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AI and the meaning of life: Tech industry turns to religious leaders
Posted on 03/23/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The people behind chatbots are asking questions of priests and ethicists rather than turning to their artificially intelligent creations. They want to know: What is consciousness? What is the nature of humanity? What is the purpose of life?
According to Father Phillip Larrey, dean of the philosophy department at the Rome's Pontifical Lateran University, Silicon Valley techies are posing those questions to ethicists and religious leaders as artificial intelligence develops rapidly and is used in myriad ways impacting people's daily lives.
In a conversation with Catholic News Service March 21, Father Larrey, a native of Mountain View, California, and author of two books on the rise of AI, reflected on how society should engage with AI as it becomes increasingly embedded in the lives of ordinary people through accessible technologies.
AI-operated programs such as ChatGPT, a popular software created by the software company OpenAI, "can access data to an enormous extent that for human beings is no longer possible," said Father Larrey. "That is why as a species we tend to look at AI with a certain fear, because we fear the unknown."
An artificially intelligent chatbot, ChatGPT uses learning algorithms to consume, produce and infer information for human users. The software is intended to mimic human conversation and can instantaneously produce essays and articles, write programming code and give people advice based on information input by users.
It's most sophisticated model, GPT4, was released for public use March 14.
Father Larrey said there are several "catastrophic risks" to unchecked and widespread AI use, such as its potential for spreading disinformation and creating code that can be used by hackers.
He also identified potential adverse effects of AI for everyday users, noting that minors can ask chatbots for advice in committing illicit activities and students can use them to complete their assignments without performing the work of learning.
A major downside of AI, he said, is that "we become dependent on the software, and we become lazy. We no longer think things out for ourselves, we turn to the machine."
Yet Father Larrey said that rejecting AI technology is a mistake. In particular, he pointed to the decision of some universities to ban the use of ChatGPT, noting that educators "are going to have to learn how to incorporate this into how they teach, what they test for, and how we can use these tools to our advantage."
"I don't think you can put the genie back in the bottle," he said. "The market motivation is so strong that you're not going to stop it."
In January, Microsoft announced a multiyear investment in OpenAI, which the New York Times and other media reported would total $10 billion. Other tech companies, including Google and Amazon, are testing their own AI-powered products to compete with existing software on the market.
That's why Father Larrey said conversations on AI must shift to what Pope Francis calls "person-centered AI." The pope, he said, "is insisting that you need to put the human person at the center of this technology."
In January, Pope Francis addressed tech-industry leaders from companies such as Microsoft and IBM as well as members of the Jewish and Muslim communities during a conference on ethics in AI at the Vatican.
The pope urged them to "ensure that the discriminatory use of these instruments does not take root at the expense of the most fragile and excluded" and gave an example of AI making visa decisions for asylum-seekers based on generalized data.
"It is not acceptable that the decision about someone's life and future be entrusted to an algorithm," said the pope.
At the end of the conference, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim representatives signed a declaration calling on AI researchers to engage with ethicists and religious leaders to develop a framework for the ethical use of AI.
"On social media and other technologies that came very quickly, we were trying to catch up and we weren't exactly sure how to do this," said Father Larrey.
But with AI, he said, the tech companies themselves are "beginning to think about how to structure some guidelines and some concerns so that this technology will be used for human well-being and human flourishing."
Tech companies such as Microsoft are "looking for philosophers and theologians" to respond to those questions, he said. "They are looking for people who know how to think."
"These people, who are really changing the future of humanity, they want to talk with us, they want to talk with priests, they especially want to talk with Pope Francis," he said. "They're looking for guidance and they're looking for support. They're looking for some way to make this help people and not harm people."
Some of those guidelines, he noted, include adding parental controls to technology so that parents can monitor how their children are using AI-powered devices, or establishing structures so that human decision-making is not cut out of the equation when AI is also used, such as when making a legal decision using generalized data.
Aware of the challenges AI poses to society, Father Larrey said he is still optimistic people can use AI responsibly and for the betterment of humanity if it is developed properly.
"I think that people will win over the technology," he said. "It's not without perils, it's not without difficulties."
