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The Beatitudes, Marriage, and Family

“Mercy me!” What are people getting at with this exclamation? Like many of the strange utterances of the English language, it speaks to a certain aspect of our human experience, namely, that we need mercy. Not everyone recognizes this truth, but its truth is for everyone. What “Mercy me!” really says is, “Goodness gracious, I need mercy, so have mercy on me, and soon!” (USCCB) Read more >>

June 20 is ordination day for Deacons Lange and Rozier

The Northern Cross

Deacons Timothy Lange and Blake Rozier will be ordained to the priesthood on Friday, June 20, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, a year to the day after they were ordained transitional deacons. Mass begins at 4 p.m.

The two transitional deacons are also hosting a Holy Hour at the Cathe- dral the evening before in preparation for the ordination. Prayers will be led at the hour by Bishop Paul Sirba, beginning at 5:30 p.m. June 19.

Deacon Rozier, the son of Mark and Mary Rozier, comes from Holy Spirit Church in Virginia, and Dea- con Lange, the son of Greg and Mary Lange, is from St. Andrew’s in Brain- erd. Both studied at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul.

Each newly ordained priest will hold a Mass of Thanksgiving the following day, June 21, at his home parish.

After his ordination, Father Lange’s Mass of Thanksgiving will be held at St. Andrew at 10:30 a.m. Father Rozier’s Mass of Thanksgiving will be held at Holy Spirit at noon.

There is no transitional deacon ordination this year.

Pope Francis praises ‘nobility’ of work

Catholic News Agency/EWTN News—Work is “both a gift and a duty,” Pope Francis told a United Nations labor agency in a message calling for an end to human trafficking and for greater concern for migrants and the unemployed, especially the young.

“At the dawn of creation, God made man the steward of his handiwork and charged him to cultivate and protect it,” the pope said May 28 to the International Labor Conference. “Human labor is part of that creation and continues God’s creative work.”

Labor is “not a mere commodity” but has “its own inherent dignity and worth.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims
Elise Harris/CNA
Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square before the Wednesday general audience Oct. 30, 2013.

The International Labor Conference is hosting its 103rd session from May 28 to June 12 in Geneva. The conference is sponsored by the International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency that aims to promote internationally recognized labor rights, employment opportunities, social protections and dialogue on work-related issues.

Pope Francis said that Catholic social teaching supports the organization’s initiatives that promote “the dignity of the human person and the nobility of human labor.”

Citing his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), the pope said that it is only “through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive work that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their life.”

The pontiff voiced the Holy See’s appreciation for the organization’s contributions to increasing cooperation between governments, employers and workers.

The pope noted the problem of unemployment, particularly among the young who can easily become “demoralized” and feel “alienated from society.”

“Unemployment is tragically expanding the frontiers of poverty,” he said.

Pope Francis also spoke of mass migration as a cause for concern, noting “the sheer numbers of men and women forced to work away from their homelands.”

“Despite their hopes for a better future, they frequently encounter mistrust and exclusion, to say nothing of experiencing tragedies and disasters,” he said.

Migrant workers can be victims of the “globalization of indifference” and risk the “horror” of human trafficking, forced labor and enslavement.

“This cannot continue! Human trafficking is a scourge, a crime against the whole of humanity,” the pope said. “It is time to join forces and work together to free its victims and to eradicate this crime that affects all of us, from individual families to the worldwide community.”

He called for a “concerted effort to encourage governments to facilitate the movement of immigrants for the benefit of all” to help eliminate trafficking.

The pope also called for more cooperation and an expansion of solidarity throughout society.

He spoke of the need for a renewed insistence on human dignity, a “more determined implementation” of global labor standards, better development, and a “re-evaluation” of the responsibilities of international corporations.

The pope’s message concluded with a prayer: “I invoke God’s blessing on all that you do to defend and advance the dignity of work for the common good of our human family.”

Guy Ryder, director general of the International Labor Organization, delivered his own opening remarks at the conference May 28. He warned of the danger of mistreatment and abuse of migrant workers as well as the problems of forced labor. He spoke of the need to aid transitions from an “informal” economy to a “formal” economy with explicit labor standards.

