The Catholic Voices Blog
"So many of our discussions of gay marriage and homosexuality and sexuality itself are so heated at a time when there is such a need for healing. We need to tell the truth about love and sex and marriage. We need to see all men and women as our brothers and sisters, always, and be loving as we communicate on this and every issue. We need to know what we believe and seek to live it. That’s how we’re going to begin to shed light, not heat, on these issues.”
That appears from me in an article in the Colorado Catholic Herald (Colorado Springs).
The point of the article was both to encourage Catholics as Colorado experiments with same-sex unions and to announce an upcoming event in Denver. Catholic Voices USA will be at the Catholic Media Conference there next month, working with folks from the Catholic Press Association and others in attendance. If you’re planning on attending – or want further details -- and want to sign up for the CVUSA workshop, details are here. (You can call the Catholic Press Association at (312) 380-6789 to discuss signing up just for the workshop or obtaining a day pass for another CVUSA general session the next day.)
The conference theme is "Riding Into New Frontiers." It's about being effective, compelling, inviting -- and to more than the choir. Going forth and actually telling the Good News with authenticity and joy -- relaying Christian hope, making it accessible where people have largely given up.
The morning homily from Pope Francis Thursday was about the call to witness -- "that all Catholics are called to witness to the truth in our daily lives with 'apostolic zeal.'" He pointed out that oftentimes the message will make people -- ourselves included -- "uncomfortable."
The homily was timely given the controversy in Boston this week. Cardinal Seán O’Malley’s refusal to attend Boston College's (my alma mater) commencement exercises has called to the forefront some of the “uncomfortable” teachings of the Catholic Church and has elicited an outcry of criticism. The cardinal will not attend because Boston College’s commencement speaker, Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland, is a proponent of a new abortion bill.
As is so often the case, Ireland’s “Protection of Life during Pregnancy” bill sounds innoucous, and purports to only apply to circumstances where "a woman's life is at risk," as Kenny explains it. But those circumstances include a woman who is deemed suicidal.
Kenny cannot expect cover from the cardinal here.
In an interview a few months ago, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York explained that “Sometimes by nature, the Church has got to be out of touch with concerns, because we’re always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless.” Our modern preoccupation with relativism -- that is, for every rule there must be an exception -- has led us to expect and to demand that everything (morality included) be subject to our own personal beliefs and opinions. But the exception to the rule inevitably becomes the rule.
The legalization of abortion is a textbook example of this phenomenon. When abortion was legalized 40 years ago, the legislation was intended to make abortion in the United States “safe, legal, and rare.” Today, 40 percent of pregnancies in New York City alone end in abortions. Abortion may be legal, but the Gosnell case sounded alarms about safety. And it certainly isn’t rare. Meanwhile, our abortion laws are arbitrary, with cut-off points and notification rights varying from state to state, and even tolerance for "after-birth abortion."
The Church teaches that life begins from the moment of conception, and that “the deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: It obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2261). We have an obligation to witness to this in our civic lives -- as a matter of politics, as a matter of each supporting Church and neighborhood supports for women who do find themselves in difficult circumstances, with little or no support. We have an obligation to insist that medicine respect the inherent dignity of each patient -- including when it is inconvenient to. For his part, Cardinal Dolan has re-extended an invitation of the late John Cardinal O'Connor: Any pregnant woman who needs help and support: Come to the Church.
That the Church is seemingly “out of touch” may put us against the cultural grain, but it only seems out of touch when we are focused on ourselves and on the here and now. If we look at the example of Christ -- who was certainly seen as “out of touch” by his contemporaries -- we begin to focus our lives on love, sacrifice, and the common good. If we wish to be a society that protects the young and safeguards the neediest among us, there must not be exceptions to the rule. We must ask for the grace that we need to speak the truth in love and to courageously defend all life, regardless of the circumstances. And when our leaders courageously stand up to defend the faith, we need to support them wholeheartedly. Even if it makes us countercultural -- and uncomfortable.
For his role shepherding us in building a culture of life, please join me in saying: Thank you, Cardinal O'Malley.
Jennifer Manning is a high-school teacher in Massachusetts.
“Our Lord is sad, because Our Lady told us not to offend Him anymore, for He is already very much offended; yet nobody takes any notice, and they continue to commit the same sins!”