And within the church, Father Larrey said he thinks "priests will be one of the last to be substituted (by AI), even though they have AI's that will hear your confession and celebrate Mass."
"People want to talk with a priest or a sister, they want the experience of the religious person that they can't get in an AI," he said.
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Contributing to this story was Robert Duncan in Rome.
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Follow McLellan on Twitter: @McLellan_Js
Pope: Without power of Holy Spirit, evangelization is empty advertising
Posted on 03/22/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To evangelize well, the faithful need to dialogue with God, let the Holy Spirit renew their hearts and lives, and then dialogue with today's world, Pope Francis said.
The Holy Spirit is "the protagonist of evangelization. Without the Holy Spirit we will only be advertising the church," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square March 22.
The church, too, always must be "evangelizing herself" or else "it remains a museum piece," he said.
The pope continued his series of talks about "the passion for evangelization: the apostolic zeal of the believer" by reflecting on St. Paul VI's apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" (On Evangelization in the Modern World) and its emphasis on witnessing to Christ.
"You cannot evangelize without witness -- the witness of the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word in which salvation is fulfilled," he said.
"Witness also includes professed faith, that is, convinced and manifest adherence to God the father, son and Holy Spirit, who created and redeemed us out of love," he said.
And, he said, it is a faith "that transforms us, that transforms our relationships, the criteria and the values that determine our choices. Witness, therefore, cannot be separated from consistency between what one believes and what one proclaims."
"A person is credible if there is harmony between what they believe and live, how they believe and live," the pope said. Anything else is hypocrisy.
"Every one of us is required to respond to three fundamental questions, posed in this way by St. Paul VI: 'Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?'" the pope said.
"We cannot be satisfied with easy, pre-packaged answers," he said. "We are called upon to accept the risk, albeit destabilized, of the search, trusting fully in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in each one of us, driving us ever further: beyond our boundaries, beyond our barriers, beyond our limits, of any type."
St. Paul VI, he said, "teaches that the zeal for evangelization springs from holiness which springs from a heart filled with God. Nourished by prayer and, above all, by love for the Eucharist, evangelization in turn increases holiness in the people who carry it out."
"Without holiness, the word of the evangelizer 'will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man' and 'risks being vain and sterile'" because it is just a string of empty words, he said, quoting St. Paul's exhortation.
Evangelization is addressed not only to others "but also ourselves, believers in Christ and active members of the people of God," Pope Francis said. "We have to convert every day, receive the word of God and change our life each day, this is how you evangelize the heart."
The Catholic Church, "which is the people of God immersed in the world," is often tempted by many idols, therefore, "she always needs to hear the proclamation of the mighty works of God," to pray and feel the power of the Holy Spirit, which changes people's hearts, he said.
"A church that evangelizes herself in order to evangelize is a church that, guided by the Holy Spirit, is required to walk a demanding path of conversion and renewal," he said.
This includes "the ability to change the ways of understanding and living its evangelizing presence in history, avoiding taking refuge in the protected zones of the logic of 'it has always been done this way' (which) are shelters that make the church fall ill," he said.
"The church must always go forward, it must continually grow," he added. "This way it stays young."
At the end of the audience, the pope underlined the sanctity of all human life. He greeted the faithful from Poland, which celebrates the Day for the Sanctity of Life March 25.
"As a sign of the need to protect human life from conception to its natural end, the Yes to Life Foundation is giving to Zambia the 'Voice of the Unborn' bell, which I blessed this morning," he said.
"May its sound carry the message that every life is sacred and inviolable," he added.
Welcoming migrants, refugees is first step toward peace, pope says
Posted on 03/21/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Safe, organized, legal and sustainable migration is in the interest of all countries, Pope Francis wrote.
"If this is not recognized, there is a risk that fear will erase people's future and justify those barriers against which lives are shattered," he said in a written address to refugees and to the volunteers and organizations who helped welcome and integrate them in Europe.
Speaking to the refugees and those who have helped them, the pope said, "Thank you for promoting this work of welcoming which is a concrete commitment to peace. Welcoming is the first step toward peace."
The Vatican audience hall March 18 was filled with individuals and families from many countries at war or affected by severe humanitarian emergencies, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Libya and Ukraine.
