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DISCIPLES IN MISSION

Length12 min.
Age GroupA - Adult
PublisherPaulist Nathional Catholic Evangelization Assoc.
TopicsEvangelization

Describes the Paulist mission of evangelization and the process (Disciples in Mission) of establishing an evangelization team for your parish.

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  • By Cindy WoodenYEREVAN, Armenia (CNS) -- Applying the common faith they professed publicly earlier in the day, Pope Francis and Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II urged common action on behalf of persecuted Christians, welcome for refugees and defense of the family. The pope and the Oriental Orthodox patriarch signed their joint declaration at the end of Pope Francis' June 24-26 visit to Armenia. Earlier in the day, at an Armenian Divine Liturgy, both had spoken of their unity as believers in Christ and of their conviction that Christians are called by God to assist the poor, the persecuted and the needy. While their joint declaration mentioned the progress made in the official Catholic-Oriental Orthodox theological dialogue and their hopes for its continuation, the heart of the text focused on common Christian action to relieve suffering. "We are witnessing an immense tragedy unfolding before our eyes," the two leaders said. "Countless innocent people" are "being killed, displaced or forced into a painful and uncertain exile by continuing conflicts on ethnic, economic, political and religious grounds in the Middle East and other parts of the world." "Religious and ethnic minorities have become the target of persecution and cruel treatment to the point that suffering for one's religious belief has become a daily reality," they said. The Christians being martyred for their faith belong to different churches and their suffering "is an 'ecumenism of blood,' which transcends the historical divisions between Christians." The two leaders prayed that the terrorists waging war on Christians and other minorities would convert, and they also prayed that "those who are in a position to stop the violence" would hasten to do so. "We implore the leaders of nations to listen to the plea of millions of human beings who long for peace and justice in the world, who demand respect for their God-given rights, who have urgent need of bread, not guns," the declaration said. The two denounced the use of a religion "to justify the spread of hatred, discrimination and violence." While focused on the headline-grabbing war in Syria, the two leaders did not ignore the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan where the majority of people are ethnic Armenians and had voted for independence. The joint declaration urged "a peaceful resolution" of the conflict. "We ask the faithful of our churches to open their hearts and hands to the victims of war and terrorism, to refugees and their families," they said. The Christian faith demands concrete acts of charity, Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin insisted. Looking at the spread of secularization, the pope and patriarch noted how heavily cultural change is impacting the family. "The Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church share the same vision of the family, based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between man and woman," they said. - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenVAGHARSHAPAT, Armenia (CNS) -- Recognizing that the church of Christ is one and that Christian divisions are a "scandal" to the world, Pope Francis and Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Karekin II offered their faithful the example of praying and working together. Approaching the end of his three-day trip to Armenia, Pope Francis attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated June 26 by the patriarch at Etchmiadzin, the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church. To accommodate the crowd, the liturgy was held outdoors at a towering stone sanctuary used for major celebrations. Under a gold-trimmed red canopy, the patriarch and pope processed to the sanctuary together before the pope bowed to the patriarch and moved to the side. He used a small booklet to follow the liturgy, which is celebrated in "grabar," as ancient liturgical Armenian is called. In his homily, Catholicos Karekin told his faithful and his guests, "During these days together with our spiritual brother, Pope Francis, with joint visits and prayers we reconfirmed that the holy church of Christ is one in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ in the world, in taking care of creation, standing against common problems, and in the vital mission of the salvation of man." All Christians, he said, share the mission of "the strengthening of solidarity among nations and peoples (and the) reinforcing of brotherhood and collaboration." The catholicos warned of modern attacks on the faith, including a selfish lack of concern for "those who long for daily bread and are in pain and suffering," as well as other "economic, political, social, environmental" problems. Yet the Gospel and the churches that preach it, he said, know that God continues to promise his loving care and wants Christians to go out preaching salvation and helping the poor. Invited to address the gathering -- like Catholics Karekin spoke at Pope Francis' Mass in Gyumri the day before -- Pope Francis said, "We have met, we have embraced as brothers, we have prayed together