On first day, new pope urges courage 'to build the church with the blood of Christ'

Vatican City (CNN) -- Pope Francis on Thursday emphasized church advancement in his first Mass with the cardinals who elected him pontiff a day earlier.

With solemnity, he delivered a homily about moving the Catholic Church forward to the cardinal electors, who were dressed in light yellow robes. Altar servers burned incense in the Sistine Chapel, the setting for the Mass.

Speaking in Italian, Francis didn't use a script and kept the sermon short, calling on the cardinals to have courage.

"When we don't walk, we are stuck. When we don't build on the rock, what happens? It's what happens to children when they build a sand castle and it all then falls down," the new pontiff said.

"When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we confess without the cross, we are not disciples of Christ. We are mundane," he said. "We are all but disciples of our Lord.

"I would like for all of us, after these days of grace, that we find courage to walk in the presence of God ... and to build the church with the blood of Christ," the pope continued. "Only this way will the church move forward."

During the service, the cardinals prayed for the new pope and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI so "that he may serve the Church while hidden to the world, in a life dedicated to prayer and meditation," the Vatican said.

When Jorge Bergoglio stepped onto the balcony at the Vatican on Wednesday evening to reveal himself as the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, he made history as the first non-European pope of the modern era, the first from Latin America, the first Jesuit and the first to assume the name Francis.

Francis began Thursday by praying at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, a place of special significance for the Jesuits.

His next public appearance is likely to be Sunday. The new pontiff will "very probably" celebrate Mass at St. Peter's and then deliver the traditional Angelus blessing, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

But it won't be until Tuesday that Francis will be formally installed as pope.

That's by design. The day coincides with the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Italy.

In a letter dated Wednesday to Rome's chief rabbi, the new pope promised "renovated cooperation" between Catholics and Jews.

"I vividly hope I'll contribute to the progress" of relations between Jewish and Catholic people that they "have known starting from the Vatican II Council" in the 1960s, Francis wrote to Riccardo Di Segni.

The new pope said he was also acting in a spirit of "helping the world to be always more in harmony with the will of the Creator."

The new pontiff will meet with all the cardinals, not just those who were eligible to vote for him, on Friday and will hold an audience with the media on Saturday, Lombardi said.

Already, a picture is emerging of a humble man who shies away from the trappings of his new status and is devoted to his pastoral duties.

As pope, Francis will have plenty to deal with. He takes the helm of a Roman Catholic Church that has been rocked in recent years by sex abuse by priests, and claims of corruption and infighting among the church hierarchy.

Reflecting the urgency of those concerns, a group representing the alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests has written an open letter to Francis requesting a meeting.

"Your predecessor met only a few times with a few carefully chosen victims in tightly choreographed settings, as he visited nations where this crisis had reached a fever pitch," the letter from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests states.

"We write today seeking a different kind of meeting -- one in which our respective organizations -- yours, huge and struggling, and ours, small and struggling -- can begin to work together to safeguard children across the globe."

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, one alleged victim of priest sex abuse, Michael Duran, urged Pope Francis to give Catholics new hope and make priests and cardinals accountable for their actions in cases where children have been sexually abused by clergymen.

Duran said he was sexually abused for three years by a Los Angeles Archdiocese priest beginning in 1983, when Duran was 11.

He and three other men allegedly sexually abused as boys by the same priest settled their lawsuits for $9.9 million against the archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony and the now defrocked priest. Mahony was among the 115 cardinals in Rome who participated in the papal election this week.

Duran said he felt vindicated by the settlement. He and his attorney said authorities should investigate Mahony for his handling of child abuse complaints against the former priest, Michael Baker. The priest, who couldn't be reached for comment, served a prison sentence for molesting boys, Duran's attorneys said.

Conservative reformer

The 76-year-old leader, who served as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first pope to take the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, revered among Catholics for his work with the poor.

The pontiff is a follower of the church's most social conservative wing. As a cardinal, he clashed with the government of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives.

