05/22/2022, 16.43
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Regina Caeli: Pope expresses closeness to Chinese Catholics and their 'complex' situations

After the Marian prayer, the pontiff spoke about the Day of Prayer instituted by Benedict XVI and celebrated on 24 May. He urged the faithful to pray “for freedom and tranquility" a few days after the arrest of Card Joseph Zen. Peace was the main theme in today's Gospel, a gift from God “in the form of the Holy Spirit”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – After the Regina Caeli Pope Francis spoke about Chinese Catholics who, next Tuesday, 24 May, will celebrate the 14th Day of Prayer established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 on the feast day of Mary Help of Christians.

In his address, the pontiff stressed his “spiritual closeness” to Chinese Catholics, whose complex life and situations,” he is “attentively and actively following”. For this reason, he urged the faithful to pray for their “freedom and tranquility”.

The pope did not directly mention the latest news that saw to the arrest of Hong Kong’s Card Joseph Zen (later released on bail) for allegedly breaking China’s controversial national security law.

Francis did however refer to the Marian feast and the shrine of Sheshan, on the outskirts of Shanghai, saying that he hoped the Chinese community “might live in effective communion with the universal Church” and “thus offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society as well.”

At the end of the Marian prayer, recited from the study of the Apostolic Palace, Francis greeted the people who took part in a rally centred on Scegliamo la vita (Let’s Choose Life), which brought together more than a hundred pro-life associations to defend “conscientious objection”.

Such values are fundamental in today’s society, which far too often considers life “a good at our complete disposal, that we can choose to manipulate” [. . .] as if it were the exclusive consequence of individual choice” rather than “a gift from God”.

The pope mentioned the week dedicated to Laudato Sì, that it may be an opportunity to take care of "our common home”, as well as Pauline Marie Jaricot, foundress of the Society of Propagation of the Faith, described as an "example of mission" in prayer and charity.

Earlier, at the start of the Regina Caeli, the pontiff praised peace, central to today's Gospel and an element of major relevance in a world crushed by conflicts, from Ukraine to Yemen.

As noted in John's Gospel, greeting the disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus delivered what is tantamount to his last will: “Peace I leave with you”, immediately adding, “My peace I give to you”

Christ, the pope explains, “bids farewell with words expressing affection and serenity. But he does so in a moment that is anything but serene. Judas has left to betray him, Peter is about to deny him, and almost everyone else to abandon him.” Instead, the Lord uses mercy; “he does not use severe words” and “remains kind till the end.”

Indeed, “the last hours of Jesus’ life are like the essence of his entire life. He feels fear and pain, but does not give way to resentment or protesting. He does not allow himself to become bitter, he does not vent, he is not impatient. He is at peace”. This “comes from his meek heart” because “No one can give peace unless that person is at peace.”

Jesus shows that “meekness is possible” even “in the most difficult moment”. He calls on “us to behave that way too [. . .]. He wants us to be meek, open, available to listen, capable of defusing tensions and weaving harmony. This is witnessing to Jesus and is worth more than a thousand words and many sermons.” When tensions and conflicts arise, not-violence and “peaceful actions” are the answer.

Pope Francis warns that “this meekness is not easy” but “Jesus’ second phrase comes to our aid here: My peace I give you” as a help and gift for a fragile humanity. Peace, in fact, is "first of all a gift of God” and takes the form of the Holy Spirit who is "the same Spirit of Jesus", the pontiff noted.

“It is He, the Holy Spirit, who disarms the heart and fills it with serenity [. . .], who reminds us that there are brothers and sisters beside us, not obstacles or adversaries. It is He, the Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to forgive, to begin again, to set out”.

On the day the Church remembers and celebrates Saint Rita of Cascia, patron saint of lost and impossible causes, the pope also said: “no sin, no failure, no grudge should discourage us from insistently asking for this gift from the Holy Spirit who gives us peace. The more we feel our hearts are agitated, the more we sense we are nervous, impatient, angry inside, the more we need to ask the Lord for the Spirit of peace.”

Inviting the faithful to pray to Our Lady to help them be peacemakers, the pope urged them to “say every day: ‘Lord, give me your peace, give me your Holy Spirit’. [. . .] And let us also ask this for those who live next to us, for those we meet each day, and for the leaders of nations.

“May Our Lady help us welcome the Holy Spirit so we can be peacemakers.”

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