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Vatican City, Apr 27, 2015 / 03:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a previously unpublished 2012 lecture, Pope Francis explains the inner sense of the ‘theology of the people,' emphasizing that popular piety is the antithesis of widespread secularization.

The lecture has now been published for the first time, in the Italian edition of “An Introduction to the Theology of the People,” by Argentine theologian Ciro Enrique Bianchi, a pupil of Victor Manuel Fernandez – rector of the Catholic University of Argentina and one of Pope Francis' closest collaborators.

The book was conceived as a theological and spiritual profile of the Argentine thinker Rafael Tello, considered one of the founders of the 'theology of the people' which Pope Francis holds in high esteem.

The 'theology of the people' was popular in Argentina as an alternative to radical liberation theology. While radical liberation theologians looked to Marxist, immanentist interpretations of the Gospel, theology of the people was founded on common peoples' culture and devotion, including their spirituality and sense of justice.

While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote the foreword to the original, Spanish edition of Bianchi's book on 'theology of the people' and held a lecture at its official presentation. This lecture zeroed in on “the faith of our humble people,” and has been used as the foreword of the Italian edition; excerpts were published
April 27 in Avvenire, the Italian bishops' daily paper.

Cardinal Bergoglio wrote that Latin America was largely characterized by poverty and Christianity, and that this latter is expressed by various and colourful forms of popular piety such as processions, vigils, and public prayer.

“When we approach our people with the gaze of the good shepherd, when we do not come to judge but to love, we can find out that this cultural way to express the Christian faith is still present among us, especially in our poor,” he said.

Pope Francis explained that the notion was subjected to an evolution in the course of the years: at first, it was labeled “popular religion,” then Bl. Paul VI called it “popular piety,” and finally the 2007 Aparecida document called it “popular spirituality.”

Aparecida was the site of the fifth general conference of Latin American bishops, and its final document addresses the major issues facing the Church there, focused on missionary work.

According to Cardinal Bergoglio, “popular spirituality is the original way through which the Holy Spirit has led and continues to lead million of our brothers,” and this was clearly acknowledged in Aparecida.

The Pope recounted that “four days before the final vote on the draft, this latter had received 2,400 ‘modi’, or amendments, which had to be solved within those days”; but the chapter on popular spirituality “was subjected to only two or three observations, and they were all stylistic, secondary observations.”

“That chapter was proposed exactly the way it came out from the commission, which told all the bishops at the conference, 'this is a sign',” wrote Cardinal Bergoglio.

The then Archbishop of Buenos Aires also identified “popular piety as the disclosing of the memory of a people,” and emphasized the good example of José Gabriel Brochero, a popular Argentine priest who was beatified in September 2013.

Pope Francis recounted having been for two years a confessor at the Jesuit house in Cordoba, Argentina, “in the heart of downtown, beside the university,” where he heard the confessions of “university students, professors, and people from the suburbs who prefer to confess downtown since their parish priest has no time to hear confession on Sundays, since he celebrates one Mass after another.”

Among the penitents, Cardinal Bergoglio said he noticed that “there were people who confessed well: they only said what was needed, they never said something more than their sins, and they did not brag; they spoke with much humility.”

Once, Pope Francis asked one of these people where came from, and he said: “From Traslasierra,” the land where Fr. Brochero preached. So “there was the catechetic memory of Cura Brochero in a people, who expressed this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.”

Pope Francis added that “popular piety comes from the memory of the people,” and “as the Catholic Church has made a preferential option for the poor, this should lead us to know and appreciate their cultural way of living the Gospel.”

“It is good and necessary that theology cares for popular piety” since it is “the precious treasure of the  Catholic Church in Latin America, as Benedict XVI put it when he inaugurated the Aparecida Congress.”

In the end – Cardinal Bergoglio maintained – “when we approach the poor to accompany them, we understand that they live life in a transcendental sense, beyond the huge daily difficulties. In some ways, consumerism has not enclosed them.”

Their life “reaches out for something beyond this life. Life depends on Someone, and this life must be saved. This is what we found in depth of our people, even if (our people) are not able to express it.”

In the end, Pope Francis said, “the transcendent sense of life glimpsed in popular Christianity is the antithesis of the secularism that is spreading in modern societies.”

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2015 / 12:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis presided over the ordination of nearly twenty men to the priesthood on Sunday, where he warned them against being vain priests who live first for their own pleasure rather than for God’s.