He was runner-up in the 2005 papal conclave, behind then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The new pope brings together the first and the developing worlds. Latin America is home to 480 million Catholics.

Francis' first public appearance as pope -- when he appealed for the crowds to pray for him before he gave a blessing -- suggested a "different pastoral style" in comparison with the more academic approach of Benedict, said Lombardi.

Francis is someone who has had "a day-to-day link with the population and ordinary people" during his many years at the head of a large diocese in Buenos Aires, he said.

He also sought to dampen concerns prompted by media reports that the new pope has only one lung.

Although Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man, the whole lung was not removed and the new pope is in good health, Lombardi said.

CNN iReporter Cesar Sotolongo in Lima, Peru, said the election of a Latin American pope, particularly from the Jesuit order, marked "a new chapter" for the Catholic Church.

Originally from Florida, Sotolongo also has his own advice for Francis: "The pope should shape the church with what he has been doing during his career (as an example)," he said. "Stay in contact with the people, communicate clearly, promote the unification of faith and ... represent the word of Jesus."

A Jesuit pope

Born in Buenos Aires to an Italian immigrant father, Francis is known for his simplicity.

Details given by Lombardi on Thursday of Francis' first hours as pope reinforce that impression -- one which may go down well with his global flock, many of whom live in poverty or are feeling the squeeze of austerity.

Francis stood, rather than sitting on a throne, to receive the oath of allegiance from his fellow cardinals after his election, and for his appearance on the balcony wore just a white cassock and a simple cross, eschewing gold or jewels, Lombardi said.

Also, on the ride back from the Sistine Chapel to the Santa Marta residence, he declined the papal car that had been prepared for him and instead took the bus with other cardinals, Lombardi said.

And Francis thanked the other cardinals at dinner, joking, "May God forgive you for what you have done," Lombardi said.

Francis will remove the seals from the official papal apartments Thursday but will not move in until renovations are complete, he added. The new pontiff will live in a suite at the Santa Marta residence until the papal apartments are ready.

In Buenos Aires, Francis chose to live in an apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, passed on a chauffeured limousine, took the bus to work and cooked his own meals.

He was ordained by the Jesuits in 1969. He became co-archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1997 and sole archbishop of that city one year later.

He was made a cardinal in 2001 and served as president of the Argentine bishops conference from 2005 to 2011.

As a Jesuit, Francis is a member of the Society of Jesus, one of the biggest and most important orders in the church.

Jesuits are recognized for their exceptional educational institutions and focus on social justice.

"Jesuits are characterized by their service to the church ... but trying to avoid positions of power," said Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, who is also a Jesuit. "I am absolutely convinced that we have a pope who wants to serve.

"His election was the election of a rejection of power."

'Most stunning' choice of name

His selection of the name of Pope Francis is "the most stunning" choice and "precedent shattering," CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said. "The new pope is sending a signal that this will not be business as usual."

The name symbolizes "poverty, humility, simplicity and rebuilding the Catholic Church," Allen said.

Miguel Diaz, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, agreed, calling the new pontiff's choice of names "very significant."

"Francis of Assisi is the saint who opted for the little ones in God's kingdom," he said. "This man represents a change and could potentially be a great gift for leadership, servant leadership, for all of us within the church and society."

It is something the Catholic Church says it desperately needs.

"If you look back over the past years -- the crisis of abuse, the scandals here at the Vatican, financial mismanagement, questions about the leaks and everything -- when you step back from it all, every crisis we faced ultimately is a crisis of holiness that we've missed the calling," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, the Vatican's deputy spokesman.

"We've moved far away from what we're supposed to be."

World reacts

Word of the election of Pope Francis, who was not considered a frontrunner among analysts, quickly spread around the globe, with everyone from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to U.S. President Barack Obama offering congratulations.

"As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day," Obama said.

Ban said the new pope shares common goals with the United Nations, from the promotion of peace to social justice. "We also share the conviction that we can only resolve the interconnected challenges of today's world through dialogue," he said.

