear that with this reform, there is a de-facto creation of a so-called ‘Catholic divorce.’ Thank you.
Pope Francis:
I’ll start with the last one. In the reform of the procedure and the way, I closed the door to the administrative path, which was the path through which divorce could have entered. You could say that those who think this is ‘Catholic divorce’ are wrong because this last document has closed the door to divorce by which it could have entered. It would have been easier with the administrative path. There will always be the judicial path.
Continuing with the third (question): the document…. I don’t remember the third but you correct me.

Jean Marie Guenois, Le Figaro:
The question was on the notion of Catholic divorce, if the motu proprio has closed the debate before the synod on this theme?
Pope Francis:
This was called for by the majority of the Synod fathers in the synod last year: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there’s an appeal, there’s the appeal then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Papa Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country, there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it’s not something essential to the process. The procedure changes, jurisprudence changes, it gets better. At that time it was urgent to do this, then Pius X wanted to streamline and made some changes but he didn’t have the time or the possibility to do it. The Synod fathers asked for it, the speeding up of the annulment processes. And I stop there. This document, this ‘motu proprio’ facilitates the processes and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It’s doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament. The legal trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn’t a sacrament, for lack of freedom for example, or for lack of maturity, or for mental illness. There are so many reasons that bring about (an annulment), after a study, an investigation. That there was no sacrament. For example, that the person wasn’t free. Another example: now it’s not so common but in some sectors of common society at least in Buenos Aires, there were weddings when the woman got pregnant: ‘you have to get married.’ In Buenos Aires, I counselled my priests, strongly, I almost prohibited them to celebrate weddings in these conditions. We called them “speedy weddings”, eh? (They were) to cover up appearances. And the babies are born, and some work out but there’s no freedom and then things go wrong little by little they separate (and say) ‘I was forced to get married because we had to cover up this situation” and this is a reason for nullity. So many of them.
Cases of nullity, you have, you can find them (the reasons) on the internet there all there are many, eh? Then, the issue of the second weddings, the divorcees, who make a new union. You read what, you have the “instrumentum laboris.” what is put in discussion seems a bit simplistic to me to say that the Synod is the solution for these people and that they can have communion.
That’s not the only solution. No, what the “Instrumentum laboris” proposes is a lot more, and also the problem of the new unions of divorcees isn’t the only problem. In the “Instrumentum laboris” there are many. For example, young people don’t get married. They don’t want to get married. It’s a pastoral problem for the Church. Another problem: the affective maturity for a marriage. Another problem: faith. ‘Do I believe that this is for ever? Yes, yes, yes, I believe.’ ‘But do you believe it?’ the preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there’s a preparation for 8 years, and then, its not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses! 4 times… Something isn’t right. It’s something the Synod has to deal with: how to do preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things.
There are many problems, they’re all are listed in the “Instrumentum laboris.”
But, I like that you asked the question about ‘Catholic divorce.’ That doesn’t exist. Either it wasn’t a marriage, and this is nullity – it didn’t exist. And if it did, it’s indissoluble. This is clear. Thank you.

Terry Moran, ABC News:
Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?

Pope Francis:
I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection. But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the “Chanson de Roland” when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

Terry Moran, ABC News:
Would that include government officials as well?
Pope Francis:
It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.

Stefano Maria Paci, Sky News:
Holiness, you used very strong words at the UN to denounce the world’s silence on the persecution of Christians, who are deprived of their homes, thrown out, deprived of their possessions, enslaved and brutally killed. Yesterday, President Hollande announced the beginning of a bombing campaign by France on ISIS bases in Syria. What do you think of this military action? Also, the mayor of Rome, city of the Jubilee, declared that he came to the World Meeting of Families because you invited him. Can you tell us how it went?
Pope Francis:
I will start with your second question. I did not invite Mayor Marino. Is that clear? I didn’t do it and I asked the organizers and they didn’t invite him either. He came. He professes to be a Catholic and he came spontaneously. That’s the first thing. But it is clear, heh? And now about bombardments.
Truly, I heard the news the day before yesterday, and I haven’t read about it. I don’t know much about the situation. I heard that Russia took one position and it wasn’t clear yet about the United States. I truly don’t know what to say because I haven’t fully understood the situation. But, when I hear the word bombing, death, blood… I repeat what I said in Congress and at the UN, to avoid these things. But, I don’t know, I can’t judge the political situation because I don’t know enough about it.

Miriam Schmidt, German DPA Agency:
Holy Father, I wanted to ask a question about the relationship of the Holy See with China and the situation in this country which is also quite difficult for the Catholic Church. What do you think about this?
Pope Francis:
China is a great nation that offers the world a great culture, so many good things. I said once on the plane when were flying over China when we were coming back from Korea that I would very much like so much to go to China. I love the Chinese people and I hope there is possibility of having good relations, good relations. We’re in contact, we talk, we are moving forward but for me, having a friend of a great country like China, which has so much culture and has so much opportunity to do good, would be a joy.

Maria Sagrarios Ruiz de Apodaca, RNE:
Thank you. Good evening, Holy Father. You have visited the U.S. for the first time, you had never been there before. You spoke to Congress, you spoke to the United Nations. You drew multitudes. Do you feel more powerful? And another question, we heard you draw attention to the role of religious women, of the women in the Church in the United States. Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic church as some groups in the U.S. ask, and some other Christian churches have?
Pope Francis:
He’s telling me not to answer in Spanish (referring to Fr. Federico Lombardi.) The sisters in the United States have done marvels in the field of education, in the field of health. The people of the United States love the sisters. I don’t know how much they love the priests, (laughs) but they love the sisters, they love them so much. They are great, they are great, great, great women. Then, one follows her congregation, their rules, there are differences. But are they great. And for that reason I felt the obligation to say thank you for what they have done. An important person of the government of the United States told me in the last few days: “The education I have, I owe above all to the sisters.” The sisters have schools in all neighborhoods, rich and poor. They work with the poor and in the hospitals. This was the first. The second? The first I remember, the second?

Maria Sagrarios Ruiz de Apodaca, RNE
If you feel powerful after having been in the United States with your schedule and having been successful?
Pope Francis:
I don’t know if I had success, no. But I am afraid of myself. Why am I afraid of myself? I feel always – I don’t know – weak in the sense of not having power and also power is a fleeting thing, here today, gone tomorrow. It’s important if you can do good with power. And Jesus defined power, the true power is to serve, to do service, to do the most humble services, and I must still make progress on this path of service because I feel that I don’t do everything I should do. That’s the sense I have of power.

Third, on women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is “la” church, not “il” church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true.

Mathilde Imberty, Radio France
Holy Father, you have become a star in the United States. Is it good for the Church if the Pope is a star?
Pope Francis:
The Pope must… Do you know what the title was of the Pope that ought to be used? Servant of the servants of God. It’s a little different from the stars. Stars are beautiful to look at. I like to look at them in the summer when the sky is clear. But the Pope must be, must be the servant of the servants of God. Yes, in the media this is happening but there’s another truth. How many stars have we seen that go out and fall. It is a fleeting thing. On the other hand, being servant of the servants of God is something that doesn’t pass.