From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Oct 6 08:48:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 171
- Francis to the Synod Fathers: "Speak clearly, listen with humility, accept with an open heart"
- Summary of the Relatio ante disceptationem
- Nurturing "God's dream", guided by the Holy Spirit
- Angelus: "A Bible for every family, to read often"
- Prayer vigil for the Synod: may the Synod Fathers be able to listen to God and to the People
- Francis to disabled athletes: your testimony is a great sign of hope
- Christians in the Middle East: the Church cannot remain silent before the persecution of her children
- In brief
- Other Pontifical Acts
Francis to the Synod Fathers: "Speak clearly, listen with humility, accept with an open heart"
Vatican City, 6 October 2014 (VIS) - This morning, in the presence of the Holy Father, the First General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops on "Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelisation" took place in the Synod Hall. The Pope greeted the Synod Fathers and all the collaborators in the Synod - the relators, consultors, translators and all those "who have worked with dedication, patience and competence, for long months, reading and working on the themes, texts and the work of this Extraordinary General Assembly".
Today I also thank you, dear cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, priests, men and women religious and laypersons for your presence and your participation that enriches the works and the spirit of collegiality and synodality for the good of the Church and families. ... You bring the voice of the particular Churches, gathered at the level of the local Churches through the Episcopal Conferences. The universal Church and the particular Churches are of divine institution; the local Churches, understood in this way, are of human institution. You will bring this voice in synodality. It is a great responsibility: bring the reality and problems of the Churches to help them to walk the path of the Gospel of the family".
"A general basic condition is this: speak clearly. Let no one say, 'this can't be said, they will think this or that about me'. Everything we feel must be said, with parrhesia. After the last Consistory in February 2014, which focused on the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying that it was a pity that some cardinals did not have the courage to say certain things out of respect for the Pope, thinking perhaps that the Pope thought differently. This is not good - it is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord we feel must be said: without human respect, without timidness. And, at the same time, we must listen with humility and accept with an open heart all that our brothers say. With these two attitudes, synodality is achieved".
"Therefore, I ask of you", insisted Francis, "these two attitudes of brothers in the Lord: speak with parrhesia and listen with humility. And do so with great tranquillity and peace, because the Synod always takes place 'cum Petro et sub Petro', and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a protection of faith".
At the end the Holy Father's brief address and that of Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France, presiding at the session, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, gave a presentation of the various stages in the preparation of this Extraordinary Assembly, the number of participants, the novelties and the work of the Secretariat of the Synod following the last Ordinary General Assembly held in October 2012 under the papacy of Benedict XVI. He concluded by expressing the hope that this Synod may be "a privileged space for this synodal collegiality, that proclaims the Gospel while walking its path. May it be permeated by a new openness to the Spirit, by a method and a style of life and witness that guarantee unity in diversity, apostolicity in Catholicity". Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and relator general of the Synod, went on to read the "Relatio ante disceptationem", summarised in the following article.
Summary of the Relatio ante disceptationem
Vatican City, 6 October 2014 (VIS) - The "Report prior to discussion" presented this morning by Cardinal Peter Erdo, relator general, introduces the work of the Synod, emphasising the main points in relation to which the discussion of the Assembly should develop. In this sense, it is important to highlight a new element: the report of this Synod Assembly already includes the Synod Fathers' written discourses, sent in advance to the Secretariat General of the Synod, with the aim of responding better to the collegial sense of the Assembly.
First and foremost, Cardinal Erdo's report encourages the family to be regarded with hope and mercy, proclaiming its value and beauty as, in spite of the many difficulties, it is not a "model off course"; we live in a world of mere emotions, he continues, in which life "is not a project, but rather a series of moments" and "stable commitment appears formidable" for humanity rendered fragile by individualism. But it is precisely here, faced with these "signs of the times", that the Gospel of the family offers itself as a remedy, a "true medicine" that is to be proposed by "placing oneself in the corner of those who find it more difficult to recognise and live it".
No, therefore, to "doom and surrender" within the Church. "There exists a clear and broadly shared heritage of faith". For example, ideological forms such as gender theory or the equality of homosexual unions with marriage between a man and a woman do not find consensus among the majority of Catholics, while marriage and the family are still largely understood as a "patrimony" for humanity, to be protected, promoted and defended. Certainly, among believers doctrine is often little known or practised, but this does not mean that it is under discussion". This is particularly relevant in relation to the indissolubility of marriage and its sacramental nature among baptised persons. The indissolubility of marriage is not called into question; on the other hand, it is uncontested and for the greater part observed also in the pastoral practice of the Church with those whose marriages have failed and who seek a new beginning. Therefore, not doctrinal, but rather practical questions - inseparable from the truths of faith - are in discussion in this Synod, of an exquisitely pastoral nature".
This leads to the need for greater formation, above all for engaged couples, so that they are clearly aware both of the sacramental dignity of marriage, based on "uniqueness, fidelity and fruitfulness", and of its nature as "in institution in society". Although threatened by "disrupting factors" such as divorce, abortion, violence, poverty, abuse, the "nightmare" of precariousness and the imbalance caused by migration, explains Cardinal Erdo, the family remains a "school of humanity". "The family is almost the last welcoming human reality in a world determined near exclusively by finance and technology. A new culture of the family can be the starting point for a renewed human civilisation".
Therefore, continues the cardinal, the Church supports the family in a concrete way, although this "does not exclude the need for active commitment on the part of States" in the protection and promotion of the common good, through suitable policies.
Turning later to those who live in difficult marital conditions, Cardinal Erdo highlights that the Church is a the "House of the Father"; in relation to these people, a "renewed and adequate action of family pastoral" is necessary, in particular to enable them to feel loved by God and the ecclesial community, from a merciful perspective that does not, however, cancel out "truth and justice". "Consequently, mercy does not take away the commitments which arise from the demands of the marriage bond. They will continue to exist even when human love is weakened or has ceased. This means that, in the case of a (consummated) sacramental marriage, after a divorce, a second marriage recognised by the Church is impossible, while the first spouse is still alive".
Considering the diversity of situations - divorces, civil marriages, cohabitation - Cardinal Erdo highlighted the need for "clear guidelines" so that the pastors of local communities may offer practical help to couples in difficulty, avoiding improvisation and "do it yourself" pastoral care. With regard to divorced and civilly remarried persons, he underlines that it would be misleading to concentrate only on the question of receiving sacraments - it is instead important to look at the broader context of preparation for marriage and support - pastoral rather than bureaucratic - for couples, to help them understand the reasons for the failure of their first union and to identify the causes for nullity: "As regards the divorced who are civilly married, many have said that the distinction needs to be made between the one who is guilty for the break-up of the marriage and the innocent party. The Church's pastoral care should extend to each of them in a particular way".
Furthermore, in view of the limited knowledge of the marriage sacrament and an increasing "divorce mentality", "it does not seem hazardous ... to believe that many marriages celebrated in the Church may be invalid". This leads to the suggestion included in the Relatio to recognise "in the first place the obligation for two appeals of confirmation on the declaration of nullity of the marriage bond" and in any case "to avoid any type of mechanics or impression of granting a divorce" or "to avoid solutions which are unjust and scandalous". In this respect, it is necessary also to study the practice of various Orthodox Churches which permit second or third marriages of a penitential nature.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Oct 20 08:24:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 181
- Francis in the Consistory: we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians
- Consistory: peace, reconciliation and religious freedom in the Middle East
- Pope Francis closes the Synod and beatifies Paul VI
- Angelus: Paul VI, tireless supporter of the missio ad gentes
- The Final Report and votes conclude the work of the Synod of Bishops
- The Pope speaks to the Synod Fathers: we walk a path together
- Audience with the Prime Minister of Vietnam: important step in relations with the Holy See
- Christians and Hindus: together to foster a culture of inclusion
- Other Pontifical Acts
Francis in the Consistory: we cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians
Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) - This morning, in the New Synod Hall, there commenced the Ordinary Public Consistory, presided at by Pope Francis, for the canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz, priest of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, founder of the Oratory of the Holy Cross of Miracles in Goa. and Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception, foundress of the Oblation Sisters of the Holy Sacrament.
The Holy Father wished to dedicate the opening of the Consistory to the Middle East, and in particular, the situation experienced by Christians. Francis thanked those brothers from the region for their presence, remarking that "We share a desire for peace and stability in the Middle East, and the will the promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue, reconciliation and political commitment. At the same time, we would like to give all the help possible to Christian communities to support them in remaining in the region. ... We cannot resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians, who have profess the name of Jesus there for over two thousand years".
The Pope emphasised his concerns regarding recent events, especially in Iraq and Syria. "We are witnessing a phenomenon of terrorism on an unimaginable scale", he commented. "Many of our brothers and sisters are brutally persecuted and driven from their homes. It seems that an awareness of the value of human life has been lost; it as is if people do not count and can be sacrificed to other interests. And unfortunately all this encounters indifference on the part of many".
"This unjust situation requires, aside from our constant prayer, an adequate response on the part of the international community. I am sure that, with the Lord's help, today's meeting will produce valid reflections and suggestions to enable us to help our brothers who suffer, and also to face the crisis of the reduction of the Christian presence in the land where Christianity was born and from where it spread".
Consistory: peace, reconciliation and religious freedom in the Middle East
Vatican City, 20 October 2014 (VIS) - The Ordinary Consistory began with greetings from the Holy Father and the report from the Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on the meeting of apostolic nuncios and diplomatic representatives in the Middle East, which took place in the Vatican from 2 to 4 October.
Immediately after, the Cardinals and Patriarchs present in the Synod Hall intervened. The Patriarchs of the Middle Eastern Churches described the situations and principal problems faced by the Churches in the countries concerned (Iraq, Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, Jordan, Lebanon). There were approximately thirty interventions, focusing mainly on the need for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, the defence of religious freedom, support for local communities, the great importance of education for creating new generations able to engage in dialogue, and the role of the international community.
With regard to the first point, it was underlined that the Middle East urgently needs to redefine its future; the importance of Jerusalem was highlighted, in its role as "capital of faith" for the three great monotheistic religions, and the need was emphasised for a solution to the Israeli-Palestine and Syrian conflicts. In relation to the violence perpetrated by Isis, it was reiterated that no-one may kill in the name of God.
In relation to religious freedom, it was remarked that, along with freedom of worship and conscience, it is a fundamental human right, innate and universal, and a value for all humanity. Alongside this right, the need was underlined for Christians to recognise the civil rights of other citizens, especially in countries where religion is not currently separate from the State.
Furthermore, with regard to the support for local communities in the region, it was repeated that a Middle East without Christians would be a grave loss for all, as they have a fundamental role in maintaining equilibrium in the region, and have important commitments in the education sector. It is therefore essential to encourage Christians to stay in the Middle East and to persevere in their mission, as they have always contributed to the wellbeing of the countries where they live. From this perspective, there was a reflection on the problem of the migration of Christians: they must be welcomed in the Churches and in the States to which they emigrate, where it is hoped there will be adequate pastoral structures for the various rites. Moreover, it was requested that humanitarian aid to the Middle East be continued, to encourage Christians to remain in the area, and that the various manifestations of solidarity possible on the part of the Churches of other countries be cultivated, also by means of journeys and pilgrimages.
In relation to education, it was noted that in many Middle Eastern countries, school text books do not refer positively to beliefs other than the State religion, and that this requires reflection on the part of local institutions. From this point of view, it was hoped that greater interreligious dialogue with Muslims, starting from the common foundation of reason, would be of use, along with lively ecumenical cooperation, so that all the Churches of the Middle East might make their voices heard as one.
A request was made for the International community to guarantee to Christian refugees the possibility of returning to their homes as soon as possible, creating "safety zones", for instance on the Nineveh Plain. Finally, an appeal was made for all those who have been kidnapped in the Middle East, in order that the world not forget about them.
Pope Francis closes the Synod and beatifies Paul VI
Vatican City, 19 October 2014 (VIS) - The Holy Mass celebrated at 10.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square this morning, during which Pope Paul VI was proclaimed Blessed, closed the Synod of Bishops devoted to "Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelisation". The ceremony was attended by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and 70,000 faithful from all over the world, and the Holy Father concelebrated with the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops and presbyters who took part in the Synod.
Following the rite of beatification and the Gospel reading, Francis pronounced a homily in which he emphasised that during the Synod, the participants felt "felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church ... called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost it". He described the new Blessed as a "courageous Christian, a tireless apostle and the great helmsman of the Council".
"We have just heard one of the most famous phrases in the entire Gospel: 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's'. Goaded by the Pharisees who want to put him to the test in matters of religion, Jesus gives this ironic and brilliant reply. It is a striking phrase which the Lord has bequeathed to all those who experience qualms of conscience, particularly when their comfort, their wealth, their prestige, their power and their reputation are in question. This happens all the time; it always has".
He continued, "Jesus puts the stress on the second part of the phrase: 'and [render] to God the things that are God's'. This means acknowledging and professing - in the face of any sort of power - that God alone is the Lord of mankind, that there is no other. This is the perennial newness to be discovered each day, and it requires mastering the fear which we often feel at God's surprises. God is not afraid of the new! That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways. He renews us: he constantly makes us 'new'. A Christian who lives the Gospel is 'God's newness' in the Church and in the world. How much God loves this 'newness'!".
"'Rendering to God the things that are God's' means being docile to his will, devoting our lives to him and working for his kingdom of mercy, love and peace. Here is where our true strength is found; here is the leaven which makes it grow and the salt which gives flavour to all our efforts to combat the prevalent pessimism which the world proposes to us. Here too is where our hope is found, for when we put our hope in God we are neither fleeing from reality nor seeking an alibi: instead, we are striving to render to God what is God's. That is why we Christians look to the future, God's future. It is so that we can live this life to the fullest - with our feet firmly planted on the ground - and respond courageously to whatever new challenges come our way".
"In these days, during the extraordinary Synod of Bishops, we have seen how true this is. 'Synod' means 'journeying together'. And indeed pastors and lay people from every part of the world have come to Rome, bringing the voice of their particular Churches in order to help today's families walk the path the Gospel with their gaze fixed on Jesus. It has been a great experience, in which we have lived synodality and collegiality, and felt the power of the Holy Spirit who constantly guides and renews the Church. For the Church is called to waste no time in seeking to bind up open wounds and to rekindle hope in so many people who have lost it. For the gift of this Synod and for the constructive spirit which everyone has shown, in union with the Apostle Paul 'we give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers'. May the Holy Spirit, who during these busy days has enabled us to work generously, in true freedom and humble creativity, continue to guide the journey which, in the Churches throughout the world, is bringing us to the Ordinary Synod of Bishops in October 2015. We have sown and we continued to sow, patiently and perseveringly, in the certainty that it is the Lord who gives growth to what we have sown".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Nov 25 08:36:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 208
- Francis prays for the intercession of the Virgin for his trip to Strasbourg
- The Pope to the European Parliament: dignity and transcendence, key concepts for the future of Europe
- Francis at the Council of Europe: imposed peace is not enough - it must be loved, free and fraternal
- The Pope receives the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
- The Pope to convoke a conference in Haiti in January 2015, five years after the earthquake that devastated the island
Francis prays for the intercession of the Virgin for his trip to Strasbourg
Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon, as is his custom before a journey, at around 5.30 the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before the image of the Virgin Salus Popoli Romani and to ask for her intercession for his apostolic trip to the European institutions based in Strasbourg. Francis prayed for around half an hour and left before the Virgin a floral tribute in blue and yellow, the colours of the European flag.
The Pope to the European Parliament: dignity and transcendence, key concepts for the future of Europe
Vatican City, 25 November 2014 (VIS) - Europe's future depends on the rediscovery of the vital and indissoluble nexus between dignity and transcendence, as otherwise it risks slowly losing its soul and the humanistic spirit that loves and defends. This was Pope Francis' message to the members of the European Parliament during his visit to the legislative body of the European Union (EU) in Strasbourg: it is the only international organisation directly elected by 508 million citizens, and composed of 751 deputies elected in the 28 member states of the EU.
The Holy Father left Rome by air shortly before 8 a.m. and arrived in Strasbourg in 10 a.m., where he was greeted by the French Minister of State for European Affairs, two deputy presidents, various representatives of the civil authorities, including the mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, and local ecclesiastical figures. Pope Francis then travelled by car to the seat of the Parliament where he was received by President Martin Schulz and, following presentations by the two delegations of the 14 members of the Bureau of the Parliament and the 8 presidents of the political groups of the Assembly, he signed the Gold Book of the Parliament with the following phrase: "I hope that the European Parliament is always the place where each member contributes to ensure that Europe, mindful of her past, looks with confidence to the future to live with hope in the present".
After attending the Solemn Session of the Parliament and listening to the speech by President Schulz, Pope Francis addressed the Assembly, recalling that his visit takes place over a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II, and many things have changed in Europe and throughout the world in the intervening period. "The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realised that 'Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it'. As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less 'Eurocentric'. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.
"In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe. It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe - together with the entire world - is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life. It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity".
The Pope stressed the close bond between these two words: "dignity" and "transcendent".
"'Dignity' was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War", he affirmed. "Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in contrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterised as it is by an enriching encounter whose 'distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them', thus forging the very concept of the 'person'.
"Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age".
Promoting the dignity of the person, he continued, "means recognising that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests", yet "care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts. ... The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself".
The Pontiff emphasised, "I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the aall of us' made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. ... To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that 'compass' deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation. Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation. In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future".
This loneliness, he remarked, "has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe which is ... no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions. Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings. Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that - as is so tragically apparent - whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb. This is the great mistake made 'when technology is allowed to take over'; the result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a 'throwaway culture' and an uncontrolled consumerism".
Francis reminded the members of parliament that they are called to a great mission which may however appear impossible: tending to the needs of individuals and peoples. "To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalisation and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it. How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?"
To answer this question, the Pope referred to Raphael's celebrated fresco of the "School of Athens", found in the Vatican. "Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato's finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent - to God - which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe's practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems. The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that 'humanistic spirit' which it still loves and defends. ... I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe's growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person".
Pope Francis went on to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in "meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since 'it is precisely man's forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence'. Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Dec 9 09:48:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 218
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
- The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: "Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility"
- Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
- Presentation of the International Campaign "Stop Threats on the Internet"
- Pope Francis pays homage to the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna
- Angelus: like Mary, welcome grace and correspond with faith
- The Pope lights the tallest Christmas tree in the world
- Angelus: be messengers of God's consolation
- Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
- Director of the Holy See Press Office on the inquiry on two ex-executives of the IOR
- Telegram for the death of Queen Fabiola of Belgium
- Pope's video message for the Christians and people of Iraq
- Other Pontifical Acts
Telegram for the death of Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) - Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pontiff comments that the cardinal dedicated "long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See", and assures his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in "a long friendship", so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated "such intense and generous commitment to the Church".
"With faith in the Paschal mystery of Christ, that illuminates and fills Christian life with hope, and the memory of a Pastor devoted to the evangelising mission, I beg for divine consolation in these moments of suffering, for you and for those loved ones who mourn his passing, to whom I impart the comfort of my heartfelt apostolic blessing", he concluded.
The Pope at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: "Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility"
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) - Pope Francis' message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration was read today during the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held in Vienna, Austria on 8 and 9 December.
"The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons' potential for mass-killing, more attention must be given to the 'unnecessary suffering' brought on by their use. Military codes and international law, among others, have long banned peoples from inflicting unnecessary suffering. If such suffering is banned in the waging of conventional war, then it should all the more be banned in nuclear conflict. There are those among us who are victims of these weapons; they warn us not to commit the same irreparable mistakes which have devastated populations and creation".
He continued, "Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. ... Now is the time to counter the logic of fear with the ethic of responsibility, and so foster a climate of trust and sincere dialogue. Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritise such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price".
"The desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart. It is rooted in the Creator who makes all people members of the one human family. This desire can never be satisfied by military means alone, much less the possession of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. ... Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples. Pope Paul VI stated this succinctly in his Encyclical Populorum Progressio: 'Development is the new name for peace'. It is incumbent on us to adopt concrete actions which promote peace and security, while remaining always aware of the limitation of short-sighted approaches to problems of national and international security".
"In the context of this Conference, I wish to encourage sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states". He emphasised, "This dialogue must be inclusive, involving international organisations, religious communities and civil society, and oriented towards the common good and not the protection of vested interests. 'A world without nuclear weapons' is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality".
Publication of the Lineamenta of the next Synod on the Family
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) - The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has today issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place from 4 to 25 October, on the theme "The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world".
The Lineamenta, or rather the first document for this Assembly, as indicated by Pope Francis in the concluding discourse of the Third Extraordinary Assembly, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. However, to facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod's progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod.
The document, thus composed - the Italian-language original of which is published today - is sent to the Episcopal Conferences, the Synods of the sui iuris Oriental Catholic Churches, the Union of Religious Superiors and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
The aforementioned ecclesial organisms, who will receive the document translated into the most commonly-used languages, will be able to select the most appropriate methods for confirming the reception and further examination of the Relatio Synodi, involving the different components of the particular Churches and academic organisations, lay associations and other ecclesial bodies with the aim of promoting wide consultation on the family in accordance with the spirit of the synodal process.
The results of this consultation shall be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops by 15 April 2015, to allow them to be examined and taken into consideration in the preparation of the Instrumentum laboris, to be published before the summer.
The Episcopal Conferences and the various ecclesial bodies are invited to accompany the synodal process with timely moments of prayer and celebration for the family and in preparation for the next Assembly. This should take place in particular on the occasion of the upcoming liturgical feast of the Holy Family on 28 December. In addition, the faithful are invited to recite the Holy Father's prayer for the Synod on the Family. The full text in Italian can be found at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va ___________________________________________________________
Presentation of the International Campaign "Stop Threats on the Internet"
Vatican City, 9 December 2014 (VIS) - This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office during which Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace", presented the international online bullying awareness campaign "Stop Threats on the Internet", in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Other speakers at the conference were Don Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l'Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Wed Dec 10 08:48:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 219
- General audience: new series of catechesis on the family
- Presentation of the Message for the 48th World Day of Peace
- Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters: the Pope's Message for World Day of Peace
- "Love is our mission: the family, fully alive": theme of the 7th World Meeting of Families
- Other Pontifical Acts
General audience: new series of catechesis on the family
Vatican City, 10 December 2014 (VIS) - Having concluded his catechesis on the Church, in today's general audience Pope Francis began a new series dedicated to the family, "a new cycle in this intermediate period between two Synod Assemblies dedicated to this important reality". Before considering the different aspects of family life, Francis began by speaking about the Synod held last October on the theme "Pastoral challenges to the family in the context of new evangelisation".
The Pontiff first praised the work of the Holy See Press Office during the Synod, and the good work accomplished by the media responsible for covering the assembly. He went on to mention the events and results of the assembly, and emphasised that at no point was there any form of censorship and that the Synod Fathers were entirely free to speak frankly. "The only think I asked of them was that they speak with sincerity and courage, and listen with humility".
He explained that the Instrumentum laboris always remained the basis of all the interventions that took place, and that this document was the result of a previous consultation involving all of the Church. He remarked that "no intervention challenged the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of Marriage: indissolubility, unity, fidelity and openness to life". All these interventions, in a second phase, were gathered together and gave rise to the Relatio post disceptationem or the post-discussion report, which was divided into three sections: listening to the context and the challenges to the family; looking steadily at Christ and the Gospel of the family, and comparison with pastoral perspectives. The third phase, the group discussions, followed this first approach at a summary. Finally, at the end of its work, each group presented a report and all the group reports were published immediately, "with transparency, so that what was happening was made known".
Finally, a commission examined all the suggestions that emerged from the groups and the a Final Report was produced, maintaining the same structure as before - listening, looking to the Gospel and pastoral ministry - which was then sent to all the Episcopal Conferences worldwide to enable discussion prior to the Ordinary Assembly, scheduled for October 2015. As always, a Final Message from the Synod was approved, more concise and informative compared to the Report. The Holy Father remarked that the Synod Fathers "did not argue, but there were animated discussions. This is the freedom of the Church", and added that there are three official Synod documents: the Final Message, the Final Report, and the Pope's concluding discourse.
The Bishop of Rome emphasised that the Synod is not a parliament but rather a protected space that allows the Holy Spirit to intervene, and that now the work of prayer, reflection and fraternal discussion must continue in the particular Churches in preparation for the upcoming Assembly. "Let us commend it to the protection of the Virgin Mother, so that she may help us to follow God's will in making pastoral decisions that offer greater and better help to families", he concluded.
Presentation of the Message for the 48th World Day of Peace
Vatican City, 10 December 2014 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Holy Father's Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, to be held on 1 January 2015 on the theme "Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters". The speakers were Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace"; Bishop Mario Toso, S.D.B., secretary of the same dicastery; Vittorio V. Alberti, official of "Justice and Peace"; and Sister Gabriella Bottani, Combonian missionary representing the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Human Trafficking (of the International Union of Superior Generals) and head of Talitha Kum.
The theme chosen by the Pope, explained Cardinal Turkson, "regards not only the foundation of peace but also its concrete achievement in interpersonal relations. Therefore, it must be an invitation to transform social relations from a relationship of dependence-slavery, and the negation of the humanity of the other, to a relationship of fraternity lived between brothers and sisters who share the same Father. An itinerary of conversion for believers that leads to recognition of the other not as an enemy to combat or an inferior being to exploit, but rather a brother or sister to love and for this reason to free from all the chains of slavery".