There is likely to be no shortage of invitations for Pope Francis to travel to the four corners of the globe in the pursuit of such goals.

Syria's Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch, who heads the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, on Thursday invited Francis to visit Syria, Jerusalem and Lebanon for peace and reconciliation, according to Syria's official news agency.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also urged him to visit the Middle East.

"He'll be a welcome guest in the Holy Land, as a man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area," said Peres.

Nowhere was the reaction to Francis' selection as pope more heartfelt than in Latin America.

"I am truly still very surprised ... not just that a Latino pope came out, but that he is an Argentinian from Buenos Aires," the Rev. Eduardo Mangiarotti, an Argentine priest, told CNN en Español.

It's a "huge event" not only for the church in Latin America but worldwide, he said.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, greeted the selection with "extraordinary joy."

"I have been hoping that we would move into the Southern Hemisphere, and especially I think many of us had hoped ... we would have a pope who would come from Latin America," he said.

"One-half of the Catholics in the world are from Latin America, so this is a way the cardinals have very graciously acknowledged that."

Filipino priest and CNN iReporter Joel Camaya was among the tens of thousands who witnessed history Wednesday night in St. Peter's Square, as Francis emerged on the balcony.

"The multitude, from all parts of the world, were ecstatic to be in the square for this beautiful occasion," he said. "This was one event that left me teary-eyed and thanking God for making me a Catholic."

South Africa cardinal says pedophilia not a crime

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African cardinal who helped elect Pope Francis this week has told the BBC pedophilia is an illness and not a crime.

Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, the Catholic Archbishop of Durban, told BBC Radio 5 on Saturday that pedophilia was a "disorder" that needed to be treated.

"From my experience, pedophilia is actually an illness. It's not a criminal condition, it's an illness," he said.

Napier said he knew of at least two priests who became pedophiles after they were abused as children.

"Now don't tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don't think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged."

The Catholic Church has had its image deeply tarnished by a widespread child sex abuse scandal.

Napier was one of the 115 cardinals in the Vatican conclave that elected Pope Francis on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

The first non-European pope in nearly 1,300 years, Francis has signaled a sharp change of style from his predecessor, Benedict, for the 1.2-billion-member Church, which is beset by scandals, intrigue and strife.

He said on Saturday the church should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor.

New pope must deal with divided church in United States

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pope Francis will face a divided Church in the United States, with the faithful at odds over issues like contraception, same-sex marriage and married priests.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday, a role that will leave him with the daunting task of helping unite a U.S. Church caught in a tug-of-war between traditionalists and progressives.

"The bishops of the United States thank God for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the inspired choice of the College of Cardinals," Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement.

U.S. Catholics interviewed seemed largely optimistic about the new pope - but some are taking a "wait and see" approach to a church leader known to be a strict traditionalist on issues like contraception.

In the United States, the results of November's presidential election highlighted the divide between Catholics who want the Church to modernize and those who favor its traditional ways. U.S. Catholic bishops pushed hard against policies favoring gay marriage and contraception, warning of the "intrinsic evils" of the Democratic platform. But post-election polling showed that most U.S. Catholics favored Democratic President Barack Obama.

Forty-six percent of Catholics surveyed said the new pontiff should "move in new directions," while 51 percent say he should "maintain traditional positions," according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted last month.

Donna Doucette, executive director of Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics that formed in 2002 in reaction to the clergy sex scandals, said she had mixed opinions about Pope Francis, who is known for choosing a simple, humble life, but who is not a liberal.

"It remains to be seen whether he is a person of the 21st century or the 17th century," Doucette said

OUT OF THE BOX

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, a lay group which advocates conservative social policies, said she does not think the new pope belongs in a "box" labeled traditional or progressive.

"He has this personal simplicity - yet he holds this high office in the church," said Ferguson. "He spoke out in Argentina against allowing same-sex couples to adopt, yet he goes to the hospice and washes the feet of AIDS patients, which embodies the teaching that every person has a home in the church."