Pope Francis says Holy Land visit aided Christian unity

Catholic News Agency — Pope Francis on Wednesday said his pilgrimage to the Holy Land fed the desire for Christian unity and he encouraged Catholics to pray that God may help “heal the wounds” that divide the faithful.

“I give thanks to God. He led me to that blessed Land, that has seen the historical presence of Jesus and where events fundamental to Judaism, Christianity and Islam took place,” the pope said in St. Peter’s Square May 28.

Speaking to thousands of pilgrims gathered for his Wednesday general audience, he reflected on his meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

At the tomb where Jesus Christ’s body was laid to rest and resurrected, he said, “we all felt the bitterness and suffering of the divisions that continue to exist between Christ’s disciples, and this has really done great harm, harm to the heart.”

Pope Francis described his encounter with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople as “the culmination of the visit,” recounting their prayers at the Holy Sepulchre with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Nourhan, archbishops and bishops from various churches, and many lay faithful.

“We are still divided; in that place, where the proclamation of the Resurrection resounds, where Jesus gives us life, we are still divided,” the pope said. “But above all, in that celebration so rich in mutual brotherhood, esteem and affection, we strongly heard the voice of the Risen Good Shepherd who wishes to bring together all His sheep in one flock; we felt the desire to heal the wounds that are still open and to follow with tenacity the path to full communion.”

“Once more, like my predecessors, I ask forgiveness for what we have done to promote that division, and I pray that the Holy Spirit may help us to heal the wounds we have inflicted on other brethren,” he said.

“We are all brothers in Christ, and with the Patriarch Bartholomew we are friends, brothers; we have shared the desire to walk together, to do what we are able to do today: to pray together, to work together for God’s flock, to seek peace and protect creation, the many things that we have in common.”

The pope explained to attendees at his general audience that the pilgrimage commemorated the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.

“This prophetic gesture on the part of the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople constituted a milestone in the arduous but promising path towards unity among all Christians, which has taken important steps since then,” he said.

Pope Francis also spoke about efforts to encourage peace in the region. He said peace is “both a gift from God and a commitment for humankind.”

He voiced “great compassion” for natives of the Holy Land, saying they have lived in war conditions “for too long.” He said he had encouraged Christians to make gestures of humility, fraternity and reconciliation.

“The [Holy] Spirit enables us to assume these attitudes in our daily life, with people of different cultures and religions, and to thereby become peacemakers,” the pope said. “Peace is crafted day to day, and with an open heart to allow God’s gift to enter.”

He praised Jordan’s effort to welcome war refugees and he voiced his encouragement for peace in Syria and a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Pope Francis expressed the church’s gratitude for Christians in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East, whom he called “courageous witnesses of hope and charity, ‘salt and light’ in the land.”

While he had hoped to be “the bearer of a word of hope,” he said he received hope from those who are refugees or suffer derision or discrimination because of their Christian faith.

“Let us stay close to them! Let us pray for them, and for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East,” he said, calling for prayers for full Christian unity “so that the world may believe in God’s love that in Jesus Christ came to live among us.”

Christian woman in shackles after ‘apostasy’ death sentence

Catholic News Agency — Protest is mounting in the case of a pregnant Christian woman who faces a death sentence in Sudan for not renouncing her faith, as her husband recently found her shackled to the wall of her cell.

Meriam Ibrahim (R) is pictured in this undated image with her husband Daniel Wani.

Via Catholic News Agency

Meriam Ibrahim (R) is pictured in this undated
image with her husband Daniel Wani.

U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., wrote a May 16 letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking that he give “full attention to the outrageous Sudanese court ruling that sentenced Meriam Yaha Ibrahim Ishag to death by hanging for her religious beliefs.”

They urged “full diplomatic engagement” to secure the release of her and her son and to offer her political asylum.

Daniel Wani, a Christian and U.S. citizen, was not able to visit his wife Meriam until this week, according to Tina Ramirez, executive director of the U.S.-based religious freedom group Hardwired.