"Starting from the Epistle of Paul to Philemon and other passages from the Bible, "the Holy Father shows that God's plan for humanity does not have any place for the enslavement of others, since God calls to all of his sons and daughters to renew their interpersonal relationships, respecting in each person the image and semblance of God along with the intangible dignity of every person, confident in the Good News of Jesus Christ, who is capable of renewing the heart of man, where sin is most abundant".
"However, despite the great efforts of many people, modern slavery continues to be an atrocious scourge that is present on a large scale throughout the world, even as tourism. This 'crime of injured humanity' is masked by apparently accepted habits, but in reality it creates victims in prostitution, human trafficking, forced labour, slave labour, mutilation, the sale of organs, drug abuse and child labour. They are concealed behind closed doors, in special places, on the streets, in cars, in factories, in the country, in fishing boats and in many other places. And this happens in both cities and villages, in the reception centres of the richest and poorest countries in the world. And the worst thing is that this situation unfortunately worsens every day".
With regard to the joint effort against human trafficking and other forms of slavery, the Cardinal emphasised a number of points. First, there is the fact that slavery, "fruit and sign of the rupture of fraternity and the denial of communion, once accepted by civil law as the right to ownership of another person, is now a 'crime of injured humanity' that, as previously mentioned, assumes various faces in the context of globalisation, creating new needs, new forms of poverty and slavery". In this year dedicated to the family, he reiterated that it is unacceptable for the institution of the family, "a place of acceptance and promotion of life", to be "transformed into the place in which life is betrayed, treated with disdain, denied, manipulated and sold". Finally, to defeat the wound of modern slavery, there needs to be a mobilisation on a scale comparable to that of the phenomenon itself, both locally - families, schools, parishes - and at the global levels of state institutions and civil society.
"The Church of Jesus Christ, that announces the Good News of liberation from sin and from every form of enslavement, must continue her mission of announcing the Word on every occasion, convenient or otherwise, denouncing every form of slavery and violation of the dignity of the human person, offering at the same time, also through daily gestures of welcome and closeness, the witness of a free life, renewed and open to Transcendence".
"Following the example of St. Josephine Bakhita, the former slave who later became a free daughter of God, we look with hope to Jesus Christ Who has defeated evil and Who is the maker and icon of the liberation of humanity and the freedom of the sons and daughters of God", concluded Cardinal Turkson. "We must work together and never tire until there no longer remains any person reduced to slavery in this world, because no-one can be freed without regard for others, for humanity and for the creation that, as St. Paul says in his Letter to the Romans, 'is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed ... with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God'".
Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters: the Pope's Message for World Day of Peace
Vatican City, 10 December 2014 (VIS) - Below is the full text of the Holy Father's Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, to be held on 1 January 2015 on the theme "Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters'':
"At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God's gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world's peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.
In my Message for Peace last year, I spoke of 'the desire for a full life ... which includes a longing for fraternity which draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals, but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced'. Since we are by nature relational beings, meant to find fulfilment through interpersonal relationships inspired by justice and love, it is fundamental for our human development that our dignity, freedom and autonomy be acknowledged and respected. Tragically, the growing scourge of man's exploitation by man gravely damages the life of communion and our calling to forge interpersonal relations marked by respect, justice and love. This abominable phenomenon, which leads to contempt for the fundamental rights of others and to the suppression of their freedom and dignity, takes many forms. I would like briefly to consider these, so that, in the light of God's word, we can consider all men and women 'no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters'.
Listening to God's plan for humanity
2. The theme I have chosen for this year's message is drawn from Saint Paul's letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks his co-worker to welcome Onesimus, formerly Philemon's slave, now a Christian and, therefore, according to Paul, worthy of being considered a brother. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: 'Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother'. Onesimus became Philemon's brother when he became a Christian. Conversion to Christ, the beginning of a life lived Christian discipleship, thus constitutes a new birth which generates fraternity as the fundamental bond of family life and the basis of life in society.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Dec 15 09:00:02 2014
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 222
- Audience with Dragan Covic: the importance of the Catholic contribution to the reconstruction of Bosnia Herzegovina
- To Catholic television workers: avoid the sins of the media
- Pope Francis visits the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all'Aurelio
- Angelus: rediscover the true joy of Jesus Christ
- The Pope gives a prayerbook to the faithful
- Audience with Matteo Renzi: common concern about persistent social and economic problems
- St. Lucy, patroness of the blind and visually-impaired, teaches us the secret of true happiness
- Francis gives thanks to the foundation of Notre Dame des Sans-Abri for its work with the homeless
- The Pope prays to the Virgin of Guadalupe that the future of Latin America be forged for the poor
- "I received my first ecumenical sermon from my grandmother, in front of you", says the Pope to the Salvation Army
- Cardinal Turkson to travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia to bring the solidarity of the Church to two of the countries hardest hit by the Ebola virus
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with Dragan Covic: the importance of the Catholic contribution to the reconstruction of Bosnia Herzegovina
Vatican City, 15 December 2014 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience Dragan Covic, Croatian member of the Collegial Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, the Parties focused on the situation in the country, with particular reference to the contribution of Catholics to the edification of society and especially their commitment in the field of reconstruction following the devastation caused by floods last spring. Satisfaction was expressed regarding the good bilateral relations, and several issues were discussed in relation to the application of the 2006 Basic Agreement, which governs the relationships and collaboration between the Church and the State for the common good.
Finally, various themes relating to regional and international politics were considered.
To Catholic television workers: avoid the sins of the media
Vatican City, 15 December 2014 (VIS) - This morning Pope Francis met with the managers and workers of TV2000, an Italian Church television broadcasting company, with whom he wished to share "three thoughts on the role of the communicator", recalling that "the Catholic media have a very difficult mission in relation to social communication: seeking to preserve it from all that distorts and twists it for other purposes. Often communication is subject to propaganda, ideologies, political ends, or for the control of the economy or technology. The first thing that is beneficial to communication is parrhesia, or rather the courage to speak directly, to speak frankly and freely. ... If, instead, we are worried about tactical aspects, our words become artificial, and we communicate nothing. Freedom also means freedom from fashions, clichos, pre-packaged formulas. ... We must reawaken words. But every word has a spark of fire and life within. Reawaken that spark, so that it comes out. So this is the first task of the communicator: to reawaken the word".
Secondly, he emphasised the need to avoid "filling" and "closing"; the first takes the form of "saturating our perceptions with an excess of slogans that annul our thoughts instead of setting them into motion", whereas the second is that of seeking short cuts instead of favouring longer and more complex routes of understanding, "choosing to present an individual as if he or she could solve all our problems, or on the contrary, as a scapegoat onto whom we can discharge all our responsibilities. [It is] jumping to conclusions immediately, instead of making the effort to represent the complexity of real life".
Finally, Francis mentioned the third mission, "speaking to the whole person ... avoiding the sins of the media: disinformation, slander and defamation". Authentic communication, he stressed, "is not concerned with attention-grabbing. ... It is necessary to speak to people as a whole: to their mind and their heart, so that they know how to see beyond the immediate, beyond a present that risks being forgetful and fearful of the future". Of these three sins, "the most insidious is disinformation, as it leads to mistakes and to believing only a part of the truth".
These three tasks bring to life "the culture of encounter, so necessary in an increasingly pluralistic context. Confrontation does not lead anywhere", he concluded. "Creating a culture of encounter: it is an important job for you".
Pope Francis visits the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all'Aurelio
Vatican City, 14 December 2014 (VIS) - This afternoon Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all'Aurelio, in the Primavalle suburb of the capital. Before celebrating the Eucharist, Francis met with various groups of people and spoke informally with them.
First, he met with some children who were preparing for their First Communion, and spoke about his own, which took place on 8 October 1944. "I remember it as if it were today. I prepared for a year with a very kind nun and two catechists. ... In those times, its was not possible to drink a little water before Mass, nothing - not even a drop of water. It was Pope Pius XII who saved us from this dictatorship! ... And we all arrived in the Church with our hands together, singing. ... And later, in the afternoon, we returned to the Church for our Confirmation: the same day. And you, who will take your first Communion, will remember that day for ever, all your life: the first day Jesus came to you. He comes, He makes Himself one with us, he nourishes us to give us strength. ... Do not forget the date, and every year, on that day, confess and take communion, will you?"
He then spoke to the Rom families in the parish, wishing them peace within their families and adding, "May there be work, and may there be joy. The joy of Jesus, the peace of Jesus, and so on. Do not lose hope in difficult moments, as hope never disappoints: the Lord gives it to us. And the Lord, sooner or later, He always awaits us, always".
The Holy Father then met with the sick, and began by thanking them for their witness of patience, of love for God and of hope in the Lord. "This does great good to the Church", he affirmed. "You continually nurture the Church with your life, with your suffering, with your patience. Thank you, truly. The Church, without the sick, would not carry on. You are the strength of the Church, her true strength".
Finally, he encountered newly baptised children with their parents. "A child always offers a word of hope simply by being. ... A child is a seed of the future. .... And you, parents, will say to God, protect my child in the future. Our hopes reside in our children. We hand them the torch of faith and life, and they will pass it on to their children, our grandchildren. This is life. And in Baptism, you have given them faith, and thus faith from Jesus' time up to the present day is like a chain, transmitted by parents. And this is a real responsibility! Never forget the day of your Baptism".
Finally, after revealing that he was baptised on 25 December, just eight days after his birth, as was the custom at the time, Francis asked all those present to pray for him, and added, "babies and children cry, they make noise, they run about ... and it bothers me greatly when a child cries in church and people expect him or her to leave. No! It is the best sermon. The cry of a child is the voice of God. Never, ever send them out of the church!"
Following his meetings with the parishioners, Pope Francis confessed several people and then celebrated Mass. In his homily, he mentioned that "the Church this Sunday anticipates the joy of the Nativity, and it is therefore called 'Gaudete Sunday', joyful Sunday". The joy of the Nativity, he said, is a special joy the the Christian experiences not only on that day, but throughout all his or her life. "It is a serene, calm joy, a joy that always accompanies a Christian. Even in difficult moments, this joy is transformed into peace. The true Christian never loses this peace, even during suffering. This peace is a gift from the Lord".
Francis emphasised that we encounter Christian joy in prayer and in giving thanks to God, and he spoke about all those people who do not know how to thank God and who are always looking for something to complain about. "A Christian cannot live like this, always complaining. ... No saint has ever had a sad face. The saints always had joyful faces. Or at least, in moments of suffering, their faces showed peace". In this way, the Pontiff explained that in order to obtain this Christian joy, which is not the joy of consumerism on 24 December, first one must pray and give thanks - but then there exists a further dimension, which is bringing the glad tidings to others. "Go to others, those who are in need, both materially and spiritually. They are many people who suffer and are distraught as a result of family problems. Bring them peace, the anointing of Jesus, the oil of Jesus which does so much good and consoles the soul".
Angelus: rediscover the true joy of Jesus Christ
Vatican City, 14 December 2014 (VIS) - Today, the third Sunday of Advent, known as the "Sunday of Joy" (Gaudete), Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, including many children who had brought their figurines of the baby Jesus from their Nativity displays, to be blessed by the Holy Father.
Francis remarked that the time of Advent, which began two weeks ago, invites us to spiritual vigilance to prepare the way for the Lord who is on his way. "On this third Sunday the liturgy proposes to us another inner attitude with which to await the Lord: joy. Man's heart desires joy. We all wish for joy, every family, every population aspires to happiness. But what is the joy that the Christian is required to live and to bear witness to? It is that which comes from closeness to God, from His presence in our life. Ever since Jesus entered into history, with his birth in Bethlehem, humanity has received the germ of the Kingdom of God, like the terrain that receives the seed, the promise of a future harvest. There is no need to search elsewhere! Jesus has come to bring joy to all for ever. It is not merely a hoped-for joy, or a joy postponed to paradise: here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be joyful. No! It is not this, but rather it is a joy that is already real and that can be experienced now, because Jesus Himself is our joy, and with Jesus our home is joyful".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Feb 9 10:00:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 028
- Pope's eighth meeting with the Council of Cardinals
- Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: make the Church a "safe place" for children
- Angelus: the sick are Christ's flesh
- The Pope denounces the shameful scourge of human trafficking
- In the parish of St. Michael Archangel: maintain daily contact with the Gospel and let Jesus heal our wounds
- To the representatives of EXPO 2015: the root of all ills is inequality
- The Pope: the participation of women in the social and ecclesial spheres is a challenge that cannot be deferred
- God lives in the city
- Francis to the SECAM: Invest in education in Africa to defend the young from fundamentalism and abuse of religion
Pope's eighth meeting with the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 9 February 2015 (VIS) - The eighth meeting of the Council of Cardinals began this morning. To be attended by the Holy Father, the meeting will continue until 11 February. On the following days, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 February, the Consistory of the College of Cardinals is to be held in the Synod Hall.
Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors: make the Church a "safe place" for children
Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) - The members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered in Plenary Assembly from 6 to 8 February in Rome.
The members who took part in the Assembly are: Cardinal Sean O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., U.S.A., president; Msgr. Robert Oliver, U.S.A., secretary; Rev. Luis Manuel Ali Herrera, Colombia; Catherine Bonnet, France; Marie Collins, Ireland; Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Philippines; Sheila Hollins, England; Bill Kilgallon, New Zealand; Sister Kayula Lesa, M.S.C., Zambia; Sister Hermenegild Makoro, C.P.S., Zimbabwe; Kathleen McCormack, Australia; Claudio Papale, Italy; Peter Saunders, England; Hanna Suchocka, Poland; Krysten Winter-Green, U.S.A.; Rev. Humberto Miguel Yanez, S.J., Argentina and Rev. Hans Zollner, S.J., Germany.
The Pontifical Council subsequently issued the following communique, the full text of which is published below:
"This year's meeting was the first opportunity for all seventeen members of the recently expanded Commission to come together and share their progress in the task entrusted them by the Holy Father, namely to advise Pope Francis in the safeguarding and protection of minors in the Church.
During the meetings, members presented reports from their Working Groups of experts, developed over the past year. The Commission then completed their recommendations regarding the formal structure of the Commission and agreed upon several proposals to submit to the Holy Father for consideration.
The Working Groups are an integral part of the Commission's working structure. Between Plenary Sessions, these groups bring forward research and projects in areas that are central to the mission of making the Church aa safe home' for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. These include: pastoral care for survivors and their families, education, guidelines in best practice, formation to the priesthood and religious life, ecclesial and civil norms governing allegations of abuse, and the accountability of people in positions of responsibility within the Church when dealing with allegations of abuse.
The Commission is keenly aware that the issue of accountability is of major importance. In its Assembly,members agreed on an initial proposal to submit to Pope Francis for consideration. Moreover, the Commission is developing processes to ensure accountability for everyone in the Church - clergy, religious, and laity - who work with minors.
Part of ensuring accountability is raising awareness and understanding at all levels of the Church regarding the seriousness and urgency in implementing correct safeguarding procedures. To this end, the Commission also agreed to develop seminars to educate Church leadership in the area of the protection of minors.
Following on from the Holy Father's Letter to Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and to Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,dated February 2, the Commission looks forward to collaborating with churches on a local level in making its expertise available to ensure best practices in guidelines for the protection of minors.
The Commission is also preparing materials for a Day of Prayer for all those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. This will underscore our responsibility to work for spiritual healing and also help raise awareness among the Catholic community about the scourge of the abuse of minors.
Pope Francis writes, in his letter to Church leaders, 'families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children'. Conscious of the gravity of our task to advise the Holy Father in this effort, we ask you to support our work with prayer".
Angelus: the sick are Christ's flesh
Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) - World Day of the Sick will be held on 11 February, liturgical memory of the Virgin of Lourdes, and the Pope, blessing the preparatory initiatives for the day, and in particular the Vigil to take place in Rome on 10 February, dedicated his meditation prior to this Sunday's Angelus prayer to the meaning and value of illness, recalling that Jesus' main activities in his public life were preaching and healing.
"Through preaching He announces the Kingdom of God and through healing He shows that it is close, that the Kingdom of God is in our midst", said Pope Francis to the faithful gathered at midday in St. Peter's Square, commenting on the Gospel of St. Mark that narrates the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. After the Sabbath was over and the people could leave and bring Him the sick, He healed a multitude of people afflicted by every kind of malady: physical, mental, spiritual.
"Having come to earth to announce and fulfil the salvation of every person and of all mankind, Jesus shows a particular predilection for those who are wounded in body and spirit: the poor, sinners, the possessed, the sick, the marginalised. He thus reveals Himself has a physician of both body and soul, the good Samaritan of humanity. Jesus' healing of the sick invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of sickness".
The salvific work of Christ "does not come to an end with His person and the arc of His earthly life; it continues through the Church, sacrament of love and of the tenderness of God for mankind. Sending his disciples on their mission, Jesus confers upon them a dual mandate: to announce the Gospel of salvation and to heal the sick. Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered the care of the sick to be an integral part of her mission".
The Pope emphasised Jesus' warning from the Gospel of St. Matthew - "The poor and the suffering you will always have with you" - and affirmed that "the Church continually finds them on her path, considering the sick as a privileged way to encounter Christ, to welcome and serve Him. To care for a sick person, to welcome him and serve him is to serve Christ. The sick are Christ's flesh".
In our times, too, despite the many advances in science, "the inner and physical suffering of people raises serious questions on the meaning of sickness, pain and on the reasons for death. These are existential questions, to which the pastoral action of the Church should respond in the light of faith, keeping before our eyes the Cross, in which there appears the entire salvific mystery of God the Father, who out of love for mankind did not spare his only Son. Therefore, each one of us is called to bring the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace to those who suffer and to those who assist them - family members, doctors, nurses - so that service to the sick may be carried out with ever increasing humanity, generous dedication, evangelical love, and tenderness. The Mother Church, through our hands, caresses us in our sufferings, heals our wounds, and does so with a mother's tenderness".
The Pope denounces the shameful scourge of human trafficking
Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) - Following today's Angelus prayer, Pope Francis commented that today, 8 February, we celebrate the liturgical memory of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese nun who as a child suffered the dramatic experience of enslavement. The Union of Superior Generals of religious institutes has established a Day of prayer and reflection against trafficking in persons, to be held on that date.
"I encourage those who are committed to helping men, women and children who are enslaved, exploited and abused as instruments of work or pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who hold positions of responsibility in governance will act decisively to eliminate the causes of this shameful scourge, a scourge unworthy of a civilised society. May each one of us strive to be a voice for these our brothers and sisters, whose dignity is humiliated. Let us pray together to Our Lady, for them and for their families".
In the parish of St. Michael Archangel: maintain daily contact with the Gospel and let Jesus heal our wounds
Vatican City, 8 February 2015 (VIS) - At 4 p.m. today the Holy Father visited the Roman parish of St. Michael Archangel in the Pietralata quarter, in the north of the city. Upon arrival, he made an impromptu change to the itinerary, paying a surprise visit to a settlement near the parish church, known as the "Rainbow Camp", the home of many displaced persons from Africa, Latin America, Ukraine and Russia. At the end of his visit, the inhabitants recited the Lord's Prayer with him in Spanish. He then met with members of the parish community: the sick, families with children baptised during the past year, young catechumens, scouts and a number of homeless people cared for by the Sant'Egidio Community.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Mar 9 12:50:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 048
- Audience with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians
- Centenary of the Argentine Catholic University
- The Pope meets the parishioners of Tor Bella Monaca; discrimination and injustice test the goodness of the people
- Angelus: let us build a temple to God with our lives
- Francis' greetings on International Women's Day: "women give us to the ability to see the world with different eyes"
- Behaviour contrary to justice, honesty and charity cannot be covered up with worship
- The Pope on the sixtieth anniversary of Communion and Liberation: "Keep alive the call of the first encounter with Christ, and be free"
- The Holy Father to preside at Confession in St. Peter's Basilica on 13 March - Oath-taking Ceremony of the Cardinal Camerlengo
- Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, Pope's special envoy to Nagasaki
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians
Vatican City, 7 March 2015 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Majesty Philippe King of the Belgians, and Queen Mathilde, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, the good bilateral relations between Belgium and the Holy See were confirmed. Attention was then paid to matters of mutual interest, such as social cohesion, the education of the young, the phenomenon of migration and the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue.
Mention was then made of various problems of an international nature, with special reference to the future prospects of the European continent.
Centenary of the Argentine Catholic University
Vatican City, 9 March 2015 (VIS) - On occasion of the one hundredth university of Faculty of Theology of the Universidad Catolica Argentina (U.C.A.), Pope Francis has sent a letter to Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Grand Chancellor of the faculty. "Teaching and studying theology means living on a frontier", writes the Pope. "We must We must guard against a theology that spends itself in academic dispute or watches humanity from a glass castle. You learn to live: theology and holiness are inseparable". Francis adds that the theology that is developed is therefore rooted and based on Revelation, on tradition, but also accompanies the cultural and social processes" and "must also take on board conflicts: not only those that we experience within the Church, but those that concern the whole world".
The Pope urges all the members of the Faculty not to satisfy themselves with a theoretical "desktop theology" and not to give in to the temptation to "gloss over it, to perfume it, to adjust it a little and domesticate it". Instead, he writes, good theologians "must, like good pastors, have the odour of the people and the street, and through their reflection, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men". Similarly, he encourages them to study how the various disciplines ... may reflect the centrality of mercy", since "without mercy our theology, our law, our pastoral ministry run the risk of collapsing in petty bureaucracy or ideology". He concludes by remarking that the U.C.A. does not form "museum theologians who accumulate data" or "spectators of history", but rather people capable of building up humanity around them, "of transmitting the divine Christian truth in a truly human dimension".
The Pope meets the parishioners of Tor Bella Monaca; discrimination and injustice test the goodness of the people
Vatican City, 9 March 2015 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of Santa Maria Madre del Redentore in the peripheral suburb of Tor Bella Monaca, where he was welcomed by more than a thousand young people. Before entering the Church, the Holy Father visited the Caritas Centre to greet sick and disabled assisted by the Missionaries of Charity. "Jesus never abandons us", he said, "because on the Cross he experienced pain, sadness, solitude and many other things. ... Never lose your trust in Him".
Later, in the church, he met with a group of children and young people, and answered their questions. The first was: if God forgives everything, why does Hell exist? The Pope replied that Hell is the desire to distance oneself from God and to reject God's love. But", he added, "if you were a terrible sinner, who had committed all the sins in the world, all of them, condemned to death, and even when you are there, you were to blaspheme, insults... and at the moment of death, when you were about to die, you were to look to Heaven and say, 'Lord ...!', where do you go, to Heaven or to Hell? To Heaven! Only those who say, I have no need of You, I can get along by myself, as the devil did, are in Hell - and he is the only one we are certain is there".
The second question regarded how to live Christian morality. Francis answered, "Christian morality is a grace, a response to the love that He gives you first. ... It is Jesus Who helps you to go ahead, and if you fall it is He Who lifts you up again and Who lets you carry on. But if you think and we think that moral life is just about 'doing this' and 'not doing that', this is not Christian. It is a moral philosophy, but no, it is not Christian. Christian is the love of Jesus, Who is the first to love us. ... Christian morality is this: you fall? Get up again and keep going. And life is this. But always with Jesus".
Finally, before celebrating Mass, Francis spoke with the parish pastoral council and their collaborators who described to him the situation in the area, in which many marginalised families live, and where there are many problems linked to drug abuse and crime. "The people of Tor Bella Monaca are good people", emphasised Francis. "They had the same flaw that Jesus, Mary and Joseph had: they are poor. With the difference that Joseph had a job, Jesus had a job, and many people here do not, but they still need to feed their children. And how does one get by? You know how. Goodness is sorely tested by injustice; the injustice of unemployment and discrimination. And this is a sin, it is a grave sin. Many people are compelled to do things they do not want to do, because they cannot find another way. ... And very often people, when they feel they are accompanied, wanted, do not fall into that web of the wicked, who exploit the poor. Mafiosi exploit the poor too, to make them do their dirty work, and then when the police discover them, they find those poor people and not the mafiosi who are safe, and also pay for their safety. Therefore, it is necessary to help the people. ... The first pastoral commandment is closeness: to be close to them. ... We cannot go to a house where there are sick or hungry children and say 'you must do this, you must do that'. No. It is necessary to go to them with closeness, with that caress that Jesus has taught us. ... This is my main pastoral advice to you".
In the homily he pronounced at the church of Santa Maria del Redentore, the Bishop of Rome commented on the passage from the Gospel according to St. John that narrates the expulsion of the money changers from the temple, remarking that two aspects of the text are particularly notable: an image, and a word. "The image is that of Jesus with the whip who chases away all those who use the temple to trade. The temple was sacred, and this, which was unclean, was sent out. ... Jesus took the whip and cleansed the temple".
"And the phrase, the word", he continued, "is where it says that many people believed in Him, a terrible phrase: 'But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man'. We cannot deceive Jesus. He knows us in depth. Before Him we cannot pretend to be saints and close our eyes, and then lead a life that is not what He wants. ... And we all know that name that Jesus gave to those with two faces: hypocrites".
"It will do us good, today, to enter into our hearts and look at Jesus. To say to him, 'Lord, look, there are good things, but there are also things that are not good. Jesus, do You trust in me? I am a sinner'. ... Jesus is not afraid of this. ... However, he who drifts away, who has a dual face; who lets himself be seen to be good to cover the hidden sin... When we enter into our heart, we find many things that are not good, just as Jesus found in the temple the dirty affairs of trade. ... We can continue our dialogue with Jesus: 'Jesus, do you trust in me? ... So, I will open the door to You, and You can cleanse my soul".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Wed Apr 8 09:48:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 066
- What do the angels of children tell God about us?
