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Daily Readings for Monday, February 06, 2023

Reading 1: Genesis 1:1-19, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:10, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:35, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:1-2, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:12, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:5-6, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:24, Gospel: Mark 6:53-56

St. Paul Miki: Saint of the Day for Monday, February 06, 2023

Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. He was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college of Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching. He was crucified on Februay 5 with twenty-five other Catholics during the persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruler of Japan in the name of the emperor. Among the Japanese layment who suffered the same fate were: Francis, a carpenter who was arrested while watching ...

Morning Offering: Prayer of the Day for Monday, February 06, 2023

Most Holy and Adorable Trinity, one God in three Persons, I firmly believe that You are here present; I adore You with the most profound humility; I praise You and give You thanks with all my heart for the favors You have bestowed on me. Your Goodness has brought me safely to the beginning of this day. Behold, O Lord, I offer You my whole being and in particular all my thoughts, words and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet with in the course of this day. Give ...

St. Paul Miki: Saint of the Day for Monday, February 06, 2023

Paul was the son of a Japanese military leader. He was born at Tounucumada, Japan, was educated at the Jesuit college of Anziquiama, joined the Jesuits in 1580, and became known for his eloquent preaching. He was crucified on Februay 5 with twenty-five other Catholics during the persecution of Christians under the Taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ruler of Japan in the name of the emperor. Among the Japanese layment who suffered the same fate were: Francis, a carpenter who was arrested while watching ...

Morning Offering: Prayer of the Day for Monday, February 06, 2023

Most Holy and Adorable Trinity, one God in three Persons, I firmly believe that You are here present; I adore You with the most profound humility; I praise You and give You thanks with all my heart for the favors You have bestowed on me. Your Goodness has brought me safely to the beginning of this day. Behold, O Lord, I offer You my whole being and in particular all my thoughts, words and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet with in the course of this day. Give ...

Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference: God accompanies people with same-sex attraction

Pope Francis speaks to the media on Feb. 5, 2023, during his return flight to Rome from his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Feb 5, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

On his return flight from South Sudan on Sunday, Pope Francis said that God loves and accompanies people with same-sex attraction. 

When asked by a journalist what the pope would say to families in Congo and South Sudan who reject their children because they are gay, Pope Francis responded that the catechism teaches that people with same-sex attraction should not be marginalized. 

“People with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God loves them. God accompanies them,” the pope said during an in-flight press conference on his return from Juba on Feb. 5.

“To condemn someone like this is a sin. Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice,” he added.

In a first for a papal trip, Pope Francis was joined for the in-flight press conference by two other Christian leaders: his Anglican counterpart, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields, who also took part in the “ecumenical pilgrimage of peace” in South Sudan Feb. 3-5.

Together the three Christian leaders answered questions and spoke about South Sudan’s peace process, the war in Ukraine, and mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Welby said that he “wholeheartedly agreed” with what Pope Francis said about the Congo that it is “not the playground of great powers.” 

Greenshields added that in South Sudan’s peace process “actions speak louder than words.”

Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, speaks to reporters aboard the papal flight to Rome on Feb. 5, 2023, as Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, looks on. The two religious leaders accompanied Pope Francis on his visit to South Sudan. Vatican Media
Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, speaks to reporters aboard the papal flight to Rome on Feb. 5, 2023, as Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, looks on. The two religious leaders accompanied Pope Francis on his visit to South Sudan. Vatican Media

Pope Francis alone answered a question about tensions in the Catholic Church after the death of his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“I think Benedict’s death was instrumentalized by people who want to serve their own interests,” Francis said.

People who instrumentalize such a good and holy person, Francis added, are partisans and unethical.

Looking ahead at potential upcoming papal trips, Pope Francis said that he wants to go to India next year.

The 86-year-old pope confirmed that he also plans to travel to Marseille, France, in September to participate in a meeting of Mediterranean bishops and added that “there is a possibility from Marseille to fly to Mongolia.”

In his response to the question about the acceptance of people with same-sex attractions, Pope Francis noted that he has spoken on the topic multiple times during in-flight press conferences.

The pope reiterated what he said on his return flight from Brazil in 2013: “If a person with homosexual tendencies is a believer, seeks God, who am I to judge him? This is what I said on that trip.”

He added that during an in-flight press conference returning from Ireland in 2018 he said that parents should not kick out children with this orientation out of their homes.

Pope Francis noted that he recently spoke about the criminalization of homosexuality in an interview with the Associated Press and emphasized again that it is unjust.

“I want to say, I wish I had spoken as elegantly and clearly as the pope. I entirely agree with every word he said there,” Welby said.