Nicholas Cafardi, dean emeritus at Duquesne University Law School and a civil and canon lawyer, agreed that Bergoglio is tough to easily classify.

"He's a Jesuit - Jesuits are known as men of education, men of ideas, men who aren't afraid to confront opposing ideas, and at the same time he's certainly been very orthodox himself in his teachings," Cafardi said.

Russell Shaw, a Catholic writer and former spokesman for the Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that this pope has been spoken about as a reformer of the Curia, the central governing body of the Church.

"Pope Francis needs to do whatever has to be done to make sure that the Curia works together as one unified body," he said.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80 percent of U.S. nuns, offered its congratulations and prayers to the new pope. The group was criticized by the Vatican last year for focusing too much attention on social issues, like poverty, and not enough on opposing abortion and gay marriage.

Some U.S. Catholics interviewed expressed optimism that the new pope had chosen to take the name of Francis, a saint who advocated for reform and for the poor.

"This is a powerful first sign that he recognizes the church is in need of a spiritual renewal rooted in humility and social justice," said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group.

SEX ABUSE ANGER

The U.S. church's challenges include recovering from the clergy sexual abuse scandal, which has resulted in the bankruptcies of prominent archdioceses and cost the Church in America an estimated $3 billion in legal settlements.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted over the past week showed that most American Catholics name the scandal as the biggest problem facing the Church.

About 25 percent of U.S. residents are Roman Catholic, but that number has been buoyed by a continuing influx of Hispanic immigrants. Lapsed Catholics have become the nation's second largest religious classification, after Catholics, representing 10 percent of U.S. residents, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Even those who continue to identify as Catholics find themselves at odds with some Church teachings, particularly on the subject of contraception. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 82 percent of U.S. Catholics found birth control morally acceptable, even though it is prohibited by the Church.

Most U.S. Catholics surveyed, 54 percent, also support gay marriage, compared to 47 percent of all Americans, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this month.

Some U.S. Catholics see the traditionalism of the Church as a source of strength.

"We live in a culture that's ailing," said Terry Sullivan, 57, a parishioner at St. John Cantius in Chicago, which has regular Latin Masses. "The Church is here to heal it, not to accommodate the disease."

North Carolina church vows to stop marriages until same-sex couples can wed

Fox News

A church in North Carolina will stop performing marriages until United  Methodist pastors are allowed to officiate weddings for same-sex couples in the  Tar Heel state.

The Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem made the  announcement on its Facebook page on Friday and held a press conference on  Sunday detailing its plan. The Rev. Kelly Carpenter told FoxNews.com on Monday  that his 400-member congregation and its 18-member Leadership Council have long  considered the move.

“Many people in our church have been very active about marriage equality in  North Carolina, so we’re not new to talking about this issue,” Carpenter said. “So over the past year, this statement has developed, and not only to the state  of North Carolina, but also to the United Methodist Church in regards to the  injustice of not being able to conduct same-sex weddings.”

Neither the state nor the United Methodist Church sanctions same-sex  marriages. With the U.S. Supreme Court set to consider two key same-sex  marriage issues later this month, Carpenter said the “timing seemed to be  good,” referring to the announcement. Feedback from the congregation, which  includes at least 15 gay and lesbian couples, has been overwhelmingly positive,  he said.

“Inside the congregation, I’ve heard nothing but support,” Carpenter said,  adding that he also received some critical emails from non-active  worshippers.

In a statement on its website, church officials declared that committed  same-sex relationships are “no less sacred” as heterosexual unions.

“Couples making a commitment to one another need a supportive community of  faith to sustain and uphold them so as to grow in faith and love," the statement  read. "Weddings are the occasion for covenant making, a time to seek God’s  blessing on their commitment to one another. When a couple chooses to be married  in the church, they should also be conscious that they are making a declaration  of their relationship as a new ministry for the congregation and the world. At  Green Street Church, we claim the committed same-sex relationships as no less  sacred in their ministry to us and the community."