- Francis praises the late Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte
- Holy Week
- Holy Thursday: the tasks of a priest demand compassion
- The Pope washes the feet of twelve detainees in Rebibbia prison
- Good Friday: In Christ abandoned, we see all those abandoned in the world
- Easter Vigil Mass: learn from the women how to enter into the Paschal mystery
- Easter Sunday: may the consoling and healing voice of the Lord reach us all
- Regina Coeli: Christ is risen! Repeat this with our witness of life
- Pope's telegram for the attack on Garissa University College
- Other Pontifical Acts
What do the angels of children tell God about us?
Vatican City, 8 April 2015 (VIS) - During today's Wednesday general audience in
St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father continued with his cycle of catechesis on the family, completing his reflection on children, "the most beautiful fruit of
the blessing that the Creator has bestowed on man and woman". This week he focused on the "stories of passion" that many children sadly experience. "Many children, from the very beginning, are rejected, abandoned, robbed of their childhood and their future. One might even dare say, almost as a justification,
that it was a mistake to bring them into the world. This is shameful! Please, let us not punish them for our own errors! Children are never a mistake!"
"Those who have the task of governing and educating - indeed, I would say, all
adults - are responsible for children, and everyone must do what he can to change this situation. I refer to the passion of children. Every marginalised, abandoned child, living on the streets by begging or by any other expedient, without schooling, without medical care, is a cry lifted up to God and an accusation against the system we have constructed. ... However, none of these children are forgotten by the Father in Heaven. None of their tears are in vain.
And our responsibility must not be forgotten either, the social responsibility of persons and countries".
Francis recalled how Jesus urged the apostles to let the children come to Him,
and remarked that "thanks to God, children with serious difficulties very often
find extraordinary parents, willing to make any sacrifice and to spare no act of
generosity". However, he added, "these parents should not be left alone! We must
accompany them in their efforts, but also offer them moments of shared joy and carefree pleasure, so that they are not entirely consumed by the routines of therapy". The Pope also mentioned that often children suffer the consequences of
lives damaged by precarious or underpaid employment, unreasonable working hours,
immature relationships and irresponsible separations. "Often they experience violence that they are not able to overcome, and before the eyes of adults are forced to grow accustomed to degradation".
The Holy Father emphasised that the well-being of children must always be taken
seriously, and noted that now, as in the past, the Church offers her maternity in the service of children and families. "Imagine a society that decided, once and for all, to establish the principle that ... where the children who come into
this world are concerned, no sacrifice on the part of adults may be judged as too costly or too great, so as to avoid any child believing himself to be a mistake, without value, or being abandoned to the wounds inflicted by life". He
concluded, "May the Lord judge our life by listening to what the angels of children bring to Him, those angels that always see the face of the Father in heaven. Let us always ask ourselves, what do they tell God about us, these children's angels?"
Francis praises the late Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte
Vatican City, 8 April 2015 (VIS) - Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal, Canada, for the death of
Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop emeritus of the same city, at the age
of 78. The Holy Father expresses his sadness upon learning of the passing of the
cardinal and offers his condolences to his family and former diocesans. "At this
time, in which we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord", he writes, "I ask Him
to welcome in the light of eternal life this faithful pastor who served the Church with devotion, not only in his diocese but also at national level, as president of the Episcopal Conference of Canada, and as an accomplished member of several Roman dicasteries".
The Pope describes the departed cardinal as a "committed pastor, attentive to the challenges of the contemporary Church", recalling his participation in the Synod of Bishops in 1994 dedicated to "Consecrated life and its role in the Church and in the World", and his key role in the 1997 Synod on America. Francis
also imparts a special apostolic blessing to the cardinal's family and loved ones, his parishioners and all those who will attend the funeral.
Holy Thursday: the tasks of a priest demand compassion
Vatican City, 2 April 2015 (VIS) - At 9.30 this morning, in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis presided at the Chrism Mass, the liturgy celebrated today, Holy Thursday, in all cathedral churches. The cardinals, bishops and priests (diocesan and religious) present in Rome concelebrated with the Holy Father.
During the Eucharistic celebration, the priests renewed the vows made during their ordination. The oil used to anoint the sick and catechumens, and the Chrism, were then blessed.
"'My hand shall ever abide with him, my arms also shall strengthen him'. This is what the Lord means when he says: 'I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him'. It is also what our Father thinks whenever he 'encounters' a priest. And he goes on to say: 'My faithfulness and my steadfast
love shall be with him. He shall cry to me, "You are my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation"'.
"It is good to enter with the Psalmist into this monologue of our God. He is talking about us, his priests, his pastors. But it is not really a monologue, since he is not the only one speaking. The Father says to Jesus: 'Your friends,
those who love you, can say to me in a particular way: "You are my Father"'. If
the Lord is so concerned about helping us, it is because he knows that the task
of anointing his faithful people is not easy, it is demanding; it can tire us. We experience this in so many ways: from the ordinary fatigue brought on by our
daily apostolate to the weariness of sickness, death and even martyrdom.
"The tiredness of priests! Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience? I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself. I pray for you as you labour amid the people
of God entrusted to your care, many of you in lonely and dangerous places. Our weariness, dear priests, is like incense which silently rises up to heaven. Our
weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father.
"Know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is well aware of this tiredness and she brings it straight to the Lord. As our Mother, she knows when her children are weary, and this is her greatest concern. 'Welcome! Rest, my child. We will speak
afterwards'. 'Whenever we draw near to her, she says to us: 'Am I not here with
you, I who am your Mother?'. And to her Son she will say, as she did at Cana, 'They have no wine'.
"It can also happen that, whenever we feel weighed down by pastoral work, we can be tempted to rest however we please, as if rest were not itself a gift of God. We must not fall into this temptation. Our weariness is precious in the eyes of Jesus who embraces us and lifts us up. 'Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest'. "Whenever a priest feels dead tired, yet is able to bow down in adoration and say: 'Enough for today Lord', and entrust himself to the Father, he knows that he will not fall but be renewed. The one who anoints God's faithful people with oil is also himself anointed by the Lord: 'He gives you a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit'.
"Let us never forget that a key to fruitful priestly ministry lies in how we rest and in how we look at the way the Lord deals with our weariness. How difficult it is to learn how to rest! This says much about our trust and our ability to realise that that we too are sheep: we need the help of the Shepherd.
A few questions can help us in this regard.
"Do I know how to rest by accepting the love, gratitude and affection which I receive from God's faithful people? Or, once my pastoral work is done, do I seek
more refined relaxations, not those of the poor but those provided by a consumerist society? Is the Holy Spirit truly 'rest in times of weariness' for me, or is he just someone who keeps me busy? Do I know how to seek help from a wise priest? Do I know how to take a break from myself, from the demands I make
on myself, from my self-seeking and from my self-absorption? Do I know how to spend time with Jesus, with the Father, with the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, with my patron saints, and to find rest in their demands, which are easy and light, and in their pleasures, for they delight to be in my company, and in their concerns and standards, which have only to do with the greater glory of God? Do I know how to rest from my enemies under the Lord's protection? Am I preoccupied with how I should speak and act, or do I entrust myself to the Holy
Spirit, who will teach me what I need to say in every situation? Do I worry needlessly, or, like Paul, do I find repose by saying: 'I know him in whom I have placed my trust'?
"Let us return for a moment to what today's liturgy describes as the work of the priest: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners and
healing to the blind, to offer liberation to the downtrodden and to announce the
year of the Lord's favour. Isaiah also mentions consoling the broken-hearted and
comforting the afflicted.
"These are not easy or purely mechanical jobs, like running an office, building
a parish hall or laying out a soccer field for the young of the parish. The tasks of which Jesus speaks call for the ability to show compassion; our hearts
are to be 'moved' and fully engaged in carrying them out. We are to rejoice with
couples who marry; we are to laugh with the children brought to the baptismal font; we are to accompany young fiancos and families; we are to suffer with those who receive the anointing of the sick in their hospital beds; we are to mourn with those burying a loved one. All these emotions, if we do not have an open heart, can exhaust the heart of a shepherd. For us priests, what happens in
the lives of our people is not like a news bulletin: we know our people, we sense what is going on in their hearts. Our own heart, sharing in their suffering, feels 'com-passion', is exhausted, broken into a thousand pieces, moved and even 'consumed' by the people. Take this, eat this. These are the words the priest of Jesus whispers repeatedly while caring for his faithful people: Take this, eat this; take this, drink this... In this way our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God, and this always leaves us weary.
"I wish to share with you some forms of weariness on which I have meditated. There is what we can call 'the weariness of people, the weariness of the crowd'.
For the Lord, and for us, this can be exhausting - so the Gospel tells us - yet
it is a good weariness, a fruitful and joyful exhaustion. The people who followed Jesus, the families which brought their children to him to be blessed,
those who had been cured, those who came with their friends, the young people who were so excited about the Master, they did not even leave him time to eat. But the Lord never tired of being with people. On the contrary, he seemed renewed by their presence. This weariness in the midst of activity is a grace on
which all priests can draw. And how beautiful it is! People love their priests,
they want and need their shepherds! The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sunglasses. There is a good and healthy tiredness. It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep, but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren. It has nothing to do with those who
wear expensive cologne and who look at others from afar and from above. We are the friends of the Bridegroom: this is our joy. If Jesus is shepherding the flock in our midst, we cannot be shepherds who are glum, plaintive or, even worse, bored. The smell of the sheep and the smile of a father. Weary, yes, but
with the joy of those who hear the Lord saying: 'Come, O blessed of my Father'.
"There is also the kind of weariness which we can call 'the weariness of enemies'. The devil and his minions never sleep and, since their ears cannot bear to hear the word of God, they work tirelessly to silence that word and to distort it. Confronting them is more wearying. It involves not only doing good,
with all the exertion this entails, but also defending the flock and oneself
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Apr 13 21:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 069
- Ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
- Mass for the centenary of the Armenian Metz Yeghern: Jesus fills the abyss of
sin with the depth of His mercy
- Pope's message to the Armenians
- Regina Coeli: "Invited to contemplate Divine Mercy in the wounds of the Risen
- Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy: path of forgiveness and mercy
- Summary of the "Misericordiae Vultus", Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary
Jubilee of Mercy
- The Pope "in harmony" with the theme of the Seventh Summit of the Americas: "Prosperity with equity"
- To formators of consecrated persons: not only teachers, but also witnesses of
- Other Pontifical Acts
Ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 13 April 2015 (VIS) - This morning the ninth meeting of the Council of Cardinals, to be attended by the Holy Father, began in the Vatican. The Council will continue its work until Wednesday, 15 April.
Mass for the centenary of the Armenian Metz Yeghern: Jesus fills the abyss of sin with the depth of His mercy
Vatican City, 12 April 2015 (VIS) - On the second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the "martyrdom" (Metz Yeghern, or Great Evil) of the Armenian People, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church St. Gregory of Narek
(c. 951 - c. 1003), Armenian monk, theologian, poet and philosopher, whose feast
day is celebrated on 27 February.
His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian
Catholics concelebrated with the Holy Father, in the presence of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The president of the Republic
of Armenia, Serz Sargsyan, also attended the Mass.
In his homily, the Pope commented on the Gospel of St. John, who was in the Upper Room with the other disciples on the evening of the first day after the Sabbath, and who tells us that "Jesus came and stood among them, and said, 'Peace be with you!' and He showed them His hands and His side; He showed them His wounds. And in this way they realised that it was not an apparition: it was
truly Him, the Lord, and they were filled with joy. On the eighth day Jesus came
once again into the Upper Room and showed His wounds to Thomas, so that he could
touch them as he had wished to, in order to believe and thus become himself a witness to the Resurrection".
To us also, on this Sunday which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, "the Lord shows us, through the Gospel, his wounds. They are wounds of mercy. It is true: the wounds of Jesus are wounds of mercy. 'With His
stripes we are healed'. Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief. Above all, He invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds, which is the mystery of His merciful love".
"Through these wounds, as in a light-filled opening, we can see the entire mystery of Christ and of God", said Pope Francis: "His Passion, His earthly life
- filled with compassion for the weak and the sick - His incarnation in the womb
of Mary. And we can retrace the whole history of salvation: the prophecies - especially about the Servant of the Lord, the Psalms, the Law and the Covenant;
to the liberation from Egypt, to the first Passover and to the blood of the slaughtered lambs; and again from the Patriarchs to Abraham, and then all the way back to Abel, whose blood cried out from the earth. All of this we can see in the wounds of Jesus, crucified and risen; with Mary, in her Magnificat, we can perceive that, 'His mercy extends from generation to generation'". He continued, "Faced with the tragic events of human history we can feel crushed at
times, asking ourselves, 'Why?'. Humanity's evil can appear in the world like an
abyss, a great void: empty of love, empty of goodness, empty of life. And so we
ask: how can we fill this abyss? For us it is impossible; only God can fill this
emptiness that evil brings to our hearts and to human history. It is Jesus, God
made man, Who died on the Cross and Who fills the abyss of sin with the depth of
The saints teach us that "the world is changed beginning with the conversion of
one's own heart, and that this happens through the mercy of God. And so, whether
faced with my own sins or the great tragedies of the world, 'my conscience would
be distressed, but it would not be in turmoil, for I would recall the wounds of
the Lord: "He was wounded for our iniquities". What sin is there so deadly that
it cannot be pardoned by the death of Christ?'".
"Keeping our gaze on the wounds of the Risen Jesus, we can sing with the Church: 'His love endures forever'; eternal is his mercy. And with these words impressed on our hearts, let us go forth along the paths of history, led by the
hand of our Lord and Saviour, our life and our hope", concluded the Pontiff.
Pope's message to the Armenians
Vatican City, 12 April 2015 (VIS) - At the end of the Holy Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian "martyrdom" (Metz Yeghern) and the proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as Doctor of the Church, the Pope met with His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House
of Cilicia, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholic Church, and the president of the Republic of Armenia, Serz
Sargsyan. He handed to each of them a signed copy in Italian of his message he read at the beginning of the celebration, with a translation in Armenian. The following is the full text of his message.
"On a number of occasions I have spoken of our time as a time of war, a third world war which is being fought piecemeal, one in which we daily witness savage
crimes, brutal massacres and senseless destruction. Sadly, today too we hear the
muffled and forgotten cry of so many of our defenceless brothers and sisters who, on account of their faith in Christ or their ethnic origin, are publicly and ruthlessly put to death - decapitated, crucified, burned alive - or forced to leave their homeland.
Today too we are experiencing a sort of genocide created by general and collective indifference, by the complicit silence of Cain, who cries out: 'What
does it matter to me? Am I my brother's keeper?'.
In the past century our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies. The first, which is widely considered 'the first genocide of the twentieth century' (John Paul II and Karekin II, Common Declaration, Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001), struck your own Armenian people, the first Christian nation, as well as Catholic and Orthodox Syrians, Assyrians,
Chaldeans and Greeks. Bishops and priests, religious, women and men, the elderly
and even defenceless children and the infirm were murdered. The remaining two were perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism. And more recently there have been other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood. It seems that the enthusiasm generated at the end of the Second World War
has dissipated and is now disappearing. It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today too there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by. We have not yet learned that 'war is madness', 'senseless slaughter'.
Dear Armenian Christians, today, with hearts filled with pain but at the same time with great hope in the risen Lord, we recall the centenary of that tragic event, that immense and senseless slaughter whose cruelty your forebears had to
endure. It is necessary, and indeed a duty, to honour their memory, for whenever
memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying
evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!
I greet you with affection and I thank you for your witness. With gratitude for
his presence, I greet Mr Serz Sargsyan, the President of the Republic of Armenia. My cordial greeting goes also to my brother Patriarchs and Bishops: His
Holiness Kerekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, His Beatitude Nerses
Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of Armenian Catholics; and Catholicosates of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Patriarchate of the Armenian Catholic Church.
In the certainty that evil never comes from God, Who is infinitely good, and standing firm in faith, let us profess that cruelty may never be considered God's work and, what is more, can find absolutely no justification in his Holy Name. Let us continue this celebration by fixing our gaze on Jesus Christ, risen
from the dead, victor over death and evil".
Regina Coeli: "Invited to contemplate Divine Mercy in the wounds of the Risen Christ"
Vatican City, 13 April 2015 (VIS) - At midday on Divine Mercy Sunday, following
the celebration of Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the faithful of Armenian Rite, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pontiff addressed those present.
"Today is the eighth day after Easter, and the Gospel of St. John tells of the
two appearances of the Resurrected Jesus to the apostles gathered in the Upper Room. ... The first time, the Lord shows the disciples the wounds on His body. ...
But Thomas was not present that evening, and he did not believe the account given by the others. ... Eight days after - precisely like today - Jesus returned
among them and turned immediately to Thomas, inviting him to touch the wounds on
His hands and on His side. He reaches out to his incredulity so that, through the signs of the Passion, he is able to reach the fullness of Paschal faith: faith in the resurrection of Jesus".
"Thomas is a person who is not easily satisfied, a seeker who wishes to check in person, to attain his own personal experience. After his initial resistance and uneasiness, he too finally reaches the point of believing. ... Jesus awaits
him patiently and is attentive to the difficulties and insecurities of the last
man to arrive. ... [Thomas] was able to 'touch' the paschal Mystery that fully demonstrates God's salvific love, rich in mercy. And like Thomas, we too, on this second Sunday of Easter, are invited to contemplate, in the wounds of the Risen Christ, the Divine Mercy that overcomes every human limit and shines through the darkness of evil and sin".
Francis explained that the upcoming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will be an intense and prolonged period for welcoming the immense wealth of God's merciful
love, and emphasised that the Face of Mercy is Jesus Christ. "Let us keep our gaze upon Him, He Who always seeks us, awaits us, forgives us ... and may the Virgin Mary help us to be merciful towards others, as Jesus is with us".
After the Marian prayer, the Pope greeted those present, especially pilgrims attending the Holy Mass in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia, centre for devotion to Divine Mercy. He mentioned the neocatechumenical communities of Rome, which are beginning a special mission in the city's squares to pray and offer witness of their faith, and congratulated the Oriental Churches which, according to their calendar, celebrate Easter. Finally, he gave thanks for the many Easter greetings that he has received from all over the world.
Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy: path of forgiveness and mercy
Vatican City, 12 April 2015 (VIS) - The Pope presided at the first vespers of the second Sunday of Easter - Divine Mercy Sunday - in St. Peter's Basilica at 5.30 p.m. yesterday, Saturday 11 April. The celebration included the consignment
and reading of the official Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, to begin on 8 December 2015 and to close on 16 November 2016.
The Holy Father, accompanied by the cardinals, transferred to the entrance of
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Apr 20 10:00:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 074
- Ad Limina visit of the bishops of Gabon: evangelise the customs and socio-political realities of your country
- Pope Francis receives the Conference of European Rabbis
- The Holy Father remembers Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff
- Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery
- Regina Coeli: the content of Christian witness is not an ideology
- Men and women like us, seeking a better life
- State Visit of the President of the Italian Republic
- Italy and the Holy See: promoting and protecting religious freedom and human dignity at bilateral and international levels
- To the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences: raise awareness of new forms of
- The Pope receives the A.C.I.S.J.F.: let young women know they are called to happiness
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Francis Eugene George
- The Pope to receive Catholic Charismatic Renewal in audience on 3 July
- Symposium on Friar Junipero Serra, to be canonised 23 September
- Other Pontifical Acts
Ad Limina visit of the bishops of Gabon: evangelise the customs and socio-political realities of your country
Vatican City, 18 April 2015 (VIS) - "In this jubilee year that commemorates several events in the life of the Church in Gabon, including the 170th anniversary of her foundation, I wish to greet and encourage your priests, men and women religious and other pastoral agents who collaborate with you, as well
as the lay faithful of your dioceses, whom I join in prayer and thanksgiving", writes the Holy Father in the discourse he handed this morning to the bishops of
the Episcopal Conference of Gabon, at the end of their "ad Limina" visit.
"The courageous missionaries who preached the Gospel in your land, in heroic conditions, and also the first Christians of Gabon, who welcomed the Good News of salvation with a generous heart and bore witness to it, often facing great adversity, are the pioneers of your local Church. Their memory, their zeal and their evangelical witness must never cease to inspire you in your pastoral action, and constitute for the Church of Gabon the source of a renewed commitment to the announcement of the Gospel, as a message of peace, joy and salvation that liberates man from the forces of evil to guide him to the Kingdom
"To carry out the ministry that has been entrusted to you in each of your dioceses requires you to live in authentic fraternity within your Episcopal Conference", he continues. "Fraternal collaboration must make it possible to respond better to needs such as the challenges of the Church and to assure, with
a collegial spirit, service to the common good all society. In this regard, you
have recently taken the initiative of establishing a day of prayer for your country. The Church thus shows that she shares in the concerns of all Gabonese and that the Christian message, far from deterring humanity from building an ever more just and fraternal world, makes doing so a duty. The Centre for Studes
for Social Doctrine and Interreligious Dialogue, established in 2011 in Libreville, also shows your concern for evangelising customs and the socio-political realities of your country".
"The unity of the presbytery with the bishop is an example that gives the faithful the sense of the Church as the family of God. This must be translated in particular into great care to immunise them against the insidious danger of tribal and ethnic discrimination, which are the very negation of the Gospel. This spirit of communion is especially expressed in the fraternal care that you
dedicate to the life and the mission of your priests. ... The candidates to the
priesthood also need ... effective accompaniment in the indispensable and complex
process of the discernment of vocations. This discernment and the formation of seminarians must be anchored first to the Gospel, and then to the true cultural
values of their country, on the sense of honesty, responsibility and the given word. ... Men and women religious, who since the founding of the Church in Gabon
have displayed extraordinary apostolic zeal in the service of the Gospel, are also entitled to privileged and affectionate attention from you ... that may be
manifested in constructive dialogue and permanent collaboration at all levels with them, as well as in spiritual closeness and the promotion of different charisms within your dioceses".
The bishop of Rome encourages the prelates to continue in their efforts to "awaken in the laity the sense of their Christian vocation, and to urge them to
develop their charisms in order to put them to the service of the Church and of
society. The Church is missionary by nature. ... Therefore, the human and Christian formation of the laity is an important way of contributing to the work
of the evangelisation and development of the people, always endeavouring to adopt an 'outbound' approach towards social peripheries. It is also necessary to
present to the young the true face of Christ, their friend and guide, so that they find in Him a solid anchorage to resist ideologies and sects as well as the
illusions of a false modernity and the mirage of material wealth".
"In this regard, it is important to maintain the prestige of Catholic educational institutions in your country, by way of a formation that is increasingly inspired by the spirit of the Gospel. The 2001 Agreement between the Holy See and the Gabonese Republic on the Status of Catholic Education offers valuable support to the local Church, favouring the promotion of each and
every person, with a preferential option for the poorest. I encourage you, therefore, not to hesitate in raising your voice to defend the human person and
the sacred nature of life". The Holy Father concludes, "In this time of preparation for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, I invite you to pray and to ask for prayer for a good outcome, to better serve all families".
Pope Francis receives the Conference of European Rabbis
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) - For the first time a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, presided by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, has met with the Successsor of Peter in the Vatican. Pope Francis, who received them this morning, expressed his joy at this event, and at the same time offered his
condolences, which he extended to the Jewish community of Rome, for the death yesterday of the ex Grand Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, a "man of peace and dialogue", who received Pope John Paul II during his historical visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in April 1986. For this reason, the current Chief Rabbi
of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, was not present at the meeting.
In his address to the delegation, the Pope emphasised that the dialogue between
the Catholic Church and the Jewish communities continues to progress as it has for half a century; 28 October will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is still the reference point for efforts in this regard. "With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years,
rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us", he
"Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life", he continued. "In a society increasingly
marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if
God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however,
that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also
the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of
today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human
life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable".
Francis voiced his concerns regarding increasing anti-Semitism and acts of hatred and violence in Europe, and affirmed that "every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people". He also referred to the recent seventieth anniversary of the
liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous
with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the
heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations. Acts of hatred
and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere".
"Dear friends", he concluded, "I heartily thank you for this very significant visit. I extend my best wishes to your communities, with the assurance of my closeness and prayers. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. Shalom alechem!".
The Holy Father remembers Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) - Pope Francis has sent a letter of condolences to the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, for the death yesterday of his predecessor in this role, Rabbi Elio Toaff, at the age of 99. The following is the full text of the letter.
"I wish to express my heartfelt participation in the mourning of the family and
the entire Jewish community of the capital following the departure of the Rabbi
Professor Elio Toaff, the long-time spiritual guide of the Jews of Rome.
A key figure in Italian Jewish and civil history during recent decades, he knew
how to earn esteem and appreciation through his moral authority, linked to a profound humanity.
I recall with gratitude his generous efforts and sincere willingness to promote
dialogue and fraternal relations between Jews and Catholics, which experienced significant moment in his memorable encounter with St. John Paul II at the Synagogue of Rome.
I raise prayers that the Almighty, rich in love and faithfulness, welcome him in His Kingdom of peace".
Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery
Vatican City, 20 April 2015 (VIS) - "Buddhists and Christians, together to counter modern slavery" is the title of the message from the Pontifical Council
for Interreligious Dialogue to Buddhists, to celebrate the month of Vesakh, the
commemoration of the three most significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha
- his birth, enlightenment and death. This occasion, according to the president
of the dicastery, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, also provides an opportunity "to
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon May 4 12:36:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 082
- To the bishops of the Congo: build fraternity rooted in forgiveness and solidarity
- Catholics and Lutherans are brothers in faith, not adversaries
- The Holy Father thanks the Pontifical Swiss Guard for their hard work
- Pope's message for the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante
- Visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis
- Regina Coeli: true Christians who do good for society
- The Pope presides at the Mass and day of reflection dedicated to Friar Junipero Serra
- Francis to the faithful of Molise and Abruzzo: job creation cannot be postponed
- Globalising solidarity: the Pope's message for the inauguration of the Milan Universal Exposition
- To the Cursillos in Christianity: take your charism to the existential peripheries
- Four cardinals to take possession of titles and diaconates
- Other Pontifical Acts
To the bishops of the Congo: build fraternity rooted in forgiveness and solidarity
Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - The bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Congo were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning, at the end of their "ad Limina" visit. The Holy Father handed them a written discourse in which he emphasises the vitality of the Catholic Church in this country, which has led to the creation of three new dioceses, and the work of pastors in the work of evangelisation, as well as the Church's contribution in the education and healthcare sectors and her role in national reconciliation following the grave crisis of the 1990s.
Francis praises the work of the Episcopal Conference with regard to the mission
of the laity in the Church and society, and mentioned the importance of forming
and accompanying laypeople to offer Christian witness in socio-political sectors, which constitute a specific sector for the apostolate. "Family pastoral
ministry is an integral part of this accompaniment. The reluctance of the faithful to embark on Christian marriage reveals the need for profound evangelisation, which involves not only the inculturation of faith, but also the
evangelisation of local traditions and culture".
In these sectors, as in many others, priests are the bishops' first collaborators and as a result, their living conditions and sanctification must be central to their concerns. "The immense pastoral needs of the local Church require rigorous discernment, so that the People of God are able to count on zealous pastors who edify the faithful through their testimony of life, especially in relation to celibacy and the spirit of evangelical poverty". The Pope also remarks that in some dioceses there are great difficulties due to the
lack of available financial and material resources.
"I am aware of the magnitude of the problems and the worries related to this situation in the heart of a pastor. Therefore, I encourage you to resolutely engage your dioceses in embarking on the path of autonomy, a gradual takeover of
control and solidarity between the particular Churches in your country, following a tradition that dates back to the first Christian communities. In this respect, you must be careful to ensure that economic aid to your particular
Churches in support of your specific mission does not limit your freedom as pastors or obstruct the freedom of the Church, which must have a free hand to proclaim the Gospel in a credible way. ... With regard to mutual aid and solidarity between local Churches, this must also be reflected in the promotion
of the missionary spirit first within Africa", affirmed Francis, quoting Paul VI
in his 1969 discourse in Kampala: "By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves".
In-depth evangelisation is another great challenge for the bishops, and one which requires "special attention to the concrete conditions of life for the populations; that is, ultimately, to the development of the human person. Again
here the commitment of the Catholic Church in the Congo is important: in the fields of education, healthcare, and aid to the various categories of people in
need, including refugees from neighbouring countries, your diocese contribute in
a significant way. As pastors, continue to ensure that your social ministry is increasingly carried out in the spirit of the Gospel and perceived as a work of
evangelisation, and not as the action of a non-governmental organisation".
The Pope concludes by noting that in certain sectors of society, the wounds caused by the grave crisis that affected the Congo at the end of the 1990s have
left deep scars that have not yet fully healed. "In this respect, in particular,
the Church, strong in the Gospel of Jesus, has received the mission of building
new fraternity anchored in forgiveness and solidarity. You, pastors, continue to
be models and prophets in this sense!".
Catholics and Lutherans are brothers in faith, not adversaries
Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received in audience the
Lutheran archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden, Antje Jackelen, who led a delegation to
the Vatican from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church. Francis greeted them cordially
and commented that last year was the fiftieth anniversary of the Vatican Council
II decree on ecumenism, "Unitatis Redintegratio", which continues to be the key
point of reference for the ecumenical efforts of the Catholic Church. "This document is an invitation to all Catholics to undertake the path of unity to overcome division between Christians, which is "not only openly opposed to the will of Christ, but is also a scandal to the world and damages the holiest of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature".
The decree "expresses a profound respect and appreciation for those brothers and sisters separated from us, to whom in daily coexistence we at times risk giving little consideration. In reality, they are not perceived as adversaries or as competitors, but instead acknowledged for what they are: brothers and sisters in faith. Catholics and Lutherans must seek and promote unity in dioceses, in parishes, in communities throughout the world", the Pope emphasised, mentioning the recent document "From conflict to communion. The Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017", published by
the Lutheran-Catholic Commission for Unity. "We sincerely hope that this initiative may encourage, with God's help and collaboration between Him and among us, the achievement of further steps on the path of unity".
The call to unity also implies "a pressing exhortation to joint commitment at the charitable level, in favour of all those who suffer in the world as a result
of poverty and violence, and have a special need for our mercy; the witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in particular drives us to grow in fraternal
communion. The question of the dignity of human life, always to be respected, is
of urgent relevance, as are issues regarding the family, marriage and sexuality,
that may not be set aside or ignored for fear of jeopardising the ecumenical consensus already received. It would be a pity if new confessional differences were to be consolidated with regard to these important questions".
Francis concluded his address by giving thanks first to the Swedish Lutheran Church, "for the welcome given to so many South American migrants in the times of the dictatorships, a fraternal welcome that has enabled families to grow", and secondly, to Jackelen, "for the delicacy that you, dear sister, have had in
appointing my dear friend, the pastor Anders Root: I have shared with him the chair in spiritual theology and he has helped me greatly in spiritual life".
The Holy Father thanks the Pontifical Swiss Guard for their hard work
Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - "'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends'. In the history of the Church, many men and women have heeded the call of this great love. The Swiss Guards who fought during the Sack of Rome and who gave their lives in defence of the Pope responded to this call. And answering this call with devotion means following Christ", said the Holy Father as he received in audience the new recruits to the
Pontifical Swiss Guard who will take their oath of loyalty tomorrow, 6 May.
"In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola, who in his youth was a soldier, spoke of the 'call of the Christ the King', who wishes to build His Kingdom and choose his collaborators. The Lord wishes to build His Kingdom with
the collaboration of men. He needs decisive and courageous people. ... At the same
time, Ignatius compares the world to two military camps, one with the standard of Christ, the other under the flag of Satan. There are only these two camps. For the Christian the choice is clear: he follows Christ's standard".
"Christ is the true King. He Himself goes ahead and His friends follow Him. One
of Christ's soldiers participates in the life of His Lord. This is also the call
that is addressed to you: to take on the concerns of Christ, to be His companions. In this way you learn, day by day, to 'feel' with Christ and with the Church. A Swiss Guard is a person who truly seeks to follow the Lord Jesus and who loves the Church in a special way; he is a Christian with genuine faith", emphasised the Pontiff. "You too, like every Christian, must live all this through the Sacraments of the Church: with diligent participation in Mass and frequent Confession. You can live this by reading the Gospel every day. What
I say to all, I repeat to you: keep a pocket-sized Gospel close to hand, so you
can read it whenever you have a free moment. Your personal prayer, especially the Rosary, will also help you, during your guards of honour. And it will help you in your service to the poor, the sick, to those in need of a good word".
The Pope remarked that when the Swiss Guards meet people and pilgrims they transmit to them, with their "kindness and competence", this "great love" that comes from their friendship with Christ. Indeed", he exclaimed, "you are a banner for the Holy See! I thank you and encourage you in your work".
"I know that your service is demanding. When there is extra work to be done, we
are always able to count on the Swiss Guard. I thank you with affection and express my great appreciation for all that you do for the Church and for me, as
the Successor of Peter", he concluded.
Pope's message for the 750th anniversary of the birth of Dante
Vatican City, 4 May 2015 (VIS) - This morning, with the commemoration in the Senate, there began the events with which all Italy will celebrate the birth of
Dante Alighieri (Florence 1265 - Ravenna 1321), the author of "The Divine Comedy". The Pope participated with a message to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, also present at the ceremony presided over by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, and attended by the minister for Culture Dario Franceschini and the actor Roberto Benigni, who read Canto XXXIII of Paradise.
"With this message, I wish to join the chorus of those who consider Dante Alighieri to be an artist of the highest universal value, who still has much to
say and to offer, through his immortal works, to those who wish to follow the route of true knowledge, of the authentic discovery of the self, of the world, of the profound and transcendent meaning of existence", writes the Pope.
He notes that many of his predecessors celebrated the anniversaries of Dante with documents of great importance, in which the figure of Dante Alighieri is presented precisely for his continuing relevance and his greatness, not only artistic but also theological and cultural. He cites, among these, Benedict XV who dedicated his encyclical "In praeclara summorum" (1921) to Dante on the sixth centenary of his death, affirming and highlighting "the intimate union of
Dante with the See of Peter". Blessed Paul VI dedicated the Apostolic Letter "Altissimi cantus", at the closure of Vatican Council II, to Dante, affirming that "Dante is ours! Ours, as in of Catholic faith". St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI also often referred to the works of the great poet and mentioned him on numerous occasions. Pope Francis added that in his first encyclical, "Lumen Fidei", he drew upon the "immense patrimony of images, symbols and values
that constitute Dante's work".
On the eve of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Holy Father expresses his
hope that during this year the figure of Dante and his work will also accompany
us on this personal and community path. "Indeed", he remarks, "the Comedy may be
read as a great itinerary, or rather as a true pilgrimage, both personal and interior, and communal, ecclesial, social and historical. It represents the paradigm of every authentic journey in which humanity is called upon to leave what Dante defines as 'the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious' to attain
a new condition, marked by harmony, peace and happiness. And this is the horizon
of every true humanism".
"Dante is, therefore, a prophet of hope, herald of the possibility of redemption, of liberation, of the profound transformation of every man and
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon May 11 08:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 087
- Francis receives the Episcopal Conference of Togo: spread the values of the Christian family
- The Pope receives the "workers" of the Peace Factory
- The Holy Father receives the president of the Republic of Cuba
- Regina Coeli: love is a concrete path
- Pope's message to His Holiness Tawadros II: continuing friendship between the
Orthodox Coptic Church and the Catholic Church
- Pope's letter for the bicentenary of the coronation of Our Lady of Mercy
- To the bishops of Mozambique: always live among the faithful
- Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet to take possession of his titular church
- Other Pontifical Acts
Francis receives the Episcopal Conference of Togo: spread the values of the Christian family
Vatican City, 11 May 2015 (VIS) - Defence of the particular nature of the Christian family, and care in the formation of priests and consecrated persons in a country where religious communities and co-existence with other religions present no problems, were the key themes of the discourse Pope Francis handed to
the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Togo, whom he received in audience this morning at the end of their "ad Limina" visit.
In the text, and in view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops, the Pope underlines
the need for the positive aspects of African families to be known and understood. "In particular", he observes, "the African family welcomes life, and
respects and takes into consideration the elderly. This heritage must be preserved, and serves as an example and impetus for others. The sacrament of marriage is a pastoral reality that is well accepted in your country, although there still exist barriers of a cultural and legal nature that prevent some couples from realising their wish to base their married life on faith in Christ.
I encourage you to persevere in your effort to support families in difficulty ...
and to prepare couples for the commitments, demanding but magnificent, of Christian marriage. Togo is not immune to ideological and media attacks that come from all sides these days and which present models of unions and families incompatible with Christian faith. I am aware of the vigilance you show in this
area, as well as your efforts, especially in the sector of communications".
"But one of the keys to meeting the challenges presented to your communities and your societies is without doubt the formation of the young", continues the bishop of Rome. "The Church-Family of God in Togo has chosen to stay close to children and young people who receive a good human and religious formation through numerous projects and initiatives. It is crucial that the young learn to
life their faith with coherence, in order to bear witness to it with authenticity and to contribute to a more just and fraternal society. ... Men and
women religious play an indispensable role in the proclamation and transmission
of faith in Togo. ... I encourage you always to show paternal care towards the various Institutes. Their numbers are growing rapidly, and their development should be well accompanied; attention should also be paid to the formation of the youngest among them, in particular, to avoid amalgamation at the level of faith and inculturation. ... Vocations are numerous in Togo and seminarians receive good formation in the seminaries ... which must later help them in their
battle against ambition, careerism, jealousy, worldliness, the seduction of money and worldly goods, and in living a sincere and joyful celibacy. I recommend special attention to the spiritual and pastoral care of young priests,
and to be open to listening to their experiences".
The Pope remarks that in recent years Togolese society has made significant progress in the political and social fields, and that "the Catholic Church has made extensive contributions to this, not only through her works of evangelisation and human promotion, but also through her commitment to justice and reconciliation. I thank you warmly for your efforts in this area, especially
for your work in the Commission for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation. I encourage you to continue, ensuring that the Church occupies the place due to her in the the process of institutional reforms. ... However, it is always necessary to take care not to enter directly into political debate or disputes taking care instead to form, encourage and support the laity - whose role this rightly is - so they are able to dedicate themselves to the service of the nation and the highest level and to assume their responsibilities".
"I am glad that this service to Togolese society is also an opportunity for joint action with other Christian communities, as shown by various joint appeals
to the nation. In the same way, in matters of interreligious dialogue, it is always necessary to promote, and perhaps further develop, the culture of dialogue and encounter, given that you enjoy peaceful co-existence especially with Islam, a co-existence that must be maintained considering the current situation in Western Africa. 'Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities'. It is particularly important for young priests to receive a solid education in this matter", concludes the Holy Father.
The Pope receives the "workers" of the Peace Factory
Vatican City, 10 May 2015 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall Pope Francis received in audience more than seven thousand children and young people, who form part of the "Peace Factory", an initiative promoted by various
institutions, including the Ministry of Education and the Italian Episcopal Conference, to favour multi-ethnic integration and to raise awareness among spiritual, political and educational leaders so that they use the language of peace. The Peace Factory, presented on 5 May at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is a large laboratory that seeks to involve all schools in an educational network that, through art, theatre, new technologies and sport, offers a formation in human values to all boys and girls, starting from elementary school.
Upon arrival in the Hall, the Pope was warmly greeted by the thousands of Factory "workers", and answered the questions that some of them posed to him, emphasising above all the inseparable relationship between peace and justice. Francis did not pronounce the discourse he had prepared, but we publish several
extracts from it here below:
"Thank you for your invitation to work with you in the 'Peace Factory'! It is good workplace as it is about building a society without injustice and violence,
where all children and young people may be welcomed and grow in love. There is great need for peace factories, as unfortunately there is no lack of war factories! ... War is the result of hatred, selfishness, the desire to own more
and to dominate others. And to combat it you pledge to spread the culture of inclusion, reconciliation and encounter. ... It is a good path, that requires courage and strength, so that everyone may understand the need for a change in mentality, to ensure the safety of children on the planet, and especially those
who live in areas afflicted by wars and persecution".
"The term 'factory' tells us that peace is something that has to ... be built with wisdom and tenacity. But to build a world of peace, we need to begin with our own world, that is, the environments in which we live every day: the family,
school, the playground, the gym, the oratory. ... And it is important to work together with the people who live next to us: our friends, schoolmates, parents
and educators. We need the help of all in order to build a better future. ... The
true builder of peace is one who makes the first step towards the other. And this is not weakness, but strength, the strength of peace. How can we put an end
to wars in the world, if we are not capable of overcoming our minor misunderstandings and our arguments? Our acts of dialogue, forgiveness and reconciliation are bricks that serve to construct the edifice of peace".
"Another characteristic of this factory is that it has no borders. One breathes
an air of acceptance and encounter without barriers or exclusion. Faced with people from different countries and ethnic groups, who have other traditions and
religions, your attitude is that of knowledge and dialogue, for the inclusion of
all, with respect for the laws of the State. And you have understood that to construct a world of peace it is indispensable to take an interest in the needs
of the poorest, the most suffering and abandoned, even those who are far away. think of many of your peers who, just for the fact of being Christians, have been driven from their homes, their countries, and some have been killed for holding the Bible in their hands! And in this way the work of your 'factory' truly becomes a work of love. Loving others, especially the most disadvantaged,
means showing that every person is a gift of God. Every person".
"But peace itself is a gift of God, a gift to ask for trustfully in prayer. Therefore it is important not only to be witnesses of peace and love, but also witnesses of prayer. Prayer is speaking to God, our Father in Heaven, to entrust
to Him our wishes, our joys, our sorrows. Prayer is asking Him for forgiveness every time we err and commit a sin, in the certainty that He always forgives. His goodness towards us drives us too to be merciful towards our brothers, forgiving them from our heart when they offend us or harm us. And, finally, peace has a face and a heart: it is the face and the heart of Jesus, the Son of
God, Who died on the cross and rose again to bring peace to every man and to all
humanity. Jesus is 'our peace', as he tore down the wall of hate that separated
men from each other".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon May 25 18:18:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 096
- Meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
- Pentecost: the Holy Spirit makes us capable of dedicating ourselves to works of justice and peace
- Regina Coeli: the Church is not born isolated
- The Pope urges the international community to help refugees in the Bay of Bengal
- Message for World Missions Day: "There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor"
- Francis prays with the Pentecostal evangelical pastors of Phoenix for the unity of the Church
- The Pope to Christian workers' association: fight for free, creative, participatory and fraternal work
- Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero: a martyr who knew how to guide, defend and protect his flock
- Pope's message for the Second International Conference on Women
- Other Pontifical Acts
Meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops
Vatican City, 25 May 2015 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father chaired the meeting of the Council of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Pentecost: the Holy Spirit makes us capable of dedicating ourselves to works of
justice and peace
Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) - "Strengthened by the Spirit - who guides, who
guides us into the truth, who renews us and the whole earth, and who gives us his fruits - strengthened in the Spirit and by these many gifts, may we be able
to battle uncompromisingly against sin, to battle uncompromisingly against corruption, which continues to spread in the world day after day, by devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace", said the
Holy Father during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the solemnity of Pentecost.
Pope Francis repeated several times during his homily that the Holy Spirit, today as yesterday, guides, renews and bears fruit, acting through people and communities, and making them capable of receiving God, "capax Dei" the Holy Fathers have affirmed.
"On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them
his Spirit; on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding
way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds
and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ's Resurrection in different languages. ... Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple, there too as Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace, with her smile,with her maternity, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus".
In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to "guide them into all the truth", and explains to them that its action will bring them to understand ever more clearly
what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially with regard to his death and
resurrection. "To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master's
sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of
that saving event. At first they were paralysed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed
to be Christ's disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand 'all the truth': that the
death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God's love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, the Lord of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be
proclaimed to all".
The Holy Spirit also renews the earth. "Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the 'garden' in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect. Yet this is possible only if Adam - the man formed from the earth - allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed
by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the
Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and
daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator".
"The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled
with the Holy Spirit", exclaimed the Pope at the end of his homily. "Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin.
There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness
for one's own gain; by rigid legalism - seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as 'hypocrites'; by neglect of what Jesus taught;
by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. However, the world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ's followers. The world needs the
fruits, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Saint Paul lists them: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one
of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace".
Regina Coeli: the Church is not born isolated
Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) - As is usual on a Sunday, the Pope appeared at
the window of his study at midday today to pray the Regina Coeli with the thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Before the Marian prayer he again referred to the solemnity of Pentecost, which
represents "the baptism of the Church, which thus begins her path through history, guided by the strength of the Holy Spirit". He continued, "That event,
which changes the heart and the life of the apostles and the other disciples, is
immediately reflected outside the Cenacle. Indeed, the door that had been kept closed for fifty days is finally opened and the first Christian Community, no longer closed in on itself, begins to speak to the crowds of different origins of the great things that God has done. ... And every person present hears the disciples speak in his own language. The gift of the Spirit re-establishes the harmony of language lost in Babel, and prefigures the universal dimension of the
The Church "is not born isolated: she is born universal, one, Catholic, with precise identity but open to all, not closed, an identity that embraces the whole world, without exception. The Mother Church does not close her door to anyone! Not even the greatest sinner! And this is due to the strength and the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Mother Church throws her doors wide open to all, because she is a mother".
Pentecost is also "the beginning of a new season: the season of witness and fraternity. It is a season that comes from above, that comes from God, like the
flames of fire that came to rest of the head of each disciple. It was the flame
of love that burned away all bitterness; it was the language of the Gospel that
crosses the boundaries set by man and touches the hearts of the multitude, without distinction of language, race or nationality. As on that day of Pentecost, today too the Holy Spirit is continually poured onto the Church and on each one of us, so that we leave behind our mediocrity and narrow-mindedness,
and communicate the merciful love of the Lord to all the world ... so that as we
announce Jesus, resurrected, living and present in our midst, we warm our own heart and the heart of peoples, drawing them close to Him, the path, the truth,
The Pope urges the international community to help refugees in the Bay of Bengal
Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) - Following today's Regina Coeli the Pope voiced his concern and suffering for the fate of the many refugees stranded at sea in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, expressing his appreciation for the efforts made by those countries which "have shown their willingness to welcome these people who face great suffering and danger", and urged the international community to offer humanitarian aid.
He went on to recall that today marks the centenary of Italy's entry into the First World War, "that senseless slaughter". "Let us pray for the victims", he said, "asking the Holy Spirit for the gift of peace".
He also mentioned the beatification yesterday of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El
Salvador and the Italian religious sister Irene Stefanini in Kenya. "The first was killed in hatred of the faith as he celebrated the Eucharist", he remarked.
"This zealous pastor, following Jesus' example, chose to stay among his people,
especially the poor and oppressed, even at the cost of his own life. Sister Irene Stefanini, Missionary of Consolation, served the Kenyan population with joy, mercy and tender compassion. May the example of these blesseds inspire in every one of us the wish to bear witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice".
Finally, on the feast day of Mary Help of Christians, he greeted the Salesian community, asking that the Lord might give them the strength to continue in their work in the spirit of St. John Bosco.
Message for World Missions Day: "There is an inseparable bond between our faith
and the poor"
Vatican City, 24 May 2015 (VIS) - The Holy Father's message for the 89th World
Mission Day was published today. To be held on Sunday 18 October 2015, this year
the Day will take place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life and will
therefore highlight the bond between faith and mission.
The following is the full text of the message:
"The 2015 World Mission Sunday 2015 takes place in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, which provides a further stimulus for prayer and reflection. For if every baptised person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman. There is a clear connection between consecrated life
and mission. The desire to follow Jesus closely, which led to the emergence of consecrated life in the Church, responds to his call to take up the cross and follow him, to imitate his dedication to the Father and his service and love, to
lose our life so as to gain it. Since Christ's entire existence had a missionary
character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary
The missionary dimension, which belongs to the very nature of the Church, is also intrinsic to all forms of consecrated life, and cannot be neglected without
detracting from and disfiguring its charism. Being a missionary is not about proselytising or mere strategy; mission is part of the 'grammar' of faith, something essential for those who listen to the voice of the Spirit who whispers
'Come' and 'Go forth'. Those who follow Christ cannot fail to be missionaries, for they know that Jesus 'walks with them, speaks to them, breathes with them. They sense Jesus alive with them in the midst of the missionary enterprise'.
Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us
dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realise that the love flowing from
Jesus' pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realise once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved
people and all those who seek him with a sincere heart. In Jesus' command to 'go
forth', we see the scenarios and ever-present new challenges of the Church's evangelising mission. 'l her members are called to proclaim the Gospel by their
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- Audience with the president of Colombia: special attention to the reconciliation process and prospects for a peace agreement
- Francis to the ROACO: continue your service of Christian charity, condemning all that tramples human dignity
- Francis commemorates the reformer Jan Hus on the 600th anniversary of his death
- The Pope inaugurates the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome: we parents, witnesses to the beauty of life
- Angelus: God entrusted his Word to the fruitfulness of "our earth"
- Pope Francis announces the publication of his encyclical
- Francis praises the goodness and wisdom of the Scouts and Guides movement
- The Pope to Italian magistrates: justice is not an abstract concept, it is centred on the person
- God's tenderness: theme of the Pope's homily at the Third Worldwide Priests' Retreat
- Former nuncio Jozef Wesolowski committed to trial
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with the president of Colombia: special attention to the reconciliation process and prospects for a peace agreement
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father received in audience the president of the Republic of Colombia, Juan
Manuel Santos Calderon, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions the good relations between the Holy See and the
Republic of Colombia were evoked, underlining the contribution the Catholic Church has given and continues to guarantee in favour of the human, social and cultural progress of the population. Among the issues considered, special attention was given to the state of the reconciliation process in the country, the complexity of the negotiations that this entails, and the prospects that could open the way to achieving a peace agreement.
Finally, there was an exchange of views on the regional political and social situation, with attention to the efforts made towards promoting stability in the
countries of the area, their harmonious and equitable development, and a culture
Francis to the ROACO: continue your service of Christian charity, condemning all that tramples human dignity
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) - The lands of the Middle East, marred by years of conflict, are also "marked by the footprints of those who seek refuge and soaked with the blood of many men and women, including numerous Christians persecuted for their faith", said the Holy Father as he received in audience the
members of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO), a year
after their pilgrimage and Francis' plea for peace in the region, when all hoped
that "the seed of reconciliation would have borne greater fruits".
