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Holy Spirit makes Christians gentle, not 'overbearing,' pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, Christians are called to develop the gentleness needed to proclaim the Gospel to all, Pope Francis said.

Just as the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, transformed their hearts and instilled in them a "serene courage" to share their experience of Jesus, the pope said that today's Catholics who received the gift of the Spirit in baptism and confirmation are called to develop a similar missionary impulse.

"From the 'upper room' of this basilica, like the apostles, we too are being sent forth to proclaim the Gospel to all," Pope Francis said in his homily for Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica May 19. "We are sent into the world not only geographically, but also beyond the frontiers of race and religion for a truly universal mission."
Yet, he said, Christians are called to evangelize through the "power and gentleness" of the Spirit, "not with arrogance and imposition."

People gather for Pentecost Mass with Pope Francis.
People gather for Pentecost Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 19, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

"Christians are not overbearing," he said; "their strength is another: the strength of the Spirit."

While Pope Francis presided over the Mass, Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was the main celebrant at the altar, which currently is surrounded by scaffolding due to restoration work on the canopy that stands over it.

Vested in red, the pope said that Christians must tirelessly share the Gospel as the apostles did, not "with calculation and cunning, but with the energy born of fidelity to the truth that the Spirit teaches us in our hearts and causes to grow within us." 

In that way, he continued, "we surrender to the Spirit, not to the forces of the world."

Pope Francis said that emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Christians should not be "intimidated by hardship, derision or opposition," but proclaim peace, solidarity, life and fidelity to those who act in discordance with the Gospel.

"At the same time, our proclamation seeks to be gentle (and) welcoming to everyone," he said. "Let us not forget this: everyone, everyone, everyone."

The pope then encouraged Christians to recall Jesus' parable of the great banquet, in which a king asks his servants to invite anyone they can find, "good and bad," to a dinner banquet.

"May the Spirit give us the strength to go forth and call to everyone with that gentleness," the pope prayed. And "that it gives us the gentleness to welcome all."

Pope Francis gives his blessing to visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis gives his blessing to visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square to pray the "Regina Coeli" at the Vatican May 19, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

After Mass, Pope Francis prayed the "Regina Coeli" with visitors wearing rain ponchos and holding umbrellas in a drizzly St. Peter's Square. 

"The Holy Spirit is that which creates harmony," the pope told visitors after the prayer. "He creates it from different, sometimes conflicting realities."

Pope Francis prayed that the Holy Spirit would increase the "communion and fraternity of Christians from different confessions" and that the Spirit would give the leaders of governments "the courage to make acts of dialogue that lead to putting an end to war." 

The pope lamented the many wars taking place in the world and prayed particularly for the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, which has been the site of a renewed Russian assault in recent days, as well as for Palestine and Israel. 

Pope Francis prayed "that the Holy Spirit may bring the leaders of nations and all of us to open the doors toward peace."

"Today, on the feast of Pentecost, let us pray to the Holy Spirit, love of the Father and the Son, that it may create harmony in hearts, harmony in families, harmony in society, harmony in the whole world," he said. 

Pope prays for peace on Pentecost

Pope prays for peace on Pentecost

Pope Francis prayed for peace in the world on the feast of Pentecost.

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Pope prays Holy Spirit may create harmony for world peace

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Pope on Pentecost: We are not alone, but helped and empowered by the Holy Spirit

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Pope at Mass in Verona: 'The Holy Spirit changes our lives’

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Pope Francis Appoints Cardinal Tagle as Special Envoy to the National Eucharistic Congress

WASHINGTON - As the Catholic Church in the United States prepares to celebrate its first National Eucharistic Congress in over half a century, Pope Francis will send His Eminence Luis Cardinal Tagle as his special envoy. His Eminence currently serves as Pro-Prefect of the Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Evangelization. Cardinal Tagle will celebrate the closing Mass of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress being held July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Commenting on the announcement, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the appointment by Pope Francis “a gift to the Eucharistic Congress.” Archbishop Broglio said Cardinal Tagle’s “deep passion for apostolic mission rooted in the Eucharist is sure to have an inspirational impact for everyone attending the Congress,” adding that the Cardinal knows the United States well, having earned a doctorate in theology at The Catholic University of America in 1991.

Looking to bring the Catholic Church together for a national celebration of the mystery of the Eucharist in the life of the Church, the bishops of the United States approved the National Eucharistic Congress as a milestone moment in the three-year National Eucharistic Revival with the vision that it would flow into the final year of the Revival, the Year of Missionary Sending. “The Congress will give public witness to the Church’s core identity rooted in the Eucharist, and we pray that it will inspire a renewed sense of mission as we live out the gifts of unity and charity.  May it be the catalyst for a continued deepening of our faith in the Real Presence,” said Archbishop Broglio.

For more information on the Eucharistic Revival, Pilgrimage, and Congress, please visit https://www.eucharisticrevival.org.


Don't let discord lead to death, pope says in city of Romeo and Juliet

VERONA, Italy (CNS) -- Adults in the world's richest nations deserve "the Pontius Pilate Nobel Prize because we have become experts at washing our hands" of the violence and injustices in the world, Pope Francis said.

Always insisting on having the last word, being concerned only for one's own well-being, investing in weapons manufacturing and thinking that war can solve problems all contribute to a lack of peace in the world, the pope said May 18 at the "Peace Arena" in Verona.