The jury announced its verdict in the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and these words from Blessed Jacinto Marto, one of those Mary visited, are a timely and urgent reflection point for us.
Dr. Gosnell was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder of infants who were born alive after surviving a late-term abortion procedure as well as the involuntary manslaughter of a 41-year-od woman. He was also accused of breaking numerous laws in Pennsylvania involving limitations on abortion procedures after 24 weeks.
What is “choice”? What are we “choosing”? These are some of the fundamental questions we’re confronted with in this trial. What do we owe women and children in their weakest moments? How do we protect their lives and dignity?
The trial insists we acknowledge that geographic location does not rob or infuse a child with dignity. A baby in a late-term abortion is undeniably a baby. Even inside the womb. Even if its mother is scared or has been convinced by unsupportive friends or a culture all too often inhospitable to life that this is a good choice – even expected.
The verdict in the Gosnell trial isn’t a closing but an opening. We must work to provide convincing, attractive, and viable options for women so that they do not even feel the need to enter the door of an abortion clinic. Besides advocating for the overturning of legal abortion and the funding of abortion providers, we must be prepared to find funding, real resources, and persons to provide women with real sources, authentic health care, and the education and opportunities they need so that they do not feel that they need to choose between their future and the life of their unborn child.
My own backyard in the nation’s capitol has a network of organizations to do just this: The Tepeyac Center, a pro-life OB-GYN with state-of-the art care; the Northwest Pregnancy Center, where women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies get the resources they need to have their child, consider parenting or adoption, and finish their education; and St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families, which provides a residence for young parents and their children. Perhaps D.C. could become a model of a city that provides a tightly knit fabric of pro-life support for women.
Let’s focus not only on the square inches of the womb, but the square inches of our hearts and pray to have renewed courage and zeal in loving women and their children in creative and authentic ways.
Elise Italiano is a Catholic high-school teacher in Washington, D.C.
I’m delighted to share some news: Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made an announcement about a good friend: Kim Daniels, formerly my fellow director at Catholic Voices USA has been hired as a spokesperson for the president of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Dolan.
Kim is a gifted and natural communicator whose life is testimony to her love of Christ. Her vocational life as a wife, mother, and religious-liberties attorney are joyfully ordered to her love of God.
When I met Kim some years ago, our bond was immediately the Gospel. And it was a great gift to work with her extensively over this past year on establishing Catholic Voices USA -- helping Catholics ablaze with the Holy Spirit communicate more clearly and lovingly on some of the most too often contentious but fundamental issues of our day. She has been indispensible to Catholic Voices USA efforts to date and I am so grateful she made time in her family's busy lives for this effort -- which has been a source of constant inspiration for us, as we've met beautiful souls who want to share the love of God that is so great a gift in their lives, the treasure that they know the Catholic Church is.
There is so much good news in the Church today, of people surrendering to the Good News and laboring in the vineyard -- which includes the media! -- to remove obstacles to evangelization, to open doors.
I often reference the cover image of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series: It’s an open door to a church.
That’s what we are called to be: Door openers to the sacraments. That’s what Kim is. And I’m delighted she now has the opportunity to help the bishops’ conference do this in a more direct way.
And here at Catholic Voices USA, we look forward to working with our dear sister in the future. She happily and generously gathered with a few of us to work with two inspiring, dynamic young evangelists in introducing and practicing the Catholic Voices “new apologetics for the New Evangelization” approach just a few nights ago. (That's the picture, from my iPad, above.)
Here is the official announcement from the USCCB:
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes Kim Daniels on board as spokesperson for the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Daniels brings to the USCCB her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA, an organization of lay Catholics that works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square. She is also an attorney whose practice has focused on religious liberty matters. Daniels and her husband have six children and are active members of their parish in the Archdiocese of Washington. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School.
God bless all who work in the Church, for all Christians at work in the world, that we all may truly be Christians and that the world may see Christ in us, that they may encounter Him because of our daily own encounter with Him.
Please pray for the work of Catholic Voices USA and throughout the world and for our bishops and for Kim in her new job!
“He has chosen, insofar as possible, to live an apostolic poverty, i.e. to live in such a simple way that no human person, no matter how seemingly insignificant, would feel ill at ease in his presence.”
Here Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix cuts through to what it is that is so inviting about Pope Francis’s approach to the papacy.It’s Christ in him, visible and accessible.