Recalling the recent trip to Iraq by a delegation of the ROACO, during which they met with displaced persons from the Nineveh Plain and with small groups from Syria, the Pope affirmed, "in those eyes that asked for help and pleaded for peace and to return home there was Jesus Himself Who looked at you, asking for that charity that makes us Christians. Every form of assistance, so as not to fall into the trap of uncompromising efficiency or mere aid that does not promote persons or peoples, must always be reborn from this blessing of the Lord
Who reaches us when we have the courage to look at the situations and the brothers before us".
Nevertheless, "the world seems to have become aware of the tragedy of recent months, and has opened its eyes, taking account of the millennial presence of Christians in the Middle East. Initiatives for raising awareness and offering aid to them to to others unjustly affected by violence have flourished. However,
further efforts must be made to eliminate what would appear to be tacit agreements by which the lives of thousands and thousands of families - women, men, children, elderly - in the balance of interests appear to weigh less than petroleum and weapons, and while peace and justice is proclaimed, it is accepted
that the traffickers of death act in those lands. I therefore encourage you, as
you carry out your service of Christian charity, to condemn all that tramples human dignity".
The Holy Father mentioned that in these days ROACO is dedicating special attention to Ethiopia, Eritrea and Armenia. "The first two, from this year, canonically constitute two separate realities, inasmuch as they are metropolitan
sui generis Churches, but they remain profoundly linked by their common Alexandrian-Gheez tradition". He urged the ROACO "to help these ancient Christian communities to feel that they are members in the evangelical mission and to offer, especially to the young, prospects of hope and growth. Without this, it will not be possible to stop the migratory flow in which so many sons and daughters of the region set out to reach the Mediterranean coasts, risking their lives". Armenia, "cradle of the first nation to receive baptism, also has
a great history rich in culture, faith and martyrdom. Support for the Church in
that land contributes to the path towards the visible unity of all believers in
The Pope concluded by dedicating to the Oriental Catholic Churches some words from St. Ephrem's Hymn of Resurrection: "Accept, our King, our offering, and give us in return our salvation. Pacify devastated lands and rebuild the burned-down churches so that, when there will be great peace, we may weave a great crown from flowers from all places, so that the Lord of peace may be crowned".
Francis commemorates the reformer Jan Hus on the 600th anniversary of his death
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) - This morning Pope Francis received in audience the representatives of the Czech Hussite Church and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, in Rome to celebrate a liturgy of reconciliation on the occasion of the 600 th anniversary of the reformer Jan Hus, distinguished preacher and rector of the University of Prague, whose execution was lamented by
St. John Paul II in 1999, who included him among the reformers of the Church.
"In the light of this consideration", said Francis, "it is necessary to continue our studies of the figure and work of Jan Hus, which has long been a matter of controversy between Christians, but which has today become a reason for dialogue. This research, conducted without any form of ideological conditioning, will be an important service to historical truth, to all Christians and to society as a whole, even beyond your national borders".
"Today's meeting gives us the opportunity to renew and deepen the relations between our communities", he added. "Many disputes of the past ask to be revisited in the light of the new context in which we live, and agreements and convergences will be reached if we face the traditional conflictual questions with a new outlook. Above all, we cannot forget that the shared profession of faith in God the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, in which we have been baptised, already unites us in bonds of authentic fraternity".
"Vatican Council II affirmed that 'every renewal of the Church is essentially grounded in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the
basis of the movement toward unity. ... Church renewal has therefore notable ecumenical importance'. Nowadays, in particular, the need for a new evangelisation of many men and women who seem indifferent to the joyful news of
the Gospel makes it urgent to renovate every ecclesial structure so as to promote a positive response from all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship.
And visible communion between Christians will certainly make this announcement more credible".
"Responding to the call of Christ to continual conversion, of which we are all
in need, we can progress together on the path of reconciliation and peace. Along
this road let us learn, by God's grace, to recognise each other as friends and to consider the motivations of others in the best light possible. In this sense
I hope that bonds of friendship may develop also at the level of local and parish communities. With these sentiments, I join spiritually in the penitential
liturgy you will celebrate here in Rome", concluded the Holy Father. "May God, rich in mercy, grant us the grace to recognise ourselves all as sinners and to know how to forgive each other".
The Pope inaugurates the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome: we parents,
witnesses to the beauty of life
Vatican City, 15 June 2015 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Square Pope Francis inaugurated the ecclesial Congress of the diocese of Rome, whose theme this year is: "For what I received I passed on to you - we parents, witnesses to the beauty of life". The meeting began with greetings from Cardinal
Agostino Vallini, vicar of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, and a prayer invoking the Holy Spirit. The Holy Father went on to address some off-the-cuff remarks to the families, catechists, priests and pastoral workers present, extensive extracts of which are given below.
"Our city must be reborn, morally and spiritually, as it seems as if everything
is the same, that everything is relative; that the Gospel is a beautiful story about good things, pleasant to read, but which remains simply an idea. It does
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- Overview of the Encyclical Laudato si'
- Press conference for the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato si'
- The Pope continues his visits to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia
- Other Pontifical Acts
Overview of the Encyclical Laudato si'
Vatican City, 18 June 2015 (VIS) - The following text offers an overview of the
191 pages of the Encyclical Laudato si' and its key points, along with a summary
of each of its six chapters ("What is happening to our common home", "The Gospel
of Creation", "The human roots of the ecological crisis", "Integral ecology", "Lines of approach and action", and "Ecological education and spirituality"). The Encyclical concludes with an interreligious prayer for our earth and a Christian prayer for Creation.
"What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children
who are now growing up?" (160). This question is at the heart of Laudato si' (May You be praised), the anticipated Encyclical on the care of the common home
by Pope Francis. "This question does not have to do with the environment alone and in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal". This leads us to ask ourselves about the meaning of existence and its values at the basis of social life: "What is the purpose of our life in this world? What is the goal of
our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us?" "Unless we struggle with these deeper issues - says the Pope - I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results"-.
The Encyclical takes its name from the invocation of St. Francis, "Praise be to
you, my Lord", in his Canticle of the Creatures. It reminds us that the earth, our common home "is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us". We have forgotten that "we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters."
Now, this earth, mistreated and abused, is lamenting, and its groans join those
of all the forsaken of the world. Pope Francis invites us to listen to them, urging each and every one - individuals, families, local communities, nations and the international community - to an "ecological conversion", according to the expression of St. John Paul II. We are invited to "change direction" by taking on the beauty and responsibility of the task of "caring for our common home". At the same time, Pope Francis recognises that "there is a growing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet". A ray of hope flows through the entire Encyclical, which gives a clear
message of hope. "Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home". "Men and women are still capable of intervening positively". "All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of
rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start".
Pope Francis certainly addresses the Catholic faithful, quoting St. John Paul II: "Christians in their turn "realise that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith"". Pope Francis proposes specially "to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home". The dialogue runs throughout the text and in
chapter 5 it becomes the instrument for addressing and solving problems. From the beginning, Pope Francis recalls that "other Churches and Christian communities - and other religions as well - have also expressed deep concern and
offered valuable reflections" on the theme of ecology. Indeed, such contributions expressly come in, starting with that of "the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew", extensively cited in numbers 8-9. On several occasions,
then, the Pope thanks the protagonists of this effort - individuals as well as associations and institutions. He acknowledges that "the reflections of numerous
scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all [...] have enriched
the Church's thinking on these questions". He invites everyone to recognize "the
rich contribution which the religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity".
The itinerary of the Encyclical is mapped out in n. 15 and divided into six chapters. It starts by presenting the current situation based on the best scientific findings available today, next, there is a review of the Bible and Judeo-Christian tradition. The root of the problems in technocracy and in an excessive self-centredness of the human being are analysed. The Encyclical proposes an "integral ecology, which clearly respects its human and social dimensions", inextricably linked to the environmental question. In this perspective, Pope Francis proposes to initiate an honest dialogue at every level
of social, economic and political life, that builds transparent decision-making
processes, and recalls that no project can be effective if it is not animated by
a formed and responsible conscience. Ideas are put forth to aid growth in this direction at the educational, spiritual, ecclesial, political and theological levels. The text ends with two prayers; one offered for sharing with everyone who believes in "God who is the all-powerful Creator", and the other to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, punctuated by the refrain "Praise be to you!"
which opens and closes the Encyclical.
Several main themes run through the text that are addressed from a variety of different perspectives, traversing and unifying the text: the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious
responsibility of international and local policies, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle.
Chapter 1 - WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMON HOME (Pollution and climate change;
Pollution, refuse and the culture of waste; Climate as a common good; The issue
of water; Loss of biodiversity; Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society; Global inequality; Weak responses; A variety of opinions).
The chapter presents the most recent scientific findings on the environment as
a way to listen to the cry of creation, "to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to
discover what each of us can do about it". It thus deals with "several aspects of the present ecological crisis".
Pollution and climate change: "Climate change is a global problem with serious
implications, environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day". If "the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all", the greatest impact of this change falls on the poorest, but "many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms".
"Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women
upon which all civil society is founded".
The issue of water: the Pope clearly states that "access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights". To deprive the poor of access to water means to deny "the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity".
Loss of biodiversity: "Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see,
because they have been lost forever". They are not just any exploitable "resource", but have a value in and of themselves. In this perspective "we must
be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers
dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems", but when human intervention is at the service of finance and consumerism, "it is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey".
Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society: in the framework of an ethics of international relationships, the Encyclical indicates
how a "true "ecological debt" exists in the world, with the North in debt to the
South. In the face of climate change, there are "differentiated responsibilities", and those of the developed countries are greater.
Aware of the profound differences over these issues, Pope Francis shows himself
to be deeply affected by the "weak responses" in the face of the drama of many peoples and populations. Even though there is no lack of positive examples, there is "a complacency and a cheerful recklessness". An adequate culture is lacking as well as a willingness to change life style, production and consumption, while there are efforts being made "to establish a legal framework
which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems".
Chapter Two - THE GOSPEL OF CREATION (The light offered by faith; The wisdom of
the Biblical accounts; The mystery of the universe; The message of each creature
in the harmony of creation; A universal communion; The common destination of goods; The gaze of Jesus).
To face the problems illustrated in the previous chapter, Pope Francis selects
Biblical accounts, offering a comprehensive view that comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition. With this he articulates the "tremendous responsibility" of humankind for creation, the intimate connection among all creatures and the fact that "the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone".
In the Bible, "the God who liberates and saves is the same God who created the
universe, and these two divine ways of acting are intimately and inseparably connected". The story of creation is central for reflecting on the relationship
between human beings and other creatures and how sin breaks the equilibrium of all creation in its entirety: "These accounts suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin".
For this, even if "we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created
in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures". Human beings have the responsibility to ""till and keep"
the garden of the world", knowing that "the ultimate purpose of other creatures
is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward, with us and
through us, towards a common point of arrival, which is God".
That the human being is not the master of the universe "does not mean to put all living beings on the same level and to deprive human beings of their unique
worth and the tremendous responsibility it entails. Nor does it imply a divinisation of the earth which would prevent us from working on it and
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- The Pope in Turin: meeting with the world of work
- Contemplation before the Shroud and Mass in Piazza Vittorio
- To the Salesians: remember St. John Bosco's "street children"
- Francis visits the Cottolengo: the poor continue to be excluded from necessary
- Meeting with the young: go against the grain
- To the Waldensian Church: God is not resigned to human sin
- The Pope to the Knights of the Order of Merit for Labour: the economy contributes to development when rooted in justice
- To the Catholic Biblical Federation: the Word of God is a sacramental
- Other Pontifical Acts
The Pope in Turin: meeting with the world of work
Vatican City, 21 June 2015 (VIS) - Pope Francis today began his visit to Turin
on the occasion of the extraordinary exposition of the Turin Shroud and the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco. He was welcomed at the airport of the Piedmontese capital by the local religious and civil authorities following an hour-long flight from Rome, and then went on to meet with representatives from the world of work in the Piazzetta Reale.
"My visit to Turin begins with you", he said to the thousands of people who had
been awaiting him in the square since the early hours of the morning. "First of
all, I would like to express my closeness to the young unemployed, to those in receipt of unemployment insurance, and those in precarious working conditions; and also to businesspeople, artisans and all those who work in various sectors,
especially those who struggle to keep afloat".
"Work is not necessary only for the economy, but also for the human person, and
for his or her dignity and citizenship, and also for social inclusion", emphasised the Holy Father, noting that Turin has historically been a pole of attraction for work, but is currently hard-hit by the crisis. "There is a lack of work and economic and social inequalities have increased; many people are poor and have problems with housing, health, education and other basic needs. Immigration increases competition, but migrants must not be blamed, as they are
victims of iniquity, of this throwaway economy, and of wars. It makes us weep to
see what is happening in these days, in which human beings are treated like commodities".
The Pontiff reiterated that we must say "no" to a series of problems: to the throwaway economy "that expects us to resign ourselves to the exclusion of those
who live in abject poverty. ... Children are excluded, with a birthrate of 0%, the
elderly are excluded, and now the young are excluded, with more than 40% unemployed. That which is not productive is excluded in a throwaway fashion". We
must say "no" to the idolatry of money, "which drives us to enter at all costs among those who, despite the crisis, become rich without caring about the many who are poor, often to the point of going hungry". We must then say "no" to corruption, which is "so widespread that it seems to be a normal attitude and form of behaviour. But not merely in words, but also in actions. 'No' to collusion with the mafia, to fraud, to kickbacks, and so on". Finally, "no" to the "iniquity that generates violence. Don Bosco teaches us that the best method
is prevention: even social conflict can be prevented, and this must be done with
The Pope affirmed that, faced with this situation, "one cannot simply wait for
recovery. Work is fundamental - it is declared from the beginning of the Italian
Constitution - and it is necessary for society as a whole, in all its components, to collaborate so that there is work for all and that it is work worthy of man and woman. This requires an economic model that is not organised on the basis of capital and production but rather in the service of the common good. And, with regard to women, their rights must be forcefully protected; for
women, who bear the greater burden in caring for the home, children and the elderly, are still discriminated against at work too".
"Today I would like to add my voice to those of many workers and businesspeople
in asking for a 'social and generational pact'. ... Making data and resources available with a view to working together is a precondition for overcoming the current difficult situation and for building a new identity suitable for the times and the needs of the territory. The time has come to reactivate solidarity
between generations, to recover trust between the young and adults. ... And these
are the main things I wanted to say to you. I add one word, which is not intended rhetorically: courage! This does not mean resignation, but rather, the
contrary: be bold, be creative, be artisans of the future! For this I pray and accompany you with my heart".
Contemplation before the Shroud and Mass in Piazza Vittorio
Vatican City, 21 June 2015 (VIS) - After his encounter with representatives from the world of work, the Pope proceeded on foot to the Cathedral of St. John
the Baptist, which houses the Holy Shroud, traditionally considered to have been
wrapped around the body of Christ after his crucifixion. As Roberto Gottardo, president of the diocesan Commission for the Shroud, writes: "The Shroud is a cloth, but it is above all an image. ... This image tells us of Jesus, in an immediate way, before science can offer its version and before faith reveals that it is Jesus. All this does not mean that the Shroud is certainly the sheet
brought by Joseph of Arimathea below the cross, but certainly anyone who looks at it will find that it immediately recalls this story". During the exposition of the Shroud in 1998, St. John Paul II affirmed: "The Shroud is also an image of human suffering, that experience that is to varying extents part of the existence of every person, and allows us to recognise this man as one of us".
Once inside the Cathedral, the Pope knelt before the Holy Shroud, displayed at
the major altar, in order to meditate for a moment in the presence of the elder
priests of the Cathedral and cloistered nuns. He then proceeded to the chapel that houses the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925), from Turin.
Shortly after 10 a.m. he left the Cathedral and travelled by popemobile to Piazza Vittorio, one of the largest squares in Europe, to celebrate Holy Mass before thousands of people and to pray the Angelus.
"The readings we have heard should us how God's love for us is a faithful love,
a love that recreates everything, a stable and secure love", said Francis in his
homily. "It is a love that does not deceive us, that never ends. Jesus incarnates that love: it is his Testament. He never ceases to love us, to support us, to forgive us, and so it leads us down the path of life, according to the promise He made to His disciples: 'I am with you always, to the end of the age'. Jesus remains faithful, even when we make mistakes, and he awaits us to forgive us: He is the face of the merciful Father. He is faithful love".
"The second aspect: the love of God recreates everything, it makes all things new. ... Acknowledging our limits and weaknesses is the door that opens up to Jesus' forgiveness, to His love that can renew us profoundly and can recreate us. Salvation can enter into the heart when we open up to the truth and acknowledge our errors, our sins; it is then that we have that beautiful experience of Him, of He who came not for the healthy, but for the sick; not for
the righteous, but for sinners. ... The sign that we have become 'new' and have
been transformed by God's love is knowing how to cast aside the worn and old robes of rancour and enmities, to re-clothe us in the clean tunic of meekness, benevolence, service to others, and the peace of the heart proper to the sons of
God. ... God's love is stable and secure ... as Jesus shows in the miracle narrated
in the Gospel, when He calms the storm, commanding the wind and the sea. The disciples are afraid as they realise they are not able to cope, but He opens their heart to the courage of faith. To the man who cries, 'I can't do it any more', the Lord reaches out, offering him the rock of His love, to which anyone
can hold, sure of not falling".
"We can ask ourselves if today we rest firmly on the rock that is God's love; whether we live God's faithful love for us. There is always the risk of forgetting that great love the Lord has shown to us. We Christians too run the risk of letting ourselves be paralysed by fears of the future and seeking security in transient things, in a model of a closed society that tends to exclude more than it includes".
"May the Holy Spirit help us always to be conscious of this love that, like a rock makes us stable and strong in sufferings small and great; that makes us able not to close ourselves up when faced with difficulties, to face life with courage and to look to the future with hope. As then, on the lake of Galilee, today too in the sea of our existence Jesus is He Who vanquishes the forces of evil and the threats of despair. The peace He gives us is for all; even for many
brothers and sisters who flee from wars and persecutions in search of peace and
Following Mass, and before praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that the Shroud, which attracts millions of pilgrims to Turin every year, was the icon of
Jesus' love. "The Shroud attracts us through the face and the broken body of Jesus and, at the same time, drives us towards the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person. It drives us in the same direction of the gift of Jesus' love. 'The love of Christ impels us': these words of St. Paul's were the
motto of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo".
"Recalling the apostolic zeal of many priests, saints of this land, starting from Don Bosco, of whom we recall the bicentenary of his birth, I greet you, priests and men and women religious. You dedicate yourselves fully to pastoral work and you are close to the people and their problems. I encourage you to continue in your ministry with joy, always focusing on what is essential in the
announcement of the Gospel. And while I thank you, brother bishops of Piedmont and Valle d'Aosta, for your presence, I exhort you to stay near to your priests
with paternal affection and warm closeness".
"To the Holy Virgin I commend this city, her territory and all who live here, so that they may live in justice, in peace and in fraternity. In particular, I entrust families, the young, the elderly, the imprisoned and all those who suffer, with a special thought for those who suffer from leukaemia today, on National Day Against Leukaemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma. May Mary the Consoler, the Queen of Turin and Piedmont, keep firm your faith, assure your hopes and make your charity fruitful, so as to be 'salt and light' of this blessed land, of which I am a grandson".
Following the Marian prayer, the Pope transferred to the archbishop's residence
by car, greeting the soldiers of the Training School, where he lunched with the
detainees of the "Ferrante-Aporti" prison for minors, some immigrants and various people without fixed abode.
To the Salesians: remember St. John Bosco's "street children"
Vatican City, 21 June 2015 (VIS) - The Holy Father's afternoon in Turin began with a private visit to the Shrine of the Consolata, the most popular basilica in the city, dedicated to Mary the Consoler, protector of the city ever since the twelfth century and invoked during the siege by Franco-Spanish troops in 1706 and during the plague in 1835. The Pope prayed at the altar of the Virgin and Child, the work of Felipe Juvarra, in the company of ten priests from the Cathedral.
From there, he proceeded to the basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians to celebrate with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in their motherhouse on
the bicentenary of the birth of the "apostle of the young", St. John Bosco. Thousands of young people from Salesian oratories from all over the world awaited the Pope outside the basilica. Upon arrival Pope Francis, accompanied by
the Archbishop of Turin, Cesare Nosiglia, left a floral tribute at the main altar, inaugurated in 1868 at the behest of St. John Bosco, and handed the discourse he had prepared to the Major Rector of the Salesians, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime, after which he made some unscripted remarks to those present.
Extensive extracts of the Pope's written discourse are published below. "I thank
the Lord with you for having given the Church this saint, who along with many other saints from the region, is an honour and a blessing for the Church and for
society in Turin and Piedmont, for Italy and all the world, in particular for the attention he showed to the young and marginalised poor. Much may be said of
Don Bosco. However, I would like to emphasise just three characteristics: his trust in Divine Providence; the vocation of being a priest for the young, especially the poorest; and his loyal and active service to the Church, especially to Peter's Successor".
"Don Bosco carried out his priestly mission up to his last breath, supported by
an unswerving trust in God and in His love, and for this he was able to do great
things. This relationship of trust with the Lord is also the substance of
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- Jews and Christians believe that God is revealed to man through His Word
- Pope Francis greets Benedict XVI before the Pope emeritus' two-week stay in Castel Gandolfo
- Pope Francis' prayer intentions for July
- Programme of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations
- The Pope to the new metropolitan archbishops
- Angelus: the legacy of Sts Peter and Paul is a source of pride for Rome
- Angelus: faith is touching Jesus and receiving the grace that saves us
- The Pope's telegrams for the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait - The Pope institutes the Secretariat for Communication
- Francis receives a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
- Pope's video message on the eve of his trip to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay - Cardinal Vlk, Pope's special envoy to the commemoration of Jan Hus
- The Catholic Church in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay
- Other Pontifical Acts
Jews and Christians believe that God is revealed to man through His Word
Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) - This morning Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the international congress promoted by the International Council of Christians and Jews, held in Rome from 28 June to 1 July on the theme "The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate: the past, present
and future of relations between Jews and Christians".
The Pope expressed his pleasure that this year's meeting is taking place in Rome, the city where the Apostles Peter and Paul are buried - "for all Christians, both Apostles are an important point of reference: they are like 'pillars' of the Church" - and the home of the most ancient Jewish community in
Western Europe, whose origins can be traced to the time of the Maccabees. "Christians and Jews therefore have lived together in Rome for almost two thousand years, even though their relations in the course of history have not been without difficulty".
The development of authentic fraternal dialogue has been made possible since Vatican Council II, following the promulgation of the Declaration Nostra Aetate,
"a document which represents a definitive 'yes' to the Jewish roots of Christianity and an irrevocable 'no' to anti-Semitism". He continued, "In celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, we are able to see the rich fruits which it has brought about and to gratefully appraise Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In this way, we can express our thanks to God for all
the good which has been realised in terms of friendship and mutual understanding
these past fifty years, as his Holy Spirit has accompanied our efforts in dialogue. Our fragmented humanity, mistrust and pride have been overcome thanks
to the Spirit of Almighty God, in such a way that trust and fraternity between us have continued to grow. We are strangers no more, but friends, and brothers and sisters. Even with our different perspectives, we confess one God, Creator of the Universe and Lord of history. And he, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, always blesses our commitment to dialogue".
"Christians, all Christians, have Jewish roots", emphasised the Pope. "Because
of this, since its inception, the International Council of Christians and Jews has welcomed the various Christian confessions. Each of them, in its own way, has drawn near to Judaism, which in its time, has been distinguished by diverse
trends and sensibilities. The Christian confessions find their unity in Christ;
Judaism finds its unity in the Torah. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh in the world; for Jews the Word of God is present above all in the Torah. Both faith traditions find their foundation in the One God, the God of the Covenant, who reveals himself through his Word. In seeking right attitude towards God, Christians turn to Christ as the fount of new life,
and Jews to the teaching of the Torah. This pattern of theological reflection on
the relationship between Judaism and Christianity arises precisely from Nostra Aetate, and upon this solid basis can be developed yet further".
Pope Francis greets Benedict XVI before the Pope emeritus' two-week stay in Castel Gandolfo
Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) - At around 10 a.m. this morning, Pope Francis
visited Benedict XVI in his residence at the Mater Ecclesiae ex-convent to greet
him and to wish him a good stay in Castel Gandolfo, where the Pope emeritus transferred this morning and will remain for two-weeks (he is expected to return
on 14 July). The meeting lasted for around half an hour.
The Holy See Press Office announced that the Wednesday General Audiences will be suspended for the month of July and will resume in August in the Paul VI Hall. All other audiences will be suspended, with the exception of the Catholic
Charismatic Renewal meeting in St. Peter's Square on 3 July. The morning Mass with groups of faithful in the Sanctae Marthae chapel will be suspended during the months of July and August, to resume at the beginning of September.
Pope Francis' prayer intentions for July
Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) - The Holy Father's universal prayer intention
for July is: "That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high
form of charity".
His intention for evangelisation is: "That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society".
Programme of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United
Vatican City, 30 June 2015 (VIS) - Today the programme was published for Pope Francis' apostolic trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations on the occasion of his participation in the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, from 19 to 28 September.