“Once he was able to, she was shackled and her legs were swollen,” Ramirez told Fox News.

Ibrahim, 26, is eight months pregnant. She is imprisoned with her 18-month-old son in a Sudanese jail after a May 15 court ruling convicted her of apostasy from Islam and adultery.

She is recognized as Muslim under Sudanese law because her father was Muslim. However, she was raised as a Christian by her Ethiopian Orthodox mother after her father abandoned the family. She was convicted of adultery because the law does not recognize marriages between Muslim women and Christian men.

Ibrahim rejected the charges and refused to renounce her faith, telling the court, “I am a Christian, and I never committed apostasy.”

According to reports, members of her father’s family reported her to authorities, claiming she had changed her name. They submitted documents they said proved she had been Muslim from birth.

Ibrahim’s attorneys, who are appealing the sentence, said the documents are forgeries.

Wani cannot have custody of his son because the boy is considered a Muslim and is not allowed to be in the custody of a Christian man.

The married couple has several businesses, including a farm, south of Khartoum. Wani has returned to Sudan from New Hampshire, where his brother Gabriel Wani also lives.

“I’m just praying for God. He can do a miracle,” Gabriel Wani told the New Hampshire news station WMUR. “Everyone is depressed. You don’t believe it. It’s shock.”

Ibrahim’s death sentence will not be carried out until she gives birth and finishes nursing her baby.

Her conviction has caused international outcry.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson on May 15 said the State Department is “deeply disturbed” by the death sentence. It urged the Sudanese government to “respect the right to religious freedom.”

“We call on the Sudanese legal authorities to approach this case with the compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” the spokesperson said.

Numerous lawmakers and human rights advocates have called for greater action by the U.S. government and international bodies.

U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a co-chair of the U.S. Congress’ International Religious Freedom Caucus, called on the State Department to express to the Sudanese government that such a human rights violation “will be taken extremely seriously” and that Sudan must follow its obligations under international treaties.

“Such blatant disregard for the value of human life — and religious freedom — is an indescribable disgrace,” he said May 15.

Senators Ayotte and Blunt asked Kerry and President Obama to reappoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, saying this position’s primary purpose is to “monitor, prevent, and respond to this exact type of incident.” The ambassador position has been vacant since October 2013, when the previous ambassador stepped down.

A petition from the American Center for Law and Justice’s Be Heard Project calling for Ibrahim’s release has gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a body that advises the U.S. government, strongly condemned the death sentence and called for Ibrahim’s immediate release.

“This case and the sentencing are a travesty for religious freedom and human rights in Sudan,” commission chairman Robert P. George said May 16.

“International attention to this case is critical to holding the Sudanese government accountable for its constitutional provisions and international commitments to protect and respect freedom of religion or belief not only for Mrs. Ibrahim, but all Sudanese, regardless of faith,” he stressed.

Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has agreed with the commission’s recommended designation of Sudan as a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom issues.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, condemned the “draconian” sentence against the woman. He asked President Obama to appeal for Ibrahim’s release and offer her “safe haven.”

“The clock is ticking,” he said.

Vatican official sees ‘warming-up’ of Catholic-Orthodox relations

By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency

A member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity affirmed the sentiments of many who believe that Catholic-Orthodox relations have improved in recent years, especially under Pope Francis

Father Gabriel Quicke

Andreas Dueren / Catholic News Agency
Father Gabriel Quicke speaks with CNA on May 16.

.

“When I look to what I hear about Pope Francis, and I remember when he was elected he spoke to the immense group of the faithful at St. Peter’s Square, I remember that he referred to the introduction of the letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the Christians of Rome,” Father Gabriel Quicke told CNA May 16.

“In his introduction in the letter to the Christians of Rome he speaks about the Church of Rome that is presiding in charity over the whole world of Christians, and Pope Francis used that expression,” he recalled: “The Church of Rome is presiding in charity over all the churches.”

“It was really a very important expression, and most appreciated by the Orthodox churches. This is a warming up for all of us.”

A former missionary in Lebanon, Father Quicke is a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity who works specifically with the Oriental Churches.