And there is continuity here. Pope Benedict told leaders from the Americas in December: “The Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from an encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.”
Proclaim the name of the Lord, Benedict said. “There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God,” he continued.
And Francis shows us how it is done in such a simple and effective way.
To understand what moves him, consider what he said as he ordained priests on the Fourth Sunday of Easter:
Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.
Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.
Christ calls us with a merciful love.
“The most important gift you can give to our country is to lead with a courage, wisdom and character rooted in your Catholic faith,” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said. How do we do that? By that daily encounter with Christ.
The "risen Jesus calls us by name and wants to work in us as dramatic a transformation as he worked in the life of Mary Magdalene, turning whatever tears we have into joy, and sending us out anew as his apostles, announcing that he's going to his Father and our Father, his God and our God, and urging us to follow him all the way and invite others to join us on this narrow road that leads to the fullness of risen life.” Catholic Voices USA chaplain Fr. Roger J. Landry offers a reflective and practical Easter Tuesday homily rich in faith and evangelization.
Defenders of the Faith had plenty to discuss this week. No topic, however, warranted more attention than the Passion of Christ. As the Easter Triduum nears it's end, let us reflect on a quote from Mother Teresa:
"When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now."
Have a blessed Easter!
Pope Francis is headed to prison! That’s right, our new pope is going to Rome’s Casal de Marmo detention facility to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass and wash the feet of Italy’s most obvious sinners. In a notable display of humility, Pope Francis reminds us of Christ’s teaching that “whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me."
Holy Thursday Mass commemorates the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ, and stresses the importance of humble service. Symbolized at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, humble service is a theme Pope Francis clearly intends to emphasize during his papacy. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, he sees a deep connection between working with the outcasts of society and the healing ministry of Jesus.
Quite honestly, it is a connection we are called to see as well. Take time during this Easter season to heed our shepherd’s call to humble service. Find some way to serve others without seeking recognition. “Willingly submit yourself to God, and to others for God’s sake.” It’s an assured path to heaven, and one of the most effective means of evangelization.
Pope Francis spoke to the Vatican dipomatic corps today on "the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just." He went on to speak of another form of poverty:
It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the "tyranny of relativism", which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
Truth is essential to peace and to love: that is the message of our faith.
Every day brings something wonderful from Pope Francis. Yesterday he received leaders from the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Oriental Church, the Anglican Communion, and other Protestant churches; the Jewish and Muslim faiths were also represented. From his talk:
The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – this I wish to repeat this: the promotion of friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – this is attested evident also in the valuable work undertaken by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Church is equally aware of the responsibility that each of us bring towards our world, abd to the whole of creation, that we must love and protect. And we can do a lot for the good of the less fortunate, for those who are weak and suffering, to promote justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace. But above all, we must keep alive in our world the thirst for the absolute, and must not allow the vision of the human person with a single dimension to prevail, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and to what he consumes: this is one most dangerous threats of our times.
We know how much violence has been provoked in recent history by the attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity, and we feel the need to witness in our societies the original openness to transcendence that is inherent in the human heart. In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.
Keeping alive "the thirst for the absoulute"; not reducing people to producers or consumers; keeping close those who, "while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies...."
These are messages for our times that will draw people to Christ and his Church. I continue to be so hopeful and grateful for our Holy Father.
I had the chance to be in Rome during the conclave; to be in St. Peter's Square when Pope Francis walked out on that balcony was such a blessing!
We have links to some of the writing and other media that Kathryn and I did while there in our "In the News" section above, but I just wanted to highlight the most recent piece up at Huffington Post:
Pope Francis is someone who has lived out the Christian ideals of humility and service. In Argentina he was seen as an intellectual and a pastor who eschewed the trappings of his office, a man of great personal holiness and simplicity. Says Alejandro Bermudez, a leader in the Christian Life Movement, "Pope Francis is the man Argentineans know for leaving the Archbishop's mansion for a small apartment at a downtown parish in Buenos Aires, who travels by bus and subway, and who during the consistory of 2001, when he was created a Cardinal, requested that wealthy Argentineans renounce accompanying him and give the equivalent amount to the poor. Pope Francis has the mind of a Jesuit and the lifestyle of a Franciscan. I have no doubt that his simplicity and courage will take the Church to where it longs to be."