The Pope will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. on Saturday 19 September and is expected to arrive at 4.05 p.m. in Havana, Cuba, where the welcome ceremony will take place. On Sunday 20 September he will celebrate Holy
Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and will pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers of the Republic in the Palace of the Revolution. Later he will celebrate Vespers in the
Cathedral with priests, men and women religious, and seminarians, and will subsequently greet the young in the Fr. Felix Varela Cultural Centre.
On Monday 21 September, in the morning, he will transfer to Holguin where he will celebrate Holy Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion and will bless the city from
the Loma de la Cruz. He will then depart by air for Santiago, where he will meet
with the bishops in St. Basil's Major Seminary. The day will conclude with the prayer to Our Lady of Charity with the bishops and the papal entourage in the minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago.
Tuesday 22 September will begin with the celebration of Holy Mass in the minor
Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre, Santiago. The Pope will
then meet families in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Asuncion in Santiago and, after blessing the city, will depart by air for Washington D.C., U.S.A., where he will be received at the Andrews Air Force Base.
On Wednesday 23 September, there will be a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, where the Pope will pronounce a discourse and pay a courtesy
visit to the president of the United States. At 11 a.m., the Pope will meet with
the bishops of the United States in St. Matthew's Cathedral. In the afternoon he
will celebrate Mass for the canonisation of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra.
On Thursday 24 September Pope Francis will visit and address the United States
Congress. He will subsequently visit the charity centre of the St. Patrick's parish where he will meet a group of homeless people. In the afternoon he will transfer by air to New York, where at 6.45 p.m. he will celebrate Vespers with priests and men and women religious in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Friday 25 September will begin with an address by the Holy Father at the seat of the United Nations in New York and, at 11.30 a.m., he will participate in an
interreligious meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial site. He will then visit the
"Our Lady, Queen of Angels" school and meet with families of immigrants in Harlem. The day will conclude with Holy Mass in Madison Square Garden.
On Saturday 26 September, the Pope will travel by air to Philadelphia, where at
10.30 a.m. he will celebrate Holy Mass with the bishops, clergy and men and women religious in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. In the
afternoon he will participate in a meeting for religious freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants in the Independence Mall, Philadelphia.
Sunday 27 September will begin with a meeting with the bishops invited to the World Meeting of Families in the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, after which the
Pope will visit the detainees in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, Philadelphia. He will go on to celebrate the concluding Holy Mass of the Eighth
World Meeting of Families at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In the late afternoon, before the farewell ceremony, he will greet the organising committee, the volunteers and benefactors at the international airport of Philadelphia, from where he will depart on his return flight to Rome. The aircraft carrying the Holy Father is scheduled to land on Monday 28 September at
The Pope to the new metropolitan archbishops
Vatican City, 29 June 2015 (VIS) - On the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles, in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father blessed the pallia destined for the archbishops appointed during the year. At Francis' behest, the pallium the band of white wool adorned with black crosses symbolising the sheep placed on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd and worn by the Pope and the archbishops as a sign of communion - was not imposed by the bishop of Rome, but instead sent
privately in order to be imposed at a later date by the apostolic nuncio in the
country of origin, as a sign of synodality.
Following the blessing of the pallia, placed prior to the service below the altar of the Confession of the apostle Peter, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic celebration with the new metropolitan archbishops. As is customary on the solemnity of the patron saints of Rome, the Holy Mass was attended by a delegation representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew
I, led by the metropolitan of Pergamo, Ioannis (Zizioulas), accompanied by the metropolitan of Silyvria, Maximo and Fr. Heikki Huttunen of the Orthodox Church
In his homily, the full text of which is reproduced below, the Holy Father spoke about the courage of the apostles when the first Christian community was beset by persecution, and recalled that in our days too we are witnessing "atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible" persecutions, often "under the silent
gaze of all", and exhorted the metropolitan archbishops to "teach prayer by praying, announce the faith by believing, and offer witness by living".
"The reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks to us of the first Christian community besieged by persecution. A community harshly persecuted by Herod who 'laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church... proceeded to
arrest Peter also... and when he had seized him he put him in prison'.
"However, I do not wish to dwell on these atrocious, inhuman and incomprehensible persecutions, sadly still present in many parts of the world today, often under the silent gaze of all. I would like instead to pay homage today to the courage of the Apostles and that of the first Christian community.
This courage carried forward the work of evangelisation, free of fear of death and martyrdom, within the social context of a pagan empire; their Christian life
is for us, the Christians of today, a powerful call to prayer, to faith and to witness.
A call to prayer: the first community was a Church at prayer: 'Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church'. And if we
think of Rome, the catacombs were not places to escape to from persecution but rather, they were places of prayer, for sanctifying the Lord's day and for raising up, from the heart of the earth, adoration to God who never forgets his
sons and daughters.
The community of Peter and Paul teaches us that the Church at prayer is a Church on her feet, strong, moving forward! Indeed, a Christian who prays is a Christian who is protected, guarded and sustained, and above all, who is never alone.
"The first reading continues: 'Sentries before the door were guarding the
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- Mass in Bicentennial Park: our faith is always revolutionary
- To the world of education: "we can no longer turn our backs on Mother Earth" - To the representatives of civil society: gratuity, solidarity and subsidiarity
are learned in the family and practised in society
- Other Pontifical Acts
Mass in Bicentennial Park: our faith is always revolutionary
Vatican City, 8 July 2015 (VIS) - The Holy Father's day began with a meeting with the bishops and bishops emeritus of Ecuador, in Bicentennial Park in Quito.
After greetings from the president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Fausto Gabriel Travez O.F.M., the Pope spoke with the bishops formally, behind closed doors.
The meeting lasted around a hour, after which the Pope travelled by popemobile
to the park, in the space previously occupied by the former airport and known as
the "lung of Quito", due to its 125 hectares of trees. He greeted the more than
one and a half million faithful attending the Holy Mass for the Evangelisation of Peoples, at which the Holy Father presided, concelebrating with 1,200 priests.
In the improvised sacristy he put on the liturgical vestments - stole, chasuble
and miter - made in the Ecuadorian region of Azuay by local artisans and by the
Descalzed Carmelites with the symbols of a calla lily, representing St. Mariana
de Jesus, the first Ecuadorian saint, and the Heart of Jesus, to which Ecuador is consecrated.
In his second homily in Latin America, the Pope spoke about liberation: liberation from social inequality and sin, the need for inclusion at all levels
and evangelisation as a vehicle for unity of aspirations, sensibilities and hopes.
He began by paraphrasing Jesus' remark at the Last Supper - The word of God calls us to live in unity, that the world may believe - and added, "I think of those hushed words of Jesus during the Last Supper as more of a shout, a cry rising up from this Mass which we are celebrating in Bicentennial Park. Let us imagine this together. The bicentennial which this Park commemorates was that of
Latin America's cry for independence. It was a cry which arose from being conscious of a lack of freedom, of exploitation and despoliation, of being 'subject to the passing whims of the powers that be'.
"I would like to see these two cries joined together, under the beautiful challenge of evangelisation. We evangelise not with grand words, or complicated
concepts, but with 'the joy of the Gospel', which 'fills the hearts and lives of
all who encounter Jesus. For those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, loneliness, and an isolated conscience'.
We who are gathered here at table with Jesus are ourselves a cry, a shout born of the conviction that his presence leads us to unity, 'pointing to a horizon of
beauty and inviting others to a delicious banquet'.
"'Father, may they be one ... so that the world may believe'. This was Jesus' prayer as he raised his eyes to heaven. This petition arose in a context of mission: 'As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world'. At
that moment, the Lord experiences in his own flesh the worst of this world, a world he nonetheless loves dearly. Knowing full well its intrigues, its falsity
and its betrayals, he does not turn away, he does not complain. We too encounter
daily a world torn apart by wars and violence. It would be facile to think that
division and hatred only concern struggles between countries or groups in society. Rather, they are a manifestation of that 'widespread individualism' which divides us and sets us against one another, they are a manifestation of that legacy of sin lurking in the heart of human beings, which causes so much suffering in society and all of creation. But is it precisely this troubled world, with its forms of egoism, into which Jesus sends us. We must not respond
with nonchalance, or complain we do not have the resources to do the job, or that the problems are too big. Instead, we must respond by taking up the cry of
Jesus and accepting the grace and challenge of being builders of unity.
"There was no shortage of conviction or strength in that cry for freedom which
arose a little more than two hundred years ago. But history tells us that it only made headway once personal differences were set aside, together with the desire for power and the inability to appreciate other movements of liberation which were different yet not thereby opposed.
"Evangelisation can be a way to unite our hopes, concerns, ideals and even utopian visions. We believe this and we make it our cry. In our world, especially in some countries, different forms of war and conflict are re-emerging, yet we Christians wish to remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to bear one another's burdens. The desire for unity involves the delightful
and comforting joy of evangelising, the conviction that we have an immense treasure to share, one which grows stronger from being shared, and becomes ever
more sensitive to the needs of others. Hence the need to work for inclusivity at
every level, to strive for this inclusivity at every level, to avoid forms of selfishness, to build communication and dialogue, to encourage collaboration. We
need to give our hearts to our companions along the way, without suspicion or distrust. Trusting others is an art, because peace is an art. Our unity can hardly shine forth if spiritual worldliness makes us feud among ourselves in a futile quest for power, prestige, pleasure or economic security. And this on the
backs of the poorest, the most excluded and vulnerable, those who still keep their dignity despite daily blows against it.
"Such unity is already an act of mission, that the world may believe. Evangelisation does not consist in proselytising, for proselytising is a caricature of evangelisation, but rather evangelising entails attracting by our
witness those who are far off, it means humbly drawing near to those who feel distant from God in the Church, drawing near to those who feel judged and condemned outright by those who consider themselves to be perfect and pure. We are to draw near to those who are fearful or indifferent, and say to them: 'The
Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of your people'. Because our God respects us even in our lowliness and in our sinfulness. This calling of the Lord is expressed with such humility and respect
in the text from the Book of Revelations: 'Look, I am at the door and I am calling; do you want to open the door?' He does not use force, he does not break
the lock, but instead, quite simply, he presses the doorbell, knocks gently on the door and then waits. This is our God!
"The Church's mission as sacrament of salvation also has to do with her identity as a pilgrim people called to embrace all the nations of the earth. The
more intense the communion between us, the more effective our mission becomes. Becoming a missionary Church requires constantly fostering communion, since mission does not have to do with outreach alone. We also need to be missionaries
within the Church, showing that she is 'a mother who reaches out, showing that she is a welcoming home, a constant school of missionary communion'.
"Jesus' prayer can be realised because he has consecrated us. He says, 'for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth'. The
spiritual life of an evangeliser is born of this profound truth, which should not be confused with a few comforting religious exercises, a spirituality which
is perhaps widespread. Jesus consecrates us so that we can encounter him, person
to person; an encounter that leads us in turn to encounter others, to become involved with our world and to develop a passion for evangelisation.
"Intimacy with God, in itself incomprehensible, is revealed by images which speak to us of communion, communication, self-giving and love. For that reason,
the unity to which Jesus calls us is not uniformity, but rather a 'multifaceted
and inviting harmony'. The wealth of our differences, our diversity which becomes unity whenever we commemorate Holy Thursday, makes us wary of all temptations that suggest extremist proposals akin to totalitarian, ideological or sectarian schemes. The proposal offered by Jesus is a concrete one and not notion. It is concrete: 'Go and do the same' he tells that man who asked, 'who is my neighbour?'. After telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says,
'Go and do the same'. Nor is this proposal of Jesus something we can fashion as
we will, setting conditions, choosing who can belong and who cannot; the religiosity of the aelite'. Jesus prays that we will all become part of a great
family in which God is our Father, in which all of us are brothers and sisters.
No one is excluded; and this is not about having the same tastes, the same concerns, the same gifts. We are brothers and sisters because God created us out
of love and destined us, purely of his own initiative, to be his sons and daughters. We are brothers and sisters because God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying 'Abba! Father!'. We are brothers and sisters because, justified by the blood of Christ Jesus, we have passed from death to life and been made 'coheirs' of the promise. That is the salvation which God makes possible for us, and which the Church proclaims with joy: to be part of that 'we' which leads to the divine 'we'.
"Our cry, in this place linked to the original cry for freedom in this country,
echoes that of St. Paul: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!'. It is a cry
every bit as urgent and pressing as was the cry for independence. It is similarly thrilling in its ardour. Brothers and sisters, have the same mind as Christ: May each of you be a witness to a fraternal communion which shines forth
in our world!
"And how beautiful it would be if all could admire how much we care for one another, how we encourage and help each other. Giving of ourselves establishes an interpersonal relationship; we do not give 'things' but our very selves. Any
act of giving means that we give ourselves. 'Giving of oneself" means letting all the power of that love which is God's Holy Spirit take root in our lives, opening our hearts to his creative power. And giving of oneself even in the most
difficult moments as on that Holy Thursday of the Lord when he perceived how they weaved a plot to betray him; but he gave himself, he gave himself for us with his plan of salvation. When we give of ourselves, we discover our true identity as children of God in the image of the Father and, like him, givers of
life; we discover that we are brothers and sisters of Jesus, to whom we bear witness. This is what it means to evangelise; this is the new revolution - for our faith is always revolutionary - this is our deepest and most enduring cry".
To the world of education: "we can no longer turn our backs on Mother Earth"
Vatican City, 8 July 2015 (VIS) - The Pope's second meeting with Ecuadorians took place in the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, a private
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- The Pope meets clergy in the shrine of El Quinche and bids farewell to Ecuador
- "Jallalla Bolivia!"
- The Pope prays at the site of Fr. Luis Espinal's assassination
- To the civil authorities of Bolivia: Francis calls for an integral ecology
- Other Pontifical Acts
The Pope meets clergy in the shrine of El Quinche and bids farewell to Ecuador
Vatican City, 9 July 2015 (VIS) - Pope Francis visit to Ecuador concluded yesterday with two events. The first was his visit to the Missionaries of Charity rest home for the elderly, located 21 kilometres from the capital Quito,
and close to the highway leading to the airport. The Holy Father was received by
the Superior, who accompanied him to the chapel in the Centre to pray with the rest of the small community of ten brethren, and subsequently greeted the residents, around seventy people, in the courtyard. He did not pronounce a discourse, but simply expressed his closeness to the elderly present.
The Pope then transferred to the National Marian shrine of El Quinche, home of
the wooden image of the Virgin of El Quinche, carved at the end of the sixteenth
century by the artist Diego de Robles, and which in the second week of November
attracts more than 800,000 faithful who depart from the village of Calderon on nocturnal pilgrimage, reaching the church at dawn.
In El Quinche, the last of Pope Francis' visits in Ecuador, he met with clergy,
men and women religious, and seminarians. He handed the discourse he had prepared for the occasion (reproduced below) to Bishop Celmo Lazzari C.S.I., representative for consecrated life in the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, and
made some unscripted comments to those present, highlighting the spiritual richness that he had encountered in Ecuador and asking all to remember the importance of gratuity and service in life.
"All this wealth you have - spiritual wealth, piety, depth - comes from having
had the courage, as there have been some very difficult moments, to consecrate the nation to the Heart of Christ", said the Pope, "this divine and human Heart
that loves us so much. And afterwards, a few years later, the consecration to the Heart of Mary. Do not forget: this consecration is a milestone in the history of the people of Ecuador.
"Today I am to speak to the priests, seminarians, women and men religious, and
to say something to them. I thought about the Virgin, I thought about Mary ... Mary never took centre stage. She was a disciple all through her life. The first
disciple of her Son. And she was aware that everything she had was due to the pure gratuity of God. She was aware of this gratuity. Therefore, men and women religious, priests, seminarians, in all the days to come, take the path back to
the gratuitousness with which God chose you. ... We are subject to God's gratuitousness. If we forget this, slowly, we gradually move away from the basis
from which Mary never wavered: God's gratuitousness.
"A second thing I wanted to say to you is to take care of your health, but most
of all take care not to fall into a sort of spiritual Alzheimer's: do not lose your memory, especially the memory of where you are from. St. Paul intuited this
danger, and to his dearest son, the bishop Timothy, to whom he gave pastoral counsel, he said: 'Do not forget the faith of your grandmother and your mother'.
That is, 'Do not forget where you come from, do not forget your roots, do not feel as if you have been promoted'. Gratuity is a grace that cannot co-exist with promotion and, when a priest, a seminarian, a man or woman religious, embarks upon a career - a human career - he or she begins to sicken with spiritual Alzheimer's and begins to lose the memory of where he or she is from".
Francis suggested two basic principles to the priests and consecrated persons.
"Every day, renew the feeling that everything is free, the feeling of the gratuity with which each one of you was chosen - none of us deserved this - and
ask for the grace of not losing your memory, of not feeling more important. And
these two principles will revive two attitudes. First, that of service. God chose me, but why? To serve ... and there is nothing else, to serve when we are
tired, when people annoy us. ... An old priest, who was a genius all his life, said to me, 'the holy faithful People of God are essentially Olympian, or rather, they do what they want, and can be ontologically tiresome'. And this contains much wisdom, as taking the path of service means allowing oneself to be
troubled without losing patience.
"Service, mixed with gratuity and then ... that of Jesus: 'Freely you have received; freely give'. Please, please," he repeated, "do not expect something in return; please, let your ministry be freely given. And the second attitude ...
is that of joy and cheer. And it is a gift from Jesus ... that He gives to us if
we ask for it and if we do not forget these two pillars of our priestly or religious life: the sense of gratuity and not losing the memory of where we come
from. May God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless you. And
please, please, I ask you to pray for me, as I am very often tempted to forget the gratuity with which God chose me and of forgetting where I come from. Pray for me".
The following is the written discourse the Pope gave to the bishop:
"I place at the feet of Our Lady of Quinche the vivid experiences of my visit.
I entrust to her heart the elderly and the sick whom I visited in the house of the Sisters of Charity, as well as the other meetings I have had. I entrust all
of them to Mary's heart; but at the same time I commend them to the hearts of each you, the priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. As those called
to labour in the vineyard of the Lord, may you be protectors of all the experiences, the joys and sorrows of the Ecuadorian people. I thank Bishop Lazzari, Father Mina and Sister Sandoval for their words, which lead me to share
some thoughts on our common concern for God's People.
"In the Gospel, the Lord invites us to accept our mission without placing conditions. It is an important message which we must never forget. Here, in this
Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of the Presentation, it resounds in a special way. Mary is an example of discipleship for us who, like her, have received a vocation. Her trusting response, 'Be it done unto me according to your word', reminds us of her words at the wedding feast of Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you'. Her example is an invitation to serve as she served.
"In the Presentation of the Virgin we find some suggestions for our own call. The child Mary was a gift from God to her parents and to all her people who were
looking for liberation. This is something we see over and over again in the Scriptures. God responds to the cry of his people, sending a little child to bring salvation and to restore hope to elderly parents. The word of God tells us
that, in the history of Israel, judges, prophets and kings are God's gifts to his people, bringing them his tenderness and mercy. They are signs of God's gratuitousness. It is he has chose them, who personally chose them and sent them. Realising this helps us to move beyond our self-centredness and to understand that we no longer belong to ourselves, that our vocation calls us to
let go of all selfishness, all seeking of material gain or emotional rewards, as
the Gospel has told us. We are not hired workers, but servants. We have not come
to be served, but to serve, and we do so with complete detachment, without walking stick or bag.
"Some traditions about devotion to Our Lady of Quinche relate that Diego de Robles made the image after being commissioned by the indigenous Lumbici people.
Diego did not do this out of piety, but for economic benefit. Since the Lumbici
were unable to pay him, he brought the image to Oyacachi and exchanged it for cedar planks. But Diego ignored their earnest plea that he also make an altar for the image, until, after falling from his horse and in danger of death, he felt the protection of the Virgin Mary. So he went back to the town and built the foot of the image. All of us have had the experience of a God who brings us
to the cross, who calls us in the midst of our faults and failings. May pride and worldliness not make us forget what God has rescued us from! May the Our Lady of Quinche make us leave behind ambition, selfish interests, and excessive
concern about ourselves!
"The 'authority' which the Apostles receive from Jesus is not for their own benefit: our gifts are meant to be used to renew and build up the Church. Do not
refuse to share, do not hesitate to give, do not be caught up in your own comforts, but be like a spring which spills over and refreshes others, especially those burdened by sin, disappointment and resentment.
"Something else that Our Lady's Presentation makes me think of is perseverance.
In the evocative iconography associated with this feast, the Child Mary is shown
moving away from her parents as she climbs the steps of the Temple. Mary does not look back and, in a clear reference to the evangelical admonition, she moves
forward with determination. We, like the disciples in the Gospel, also need to move forward as we bring to all peoples and places the Good News of Jesus. Perseverance in mission is not about going from house to house, looking for a place where we will be more comfortably welcomed. It means casting our lot with
Jesus to the end. Some stories of the apparition of Our Lady of Quinche speak of
'a woman with a child in her arms' who appeared on several successive evenings to the natives of Oyacachi when they were fleeing from attacks by bears. Mary kept appearing to her children, but they didn't believe her, they didn't trust this woman, even though they admired her perseverance in coming each evening at
sunset. To persevere even though we are rejected, despite the darkness and growing uncertainty and dangers - this is what we are called to do, in the knowledge that we are not alone, that God's Holy People walks with us.
"In some sense, the image of the child Mary ascending the steps of the Temple reminds us of the Church, which accompanies and supports every missionary disciple. Mary is with her parents, who handed on to her the memory of the faith
and now generously offer her to the Lord so that she can follow in his way. She
is part of a community, represented by the 'maiden companions' who escort her with lamps alight; in those companions the Fathers of the Church saw a foreshadowing of all those who, in imitation of Mary, seek wholeheartedly to become friends of God. Finally, she is received by the waiting priests, who remind us that the Church's pastors must welcome everyone with tender love and help to discern every spirit and every calling.
"So let us walk together, helping one another, as we humbly implore the gift of
perseverance in God's service. The apparition of Our Lady of Quinche was a moment of encounter, of communion, so that this place which from Incan times has
been a place where people of various ethnicities have settled. How beautiful it
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- The Pope speaks with journalists on the papal flight
- The Pope arrives in Cuba, a meeting point for all peoples who come together in
- Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion: the importance of a people is based on how it
serves its most vulnerable members
- Angelus: Francis asks for definitive reconciliation in Colombia
- Meeting with President Raul Castro and with Commander Fidel in the Palace of the Revolution
- Vespers in the Cathedral of Havana
- Francis meets with the young, Cuba's hope for the future
- Other News
- Message to the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
- Message to Hungarian religious: seek the concerns and expectations of the people
- The Pope speaks with young people from Cuba and the United States before his apostolic trip
- Other Pontifical Acts
The Pope speaks with journalists on the papal flight
Vatican City, 19 September 2015 (VIS) - Shortly after beginning his trip from Rome to Havana, the Pope greeted the 76 journalists accompanying him on the flight. As indicated by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico
Lombardi, S.J., the media coverage of this trip will be more intense than usual.
In a very cordial atmosphere, the Holy Father enquired about the journalists' families and received various edible gifts, including dulce de leche and an empanada, a typical Argentinian pastry, that he offered to all those present.
"Thank you for the welcome", he said. "I wish you a good journey. If I am not mistaken, I think this is the longest trip I have made. ... Fr. Lombardi mentioned
peace. Today's world thirsts for peace. There are wars, immigrants who flee, this wave of immigration as a result of war, to escape from death and in search
of life. Today I am happy as I was greeted at the door of St. Anna by one of the
two families residing in the Vatican, in the parish of the same name. They are Syrian refugees. You can see the suffering in their faces. ... This word: peace. I
thank you for all that you do in your work to build bridges: small bridges, but
bridges nonetheless, that together all form the great bridge of peace. I wish you a good trip and good work. Pray for me. Thank you".
He also offered a greeting to all the journalists' colleagues working in their
The Pope arrives in Cuba, a meeting point for all peoples who come together in
Vatican City, 20 September 2015 (VIS) - "Missionary of Mercy" is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for his visit to Cuba, where he began his tenth apostolic
trip yesterday. The Holy Father arrived in the Jose Marti airport in Havana at p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Italy) after a twelve-hour flight, and was welcomed
by the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, and by the cardinal archbishop of Havana,
Jaime Ortega y Alamino, accompanied by Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibanez, president of the Episcopal Conference.
After the protocol greetings and national anthems of Cuba and Vatican City State, President Castro gave a welcome address on behalf of the government and people of Cuba. The Pope thanked the president and asked him to convey sentiments of particular respect and consideration to his brother Fidel. "I would like my greeting to embrace especially all those who, for various reasons,
I will not be able to meet, and to Cubans throughout the world", continued Francis.
After remarking that 2015 marks the eightieth anniversary of the establishment
of uninterrupted diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Holy
See, the Pope affirmed that his arrival in this "beloved nation" follows "the indelible path opened by the unforgettable apostolic journeys which my two predecessors, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, made to this island. I know that the memory of those visits awakens gratitude and affection in the people and leaders of Cuba. Today we renew those bonds of cooperation and friendship, so that the Church can continue to support and encourage the Cuban people in its
hopes and concerns, with the freedom, the means and the space needed to bring the proclamation of the Kingdom to the existential peripheries of society".