Out of the four separate dialogues the Oriental section maintains, the priest is in charge of three, which includes the whole of the Oriental Orthodox churches, the two Malankara churches (also known as the Indian or Syrian Orthodox), and the Asian church of the east.

What they are seeking to do through these ongoing dialogues, Father Quicke said, is to “put very important steps forward” in order to strengthen their bonds of unity with the Catholic Church.

He said there is only “one obstacle” preventing the full union of the Catholic Church with the orthodox churches, “the role of the pope, the Petrine ministry.”

“We realized that we have so many things in common; we are proclaiming the same faith, we have the same sacraments, we have the same ecclesial structure, and we realized that we have the same spiritual roots. Most of the churches also have an apostolic tradition,” he said.

Noting how great “fraternal dialogue” is already happening within the Orthodox churches of Constantinople and those of the Slavic tradition, Father Quicke admitted that “it is not easy” and that “we need a lot of patience and we try to establish an atmosphere of fraternity, brotherhood.”

Speaking of the upcoming encounter between Pope Francis and various patriarchs during his visit to the Holy Land later this week, Father Quicke said that this meeting is especially significant firstly because “it is a commemoration of that unbelievable meeting, that fraternal encounter between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras 50 years ago.”

Referring to it as “a milestone in the relationships of both churches,” the priest observed that “after a thousand years of excommunication that was a radical change.”

“And the fact that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartolomeo of Constantinople will meet again 50 years after that historic meeting has a very important significance.”

“The fact that they meet each other in such an important place where Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples and where they would pray together,” he said, “is a sign that we have become closer to one another and that we both are engaged in putting further steps for unity.”

One of the things they are seeking to discuss during the trip is “looking together for a common date for Easter,” Father Quicke said, noting that “the fact that we don’t have the same date for the celebration of Easter is something painful.”

Regarding the future of the Catholic-Orthodox relationships, the priest said, “we can learn from them and they can learn from us,” but “with our human efforts we also have to pray for unity because Christian unity is not only the result of human efforts.”

“Ecumenical dialogue is not only discussing high theological issues. It is firstly to enter together into the prayer of Jesus that all may be one.”

Alan Holdren contributed to this piece.

Pope: I cried over reports of crucified Christians

Catholic News Agency

In his daily homily on May 2, Pope Francis said that he wept over recent news of Christians allegedly being crucified, reflecting that there are still many martyrs in today’s world.

“I cried when I saw reports on the news of Christians crucified in a certain country, that is not Christian,” the pope said, according to Vatican Radio, during morning Mass in the chapel of his residence.

In recent weeks, media groups have circulated images that appear to be individuals bound to wooden crosses, allegedly in Syria. The identity and religious faith of the persons pictured have not been confirmed, nor has it been confirmed whether they were actually killed from crucifixion. Some appear to have been shot in the head and then attached to a cross.

In his homily, Pope Francis first commented on Christ’s love for people. This is seen in the Gospel passage of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, he said, where Jesus “speaks, preaches, loves, accompanies, travels on the path with people, meek and humble.”

Jesus is aware of the needs of the people, and he serves them, the pontiff said. The authority with which he speaks is “the power of love.”

The pope contrasted this with the jealousy of the religious authorities in Christ’s time, caught up in “cold, hard legality.”

“They couldn’t stand the fact that people followed Jesus! They couldn’t stand it!” he said. “They were jealous.”

“This is a really bad attitude to have,” he said, pointing out that the father of envy is the devil, and it was through his envy and jealousy that evil entered the world.

In fact, the pontiff said, the religious authorities “knew who Jesus was,” and they were the same people who later “paid the guard to say that the disciples had stolen Christ’s body!”

“They had paid to silence the truth. People can be really evil sometimes!” Pope Francis said, suggesting that this evilness is why the people would not follow them.

Such evil does not accept Christ’s meekness and love, he said. Rather, it turns to hate.

Turning to the daily reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the pope noted that the religious leaders were asked by a “wise man,” Gamaliel, to free the arrested apostles.