United Methodist Church officials did not immediately respond to a request  for comment early Monday.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, said neither  the state nor the church has the right to redefine marriage.

"Marriage has always been understood as a union of one man and one woman — both biblically and culturally — and last May over 60 percent of North  Carolinians voted to keep it that way," Fitzgerald told FoxNews.com in a  statement.

Nine states — including Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland — and the District of  Columbia currently allow same-sex marriages. Most states have incorporated  prohibitions of same-sex marriage by adopting so-called “defense of marriage” language defining marriage in state constitutions similar to language in the  federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — “the word 'marriage' means only a legal  union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Furthermore, roughly  42 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of  protections for gay couples, according to FreedomtoMarry.org.

North Carolina residents overwhelmingly voted last May to protect marriage as  the union of one man and one woman.

"NOM was proud to work with a huge coalition of churches and faith leaders  who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife to achieve victory,"  National Organization for Marriage spokesman Thomas Peters told FoxNews.com.  "The religious freedom of faith communities is best protected when there are  laws protecting marriage. What individual churches choose to do with that  freedom is their responsibility."

But one poll, by Public Policy Polling, found that 55 percent of North  Carolina residents support marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples, with  39 percent opposed. And according to an analysis of 2010 Census data, 18,309  same-sex couples live in the Tar Heel state, representing 4.9 same-sex couples  per 1,000 households.

The U.S. Supreme Court later this month will consider California's  Proposition 8 to decide whether the voters' ban on same-sex marriage unjustly  prohibits gays and lesbians an equal right to marry. The court will consider  whether DOMA wrongly denies married gay couples equal benefits under federal  law. More than 114,000 married same-sex couples live in the United States,  according to UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Good News ( posted 3-11-13 )

I know lots of people who are dying of cancer.

Not all of them know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

 

The precious Lord God told Solomon after his prayer request for an understanding heart;

“ Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.

And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. “     1 Kings 3:9-14

 

If we have the right motive in our heart as Solomon did at this time in his life, we can ask for anything and God will give it to us…and more than we imagine or think.

 

If we have trouble believing, be honest enough to admit it to the Lord as this guy did;

“ And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. “     Mark 9:24

Jesus wants an honest confession from our heart.

 

My friend, it does no good to doubt.

People who say this is God’s will are truthfully people who live in unbelief. To say God is in control is merely an excuse to hide unbelief.

Technically, according to the Holy Bible, only a person who is living in faith and is fully yielded to God and is actively seeking His will is the one who God is in control of and whose steps He leads.

Since faith is what determines if we are saved, justified, redeemed and forgiven, then any unbelief in our heart whatsoever may change our status entirely with the Lord, since the Bible says our salvation and God’s grace is dependent on our faith.

Jesus said quite clearly more than once according to our faith so be it unto us;

“ Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. “    Matthew 9:29

 

“ And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. “   Matthew 8:13

 

“ Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. “    Matthew 15:28

Even Mary said to the angel;

“ And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. “   Luke 1:38

 

My friend, what we hope for we must believe for.

This is why the writer of Hebrews said clearly;

“ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For by it the elders obtained a good report. “  Hebrews 11:1-2

and without faith it is impossible to please God;

“  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. “ Hebrews 11:6

Born again christians who hide in unbelief reject this part of what the Holy Spirit inspired the wirter of Hebrews to write;

“ and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. “

 

My friend, it does no good to doubt. Where has doubt and unbelief gotten us?

Nowhere!

We might as well believe, since our salvation in its completion in the future depends on it.

Don’t give up!

Paul said;

“ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. “    Galatians 6:9

 

Jesus said not to give up!

“  And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? “    Luke 18:1-8

 

Jesus knew there would be unbelief when He returns;.

 Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

 

Don’t be caught living in unbelief when Jesus returns or when we die physically…whichever comes first!

 

Always keep your faith in Jesus to the end of physical life!

 

Wayne Brown 

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