This Apostolic Journey also coincides with the first centenary of Pope Benedict
XV's declaration of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre as Patroness of Cuba, and Francis commented that it was the veterans of the War of Independence who, moved
by sentiments of faith and patriotism, wanted the Virgen mambisa to be the patroness of Cuba as a free and sovereign nation. "Since that time she has accompanied the history of the Cuban people", he said, "sustaining the hope which preserves people's dignity in the most difficult situations and championing the promotion of all that gives dignity to the human person. The growing devotion to the Virgin is a visible testimony of her presence in the soul of the Cuban people. In these days I will have occasion to go to El Cobre,
as a son and pilgrim, to pray to our Mother for all her Cuban children and for this beloved nation, that it may travel the paths of justice, peace, liberty and
"Geographically, Cuba is an archipelago, facing all directions, with an extraordinary value as a 'key' between north and south, east and west. Its natural vocation is to be a point of encounter for all peoples to join in friendship, as Jose Marti dreamed, 'regardless of the languages of isthmuses and
the barriers of oceans'. Such was also the desire of St. John Paul II, with his
ardent appeal: 'May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself to the
world, and may the world open itself to Cuba'".
"For some months now, we have witnessed an event which fills us with hope: the
process of normalising relations between two peoples following years of estrangement. It is a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, 'the system of universal growth' over 'the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties'. I urge political leaders to persevere on this path and to
develop all its potentialities as a proof of the high service which they are called to carry out on behalf of the peace and well-being of their peoples, of all America, and as an example of reconciliation for the entire world. The world
needs reconciliation, in this climate of a piecemeal third world war in which we
The Pope concluded his first discourse on Cuban soil by invoking "the protection of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Blessed Olallo Valdes and Blessed
Jose Lopez Piteira, and Venerable Felix Varela, the great promoter of love between Cubans and all peoples, so that our bonds of peace, solidarity and mutual respect may ever increase".
Mass in Plaza de la Revolucion: the importance of a people is based on how it serves its most vulnerable members
Vatican City, 20 September 2015 (VIS) - After spending the night in the apostolic nunciature in Havana, the Pope began his second day in Cuba by greeting the thousands of people who lined the streets on his journey by popemobile to Plaza de la Revolucion Jose Marti, dedicated to the poet and writer who fought for Cuban independence. The square, where the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass attended by more than 200,000 faithful, is a strongly symbolic location for the island, and has provided the backdrop to important demonstrations.
Francis, who before the Eucharistic celebration met with the representatives of
other Christian confessions present in Cuba in a provisional sacristy, devoted his homily to the importance of serving the weakest and frailest among us. "Let
us not forget the Good News we have heard today: the importance of a people, a nation, and the importance of individuals, which is always based on how they seek to serve their vulnerable brothers and sisters. Here we encounter one of the fruits of a true humanity. Whoever does not live to serve, does not aserve'
The Pope commented on the Gospel passage in which Jesus asks a seemingly indiscreet question of His disciples: "What were you discussing along the way?"
to which they did not answer because on the way they had been arguing about who
was the most important, and were ashamed.
"Who is the most important?", continued the Pope. "This is a life-long question
to which, at different times, we must give an answer. ... The history of humanity has been marked by the answer we give to this question. Jesus is not afraid of people's questions; He is not afraid of our humanity or the different
things we are looking for. On the contrary, He knows the 'twists and turns' of the human heart, and, as a good teacher, He is always ready to encourage and support us. As usual, He takes up our searching, our aspirations, and he gives them a new horizon ... He somehow finds an the answer which can pose a new challenge, setting aside the 'right answers', the standard replies we are expected to give. As usual, Jesus sets before us the 'logic' of love. A mindset,
an approach to life, which is capable of being lived out by all, because it is meant for all".
"Far from any kind of elitism, the horizon to which Jesus points us is not for
those few privileged souls capable of attaining the heights of knowledge or different levels of spirituality. The horizon to which Jesus points us always has to do with daily life, also here on "our island", something which can season
our daily lives with eternity. Who is the most important? Jesus is straightforward in His reply: 'Whoever wishes to be the first among you must be
the last of all, and the servant of all'. Whatever wishes to be great must serve
others, not be served by others".
"Here lies the great paradox of Jesus", emphasises the Pope. "The disciples were arguing about who would have the highest place, who would be chosen for privileges ... in order to stand out in the quest for superiority over others. Who would climb the ladder most quickly to take the jobs which carry certain benefits. Jesus upsets their 'logic', their mindset, simply by telling them that
life is lived authentically in a concrete commitment to our neighbour. That is,
But the call to serve "involves something special, to which we must be attentive. Serving others chiefly means caring for their vulnerability. Serving
means caring for the vulnerable of our families, our society, our people. Theirs
are the suffering, fragile and downcast faces which Jesus tells us specifically
to look at and which He asks us to love. With a love which takes shape in our actions and decisions. With a love which finds expression in whatever tasks we,
as citizens, are called to perform. People of flesh and blood, people with individual lives and stories, and with all their frailty: these are those whom Jesus asks us to protect, to care for, to serve. Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it. That is why Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable".
"There is a kind of 'service' which truly 'serves' others, yet we need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, a 'service' which is 'self-serving'. There is a way to go about serving which is interested in only helping 'my people', 'our people'. This service always leaves 'your people' outside, and gives rise to a process of exclusion. All of us are called by virtue of our Christian vocation to that service which truly serves, and to help
one another not to be tempted by a 'service' which is really 'self-serving'. ...
Without looking to one side or the other to see what our neighbour is doing or not doing. Jesus tells us: Whoever would be first among you must be the last, and the servant of all. He will be the servant of all. He does not say: if your
neighbour wants to be first, let him be the servant! We have to be careful to avoid judgemental looks and renew our belief in the transforming look to which Jesus invites us. This caring for others out of love is not about being servile.
Rather, it means putting our brothers and sisters at the centre. Service always
looks to their faces, touches their flesh, senses their closeness and even, in some cases, 'suffers' in trying to help. Service is never ideological, for we do
not serve ideas, we serve people".
"God's holy and faithful people in Cuba is a people with a taste for celebration, for friendship, for beautiful things", he concluded. "It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds,
like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur. This is how it raised its heroes. Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, but above all I invite you to care for and
be at the service of the frailty of your brothers and sisters. Do not neglect them for plans which can be seductive, but are unconcerned about the face of the
person beside you. We know, we are witnesses of the incomparable power of the resurrection, which 'everywhere calls forth the seeds of a new world'".
Angelus: Francis asks for definitive reconciliation in Colombia
Vatican City, 20 September 2015 (VIS) - At the end of Mass, the Pope spoke for
a few minutes before praying the Angelus.
"We have heard in the Gospel how the disciples were afraid to question Jesus when He spoke to them about His passion and death. He frightened them, and they
could not grasp the idea of seeing Jesus suffer on the cross. We too are tempted
to flee from our own crosses and those of others, to withdraw from those who
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Fri Sep 25 09:00:02 2015
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- The Pope at the United States Congress: political activity must promote the good of the person and be based on human dignity
- The Holy Father: there is no social or moral justification for homelessness
- Vespers with the clergy and religious of the Cathedral of New York: gratitude
and hard work are the two pillars of spiritual life
The Pope at the United States Congress: political activity must promote the good of the person and be based on human dignity
Vatican City, 25 September 2015 (VIS) - The United States Congress, which met yesterday in joint session (an assembly of both the House of Representatives and
the Senate) was addressed by a Pope for the first time in its history. Francis'
arrival was announced by the speaker of the House of Representatives and Republican house leader John Boehner, and by the vice president of the United States, the Democrat Joe Biden. The extraordinary session was also attended by,
among others, the dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Supreme Court, and the secretary of State John Kerry.
The Pope was greeted with a standing ovation and delivered a discourse in English, published in full below, in which he underlined that all political activity must serve the good of the human person and be based on respect and dignity. Francis referred to four great Americans: President Abraham Lincoln, "guardian of liberty", the political activist Martin Luther King, whose "dream of equality continues to inspire us all", Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, whose "social activism, passion for justice and the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel", and the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton, "a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and ... a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions".
The following is the full text of the Holy Father's address:
"I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.
"Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this
country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of
its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the
growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected
"Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On
the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolises the
need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation.
On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis
of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.
"Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people
of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to
take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day's work, to bring home their daily bread, to
save money and -one step at a time - to build a better life for their families.
These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity
by their actions, and they create organisations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.
"I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are
a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build
up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realise their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by
facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.
"My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the
anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice - some at the cost of their lives - to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with
dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality.
In honouring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here
and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.
"I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
"This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination
of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who laboured tirelessly that 'this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom'. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.
"All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and
political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual
delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name
of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarisation which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take
their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.
"Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We
are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today's many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the
well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one,
in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the
"The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.
"In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to
building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past,
the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such
cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.
"Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is
deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests
in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage
you in this effort.
"Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfil his 'dream' of full
civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of 'dreams'. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.
"In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not
fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in
our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past.
We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our 'neighbours' and everything around
us. Building a nation calls us to recognise that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do
"Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second
World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Oct 5 08:12:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 172
- First General Congregation: the Synod is the Church that walks together to see
reality with the eyes of faith, says the Pope
- "The man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved"
- Society is not strong without the family
- Prayer Vigil for the Synod - the Church can light up the darkness of humanity
- The Pope receives volunteers from the Food Bank and again denounces food waste
- Mass for the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps
- Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office
- Other Pontifical Acts
First General Congregation: the Synod is the Church that walks together to see
reality with the eyes of faith, says the Pope
Vatican City, 5 October 2015 (VIS) - This morning at 9 a.m. the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to "The vocation and mission
of the family in the Church and the contemporary world" commenced in the Vatican. In the presence of the Holy Father, the first to speak was the Honduran
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, who presented to the Synod Fathers brief meditation summarising the intentions and spirit of the Assembly.
"Brothers, who come from the four corners of the world summoned by Peter, moved
by the love of Jesus and the Mother Church", he began. "St. Paul invites us, indeed, to joy. The joy of the gospel that Pope Francisco tirelessly proclaims worldwide. But as he himself has told us, the greatest risk in the world today,
with its multiple and overwhelming consumption, is an individualistic sorrow that springs from the comfortable and covetous heart, the feeble search for superficial pleasures, the isolated consciousness. Sometimes it saddens us to hear how the world has focused on this Synod as if we came together as two opposing sides to defend entrenched positions. Therefore, with Jesus Christ joy
is always born and reborn'".
"But let us take heart", he continued. "We are not a Church in danger of extinction or indeed far less. Neither is the family, although it is threatened
and opposed. Nor do we come to mourn or lament the difficulties. Psalm 26 tells
us: 'Be brave, take heart. Hope in the Lord'. Let us all have one mind: let us all seek the unanimity that comes from dialogue, not ideas defended at all costs. St. Paul reminds us to have same sentiments as Christ. Live in peace: as
Evangelii Gaudium tells us, dialogue contributes to peace, because the Church proclaims the 'Gospel of peace'. To proclaim Jesus Christ, Who is peace in person, the Mother Church encourages us to be instruments of peace and credible
witnesses of a reconciled life. It is time to know how to plan a culture that favours dialogue and the pursuit of consensus and agreements as a form of encounter. We are not in need of a project of few and for the few, or an enlightened or minority that appropriates a collective sentiment".
"Therefore, we wish to begin the Synod in peace", he concluded. "It is not the
peace of the world, made of compromises and commitments that frequently are not
fulfilled. It is the peace of Christ, peace with ourselves. And the conclusion is clear: 'The God of love and peace will be with you'. So we can say, 'Stay with us, Lord', not because the day is ending, but rather because it is beginning. A new day for the families of the world, believers or not, families tired of the uncertainties and doubts sown by various ideologies such as deconstruction, cultural and social contradictions, fragility and loneliness. Abide with us Lord, so that this Synod indicate a path of joy and hope for all families".
The Holy Father than introduced the work of the first day, explaining that "the
Synod is not a convention or a locutory; it is not a parliament or a senate, where an accord is sought. The Synod, instead, is an ecclesial expression, that
is, the Church who walks together to read reality with the eyes of faith, and which therefore does not represent a museum to be looked at or even to be protected, but is rather a living source from which the Church slakes her thirst
so as to slake the thirst and enlighten the deposit of life".
The Synod is, furthermore, "a protected space where the Church can experience the action of the Holy Spirit. In the Synod the Spirit speaks through the language of all those who let themselves be guided by God, Who always surprises
us, by God Who shows to the smallest among us what He hides from the wise and the intelligent, by God Who created the law and the Sabbath for man and not vice
versa, by God Who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to seek the one lost sheep, by God Who is always greater than our logic and our calculations. However, let us remember that the Synod may be a space for the action of the Holy Spirit only if
we participants clothe ourselves in apostolic courage, evangelical humility and
"Apostolic courage so that we do not let ourselves be afraid neither before the
seductions of the world, that tend to extinguish in the heart of men the light of the truth, substituting it will small temporary lights, neither before the hardening of some hearts that, in spite of good intentions, distance people from
God", underlined the Pope.
"Evangelical humility so that we empty ourselves of our own conventions and prejudices in order to listen to our brother Bishops and to fill ourselves with
God. Humility that leads us not to point a finger at others to judge them, but rather to offer them a hand to help them up without ever feeling superior to them".
"Trustful prayer is the action of the heart when it opens to God, when it calms
our mood so we hear the gentle voice of God that speaks in the silence. Without
listening to God, all of our words will remain words alone, that nether satisfy
nor serve. Without allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, all our decisions will be mere decorations that instead of exalting the Gospel, cover or
"Dear brothers", concluded Francis, "as I said, the Synod is not a parliament where, in order to reach a consensus or a common accord we resort to negotiation, pacts or compromise; the only method of the Synod is to open itself
to the Holy Spirit with apostolic courage, with evangelical courage and with trustful prayer so that He may guide us, enlighten us and let us put before our
eyes not our own personal views, but our faith in God, fidelity to the Magisterium, the good of the Church and the salus animarum".
The president delegate, the cardinal archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois, then commented that the Pope's decision to convoke two sessions of the Synod of
Bishops on the mission of the family in the contemporary world has been fruitful
and that the episcopate has borne witness to this. The particular Churches have
made efforts to contribute to the work by answering to the questionnaire that informed the Instrumentum Laboris. "Our Synod is led by the Church". The cardinal also mentioned the Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, with which the Holy Father has reformed the canonical procedures regarding the declaration
of nullity of marriage, which offers valuable direction on the spirit according
to which this phase of the Synod should unfold. "Without casting doubt on the sacramental tradition of our Church, nor its doctrine on the indissolubility of
marriage, you invite us to share our pastoral experiences and to open the paths
of mercy by which the Lord calls all those who wish to and are able to enter into a space for conversion with a view to forgiveness".
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod, explained the working methods of the Synod of Bishops in this extraordinary assembly, including the time available for interventions by the Synod Fathers and the greater space accorded to the Circuli Minori to foster more intense debate, as well as the importance conceded to the contributions by couples and the relationships between the Synod and the media.
Finally, the general rapporteur, the cardinal archbishop of Ezstergom-Budapest,
Peter Erdo, illustrated the first part of the Instrumentum Laboris, which begins
by listening to the challenges to the family, placing them in the contemporary socio-cultural context, and its anthropological change, characterised by a "flight from institutions" leading to institutional instability and the predominance of individualism and subjectivism. He then spoke about the discernment of the family vocation, the divine pedagogy of the family and indissolubility as a gift and a task, mentioning the family in the Magisterium of the Church and its missionary dimension, as well as "wounded" families, placing them in the context of mercy and truth. The cardinal touched upon the theme of the evangelising dimension of the family and ecclesial accompaniment of
family units, as well as the issue of reproductive responsibility and the challenges of education.
"Listening to the Word of God, our response must show the sincere and fraternal
attention to the needs of our contemporaries, to transmit to them the liberating
truth and to be witnesses of our greatest mercy. To face today's challenges to the family. The Church must convert and become more alive, more personal, and more community-based, also at the levels of the parish and the small community.
It would appear that a community reawakening is already in process in many areas. So that it might be more general and increasingly profound, we ask that the light of the Holy Spirit show us also the concrete steps we need to take. In
this way, the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world, the theme of this Synod, would appear in the serene and concrete light that enables us to grow in hope and trust in God's mercy; in that
mercy to which Pope Francis wished to dedicate an extraordinary Jubilee. Let us
thank the Holy Father for this decision of hope and entrust our work to the Holy
Family of Nazareth".
"The man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved"
Vatican City, 4 October 2015 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father presided at the opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on "The vocation and mission of the family
in the Church and the contemporary world". In his homily, the bishop of Rome commented on the Biblical texts of this 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, noting that they focus on "three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the
Regarding solitude, he spoke of Adam's dominion over all the other creatures in
the Garden of Eden, "a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power". Nonetheless, "he felt alone, because 'there was not found a helper fit for him'". Loneliness, said the Pope, "is experienced by countless men and women in
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Sun Nov 29 12:56:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXV - # 213
- Encounter with young Ugandans: the blood of martyrs flows in your veins
- In the Nalukolongo House of Charity: do not close your doors to the cry of the
- The Pope meets the clergy of Uganda: maintain memory and continue to be witness
- The Pope arrives in the Central African Republic as a pilgrim of peace and an
apostle of hope
Encounter with young Ugandans: the blood of martyrs flows in your veins
Vatican City, 29 November 2015 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Pope met with the young people of Uganda at the Kololo airstrip, a former airport near Kampala
which is currently used for major events, and which is able to hold around a hundred thousand people. The young people had followed the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis a few hours previously at the Catholic Namugongo shrine via the maxi screens installed in the area. The civil authorities responsible for education and sport were also present in Kololo along with, in a special area, 200 young deaf people, refugees, and chaplains for youth pastoral ministry. On the stage there were another fifty young people, a couple from each diocese in the country and a group of orphans.
The Pope set aside his prepared discourse, which we reproduce below, preferring
instead to converse informally with those present after listening to the testimony of two young people, Emmanuel Odokonyero and Winnie Nansumba, who told
of their difficult experiences, from sickness and depression to recruitment and
witnessing the torture and murder of their friends.
"As I listened to Winnie and Emmanuel's testimonies, I asked myself a question:
can a negative experience have a purpose in life? Yes! ... Many of us here today
have had negative experiences. There is always the possibility of opening up a horizon, of opening it up with the strength of Jesus. ... Because Jesus is the Lord. Jesus can do anything. And Jesus suffered the most negative experience in
history: He was insulted, denied and murdered. And Jesus, through the power of God, rose again. He can do the same for each one of us, with every negative experience. This is why Jesus is the Lord.
"I imagine, and together we can all imagine Emmanuel's suffering, when he saw his companions tortured, when he saw his companions murdered. But Emmanuel was brave. ... He risked everything, he had faith in Jesus and he escaped. And here he
is today, fourteen years later, qualified in management. There is always a way!
Our life is like a seed, that must die in order to live again; and at times this
means dying physically, like Emmanuel's companions. To die as Charles Lwanga and
the martyrs of Uganda died. But through this death there is a life, there is life for all. If I transform a negative into a positive, I am triumphant. But this can be done only with the grace of Jesus. ... Are you willing to transform in
life all those negative things into positive things? Are you willing to transform war into peace? Be conscious that you are a people of martyrs. The blood of the martyrs flows in your veins! This is why you have your faith and life. And this faith and life is so beautiful, that it is called the 'pearl of Africa'".
"If you believe that Jesus can change your life, ask Him for His help. This is
prayer. ... Pray to Jesus, because He is the Saviour. Never cease praying. Prayer
is the most powerful weapon a young person has. Jesus loves you. ... So, open the
door to your heart and let Him enter. Let Jesus enter into your life. And when Jesus enters your life, He will help you fight, to fight against all problems. ...
To fight against depression, to fight against AIDS. Ask for help to overcome these situations, and always to fight. Fight with desire and with prayer".
"The third thing I would like to say ... We are all in the Church, we all belong
to the Church. ... And the Church has a mother. Mary! ... Pray to Mary! ... When a
child falls and hurts himself, he cries and looks for his mother. When we have problem, the best thing we can do is to go to where our Mother is. To pray to Mary, to pray to our Mother".
"Three things", he concluded: "The first: overcome difficulties. The second: transform the negative into positive. And the third: prayer. Pray to Jesus, Who
is capable of everything. Jesus, Who enters into our heart and changes our life.
Jesus, Who came to save me and who gave His life for me. Let us pray to Jesus, because He is the only Lord. And since in the Church we are not orphans, we have
a Mother, let us pray to our Mother".
The following is the Holy Father's prepared discourse:
"Dear Young Friends,
I am happy to be here and to share these moments with you. I greet my brother bishops and the civil authorities present, and I thank Bishop Paul Ssemogerere for his words of welcome. The testimonies of Winnie and Emmanuel confirm my impression that the Church in Uganda is alive with young people who want a better future. Today, if you will allow me, I want to confirm you in your faith,
encourage you in your love, and in a special way, strengthen you in your hope.
Christian hope is not simply optimism; it is much more. It is rooted in the new
life we have received in Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that hope will not disappoint us, because God's love was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit
at our baptism. This hope enables us to trust in Christ's promises, to trust in
the power of His love, His forgiveness, His friendship. That love opens the door
to new life. Whenever you experience a problem, a setback, a failure, you must anchor your heart in that love, for it has the power to turn death into life and
to banish every evil.
So this afternoon I would invite you, first of all, to pray for this gift to grow within you, and for the grace to become messengers of hope. There are so many people around us who experience deep anxiety and even despair. Jesus lifts
these clouds, if we allow Him to.
I would also like to share with you a few thoughts about some of the obstacles
which you may encounter on our journey of hope. All of you want a better future,
employment, health and prosperity. This is good. You want to share your gifts, your aspirations and your enthusiasm with others, for the good of the nation and
of the Church. This too is very good. But when you see poverty, when you experience lack of opportunity, when you experience failure in your lives, sometimes a feeling of despair can grow. You can be tempted to lose hope.
Have you ever seen a little child who stops in front of a dirty puddle on the path ahead of him? A puddle he cannot leap over or go around? He may try but then he stumbles and gets soaked. Then, after many attempts, he calls out to his
father, who takes his hand and swings him over to the other side. We are like that child. Life presents us with many dirty puddles. But we don't have to overcome all those problems and hurdles on our own. God is there to take our hand, if only we call on him.
What I am saying is that all of us have to be like that little child, even the
Pope! For it is only when we are small and humble that we are not afraid to call
out to our Father. If you have experienced his help, you know what I am speaking
about. We need to learn to put our hope in him, knowing that he is always there
for us. He gives us confidence and courage. But - and this is important - it would be wrong not to share this beautiful experience with others. It would be wrong for us not to become messengers of hope for others.
There is one particular puddle which can be frightening to young people who want to grow in their friendship with Christ. It is the fear of failing in our commitment to love, and above all, failing in that great and lofty ideal which is Christian marriage. You may be afraid of failing to be a good wife and mother, failing to be a good husband and father. If you are looking at that puddle, you may even see your weaknesses and fears reflected back to you. Please, don't give in to them! Sometimes these fears come from the devil who does not want you to be happy. No! Call out to God, extend your hearts to him and he will lift you in his arms and show you how to love. I ask young couples in particular to trust that God wants to bless their love and their lives with his grace in the sacrament of marriage. God's gift of love is at the heart of Christian marriage, not the costly parties which often obscure the deep spiritual meaning of this day of joyful celebration with family and friends.
Finally, one puddle that we all have to face is the fear of being different, of
going against the grain in a society which puts increasing pressure on us to embrace models of gratification and consumption alien to the deepest values of African culture. Think about it! What would the Uganda martyrs say about the misuse of our modern means of communication, where young people are exposed to images and distorted views of sexuality that degrade human dignity, leading to sadness and emptiness? What would be the Uganda martyrs' reaction to the growth
of greed and corruption in our midst? Surely they would appeal to you to be model Christians, confident that your love of Christ, your fidelity to the Gospel, and your wise use of your God-given gifts can only enrich, purify and elevate the life of this country. They continue to show you the way. Do not be afraid to let the light of your faith shine in your families, your schools and your places of work. Do not be afraid to enter into dialogue humbly with others
who may see things differently.
Dear young friends, when I look at your faces I am filled with hope: hope for you, hope for your country, and hope for the Church. I ask you to pray that the
hope which you have received from the Holy Spirit will continue to inspire your
efforts to grow in wisdom, generosity and goodness. Don't forget to be messengers of that hope! And don't forget that God will help you to cross whatever puddles you meet along the way!
Hope in Christ and he will enable you to find true happiness. And if you find it hard to pray, if you find it hard to hope, do not be afraid to turn to Mary,
for she is our Mother, the Mother of Hope. Finally, please, do not forget to pray for me! God bless you all!".
In the Nalukolongo House of Charity: do not close your doors to the cry of the
Vatican City, 29 November 2015 (VIS) - Yesterday, following his encounter with
the young people of Uganda, the Pope transferred to the Nalukolongo House of Charity, founded in 1978 by Cardinal Emmanuel Kikwanuka Nsubunga (1914-1990) and
entrusted to the Good Samaritan Sisters, the congregation he founded, which currently cares for around one hundred poor people of any religion or age, from
infancy to extreme old age.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Dec 7 09:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXV - # 219
- The Church, mother of vocations: theme of the Pope's message for the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations
- Angelus: break down the barriers and obstacles to our conversion
- There is no unity without forgiveness
- Francis lights up the Assisi Christmas tree
- Catholic schools, educating in the fullness of humanity
- Judges and lawyers in Vatican City State Tribunal: guaranteeing a fair trial - New hearing in the trial for dissemination of reserved news and documents
- New external auditor for Consolidated Financial Statements
- Other Pontifical Acts
The Church, mother of vocations: theme of the Pope's message for the 53rd World
Day of Prayer for Vocations
Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) - "The Church, mother of vocations" is the
theme of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be held on 17 April 2016, the fourth Sunday of Easter. In the text, signed in Vatican City on 29 November, first Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father comments that every vocation in the Church originates with Jesus' compassionate gaze, and he emphasised that
the call of God is heard through community mediation. The vocational path
"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, all the baptised may experience the joy of belonging to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particular vocation, is
born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy. The Church is
the house of mercy, and it is the 'soil' where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit.