and shared the gifts, hopes and concerns of the church of Christ." "We believe and experience that the church is one," the pope said. Using words from St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th-century Armenian monk declared a "doctor of the church" by Pope Francis last year, he prayed that the Holy Spirit would dissolve the "scandal" of Christian division with the power of love. Christian unity is not and cannot be about "the submission of one to the other or assimilation," the pope said, but rather should be an acceptance of the different gifts God has given to different Christians at different times. "Let us respond to the appeal of the saints, let us listen to the voices of the humble and poor, of the many victims of hatred who suffered and gave their lives for the faith," Pope Francis. "Let us pay heed to the younger generation, who seek a future free of past divisions." The Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the six independent Oriental Orthodox churches that were divided from the rest of Christianity after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The six, which include the Syrian Orthodox Church, are in full communion with each other, but not with the Eastern Orthodox churches such as the Russian Orthodox. For centuries the Oriental Orthodox were regarded by the rest of Christianity as adhering to a heretical teaching on the nature of Christ, but recent scholarship has led theologians and church authorities on both sides to affirm that the Christological differences were not doctrinal; rather, both sides profess the same faith but use different formulas to express it. Common declarations about Christ's humanity and divinity were signed between 1971 and 1996 by the heads of each Oriental Orthodox Church and Pope Paul VI or Pope John Paul II. Before vesting for the liturgy at Etchmiadzin, Armenian Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan of Tavush, an Orthodox diocese that shares borders with Georgia and Azerbaijain, stood scanning the crowd. Every few seconds, someone would identify him as a bishop and approach for a blessing, which he gave with a broad smile. The crowd at the liturgy was predominantly young. "We are an ancient people, an ancient church, with a young faith," the 45-year-old bishop explained. The day's liturgy is "a great celebration," Bishop Galstanyan said. The Catholicos and pope are "brothers together declaring to the world that Christians must stay together, must be together, must be a voice for the world." Orthodox Father Zakaria Baghumyan, who was directing press operations for the catholicos during the visit, said the pope asking for a blessing from the patriarch is "just a sign of brotherly love. It's a sign of respect for our church and our nation." - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenGYUMRI, Armenia (CNS) -- Acts of love and kindness must be a Christian's "calling card," the characteristic that identifies them more than anything, Pope Francis told Catholics in northern Armenia. Traveling June 25 to Gyumri, a city with a significant Catholic population and one still bearing the scars of an earthquake almost three decades ago, Pope Francis once again praised the steadfast faith of the Armenian people. Thanking God for all that had been rebuilt since the 1988 earthquake, the pope also asked the region's people to consider what they are called to build today and, more importantly, how they are called to build it. Celebrating the only public Mass scheduled for his three-day visit to predominantly Orthodox Armenia, Pope Francis told thousands of people in Gyumri's Vartanants Square that memory, faith and merciful love must be the foundations of their lives. The joy that comes from encountering Christ, he said, "renews our life, makes us free and open to surprises, ready and available for the Lord and for others." The exercise of charity renews and rejuvenates the church, he said. "Concrete love is the Christian's calling card; any other way of presenting ourselves could be misleading and even unhelpful," he said, because Christians are called to be known by their love. Pope Francis urged the Armenian people to continue on the path of dialogue and respect, especially among members of the Armenian Catholic and Armenian Apostolic churches. During his stay in Armenia, the pope was the houseguest of Catholicos Karekin II, the patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The catholicos was present for the pope's celebration of Mass, a gesture the pope was scheduled to reciprocate the next day in Yerevan. At the beginning of Gyumri Mass, Catholicos Karekin recalled how, during the Soviet period, many churches in Armenia were closed or destroyed. The Armenian Apostolic Cathedral of the Seven Holy Wounds in Gyumri became an ecumenical place of worship with different areas of the church hosting services for the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities. After Mass, Pope Francis invited the catholicos to join him in the popemobile. They toured the square, both giving the people their blessings. The need to overcome divisions among Christians and to work for peace in the world was given even greater attention by Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin during an evening prayer service back in Yerevan. In the capital's Republic Square, where crowds had gathered while the sun was still hot, the pope and patriarch processed in together, walking side by side and blessing the people. They