Instead, however, “with their political maneuvering, with their ecclesiastical maneuvers to continue to dominate the people ... they called the apostles and had them flogged and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they freed them.”

This injustice is still the case today, he said: “there are these people who kill and persecute, in the name of God.”

However, we can draw encouragement from the “joy of witness” illustrated by the Christian martyrs, Pope Francis said, noting that “today there are still so many” martyrs in the world.

“Just think that in some countries, you can go to jail for just carrying a Gospel,” he said. “You may not wear a crucifix or you will be fined.”

“But the heart rejoices,” he aid, reflecting on “the joy of so many of our brothers and sisters who have felt this joy in history, this joy that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Christ’s name.”

Obituary: Father Thomas M. Radaich, 70

Father Thomas M. Radaich, age 70, died Monday, April 21, at Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth. Father Tom was born April 4, 1944, in Duluth to Paul and Loretta (Hazelcamp) Radaich. He attended college at St. John’s University in Collegeville and Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis.; studied philosophy at Mount St. Paul College in Waukesha, Wis. and theology at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Paul Anderson at St. Cecilia Church in Nashwauk on June 5, 1970.

In his many years of faithful service Father Tom served at St. Joseph, Chisholm; the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, Duluth; St. Alice, Pequot Lakes; St. Christopher, Nisswa; Our Lady of Lourdes, Pine River; St. Leo, Hibbing; Our Lady of Snows, Bigfork; St. Augustine, Cohasset; St. Joseph, Grand Rapids and St. Michael, Duluth.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Joseph. Father Tom is survived by his niece Beth Mercado, his nephew Paul Radaich and many cousins and friends.

Mass of Christian Burial was April 25 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 4901 E. Superior St., Duluth. Burial is at Itasca Cemetery in Grand Rapids. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred and may be directed to CHUM (Churches United In Ministry) or United Catholic Appeal.

Pope Francis, with retired pope, canonizes Sts. John and John Paul

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

Canonizing two recent popes in the presence of his immediate predecessor, Pope Francis praised the new Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II as men of courage and mercy, who responded to challenges of their time by modernizing the Catholic Church in fidelity to its ancient traditions.

“They were priests, bishops and popes of the 20th century,” the pope said April 27, in his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful.”

“John XXIII and John Paul cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the church in keeping with her original features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries,” he said.

Speaking before a crowd of half a million that included retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis praised St. John for his best-known accomplishment, calling the Second Vatican Council, which he said “showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit.”

“He let himself be led, and he was for the church a pastor, a servant-leader,” the pope said of St. John. “This was his great service to the church. I like to think of him as the pope of openness to the Spirit.”

Pope Francis characterized St. John Paul as the “pope of the family,” a title he said the late pope himself had hoped to be remembered by. Pope Francis said he was sure St. John Paul was guiding the church on its path to two upcoming synods of bishops on the family, to be held at the Vatican this October and in October 2015.

The pope invoked the help of the two new papal saints for the synods’ success, and he prayed, “May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.”

Pope Francis has said the agenda for the family synods will include church teaching and practice on marriage, areas he has said exemplify a particular need for mercy in the church today.

The pope repeatedly mentioned mercy in his homily, which he delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday, an observance St. John Paul put on the church’s universal calendar in 2000. The Polish pope died on the vigil of the feast in 2005 and was beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011.

In addition to Pope Benedict, making only his third public appearance since he resigned in February 2013, Pope Francis’ concelebrants included some 150 cardinals and 700 bishops.

Pope Benedict did not join the procession of bishops at the start of Mass, but arrived half an hour earlier, wearing white vestments and a bishop’s miter and walking with a cane; he sat in a section of the square designated for cardinals. Pope Francis greeted his predecessor with an embrace at the start of the Mass, drawing applause from the crowd, and approached him again at the end.

During the canonization ceremony, which took place at the beginning of the Mass, devotees carried up relics of the new saints in matching silver reliquaries, which Pope Francis kissed before they were placed on a small table for veneration by the congregation.