The pope only read a few passages from his prepared text, but spent about 25 minutes making his way, seated in a wheelchair, through the hall greeting guests and exchanging many hugs with enthusiastic children. One small boy insisted the pope accept his gift of a stuffed Spider-Man doll.
The migrants and refugees came to Italy and other European countries thanks to an initiative started in 2016 to create "humanitarian corridors" in which volunteers and organizations on the ground in areas of conflict identify people who are especially vulnerable and arrange for their safe and legal passage to communities prepared to take them in. They also help with housing, education and other forms of assistance.
The Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio established the project together with the Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Waldensian church of Italy, the Italian branch of Caritas and the Italian bishops' conference.
The project was started to help people avoid dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea in unsafe vessels, to prevent exploitation by human traffickers and to give priority to those in especially precarious conditions. More than 6,000 people have been offered legal passage and integration through the project since 2016.
In his spoken remarks, the pope thanked the organizations for their generosity and creativity and the commitment shown by governments for welcoming newcomers.
In his written address, the pope mentioned the recent shipwreck near Cutro, Italy, in which nearly 90 migrants, including children, died. "That disaster should never have happened and everything possible needs to be done to ensure that it will not be repeated," he wrote.
"Humanitarian corridors build bridges that many children, women, men and older persons fleeing from unstable and gravely dangerous situations cross in order to arrive safely, legally and with dignity, in their host countries," he wrote.
"Still, much effort is needed to expand this work and to open even more legal migration routes," he wrote. "Where political will is lacking, effective models like yours offer new and viable avenues."
"Safe, orderly, regular and sustainable migration is in the interest of all countries," he added.
This approach, he wrote, "points a way forward for Europe, to avoid its remaining frozen, fearful and lacking vision for the future."
The pope praised the project's emphasis on properly integrating people in host communities, and he thanked those who generously offer their homes, resources and help, writing that "you represent a beautiful face of Europe, one that is open, not without some sacrifice, to the future."
Addressing those who left their homelands, he underlined his own history as a son of a family of immigrants and wrote, "Your good example and industriousness help to dispel fear and apprehension about foreigners."
Jesus showed the way when he said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me," the pope wrote. It is a path everyone must take "together and with perseverance."
In his written text, the pope also told those who have fled Ukraine that "the pope does not give up seeking peace, hoping for peace and praying for peace. I do this for your gravely afflicted country and for other countries affected by war."
U.S. Bishops’ Doctrine Committee Issues Guidance to Catholic Health Care Institutions on Respecting the Fundamental Order of the Human Body
Posted on 03/20/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine has issued a statement providing moral criteria to Catholic health care institutions for discerning which medical interventions promote the authentic good of the human person and which are in fact injurious. The USCCB’s Administrative Committee approved the issuance of the Committee on Doctrine’s statement on March 15.
In their statement, the doctrine committee acknowledges that modern technology offers chemical, surgical, and genetic interventions for the functioning of the human body, as well as for modifying its appearance. While these developments have led to the cure of many maladies and promises for more, modern technology also produces interventions that are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person. As an example of immediate concern, the committee cites the interventions advocated by many in society as treatments for what is termed “gender dysphoria” or “gender incongruence.” These interventions involve the use of surgical or chemical techniques that aim to exchange the sex characteristics of a patient’s body for those of the opposite sex or for simulations thereof. As such interventions “do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated,” the committee states that Catholic health care services must not perform them.
While affirming that Catholic health care services “must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who struggle with gender incongruence,” the committee asserts that the means used “must respect the fundamental order of the human body” or else the human person will not be helped, but rather harmed. The committee’s statement, which was developed in consultation with numerous parties, including medical ethicists, physicians, psychologists, and moral theologians, emphasized that “Catholic health care services are called to provide a model of promoting the authentic good of the human person. To fulfill this duty, all who collaborate in Catholic health care ministry must make every effort, using all appropriate means at their disposal, to provide the best medical care, as well as Christ’s compassionate accompaniment, to all patients, no matter who they may be or from what condition they may be suffering,” the statement says.
The committee’s full statement may be read here.