Hope you get the chance to read the whole thing. Viva il Papa!
As a product of military schooling, I am a firm believer in leading by example. Good leaders only ask their followers to do things they are willing to do, or have already done themselves. So it warms my heart the conclave was inspired to elect a Pope who subscribes to a similar leadership philosophy.
A straightforward and soft-spoken man, Pope Francis routinely lets action convey his intended message. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he chose to take the “el micro” (bus) to work instead of riding in a car reserved for the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. This humble gesture showed solidarity with a large segment of the Argentine population, and provided plenty of opportunity to evangelize in one of South America’s most secular cultures. The shepherd recognized the best way to guide his sheep was to be out in the “field” with them.
Showing solidarity with the less fortunate and spreading the message of Christ appear to be themes Pope Francis will carry into his papacy. In the last few days, he has spoken of having a “poor church, for the poor” and “finding new ways to bring evangelization to the ends of the earth.” At a time when the Vatican is criticized for being opulent and out of touch, mobilizing the Catholic Church around these themes may be the most poignant rebuttal.
Coincidently, taking care of the poor may prove the most effective means of evangelizing in the modern world. As economic instability forces governments to reduce contributions to social welfare programs, more people will come to rely on charitable organizations for help. Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “the deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today.” Our new pope seems intent on positioning Catholics to be the preachers of that sermon.
Now that we have a start date for the conclave, I thought I'd pass along this wonderful prayer from the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
Heavenly Father, holding to Christ's promise that His Church is built on the invincible Rock of Truth, we, Your children, beseech You:
Give us a Shepherd after your own heart - endowed with supernatural wisdom and courage, with unshakeable faith and deep humility, capable of sacrificial service. May he be zealous to defend Holy Mother Church, her sacred teaching, the integrity of her sacraments and her persecuted members throughout the world.
We invoke the Holy Spirit upon the coming conclave - to reveal with clarity and convincing force the man You have chosen to succeed Peter in these trying times.
And may the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians and Mother of the Church, inspire and uphold all the Cardinal Electors, thwart any interference of the evil one and protect the next Bishop of Rome from every effort to harm or disarm him. Amen.
Earlier today I chatted with Lauren Green at Fox about women and the Church. It was a predicated by this column I wrote recently about What Catholic Women Want, International Women’s Day, and the coming conclave.
I enjoyed chatting with Lauren and was delighted to talk more with the production staff in D.C. who were so interested in discussing the future of the Church. We talked about some of the young priests on fire with the love of Christ. We talked about their concerns about scandal as well as rigidity but also an openness to orthodoxy. It was, at root, a snapshot in Evangelical Catholicism, a concept I’ve loved talking with people about since I read George Weigel’s book by that name. I wish that conversation, too, could have been aired!
It’s a reminder that all of life is an evangelizing opportunity.
In the Albany Times Union I argue that New York's proposed Reproductive Health Act offers New Yorkers something they don't need -- more abortion:
Despite this consensus, the Reproductive Health Act, as introduced in the Legislature, would repeal the current law that requires only licensed doctors to perform abortions. By establishing abortion as a "fundamental right," it would prevent the enactment of laws requiring parents to be notified if their underage daughter seeks an abortion, or informed consent laws that ensure that women receive full information about this difficult and life-changing procedure.
....Of course, abortion is anything but rare in New York, which is among the states with the most abortions; in New York City itself, 41 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion.
Yet rather than reduce these numbers, the Reproductive Health Act as it stands now — the governor says his version will be different, but has yet to offer a revision — would increase them by codifying abortion on demand through nine months of pregnancy. A full 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose such an unlimited abortion license.
Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature should instead focus on providing women the support they need to know they have a real choice. But that's not the Governor's priority:
Instead of promoting measures to help pregnant women in need, the governor's proposed 2013-14 budget would decimate funding for the Maternity & Early Childhood Foundation , the only state-funded program that provides real alternatives to abortion for women — mostly single and low-income — who are facing unplanned pregnancies.
Kristin Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, has challenged this discrepancy, instead urging New York Democrats to replace the RHA with food and health care assistance for pregnant women, support for pregnant women in abusive relationships, and programs that encourage adoption.
The Reproductive Health Act offers women the isolating promise of abortion without limits. What women facing unplanned pregnancies really need is concrete support that gives them the confidence to bring their children into the world.