St. John’s relic was a piece of the late pope’s skin, removed when his body was transferred to its present tomb in the main sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Floribeth Mora Diaz, a Costa Rican woman whose recovery from a brain aneurysm was recognized by the church as a miracle attributable to the intercession of St. John Paul, brought up a silver reliquary containing some of the saint’s blood, taken from him for medical testing shortly before his death in 2005.

The Mass took place under cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 60s, and only a sprinkle of rain fell just before the 10 a.m. start of the liturgy. Huge tapestries bearing portraits of the two saints hung from the facade of the basilica, and the square was decorated with 30,000 roses and other flowers donated by the nation of Ecuador.

The square and the broad Via della Conciliazione leading up to it were tightly packed with approximately half a million pilgrims, many of whom had been standing for hours before the start of Mass. Among the many national flags on display, the majority were from Poland, the native land of St. John Paul.

The Vatican estimated that 800,000 attended the ceremony in Rome, with overflow crowds watching on giant-screen TVs set up at various locations around the city. The 2011 beatification of Pope John Paul drew more than 1 million people, according to Italian police estimates at the time.

The Vatican said 93 countries sent official delegations to the Mass, and more than 30 of the delegations were led by a president or prime minister. The king and queen of Spain and the king and queen of Belgium were in attendance.

Pope Francis spent half an hour personally greeting the delegations following the Mass. He then rode in his popemobile through the square and adjacent avenue, drawing cheers and applause from the crowds, for about 20 minutes until disappearing at the end of the street.

The canonizations of both popes came after extraordinary measures by their successors to expedite the process. Pope Benedict waived the usual five-year waiting period before the start of a sainthood cause for Pope John Paul shortly after his death, when he was mourned by crowds shouting “Santo subito!” (”A saint at once!”). In the case of St. John, Pope Francis waived the usual requirement of a second miracle before a blessed can added to the church’s canon of saints.

Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

Pope Francis: Kiss the Crucifix

By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency

Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) — In his general audience address, Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of suffering and evil, explaining that it is a mystery which finds its answer in the passion and death of Jesus, who endured it for each of us.

Lauren Cater / Catholic News Agency
Pope Francis took part in a penitential service at St. Peter's Basilica, March 28, 2014.

“This week, it will do good for us all to look to the crucifix, kissing the wounds of Jesus, kissing the crucifix. He has taken upon himself the whole of human suffering,” the pope said in his April 16 Wednesday general audience.

Speaking to the thousands gathered for his weekly address, the pontiff began by drawing attention to the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts the betrayal of Judas, noting that this event marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion.

With his death on the Cross “Jesus reaches complete humiliation,” the pope observed, highlighting how “it involved the worst death; that which was reserved for slaves and criminals,” and that although “Jesus was considered a prophet,” he “died as a criminal.”

“Looking at Jesus in his passion, we see as in a mirror also the suffering of all humanity and find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of suffering, of death,” he said.

Noting that “many times we experience horror in the face of the evil and suffering that surrounds us, and we ask: why does God permit it?” the Pope said that “it’s a deep wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent!”

This wound especially stings “when we see children suffering ... it’s a wound in the heart. It’s the mystery of evil,” he said, “and Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering, upon himself.”

Often times we believe that “God in his omnipotence will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory,” he said. However instead he shows us “a humble victory that seems like a human failure to us.”

“We can say: God wins precisely in failure. The Son of God, in fact, appears on the cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is scorned and finally dies.”

Drawing attention to how “Jesus permits that evil crosses the line with him, and takes it upon himself to conquer it,” the pope emphasized that “his Passion is not an accident; his death — that death — was ‘written.’”

Referring to “the mystery of the great humility of God,” Pope Francis observed that, “Really, we don’t have many explanations; it’s a puzzling mystery. ‘For God has so loved the world that he gave his only son.’”

“This week we think so much of the pain of Jesus,” he said, “and we tell ourselves: ‘This is for me. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He would have done it.’”

“’He did it for me.’ And we kiss the crucifix and say: ‘For me. Thank you, Jesus. For me.’”

“And when all seems lost, when there is no one left because they will strike ‘the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” he said, “it is then that God intervenes with the power of the resurrection.”