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A religious sister presents Pope Francis with an artwork of his likeness during the Holiness Today conference yesterday (CNS/Vatican Media)

The holiness of saints is reflected not only in how they overcame struggles but by their ability to transmit the joy that comes from being loved by God, Pope Francis said yesterday. Source: NCR Online.

The gift of sharing the love and mercy Christians receive from God “enables us to experience an immense joy that is not a fleeting emotion or mere human optimism, but the certainty that we can face every challenge with the grace and the assurance that come from God,” the Pope told participants at a Vatican conference on holiness.

“Without this joy, faith shrinks into an oppressive and dreary thing; the saints are not ‘sourpusses,’ but men and women with joyful hearts, open to hope,” he said.

The “Holiness Today” conference, which concluded yesterday, was sponsored by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

During the conference, dicastery prefect Cardinal Marcello Semeraro announced the creation of a commission that will recognise Christians who, although not canonised and perhaps not Catholic, were exemplary and even heroic witnesses to the faith.

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Semeraro said a “Commission for the Witnesses of the Faith” was set up on a temporary basis by St John Paul II for the Jubilee Year 2000 and recognised Christians martyred for the faith in the 20th century, mainly under the Nazi or communist regimes.

Now, the cardinal said, Pope Francis has asked the dicastery to re-establish the commission not just for the upcoming Holy Year 2025, but on a permanent basis.

An example of a Christian witness of faith, he said, is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran theologian who was killed in 1945 for his opposition to Nazism.

“Like Bonhoeffer, there are many others. Holiness is not always immediately evident in the eyes of the faithful. Our service is to highlight it,” Cardinal Semeraro said.


Saints have joyful hearts, not long faces, pope says (By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS via NCR Online)


Pope: Saints are precious pearls, always alive and timely (Vatican News)