Today Reps. Black, Fortenberry, and Fleming introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which provides effective common-sense conscience protections to health-care providers. Such legislation is all the more important given that the administration still hasn't arrived at a workable solution for institutions and individuals with religious objections to its HHS mandate requiring employers to facilitate insurance coverage for contraception, certain abortifacients, and sterilizations even if doing so violates their deeply held religious beliefs.
The HCCRA exempts all who have religious objections to the HHS mandate, and provides a private right of action for health-care providers whose rights of conscience have been violated. It also protects individuals and groups from being forced to participate in abortions.
The HCCRA provides a workable solution to the religious-liberty conflict created by the administration with the HHS mandate. Here's hoping it gets bipartisan support. It's long past time for federal law to make clear what the Constitution requires: No one should be forced by the government to act against their religious beliefs.
Your leader is gone. Your religion is under attack. A cloud of uncertainty casts a shadow over the faithful.
No, I’m not talking about the situation the Catholic Church finds itself in today. I’m talking about the ten days between Christ's Ascension and Pentecost. It must have been terrifying for the Apostles. Jesus was gone, and the new way of knowing God had not yet come to them. Reluctant to reveal their identities as followers of Christ, they gathered together to pray and wait. Their mission of evangelization was stuck in neutral.
Now you may be asking yourself, does that really differ so much from the situation today? The papacy is vacant, the Church is being attacked in the media, and Catholics often seem reluctant to engage in the work of evangelization.
While similar, there is one distinct difference between now and then. We have the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge that with It the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. It's with confidence that we can step out into the world and spread the message of Christ. There's no need to wait for tongues of fire to come down, or for a new Pope to be elected in order to jumpstart the “new evangelization.”
Use the Pope’s resignation, and the media attention it has brought to the Catholic Church, as an opportunity to share our faith with others. Share positive examples of how Catholics live out their faith around the world. Describe the formal earthly structure of the Church, but let people know that regardless of how long it takes to elect a pope, the Holy Spirit will always be present to guide it.
We received the gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Sacrament of Confirmation, and know that the Lord will always be by our side. Use that knowledge as a source of strength, and go forth to proclaim Christ’s message. Following Pentecost, the disciples went out and had tremendous impact on the world. Now is the time for us to find our Catholic Voices, and do the same!
Catholic Voices own Caitlin Seery has a letter in the New York Times arguing that New York's propoosed Reproductive Health Act won't help women:
Why must The New York Times insist that the rights of women are contingent on increased access to abortion? We can help both mother and child.
Sadly, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed Reproductive Health Act won’t even help women. It leaves women with crisis pregnancies alone when they most need extra support, instead preventing common-sense protections like informed-consent laws, even short waiting periods, and parental notification rules for minors— protections that polls consistently suggest have widespread public support.
The legislation allows non-doctors to perform abortions and even allows sex-selective abortion and pregnancy reduction from triplets or twins to a single child. And who will the Reproductive Health Act hurt the most? Poor and minority communities, where abortion rates are already as high as 60 percent.
Read the whole thing here.
In case you missed it, here's Cardinal Dolan in the New York Times on what he's looking for in the next pope:
Some cardinals have a list of qualities they want in the next pope: an eager evangelist, master communicator, and deft administrator, with an ear for languages and a heart for the developing world.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan says he has a simpler, albeit perhaps even tougher, criterion: he wants the next pope to be like Jesus.
“I hope you believe me, and I hope you believe I’m not being dismissive: you always look for somebody that reminds you of Jesus,’’ he said Sunday, speaking to reporters after celebrating Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
As all the gossip and the handicapping and the rumors circulate, it's important to focus on this central need for someone who "just seems to radiate the love and the tenderness, the mercy, the truth of Jesus Christ.”
We've been blessed to have that in those who've recently sat in the seat of Peter. They've reminded us that the new evangelization hinges not on the next pope's administrative ability or language skills or geographic background (however important those may be); it hinges on how closely he imitates Jesus. People are drawn to Christ from an encounter with a person, and in today's media environment, one person they'll frequently encounter will be the pope. We confidently pray that he will model the love God has for each of us.
Via Rocco Palmo, the Pope's last Angelus focuses on the Transfiguration:
We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action....
Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to "climb the mountain", to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.
According to Palmo the Pope's last public words will be at the Wednesday general audience.