“Over the next four days in the General Synod of the Church of England, this is our main topic of discussion, and I shall certainly quote the Holy Father,” he added.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, people with homosexual tendencies should be treated with respect, and unjust discrimination against them should be avoided, while “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Pope Francis: Partisans have used Benedict XVI’s death ‘to serve their own interests’

Pope Francis speaks to journalists on Feb. 5, 2023, during his flight back to Rome after his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. / Vatican Media

Rome, Italy, Feb 5, 2023 / 11:35 am (CNA).

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s death was used by people in a self-serving way, Pope Francis said aboard the papal plane returning from South Sudan on Sunday.

“I think Benedict’s death was instrumentalized by people who want to serve their own interests,” he said during an in-flight press conference Feb. 5.

People who instrumentalize such a good and holy person, Francis added, are partisans and unethical.

There is a widespread tendency to make political parties out of theological positions, he said. “I leave it alone. These things will fall on their own, or if they don’t fall they will move on as has happened so many times in the history of the Church.”

Pope Francis’ comments were made aboard the papal plane from Juba, South Sudan, to Rome, at the end of a six-day trip that also included nearly four days in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a papal first, the in-flight press conference included the participation of the pope’s Anglican counterpart, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields.

Welby and Greenshields had joined Pope Francis in South Sudan for an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace and reconciliation. The two Christian leaders responded to some, but not all, of the questions on the papal flight.

Near the end of the nearly hour-long press conference, Pope Francis was asked if his papal ministry had become more difficult since Benedict’s death in light of growing division in the Church.

Francis reiterated that he was able to speak about everything with Benedict, even to change his own mind.

“He was always by my side, supporting me. And if he had any difficulty he would tell me and we would talk and there was no problem,” the pope said.

He went on to describe a moment in which it appeared that someone may have wanted to pit Francis and the pope emeritus against each other.

Pope Francis recalled once referencing civil solidarity pact, a law in France that allows nontraditional civil unions between two people to receive certain benefits without all of the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage. Francis had suggested this type of partnership as a possible solution for homosexual couples for the purpose of “securing property.”

After Pope Francis had made these comments, “a person who thinks he is a great theologian, through a friend of Pope Benedict, went to him and made a complaint against me,” the pope said.

Benedict’s response was not to be “shocked,” the pope added, but to call together “four top theological cardinals” to explain the concept to him.

“And that’s how the story ended,” he said. “[This was] an anecdote to see how Benedict moved when there were complaints.”

Benedict XVI, he emphasized, “was not a bitter man.”

Pope Francis visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan Jan. 31-Feb. 5. Over the six days, he had moving meetings with local leaders, Catholics, and victims of war and conflict.

The Loneliest Man

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of their lunar landing module and became the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon. But we don’t often think about the third person on their team, Michael Collins, who was flying the command module for Apollo 11.

After his teammates clambered down the ladder to test the lunar surface, Collins waited alone on the far side of the moon. He was out of touch with Neil, Buzz, and everyone on earth. NASA’s mission control commented, “Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins.”

There are times when we feel completely alone. Imagine, for instance, how Joseph, Jacob’s son, felt when he was taken from Israel to Egypt after his brothers sold him (Genesis 37:23–28). Then he was thrust into further isolation by being thrown in prison on false charges (39:19–21).

How did Joseph survive in prison in a foreign land with no family anywhere near? Listen to this: “While Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him” (v. 21). Four times we’re reminded of this comforting truth in Genesis 39.

 Do you feel alone or isolated from others? Hold on to the truth of God’s presence, promised by Jesus Himself: “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). With Jesus as your Savior, you’re never alone.

More than 100 pilgrims cross the Andes in a show of love for the Virgin Mary

More than 100 pilgrims arrived at the Bellavista Shrine in Santiago, Chile, Feb. 2, 2023. / Credit: Instagram Cruzada de María

CNA Newsroom, Feb 5, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

With the theme “Pilgrim of the Andes, lift up your gaze,” more than 110 youths began the trek known as the Crusade for Mary on Jan. 16 starting out from Mendoza, Argentina, and hiking 415 kilometers (260 miles) over the Andes to arrive on Feb. 2 at Bellavista Shrine on the other side of the mountains in metro Santiago, Chile.

The initiative is coordinated by the young men in the Schoenstatt Movement, including priests and seminarians. Youths from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Chile also participated, as well as a seminarian from Mexico and another from Switzerland.