The Arena in Verona
People attending a meeting of popular movements and church groups committed to working for peace and justice, listen to Pope Francis in the Arena in Verona May 18, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

In the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater built in the year 30 and famous today as the setting for operas, some 12,500 people involved in popular movements and Catholic organizations committed to service, peace and justice met with the pope to pray for peace.

In the city that is the setting for Shakespeare's play, "Romeo and Juliet," organizers chose "Justice and Peace Will Kiss" from Psalm 85 as the theme for the pope's visit.

Maoz Inon, an Israeli whose parents were killed Oct. 7 by Hamas militants, and Aziz Sarah, a Palestinian whose brother was killed by Israeli soldiers, were given a standing ovation by the crowd when they spoke arm-in-arm from the same podium.

After they shared their story, they went up to Pope Francis, and the three enclosed each other in a strong embrace as the crowd continued to applaud.

Pope Francis at Verona peace meeting
Pope Francis waves to an estimated 12,500 people attending a meeting of popular movements and church groups committed to working for peace and justice at the Arena in Verona May 18, 2024. Comboni Father Alex Zanotelli, right, one of the event organizers, holds a peace flag. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

"Please, let's have a short moment of silence, because there isn't much to say after that," the pope said. "Just watch and, seeing the embrace of these two, everyone pray in their hearts to the Lord for peace and make a decision to do something to end wars."

Earlier, responding to questions about peacemaking, Pope Francis insisted that the secret is to start with the small things in life.

"Aggression multiplies," he said. "If someone insults you, you immediately want to double down."

"Once there was a funny scene: A person went to buy something and it was obvious he was not given the right price," the pope said. "He shouted all sorts of things. The store owner listened and then said, 'Sir, are you finished?'

"'Yes,' the customer said. 'Then go take a hike,' the owner said. He didn't use those words -- he used stronger words," the pope said, eliciting laughter. "But he sent him to take a walk. When things start getting heated, go take a walk. Calm down."

On a larger scale, the pope said, people in a society always will have different ideas about how things should go.

"A society without conflict is dead," he said. "A society where there is no dialogue about conflicts is a suicidal society. A society where conflicts are taken in hand and there is dialogue is a society with a future."

Pope Francis ended the morning at Verona's Montorio prison where he met with inmates -- women and men -- and stayed for lunch.

Pope Francis receives a flower from an inmate
An inmate at Verona's Montorio prison gives Pope Francis a flower grown in the prison garden during a meeting in the prison yard May 18, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The pope's staying for a formal program and for lunch did not go unnoticed. Leonardo, 22, welcomed the pope on behalf of all the inmates, telling him, "None of us will ever forget this day. We've noticed you are giving us more time than you did to any other appointment today."

Greeting the inmates and staff in a yard and giving a shout-out to inmates watching from the windows of their cells, Pope Francis told them, "For me, entering a prison is always an important moment, because prison is a place of great humanity -- humanity tried, sometimes fatigued by difficulties, guilt, judgments, misunderstandings and suffering, but at the same time filled with strength, a desire for forgiveness, a desire for redemption."

"In this humanity, here, in all of you, in all of us, is present today the face of Christ, the face of the God of mercy and forgiveness," the pope said.

Pope Francis at the Basilica of St. Zeno in Verona
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives at the Basilica of St. Zeno in Verona May 18, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Before going to the Arena and to the prison, Pope Francis and about 5,500 children and young people were welcomed to the Basilica of St. Zeno by "The Embrace," a 32-foot-tall statue of a smiling Christ with his arms extended wide. The sculpture is made of 300 metal cutouts of children, women and men. The statue, commissioned by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and made in Verona, was planned for the roof of a Catholic school in Jerusalem, and hopes are that one day it can be erected there.

The pope had a brief question-and-answer session with the young people, limiting the questions because, he told them, he did not want it to turn into "a torture session."

A boy asked how children can be peacemakers. The pope responded that they could start simply by not fighting with their siblings, classmates or parents and by sharing always, especially with people who have less than they do.

And, he told them, "do not be afraid to go against the tide if you want to do something good."

Pope Francis greets nuns in Verona
Pope Francis greets nuns who left their cloister to attend his meeting with priests and religious in the Basilica of St. Zeno in Verona May 18, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Beginning the day with priests and members of religious orders inside the basilica, Pope Francis urged them to never forget that "at the origin of every Christian life, there is the experience of an encounter with the Lord, which does not depend on our merits or commitment, but on the love of the one who comes to seek us, knocking on the door of our hearts and inviting us into a relationship with him."

"We are not better than others. It is pure grace," the pope told them. "He is the one who chose us" and not the other way around.

At the end of the meeting, Verona Bishop Domenico Pompili gave Pope Francis a copy of the baptismal certificate of Father Romano Guardini, a priest, philosopher and theologian, who was born in Verona in 1885, but studied, was ordained and worked in Germany, where he died in 1968. Pope Francis studied the priest's theology and often quotes his work.


Pope Francis works for peace in Verona

Pope Francis works for peace in Verona

On a day-trip to Verona, which included a busy schedule of visits with priests, religious communities, young people, and prisoners, Pope Francis also met with some 12,500 people involved in popular movements and Catholic organizations committed to...