stopped to shake hands with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Pope Francis told the people that he and the catholicos, like all those committed to Christian unity, "look confidently toward the day when by God's help we shall be united around the altar of Christ's sacrifice in the fullness of eucharistic communion." "Let us pursue our journey with determination," he said. "Indeed, let us race toward our full communion!" In working and praying for Christian unity, the pope said, churches are not looking for "strategic advantages" or ways to promote their own interests. "Rather, it is what Jesus requires of us and what we ourselves must strive to attain with good will, constant effort and consistent witness" in order to fulfill "our mission of bringing the Gospel to the world." Following Christ's example, the pope said, "we are called to find the courage needed to abandon rigid opinions and personal interests in the name of the love that bends low and bestows itself, in the name of the humble love that is the blessed oil of the Christian life, the precious spiritual balm that heals, strengthens and sanctifies." Together, he said, Christians must work and pray for peace, defending the persecuted -- including Christians in the Middle East -- but also promoting reconciliation. Ending a day that began at Armenia's genocide memorial, Pope Francis prayed that Armenia and Turkey would embark on a new process of reconciliation and that peace would finally come to Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan. The ethnic Armenian majority of Nagorno-Karabakh voted in 1988 to unify with Armenia. Fighting ensured and continued until a cease-fire was reached in 1994, although the enclave's status was never fully resolved. Sporadic fighting has occurred since, most recently in early April. In his talk, Catholicos Karekin claimed Azerbaijan started the latest wave of violence with military exercises on the border. But the patriarch cast his gaze wider, welcoming refugees from Syria and Iraq -- nations that traditionally had strong Armenian Christian communities. "With hope in God, they wait for peaceful days to arrive in their native lands," Catholicos Karekin said. "May our merciful Lord cleanse the world from the tragedies of evil and grant peace and protection," he prayed, adding hopes that the biblical prophecy would come true: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenYEREVAN, Armenia (CNS) -- In silence and in prayer while a mournful hymn was sung, Pope Francis formally paid tribute to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18. Visiting the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial, a monument to the martyrs, Pope Francis wrote in the guestbook, "May God preserve the memory of the Armenian people. Memories should not be watered down or forgotten; memory is a source of peace and of the future." The words were in addition to those the pope had planned to write June 25, praying that humanity would never again know the large-scale massacre of a people and that by remembering such tragedies of the past, people would learn to vanquish evil with good. Accompanied by the Armenian Orthodox patriarch, Catholicos Karekin II, and by bishops and clergy from both the Catholic and Armenian Apostolic churches, Pope Francis blessed a wreath of yellow and white flowers placed before the towering stone shards that protect the eternal flame at Tsitsernakaberd. He and the catholicos descended a few steps to the flame's basin and laid roses at its edge before praying several minutes in silence. There were no speeches at the memorial, only Scripture readings, prayers and hymns, including one that described the dead as "images of the Lamb of God" led to the slaughter "without opening their mouths to deny the Lord or the homeland." A choir of women in teal dresses with white veils sang the refrain: "Holy and true Lord, how long before you judge and require justice for our blood?" A long, basalt memorial wall outside is engraved with the names of the cities of the victims. The opposite side of the wall is decorated with plagues honoring those who denounced the massacre and came to the rescue of the victims. The name of Pope Benedict XV is prominent.  The pope welcomed an estimated 400 Armenian orphans, who fled to Italy and were given refuge in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence. A dozen descents of those orphans were present at the memorial for Pope Francis' visit. Before leaving the memorial, Pope Francis -- like St. John Paul II did in 2001 -- symbolically planted a pine tree, shoveling a little bit of dirt beneath the hardy sapling and dousing it generously with water. - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Remo Casilli, ReutersBy Cindy WoodenYEREVAN, Armenia (CNS) -- A solid, sorrow-tested Christian faith gives believers the strength to overcome even the most horrific adversity, forgive one's enemies and live in peace, Pope Francis said. Arriving in Armenia June 24, Pope Francis went straight to the twin concerns of his three-day visit: Promoting Christian unity and honoring the determined survival of Armenian Christianity despite a historic massacre and decades of Soviet domination. The high profile of the pope's ecumenical concern and the importance of faith in Armenian culture were highlighted by making the trip's first official appointment a visit to the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church at Etchmiadzin. The arrival ceremony