Parish Lenten Mission + Mission Trip Meeting!
Posted on 03/18/2023 18:11 PM ()
A heart filled with scorn, vain presumption is a path to perdition, pope says
Posted on 03/18/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The faithful must set aside their egos and sense of superiority over others to make room for God and his tender mercy, Pope Francis said at a Lenten penance service.
"Only those who are poor in spirit and who are conscious of their need of salvation and forgiveness come into the presence of God," he said March 17.
And those whose hearts are filled with haughty, self-righteous comparisons and judgment, "you will go to hell," he said in his homily.
The pope led the penance service in a Rome parish, rather than St. Peter's Basilica, to mark the start of the worldwide celebration of "24 Hours for the Lord," a period when at least one church in every diocese was invited to be open all night -- or at least for extended hours -- for confession and eucharistic adoration.
The Rome parish the pope visited was St. Mary of Graces at Trionfale, the titular church of U.S. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey. It also was the first parish in Rome he has visited since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
After delivering his homily at the service, there was a moment of eucharistic adoration during which the congregation knelt and the pope stood, head bowed, leaning on his cane.
Customarily, the pope would have then gone to a confessional in St. Peter's Basilica and kneel in front of a priest to confess his sins. However, this year with increased difficulty with his knee, he went to a quiet corner of the Rome parish church where there were two chairs, put on a purple stole and waited for each penitent to approach. He heard confessions for almost one hour.
Other priests were stationed in confessionals or elsewhere in the small church to hear confessions.
In his homily, the pope talked about the danger of being proud of one's "religious accomplishments" and believing oneself better than others.
"They feel comfortable, but they have no room for God because they feel no need for him," he said. Their prayer is more a series of "monologues" rather than sincere dialogue and prayer.
Such people may do good works, join church groups or help the parish and then expect a kind of "payback," that is, a sense of righteousness or expectation of a "prize" that elevates them above those who don't meet the same standards, he said.
"Brothers, sisters, let us remember this: The Lord comes to us when we step back from our presumptuous ego," the pope said.
He asked everyone to look in their hearts and reflect: "Am I presumptuous? Do I think I am better than others?"
After listing self-righteous thoughts such as: "I go to church, I go to Mass, I am married, married in the church, and these people are divorced, sinners," he asked, "Is your heart like this? (If so,) you will go to hell."
"In order to get close to God," he said, each Catholic should tell the Lord they are the biggest sinner of all, and the only reason they have not fallen into worse sin is because God's mercy "took me by the hand."
"God can bridge the distance whenever, with honesty and sincerity, we bring our weaknesses before him. He holds out his hand and lifts us up whenever we realize we are 'hitting rock bottom' and we turn back to him with a sincere heart," the pope said.
God is not afraid to "descend to the depths" and "take the lowliest place so he can be the servant of all," he said.
"There God waits for us there," at the bottom, the pope said, pointing downward, "not there," pointing up. God always waits for his children, especially when they participate, with great humility, in the sacrament of penance.
Pope Francis asked that everyone reflect on their lives and choose to stop hiding behind false masks and "the hypocrisy of appearances."
The faithful must "entrust to the Lord's mercy our darkness, our mistakes, our wretchedness," he said, and "acknowledge the distance between God’s dream for our lives and the reality of who we are each day -- the wretched."
The sacrament of reconciliation is meant to be an encounter that "heals the heart and leaves us with inner peace. Not a human tribunal to approach with dread, but a divine embrace in which to find consolation," he said.
He asked his brother priests who hear confession, "please forgive everything, forgive always."
Mass Live Now
Posted on 03/17/2023 13:40 PM ()
Commission focuses on ensuring synod will be prayerful experience
Posted on 03/17/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At the end of their first meeting, three members of the preparatory commission for the assembly of the Synod of Bishops said they know some Catholics have very high expectations for the process while others have intense anxiety.
The seven-member commission met at the Vatican March 13-16 and had an audience with Pope Francis on the last day of their gathering.
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who has been coordinating the synod process for the bishops of the United States, was one of the members whose appointment was announced by the Vatican March 15.