Father Emmanuel Tropini, vicar of the St. Rose of Lima Parish in Villaguay, Argentina, joined the more than 100 youths in a great demonstration of love for the Virgin Mary, crossing on foot the Andes Mountains in a pilgrimage.

In comments on the Mirador Entre Rios portal, the priest recalled their passage by Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the mountain range with “all its wonderful magnitude” and the landscape, “which remains in each of us in an unforgettable way, surprising us at every step by the message of creation.”

“All this reveals to us the importance of knowing our country through its beauties and from our faith,” the priest said. “This challenge of the pilgrimage and its route also fill our souls.”

There were 110 youths on the pilgrimage who made the journey “strengthened by faith, prayers, and also the interchange that this type of event brings about at the places where a break is taken to recharge and continue.”

“It’s a very enriching experience from the spiritual and human point of view,” he said.

“It’s a grace from God that we must interpret as an opportunity to think about over and over again. We walked surrounded by imposing sights and creation shows us how small we are,” the priest noted.

“However, we must think about how much each one of us can do, along with others, to change and engender empathy that allows us to look with the desire to help to bring the word of the Creator to those who feel discouraged in this complex world,” Tropini said.

Regarding the theme of the pilgrimage, the priest explained that it was about “raising our gaze to heavenly things, to the things of God, so as to not dwell on earthly realities but with faith, hope, and ideals. Something that we work on a lot are values and aspiration to the great things in life. Not settling for small things but fighting for the convictions that are related to all this.”

In addition to “the way the landscape refreshes” the soul, the parochial vicar appreciated being in the midst of the mountains because it “puts us in the position to understand that we are a small speck in the grand creation.”

Tropini also mentioned the difficulties of the journey. “We went through different moments and circumstances where the trek gets very hard, with an average of about 25 kilometers (15 miles) per day,” he explained.

“With the sun, blisters on the feet, and some pain it gets complicated and even uncomfortable,” he added. “It’s very cold, without snow on the route, but there is some higher up in the mountains.” (It is now summer in the southern hemisphere.)

There was a climate “of contagious joy,” due to the number of young people who “participated a lot in prayer, singing, and daily Mass,” the priest shared.

“There was a spiritual atmosphere, but we also played the guitar, and since there are kids from other countries, they talked about soccer and they observed their local customs, some that we know and others that we’re learning about in the daily interchange, in an atmosphere of wonderful communion,” he recounted.

At the last stop before arriving at Bellavista, Argentine pilgrim Tomás Ugarte gave his testimony on social media: “I am counting the kilometers to get there, my heart starts pounding, you can begin to sense the Bellavista Shrine is there; [I’m] very happy there’s no more to go.”

Vicente, a young Chilean, was thankful for the “very great” affection they experienced during this time together. “Thanking the Blessed Mother for what this crusade has been like and to meet Jesus, with this tremendous energy and love for God that we have,” he commented.

Matías Estigarribia from Paraguay shared: “Excited, happy to arrive after much suffering, wanting to arrive and give to the Blessed Mother all the sacrifice and dedication that we made during these days.”

When they reached the doors of the shrine, the “crusaders” sang and waved the flags of their countries.

History of the Crusade for Mary

The pilgrimage has its origin in an international meeting of the Boys’ Youth of the Schoenstatt Movement, which was held in 1999 in Bellavista, Chile.

As an activity prior to the gathering, there was a pilgrimage on foot that started from the shrine in Mendoza and crossed the Andes mountain range through Christ the Redeemer pass.

The purpose was to symbolize the magnitude of the event that they were about to celebrate, with the particular stamp of the Boys’ Youth, and covering the route that the troops of Generals José de San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins made in their struggle for the independence of their nations from colonial Spain.

The future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, visited the Schoenstatt Movement’s Bellavista Shrine in 1988.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope at Mass in South Sudan: In the name of Jesus, lay down the weapons of hatred

Pope Francis greets a young boy a Mass in Juba, South Sudan on Feb. 5, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Feb 5, 2023 / 05:00 am (CNA).

At a Mass in South Sudan on Sunday, Pope Francis urged Christians in the war-torn African country to make “a decisive contribution to changing history” by refusing to repay evil with evil.

“In the name of Jesus and of his Beatitudes, let us lay down the weapons of hatred and revenge, in order to take up those of prayer and charity,” Pope Francis said in his homily in Juba on Feb. 5.

“I gather here with you in the name of Jesus Christ, the God of love, the God who achieved peace through his cross. … Jesus, crucified in the lives of so many of you, in so many people in this country; Jesus, the risen Lord, the victor over evil and death,” he said.