at the airport was defined as informal, but featured a review of the troops and a greeting by a young boy and a young girl, who offered Pope Francis the traditional gifts of bread and salt. His entrance into Holy Etchmiadzin, as it commonly is known, was heralded with the pealing of church bells. As the pope and patriarch processed down the aisle between crowds of flag-waving faithful, a deacon led them, swinging an incense burner. For the first two events on the papal itinerary, the English translations of the speeches of the pope's hosts -- the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and the country's president -- repeatedly used the word "genocide" to describe the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1918. The pope's prepared text for his speech in Italian used the Armenian term "Metz Yeghern" or its Italian equivalent, "the Great Evil." However, when speaking, the pope added the Italian "genocidio." Turkey objects to the term "genocide" and recalled its Vatican ambassador for about a year after Pope Francis in April 2015 quoted St. John Paul II in describing the massacre as the first genocide of the 20th century.Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli told reporters June 25 that the pope's statement was "very unfortunate" and said that in the pope's words "it is unfortunately possible to see all the reflections and traces of Crusader mentality."Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, was asked to comment June 26. Listening to what the pope said or reading his remarks, "there is nothing of a spirit of the Crusades," the spokesman said.In Armenia, as elsewhere, he said, Pope Francis speaks "in a spirit of dialogue, of building peace and building bridges and not walls." Pope Francis, visiting the Orthodox cathedral at Etchmiadzin and addressing government officials later at the presidential palace, did not focus on the tragedy, but on the faith of the country's 3 million people, the need for reconciliation and peace in the region and the role of Christians in showing the world that faith is a power for the good of humanity. For both nights of his trip, Pope Francis was to be the houseguest of Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. "This sign of love eloquently bespeaks, better than any words can do, the meaning of friendship and fraternal charity," the pope said. In a world "marked by divisions and conflicts, as well as by grave forms of material and spiritual poverty," he said, people expect Christians to provide a witness and example of mutual esteem and close collaboration. All examples of brotherly love and cooperation, despite real differences existing among Christians, the pope said, "radiate light in a dark night and a summons to experience even our differences in an attitude of charity and mutual understanding." Besides being an example of how dialogue is the only way to settle differences, he said, "it also prevents the exploitation and manipulation of faith, for it requires us to rediscover faith's authentic roots," defending and spreading truth with respect for the human dignity of all. Catholicos Karekin echoed the pope's emphasis on the importance of Christian cooperation "for keeping and cherishing Christian ethical values in the world (and) for strengthening love" which is the only path to true security and prosperity. He told the pope, "after the destruction caused by the Armenian Genocide and the godless years of the Soviet era, our church is living a new spiritual awakening." Nearly 90 percent of Armenia's population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church; Catholics, mostly belonging to the Eastern-rite Armenian Catholic Church, make up almost 10 percent of the population. At the presidential palace later, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan praised Pope Francis for having used the word "genocide" a year ago. "We don't look for culprits. We don't spread accusations," he said, according to the English text given to reporters. "We simply want things to be called by their names." While the pope and president were meeting privately, Armenian public television broadcast images from the Armenian memorial prayer service Pope Francis presided over at the Vatican last year. They included the clip of him using the word "genocide." Pope Francis told the president and government officials, "Sadly that tragedy, that genocide was the first of the deplorable series of catastrophes of the past century made possible by twisted racial, ideological or religious aims" that extended to "planning the annihilation of entire peoples." Unfortunately, he said, "the great international powers looked the other way.""Having seen the depths of evil unleashed by "hatred, prejudice and the untrammeled desire for dominion," people must make renewed commitments to ensuring differences are resolved with dialogue, he said. "In this regard, it is vitally important that all those who declare their faith in God join forces to isolate those who use religion to promote war, oppression and violent persecution, exploiting and manipulating the holy name of God," Pope Francis said. At a time when Christians are again experiencing discrimination and persecution, he said, it is essential that world leaders make their primary goal "the quest for peace, the defense and acceptance of victims of aggression and persecution, (and) the promotion of justice and sustainable development."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.