He told Catholic News Service the meeting with the pope was "very encouraging" because "he speaks very beautifully about the church and about how close to his heart is the issue of participation and building up communion."
Pope Francis, he said, knows some people have exaggerated expectations for the synod while others have exaggerated anxiety because it is not completely clear where the process is leading, although the pope has spoken frequently about strengthening a "synodal church," one in which all the baptized members listen to one another and share responsibility for the church's life and mission.
"You know," Bishop Flores said, "sometimes the human condition is something of a messy affair -- that's my phrase, not his -- and if God was waiting for us to get our act completely together to help us get to a better place, he'd be waiting a long time."
In the local, national and continental phases of the synod process, he said, people made a "great investment of spiritual and personal energy and of time," reading, praying and listening to one another.
One thing Bishop Flores said became very clear to him is that he and other people in his diocese need to be much more intentional and creative in "reaching out to people who, because of their own personal circumstances, don't feel free or confident" about joining in the life of their parishes or dioceses.
"The church sometimes can become a little too comfortable and only the comfortable feel comfortable there," he said.
Bishop Flores said the March meeting at the Vatican was basically an "orientation" meeting, but members have been told they will read and review all the reports from the continental stage of the synod reflection, assist in preparing the synod working document and help during the synod itself. The commission members were not told if they would be full voting members of the synod, but he said it is likely.
That would mean that Mercedarian Sister Shizue "Filo" Hirota from Tokyo, the only woman on the commission, would be a voting member of the synod. Pope Francis had said in an interview earlier in March, that whoever participates in a synod as a member "has the right to vote. Whether male or female. Everyone, everyone. That word everyone for me is key."
The March meeting, Sister Hirota told CNS, included a presentation on the "episcopal mission" and special responsibility of bishops in the synodal discernment process.
"But a bishop is, of course, part of the people of God. And a bishop has a responsibility to listen to his people," she said. "So, although numerically in this synod, most members will be bishops, there will be a good number of laypeople, women and non-bishops who will be like a memory or a reminder of the ecclesial journey that we have made."
The pope and synod organizers are looking for something "quite different," she said. "It really should be a prayerful, spiritual reflection" for all the assembly participants, so the conversation is not an intellectual debate, but an experience of the Holy Spirit moving through the community gathered in the synod hall.
"Of course, there are certain controversial issues, and we have to look at them," Sister Hirota said. "But the synod is not just about LGBTQ Catholics or women, it is about the church."
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, president of the Australian bishops' conference, also is a member of the commission and brings with him the experience of the four-year process of the Australian church's Plenary Council, which concluded in July 2022.
While the council's preparation included widespread listening, Australian Catholics held more listening sessions as part of the synod process.
The bishops, Archbishop Costelloe told CNS, noticed "some consultation fatigue," but also were impressed with how the prayerful listening done before the Plenary Council became almost second nature during the synod listening sessions.
Having an atmosphere of "prayer and deep reflection" at the plenary, he said, "seemed to me to create a deep sense of respect for each other," and he hopes that will be repeated at the synod assembly in Rome in October.
Another result from the plenary the archbishop said he hoped the synod also will experience is an acceptance that some of the more controversial issues facing the church may not be resolved at the synod.
"There's a wisdom and maturity about saying, 'Well, at the moment it's clear that we're not able to resolve this issue. Are we therefore going to allow it to tear us apart? Or are we going to just accept that for the moment?'" the archbishop said. "We live in this rather messy and non-satisfactory situation, but we're not going to allow it to destroy us."
Synod vigil to be expression of 'ecumenism of solidarity,' pastor says
Posted on 03/16/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Planning an ecumenical prayer vigil for the Catholic Church's Synod of Bishops and making a commitment to participating in it is an expression of "an ecumenism of solidarity," said the Rev. Anne-Laure Danet, ecumenical officer for the French Protestant Federation.
"It is extraordinary," she said. "We can pray for one another, but the best way to do it is to pray with one another."
Rev. Danet spoke to Catholic News Service and Vatican News March 15 after she and some 60 Catholic and Protestant representatives met Pope Francis at the end of a three-day gathering to plan the ecumenical prayer vigil that will be held Sept. 30 in St. Peter's Square.