“A priest is ugly who lives for his own pleasure,” Pope Francis said, adding that such a priest “acts like a peacock.”

Pope Francis presided over the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Apr. 26, during which he, as the bishop of Rome, ordained 19 men for the Roman diocese.

During the ordination Mass, the Pope delivered the standard homily based on the Italian edition of the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, but digressed from the text several times to offer advice to the men about to be ordained.

In these remarks, he said priests should nourish God’s people with their homilies, while making sure they are not bored.

Ensure “that your homilies are not boring; that your homilies reach the heart of the people, because they come from your hearts,” he said. “What you say to them is what you have in your heart.”

The Pope also warned against proclaiming God’s Word without giving a good example.

“Words without example are empty words,” he said. “They are ideas that do not reach the heart, and may even cause injury.”

Pope Francis gave the men further advice in executing their responsibilities as priests.

In presiding over Mass, he told them not to “rush” through the celebration. Rather: “Imitate that which you celebrate,” because “it is not an artificial rite.”

Speaking of their responsibilities as priests in distributing the Sacraments, the Pope said to “never refuse Baptism to whoever asks for it.”

With regard to the sacrament of Penance, he told the new priests the confessional is a place where they are called “to forgive, not to condemn.”

“Imitate the Father who never tires of forgiving,” he said.

After the Mass, Pope Francis delivered his Regina Caeli address from the Papal Palace overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, explaining that the newly ordained priests are called to have a pastoral life based upon the Good Shepherd.

Recalling how the Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” the Pope said this day is an occasion to reflect on Jesus’ gift of Self, through His passion, death, and resurrection.

The Good Shepherd, he said, “gives life, has offered his life in sacrifice for all of us.”

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2015 / 06:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is a well-known soccer fan. His favorite team is San Lorenzo de Almagro, one of the most important teams in Argentina, and the Pope still keeps his associate membership card for the team.

But what was unknown until now is that when he was a young boy the future Pope was a “patadura”--someone who is not very good at kicking the ball. He himself admitted this in a brief interview with the online sports news site TyC Sports of Argentina.

The interview didn’t last more than a minute. The reporter asked him several questions about his love of soccer, to which the Pope gladly responded.

“Did you play soccer?” the interviewer asked. The Pope replied: “Eh, I’m a ‘patadura,’ not so good at it.”

The interviewer asked him again, “But what did you play, defense or…”

“No, no, I was a patadura, not that good at it…nothing more,” the Pope said.

Not giving up, the interviewer said, “Did you play in the back?”

Pope Francis, smiling, explained: “yes, but I rather played basketball.”

Continuing on, the journalist asked, “And when you played soccer in the neighborhood, did you play in the backfield?”

To this the Pope responded affirmatively, adding “In the back.”

“And did you ever kick (your opponents)?” the reporter went on.

“I don’t remember,” Francis said, and then laughed.

The interview then reminisced about the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team of Pope Francis’ youth. Armando Farro, Rene Pontoni and Rinaldo Martino were three of its players now considered legendary in Argentina. They were nicknamed “the golden threesome” or “the golden trio” as well as “the three musketeers” because they are considered some of the best forwards in Argentine soccer ever to come from San Lorenzo.

Pope Francis recalled the names of past players: “Blanzina, Vanzini, Basso, Zubieta, Grecco and Colombo” as well as “Imbellone, Farro, Pontoni, Martino and Silva.”

“Did you go to see San Lorenzo play often?” the interviewer asked.

“In 1946, I went to all the games,” the Pope answered.

“All of 1946, both home and away matches?”

“No, no, no, only away games with Ferro (another soccer club), with that famous goal by Pontoni versus Ferro,” Francis explained.

On many occasions Pope Francis has demonstrated his affection for the San Lorenzo de Almagro soccer team. In Argentina, people still remember the Mass he celebrated for the 100th anniversary of the club in 2008, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

At that time, the future Pope presided at a Mass at the team’s facilities, where he used to come with his father when he was little.

This soccer team chose the colors blue and red from the blue and red mantle of the statue of the Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.

According to the sports newspaper Oléduring a 2011 homily, Cardinal Bergoglio said, “We don’t take on other colors, we ask the Virgin for hers. Never take away Mary, Help of Christians from the club because she is your mother.”

He noted that the San Lorenzo team’s first organizational meeting  began at the San Antonio Oratory “under the protection of the Virgin.”

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