Pope Francis presides over a Mass in Juba, South Sudan, on Feb. 5, 2023. Vatican Media
Pope Francis presides over a Mass in Juba, South Sudan, on Feb. 5, 2023. Vatican Media

More than 100,000 people attended the papal Mass in Juba held on the grounds of a mausoleum commemorating John Garang, a liberation leader known as the “father of South Sudan,” though he died in a helicopter crash before the newest African country gained its independence in 2011 and plunged into a brutal civil war two years later.

South Sudan’s civil war resulted in the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people. And while the country reached a formal peace agreement nearly three years ago, violent conflicts continue in parts of the country.

People attending Pope Francis' Mass in Juba on Feb. 5, 2023. Elias Turk/EWTN
People attending Pope Francis' Mass in Juba on Feb. 5, 2023. Elias Turk/EWTN

Pope Francis underlined that South Sudan’s Christians are called to be “light that shines in the darkness” by living out the Beatitudes.

“This country, so beautiful yet ravaged by violence, needs the light that each one of you has, or better, the light that each one of you is,” he said.

During the Mass, dancers wearing bright yellow sashes adorned with a large photo of Pope Francis and photos of other clergy danced in the field below the altar. Elias Turk/EWTN
During the Mass, dancers wearing bright yellow sashes adorned with a large photo of Pope Francis and photos of other clergy danced in the field below the altar. Elias Turk/EWTN

During the Mass, dancers wearing bright yellow sashes adorned with a large photo of Pope Francis and photos of other clergy danced in the field below the altar as a 300-person choir sang hymns and waved their hands.

The first and second Scripture readings were read by religious sisters who care for orphans in Rejaf, South Sudan.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit attended the Mass sitting with South Sudan’s five vice presidents, 10 state governors, and other key political leaders.

In his homily, Pope Francis said that Christians are called to be “people capable of building good human relationships as a way of curbing the corruption of evil, the disease of division, the filth of fraudulent business dealings and the plague of injustice.”

He explained that the Beatitudes “revolutionize the standards of this world and our usual way of thinking” by telling us that “we must not aim to be strong, rich, and powerful but humble, meek, and merciful; to do no evil to anyone, but to be peacemakers for everyone.”

More than 100,000 people attended the papal Mass in Juba, according to local authorities. Elias Turk/EWTN
More than 100,000 people attended the papal Mass in Juba, according to local authorities. Elias Turk/EWTN

Several African cardinals concelebrated the Mass, including Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew, archbishop of Addis Abeba; Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, archbishop of Kinshasa; and Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, archbishop emeritus of Khartoum, Sudan.

Pope Francis spent a moment in prayer before a large statue of Our Lady of Africa located beside the altar at the end of the Mass.

Pope Francis spent a moment in prayer before a statue of Our Lady of Africa. Vatican Media
Pope Francis spent a moment in prayer before a statue of Our Lady of Africa. Vatican Media

In his Angelus message, he entrusted South Sudan’s peace process to Our Lady of Africa, reminding the crowd that the Virgin Mary is the Queen of Peace.

“We pray to her now, and we entrust to her the cause of peace in South Sudan and in the entire African continent, where so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith experience persecution and danger, where great numbers of people suffer from conflict, exploitation, and poverty,” he said.

Pope Francis also recalled the testimony of Sudan’s St. Josephine Bakhita, whom he called “a great woman who by God’s grace transformed into hope all the sufferings that she endured.”

“Hope is the word I would leave with each of you, as a gift to share, a seed to bear fruit,” he said.

People attending Pope Francis' Mass in Juba on Feb. 5, 2023. Elias Turk/EWTN
People attending Pope Francis' Mass in Juba on Feb. 5, 2023. Elias Turk/EWTN

The Mass concluded Pope Francis’ three-day trip to South Sudan. The pope will fly from Juba to Rome together with the archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the church in Scotland on a six-hour flight, where he will give an in-flight press conference to journalists.

The pope has called his Feb. 3-5 visit to Juba alongside Church of England Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Moderator Iain Greenshields a “pilgrimage of peace.”

Catholic Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba thanked Pope Francis for making the “bold decision to visit our country, which is suffering due to the consequences of the civil war.”

In the pope’s last words to the South Sudanese people before heading to the airport, Francis expressed how much he was touched by the long-awaited trip.

“Dear brothers and sisters, I return to Rome with you even closer to my heart,” he said. “Let me repeat: You are in my heart, you are in our hearts, you are in the hearts of Christians worldwide.”

“Never lose hope. And lose no opportunity to build peace. May hope and peace dwell among you. May hope and peace dwell in South Sudan!”