She was joined at the interview by Brother Alois, prior of the ecumenical Taizé Community, members of the Vatican's synod secretariat and staff from the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity.
Brother Alois said Pope Francis noted during his meeting how "sometimes the Holy Spirit creates disorder" by effusing a variety of gifts on believers, but the Spirit also always "creates harmony" out of that diversity.
The current preparation process for the Synod of Bishops is the first to emphasize "listening to all the baptized, not just baptized Catholics," said Xavière Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the synod.
"The synod is not an event but a process," she said. "In the same way, while this vigil will be an event, more importantly it is part of a process" where Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants have been working together for months, sharing their own experiences of synodality and praying together.
Brother Alois noted that for some of the Protestants participating in the March meeting, "this was their first visit to Rome and for some Catholics living in Rome, this was the first time they visited the Waldensians here. So, we are still just starting to create these bonds, which is why we have had three preparatory meetings -- two in Taizé (France) and one here" at the Vatican.
In addition to the ecumenical vigil in St. Peter's Square, young adult Christians aged 18-35 are being invited to Rome Sept. 30-Oct. 1 for a weekend of ecumenical prayer and workshops on the meaning of synodality and its implications for shared responsibility for the lives of the churches and the Christian mission to share the Gospel.
The young adult program will be coordinated by the Taizé Community; the event has its own website: together2023.net.
"For the synod, we need moments to take a breath, to pray, to express our profound unity in Christ," Brother Alois said. Without those common expressions of a common faith the discussions and debates that take place in the synod hall risk becoming divisive rather than expressions of a diversity of gifts given to the church by the Holy Spirit.
Sister Becquart said the prayer vigil also "will shine a light on a key aspect of the synod -- that it is a spiritual process."
To be an apostle is to serve, not move up church's hierarchy, pope says
Posted on 03/15/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being an apostle does not mean climbing up the church's hierarchy to look down on others but humbling oneself in a spirit of service, Pope Francis said.
During his general audience in St. Peter's Square March 15, the pope explained that apostleship as understood by the Second Vatican Council produces an equality -- rooted in service -- among laypeople, consecrated religious, priests and bishops.
"Who has more dignity in the church? The bishop? The priest? No, we are all Christians at the service of others," he said. "We are all the same, and when one part (of the church) thinks it is more important than the others and turns its nose up (at them), they are mistaken."
Vatican II, the pope said, did not focus on the laity's relationship with the church's hierarchy as a "strategic" move to adapt to the times, but as "something more that transcends the events of that time and retains its value for us today."
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity states that collaboration between the hierarchy and the laity is essential for the church to fully live out its mission.
Viewing Christian life as a chain of authority "where the person on top commands the rest because they were able to climb up (the ladder)" is "pure paganism," said the pope.
Reflecting on the passage from St. Luke's Gospel in which Jesus sends out 72 apostles ahead of him two-by-two, Pope Francis said that service is the vocation Jesus gives to all, including "to those that seem to be in more important positions."
"Listening, humbling yourself, being at the service of others: this is serving, this is being Christian, this is being an apostle," he said.
The pope encouraged Christians to pray for members of the church's hierarchy who appear conceited since "they have not understood the vocation of God."
Pope Francis also asked that all members of the church reflect on their relationships and consider how that impacts their capacity for evangelization.
"Are we aware that with our words we can harm people's dignity, thus ruining relationships?" he asked. "As we seek to dialogue with the world, do we also know how to dialogue among ourselves with believers? Is our speech transparent, sincere and positive, or is it opaque, ambiguous and negative?"
"Let us not be afraid to ask ourselves these questions," the pope said, because examining the responses can help lead Christians toward a more apostolic church.
In his greetings to the faithful, Pope Francis also asked that religious sites in Ukraine be respected in the midst of the war. He expressed his closeness to the Ukrainian Orthodox religious community at the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery complex after the Ukrainian government said it would not renew a lease for the monks who belong to the Orthodox community related to the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church declared its independence from Moscow May 27, 2022, yet members of its senior clergy have since been accused of openly collaborating with the Russian army in Ukraine.