"For this reason, on the occasion of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the community in each person's vocational journey. In the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I recalled the
words of the venerable Bede, describing the call of Saint Matthew: 'Miserando atque eligendo'. The Lord's merciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple's life.
Blessed Paul VI, in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, described various steps in the process of evangelisation. One of these steps is belonging to the Christian community, that community from which we first received the witness of
faith and the clear proclamation of the Lord's mercy. This incorporation into the Christian community brings with it all the richness of ecclesial life, particularly the sacraments. Indeed, the Church is not only a place in which we
believe, but it is also an object of our faith; it is for this reason that we profess in the Creed: 'I believe in the Church'.
The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, He bestows on us a specific vocation. The vocational journey
is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to
us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God's plan, embracing the historical circumstances of His holy people.
On this day dedicated to prayer for vocations, I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations. When the
Apostles sought someone to take the place of Judas Iscariot, St. Peter brought together one hundred and twenty of the brethren; and in order to chose seven deacons, a group of disciples was gathered. St. Paul gave Titus specific criteria for the selection of presbyters. Still today, the Christian community is always present in the discernment of vocations, in their formation and in their perseverance.
Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate 'sense' of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. 'A sure sign of
the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God's holy and faithful people for the
good of all'. In responding to God's call, young people see their own ecclesial
horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the
family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn
to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.
Vocations grow within the Church. In the course of formation, candidates for various vocations need to grow in their knowledge of the ecclesial community, overcoming the limited perspectives that we all have at the beginning. To that end, it is helpful to undertake some apostolic experience together with other members of the community, for example: in the company of a good catechist, to communicate the Christian message; together with a religious community, to experience the evangelisation of the peripheries sharing in the life of the cloister, to discover the treasure of contemplation; in contact with missionaries, to know more closely the mission ad gentes; and in the company of
diocesan priests, to deepen one's experience of pastoral life in the parish and
in the diocese. For those who are already in formation, the ecclesial community
always remains the fundamental formational environment, towards which one should
feel a sense of gratitude.
Vocations are sustained by the Church. After definitive commitment, our vocational journey within the Church does not come to an end, but it continues in our willingness to serve, our perseverance and our ongoing formation. The one
who has consecrated his life to the Lord is willing to serve the Church wherever
it has need. The mission of Paul and Barnabas is a good example of this readiness to serve the Church. Sent on mission by the Holy Spirit and by the community of Antioch, they returned to that same community and described what the Lord had worked through them. Missionaries are accompanied and sustained by
the Christian community, which always remains a vital point of reference, just as a visible homeland offers security to all who are on pilgrimage towards eternal life.
Among those involved in pastoral activity, priests are especially important.In
their ministry, they fulfil the words of Jesus, Who said: 'I am the gate of the
sheepfold ... I am the good shepherd'. The pastoral care of vocations is a fundamental part of their ministry. Priests accompany those who are discerning vocation, as well as those who have already dedicated their lives to the service
of God and of the community.
All the faithful are called to appreciate the ecclesial dynamism of vocations,
so that communities of faith can become, after the example of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, like a mother's womb which welcomes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The motherhood of the Church finds expression in constant prayer for vocations and in the work of educating and accompanying all those who perceive God's call. This motherhood is also expressed through a careful selection of candidates for
the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life. Finally, the Church is the mother of vocations in her continual support of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others.
We ask the Lord to grant to all those who are on a vocational journey a deep sense of belonging to the Church; and that the Holy Spirit may strengthen among
Pastors, and all of the faithful, a deeper sense of communion, discernment and spiritual fatherhood and motherhood.
Father of mercy, Who gave Your Son for our salvation and Who strengthens us always with the gifts of Your Spirit, grant us Christian communities which are alive, fervent and joyous, which are fonts of fraternal life, and which nurture
in the young the desire to consecrate themselves to You and to the work of evangelisation. Sustain these communities in their commitment to offer appropriate vocational catechesis and ways of proceeding towards each one's particular consecration. Grant the wisdom needed for vocational discernment, so
that in all things the greatness of Your merciful love may shine forth. May Mary, Mother and guide of Jesus, intercede for each Christian community, so that, made fruitful by the Holy Spirit, it may be a source of true vocations for
the service of the holy People of God".
Angelus: break down the barriers and obstacles to our conversion
Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) - "'Why do we need to convert? Conversion is for an atheist who becomes a believer, or a sinner who becomes righteous. We
do not need it, we are already Christian' we think," said Pope Francis to the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, before today's Sunday Angelus prayer. "And this is not true", he added. "If we think in this way, we
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Dec 14 09:36:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXV - # 223
- Audience with the president of Sri Lanka: may the process of peace and reconciliation promote stable social harmony
- The Policoro Project: in search of dignified and liberating work
- Francis opens the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
- Angelus: joy, gift of the Lord Who receives with conversion
- Joint commitment to caring for the climate
- The Pope to visit Guadalupe on 13 February
- Programme of the Pope's apostolic trip to Mexico
- Rescriptum ex audientia for the institution of the Pontifical Commission for activities of public legal persons of the Church in the healthcare sector
- Identity and mission of the religious brother in the Church
- The Holy Father attends the twelfth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
- Other Pontifical Acts
Audience with the president of Sri Lanka: may the process of peace and reconciliation promote stable social harmony
Vatican City, 14 December 2015 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father Francis received in audience the president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for
Relations with States.
The cordial discussions, which began with a recollection of the Holy Father's visit to Sri Lanka last January, focused on certain aspects of the country's recent history and the process of peace and reconciliation that is underway, with the hope that it may contribute to promoting stable social harmony. Furthermore, the contribution of the Catholic Church in various sectors of society and the importance of interreligious dialogue were shown to be important.
There was also an exchange of opinions on the theme of the environment and an evaluation of the results of the Conference on climate change, recently concluded in Paris.
The Policoro Project: in search of dignified and liberating work
Vatican City, 14 December 2015 (VIS) - Finding answers to the existential question of many young people who risk passing from a lack of employment to detachment from life in general is the aim of the Policoro Project undertaken twenty years ago in the ecclesial Convention of Palermo. This morning, in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, its members were received by the Holy Father who remarked that, in seeking to combine the Gospel with the reality of life, the Project represented an important initiative for the promotion of youth and a true opportunity for local development at national level. "Its key ideas have guided its success: the formation of the young, the establishment of cooperatives, the creation of mediation figures such as 'community animators' and a long series of concrete gestures, a visible sign of commitment throughout
these twenty years of active presence".
"With its concrete attention to the territory and the search for shared solutions, the Policoro Project has shown how the quality of 'free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labour that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives'. Let us not lose sight of the urgency of reaffirming this dignity! It belongs to each and every one of us. .. When there
is no work, dignity is at risk, as unemployment not only prevents you from putting food on the table; it also makes you feel unworthy of earning a living.
Today young people are victims of this. How many of them have given up looking for work, resigned to continual rejection or the indifference of a society that
rewards only the usual privileged few - even if they are corrupt - and obstructs
those who deserve affirmation. The reward seems to go to those who are sure of themselves, even if this security is gained through corruption. Work is not a gift to be kindly granted to the select few: it is a right for all!"
He added, "You represent without doubt a sign of real hope for many people who
have not resigned themselves but have instead decided to commit themselves courageously to creating or improving their opportunities for work", and he invited them to "continue to promote initiatives for participation for young people in a community and participatory form. ... Here you can play your role. To
the question, 'what has the Church to do with my situation?', that you have said
and heard many times, the answer is 'witness'. And here you are able to provide
your witness, face to face with those who are in need of courage and support".
Francis concluded by emphasising that his task is not simply that of helping the young to find a job but rather "a responsibility of evangelisation through the sanctifying value of work. But not any form of work: not work that exploits,
crushes, humiliates and abuses, but work that makes man truly free, in accordance with his noble dignity".
Francis opens the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Vatican City, 13 December 2015 (VIS) - On the third Sunday of Advent the Pope opened the third Holy Door of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Following the Holy Door
of the Cathedral of Bangui in the Central African Republic on 29 November and that of St. Peter's Basilica on 8 December, today he opened the Holy Door of the
Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. On "Gaudete Sunday", the Sunday of Joy, Francis reaffirmed that the reason for this joy is expressed in the readings with words infused with hope and which allow us to look to the future with serenity, as "the Lord has annulled every condemnation and chose to live among us".
This third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now close, said the Pope in his homily. "We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though there may be good reason, with our many concerns and the many forms of violence that harm our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy".
The Pope cites the first reading of the prophet Zephaniah, who taught that "in
a historical context of great abuse and violence, especially by men of power, God knows that He will reign over his people, who would never leave them at the
mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and will free them from all anxiety. Today, we are asked not to let our 'hands grow weak' because of doubt, impatience or suffering. St. Paul returns to the teaching of Zephaniah and reiterates: 'The Lord is near'. Because of this we should rejoice always, and with our affability give all witness of closeness and care that God has for each
"We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. It begins a time of great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; He
is tender; everything done with the tenderness of the Father. We too are like the crowds who asked John, 'What do we do?'. The Baptist's response was immediate. He invites us to act justly and to attend to the needs of those in need. What John demands of his representatives is already in the law. We, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door we
are called to pass through, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. He who is baptised knows he has a greater commitment. Faith in Christ leads to a journey that lasts a lifetime: to be merciful, like the Father. The joy of crossing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and bear witness to a love that goes beyond justice, a love that knows no boundaries. For this infinite love, in spite of our contradictions, we are responsible".
"Let us pray for us and for all those who pass through the Door of Mercy, that
we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, that recreates, transforms and reforms life", said the Pope at the end of his homily.
Cardinal James M. Harvey, archpriest of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, also opened
the Holy Door of the Basilica today, while throughout the rest of the world, as
the Pope had requested, all the Holy Doors of churches and cathedrals were opened for the Year of Mercy.
Angelus: joy, gift of the Lord Who receives with conversion
Vatican City, 13 December 2015 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared
at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian
prayer, the Pontiff addressed some words to those present.
"In today's Gospel, there is a question repeated three times: 'What should we do?'. Three categories of people pose this question to John the Baptist: first,
the crowd in general; second, the publicans, or tax collectors; and, third, some
soldiers, to know what must be done to convert in the way he preaches. John's reply to the crowd is to share basic necessities: 'Whoever has two cloaks, should share with the person who has none, and whoever has food should do likewise'. He tells the second group, the tax collectors, to stop collecting more than is due. What does this mean? No 'kickbacks': John the Baptist is clear. And to the third group, the soldiers, he says do not exhort anyone for anything, and be content with your pay".
These three answers refer to an identical path of conversion, which is manifested in concrete commitments to justice and solidarity. "It is the road that Jesus indicates in all His preaching: the active path of love for one's neighbour. From these admonitions of John the Baptist, we understand what were the general trends of those who at that time held power, in various forms. Little has changed. However, no group of people is excluded from the path of conversion for salvation, not even tax collectors who were considered sinners by
definition. ... God does not preclude for anyone the possibility of salvation. He
is eager to show mercy to all, and welcome everyone in the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness".
Francis went on to explain that "today's liturgy tells us, with John's words, that is necessary to repent, to change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity and sobriety: these are the essential values of a fully human and genuinely Christian life. Repent! This sums up John the Baptist's message. The liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent helps us rediscover a special dimension of conversion: joy. Whoever converts and approaches the Lord experiences joy".
He also emphasised that nowadays "it takes courage to speak of joy, which, above all, requires faith. The world is beset by many problems, the future weighed down by uncertainties and fears. And yet, the Christian is a joyful person, and his joy is not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift from God that fills life. Our joy comes from knowing that 'the Lord is near', that He is close by with His tenderness, His mercy, His forgiveness and His love".
He concluded, "May the Virgin Mary help us to strengthen our faith, so that we
may welcome the God of joy, the God of mercy, who always wants to live in the midst of her children. May our Mother teach us to share tears with those who weep, but also to be able to share a smile".
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Dec 15 08:12:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXV - # 224
- Overcome indifference and win peace: the Pope's Message for the 49th World Day
- Presentation of the Message for World Day of Peace 2016
- Decrees for the Causes of Saints
- Other Pontifical Acts
Overcome indifference and win peace: the Pope's Message for the 49th World Day
Vatican City, 15 December 2015 (VIS) - "Overcome indifference and win peace" is
the title of the Holy Father's Message to celebrate the 49th World Day of Peace,
to be held on 1 January 2016. The Message was signed on 8 December, Solemnity of
the Immaculate Conception of Mary Most Holy, and the day of the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is divided into eight chapters: God is not indifferent, God cares about mankind, God does not abandon us; Maintaining our reasons for hope; Kinds of indifference; Peace threatened by global indifference; From indifference to mercy: the conversion of hearts; Building a culture of solidarity and mercy to overcome indifference; Peace: the fruit of culture of solidarity, mercy and compassion; and Peace in the sign of the Jubilee of Mercy.
The following is the full text of the Message:
"1. God is not indifferent! God cares about mankind! God does not abandon us! At the beginning of the New Year, I would like to share not only this profound conviction but also my cordial good wishes for prosperity, peace and the fulfilment of the hopes of every man and every woman, every family, people and nation throughout the world, including all Heads of State and Government and all
religious leaders. We continue to trust that 2016 will see us all firmly and confidently engaged, on different levels, in the pursuit of justice and peace. Peace is both God's gift and a human achievement. As a gift of God, it is entrusted to all men and women, who are called to attain it.
Maintaining our reasons for hope
2. Sadly, war and terrorism, accompanied by kidnapping, ethnic or religious persecution and the misuse of power, marked the past year from start to finish.
In many parts of the world, these have became so common as to constitute a real
"third world war fought piecemeal". Yet some events of the year now ending inspire me, in looking ahead to the new year, to encourage everyone not to lose
hope in our human ability to conquer evil and to combat resignation and indifference. They demonstrate our capacity to show solidarity and to rise above
self-interest, apathy and indifference in the face of critical situations.
Here I would mention the efforts to bring world leaders together at COP21 in the search for new ways to confront climate change and to protect the earth, our
common home. We can also think of two earlier global events: the Addis Ababa Summit for funding sustainable development worldwide and the adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aimed at ensuring a more
dignified standard of living for all the world's peoples, especially the poor, by that year.
For the Church, 2015 was a special year, since it marked the fiftieth anniversary of two documents of the Second Vatican Council which eloquently expressed her sense of solidarity with the world. Pope John XXIII, at the beginning of the Council, wanted to open wide the windows of the Church and to improve her communication with the world. The two documents, Nostra Aetate and Gaudium et Spes, are emblematic of the new relationship of dialogue, solidarity
and accompaniment which the Church sought to awaken within the human family. In
the Declaration Nostra Aetate, the Church expressed her openness to dialogue with non-Christian religions. In the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, based on a recognition that "the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys
and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well", the Church
proposed to enter into dialogue with the entire human family about the problems
of our world, as a sign of solidarity, respect and affection.
Along these same lines, with the present Jubilee of Mercy I want to invite the
Church to pray and work so that every Christian will have a humble and compassionate heart, one capable of proclaiming and witnessing to mercy. It is my hope that all of us will learn to "forgive and give", to become more open "to
those living on the outermost fringes of society - fringes which modern society
itself creates", and to refuse to fall into "a humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine which prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism!"
There are many good reasons to believe in mankind's capacity to act together in
solidarity and, on the basis of our interconnection and interdependence, to demonstrate concern for the more vulnerable of our brothers and sisters and for
the protection of the common good. This attitude of mutual responsibility is rooted in our fundamental vocation to fraternity and a life in common. Personal
dignity and interpersonal relationships are what constitute us as human beings whom God willed to create in his own image and likeness. As creatures endowed with inalienable dignity, we are related to all our brothers and sisters, for whom we are responsible and with whom we act in solidarity. Lacking this relationship, we would be less human. We see, then, how indifference represents
a menace to the human family. As we approach a new year, I would ask everyone to
take stock of this reality, in order to overcome indifference and to win peace.
Kinds of indifference
3. Clearly, indifference is not something new; every period of history has known people who close their hearts to the needs of others, who close their eyes
to what is happening around them, who turn aside to avoid encountering other people's problems. But in our day, indifference has ceased to be a purely personal matter and has taken on broader dimensions, producing a certain "globalisation of indifference".
The first kind of indifference in human society is indifference to God, which then leads to indifference to one's neighbour and to the environment. This is one of the grave consequences of a false humanism and practical materialism allied to relativism and nihilism. We have come to to think that we are the source and creator of ourselves, our lives and society. We feel self-sufficient,
prepared not only to find a substitute for God but to do completely without him.
As a consequence, we feel that we owe nothing to anyone but ourselves, and we claim only rights. Against this erroneous understanding of the person, Pope Benedict XVI observed that neither man himself nor human development can, on their own, answer the question of our ultimate meaning. Paul VI likewise stated
that "there is no true humanism but that which is open to the Absolute, and is conscious of a vocation which gives human life its authentic significance".
Indifference to our neighbour shows itself in different ways. Some people are well-informed; they listen to the radio, read the newspapers or watch television, but they do so mechanically and without engagement. They are vaguely
aware of the tragedies afflicting humanity, but they have no sense of involvement or compassion. Theirs is the attitude of those who know, but keep their gaze, their thoughts and their actions focused on themselves. Sadly, it must be said that today's information explosion does not of itself lead to an increased concern for other people's problems, which demands openness and a sense of solidarity. Indeed, the information glut can numb people's sensibilities and to some degree downplay the gravity of the problems. There are
those who "simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poor countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalisations, they claim that the solution is an aeducation' that would tranquillise them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalised in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries - in their governments, businesses and
institutions - whatever the political ideology of their leaders."
In other cases, indifference shows itself in lack of concern for what is happening around us, especially if it does not touch us directly. Some people prefer not to ask questions or seek answers; they lead lives of comfort, deaf to
the cry of those who suffer. Almost imperceptibly, we grow incapable of feeling
compassion for others and for their problems; we have no interest in caring for
them, as if their troubles were their own responsibility, and none of our business. "When we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure... Our heart grows cold. As long
as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don't think about those less well
Because we dwell in a common home, we cannot help but ask ourselves about the state of its health, as I sought to do in Laudato Si'. Water and air pollution,
the indiscriminate exploitation of forests and the destruction of the natural environment are often the result of man's indifference to man, since everything
is interrelated. Then too, there is the way we treat animals, which has an effect on the way we treat other people, and the cases where people freely do elsewhere what they would never dare do at home.
In these and in other situations, indifference leads to self-absorption and a lack of commitment. It thus contributes to the absence of peace with God, with our neighbour and with the environment.
Peace threatened by globalised indifference
4. Indifference towards God transcends the purely private sphere of the individual and affects the public and social sphere. As Benedict XVI pointed out, "the glorification of God and human peace on earth are closely linked". Indeed, "without openness to the transcendent, human beings easily become prey to relativism and find it difficult to act justly and to work for peace. Disregard and the denial of God, which lead man to acknowledge no norm above himself and himself alone, have produced untold cruelty and violence.
On both the individual and communitarian levels, indifference to one's neighbour, born of indifference to God, finds expression in disinterest and a lack of engagement, which only help to prolong situations of injustice and grave
social imbalance. These in turn can lead to conflicts or, in any event, generate
a climate of dissatisfaction which risks exploding sooner or later into acts of
violence and insecurity.
Indifference and lack of commitment constitute a grave dereliction of the duty
whereby each of us must work in accordance with our abilities and our role in society for the promotion of the common good, and in particular for peace, which
is one of mankind's most precious goods.
On the institutional level, indifference to others and to their dignity, their
fundamental rights and their freedom, when it is part of a culture shaped by the
pursuit of profit and hedonism, can foster and even justify actions and policies
which ultimately represent threats to peace. Indifference can even lead to justifying deplorable economic policies which breed injustice, division and violence for the sake of ensuring the well-being of individuals or nations. Not
infrequently, economic and political projects aim at securing or maintaining power and wealth, even at the cost of trampling on the basic rights and needs of
others. When people witness the denial of their elementary rights, such as the right to food, water, health care or employment, they are tempted to obtain them
Moreover, indifference to the natural environment, by countenancing deforestation, pollution and natural catastrophes which uproot entire communities from their ecosystem and create profound insecurity, ends up creating new forms of poverty and new situations of injustice, often with dire consequences for security and peace. How many wars have been fought, and how many will continue to be fought, over a shortage of goods or out of an insatiable thirst for natural resources?
From indifference to mercy: the conversion of hearts
5. One year ago, in my Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace, with the motto
"No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters", I evoked the first biblical icon
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Dec 21 08:48:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 228
- The Pope greets the Roman Curia: return to the essentials
- The Pope receives Vatican employees: live the Jubilee in the domestic church too
- Christmas: encounter Jesus in places of wonder
- The path to ending violence in the Middle East
- Francis praises the Italian Rail service for its solidarity with the poor
- The Pope opens the Holy Door of Charity and repeats that Heaven cannot be bought with money or honours
- Other Pontifical Acts
The Pope greets the Roman Curia: return to the essentials
Vatican City, 21 December 2015 (VIS) - Missionary and pastoral spirit, idoneity
and sagacity, spirituality and humanity, example and fidelity, reasonableness and gentleness, innocuousness and determination, diligence and attentiveness, charity and truth, openness and maturity, respectfulness and humility, intrepidness and alertness, and finally, accountability and sobriety. These are
the qualities Pope Francis highlighted this morning in his greetings to the Roman Curia, as a practical aid to embracing the time of grace of Christmas and
the Year of Mercy and ensuring the fruitfulness of service to the Church. "I would ask the Heads of Dicasteries and other superiors to ponder this, to add to
it and to complete it", he said. "It is a list based on an acrostic analysis of
the word 'Misericordia' ... with the aim of having it serve as our guide and beacon".
During his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with the members of the
Roman Curia, the Holy Father addressed the prelates recalling their previous meetings: in 2013, when he stressed "two important and inseparable aspects of the work of the Curia: professionalism and service", offering St. Joseph as a model to be imitated. Then, last year, as a preparation for the sacrament of Reconciliation, he considered "certain temptations or maladies - the catalogue of curial diseases ... which could affect any Christian, curia, community, congregation, parish or ecclesial movement. Diseases which call for prevention,
vigilance, care and, sadly, in some cases, painful and prolonged interventions".
"Some of these diseases became evident in the course of the past year", he continued, "causing no small pain to the entire body and harming many souls, also by scandal. It seems necessary to state what has been - and ever shall be the object of sincere reflection and decisive provisions. Reform will move forward with determination, clarity and firm resolve, since Ecclesia semper reformanda. Nonetheless, diseases and even scandals cannot obscure the efficiency of the services rendered to the Pope and to the entire Church by the
Roman Curia, with great effort, responsibility, commitment and dedication, and this is a real source of consolation. St. Ignatius taught that 'it is typical of
the evil spirit to instil remorse, sadness and difficulties, and to cause needless worry so as to prevent us from going forward; instead, it is typical of
the good spirit to instil courage and energy, consolations and tears, inspirations and serenity, and to lessen and remove every difficulty so as to make us advance on the path of goodness'".
Therefore, "it would be a grave injustice not to express heartfelt gratitude and needed encouragement to all those good and honest men and women in the Curia
who work with dedication, devotion, fidelity and professionalism, offering to the Church and the Successor of Peter the assurance of their solidarity and obedience, as well as their constant prayers. Moreover, cases of resistance, difficulties and failures on the part of individuals and ministers are so many lessons and opportunities for growth, and never for discouragement. They are opportunities for returning to the essentials, which means being ever more conscious of ourselves, of God and our neighbours, of the sensus Ecclesiae and the sensus fidei".
Francis turned to the central theme of his discourse: "this return to essentials ... just a few days after the Church's inauguration of the pilgrimage
of the Holy Year of Mercy, a Year which represents for her and for all of us a pressing summons to gratitude, conversion, renewal, penance and reconciliation".
At the time of Christmas, the feast of God's infinite mercy, as St. Augustine of
Hippo tells us, and in the context of the Year of Mercy, he presented to the Roman Curia "a practical aid", beginning with the theme of missionary and pastoral spirit.
"Missionary spirit is what makes the Curia evidently fertile and fruitful; it is proof of the effectiveness, efficiency and authenticity of our activity. Faith is a gift, yet the measure of our faith is also seen by the extent to which we communicate it. All baptised persons are missionaries of the Good News,
above all by their lives, their work and their witness of joy and conviction. sound pastoral spirit is an indispensable virtue for the priest in particular. It is shown in his daily effort to follow the Good Shepherd who cares for the flock and gives his life to save the lives of others. It is the yardstick for our curial and priestly work. Without these two wings we could never take flight, or even enjoy the happiness of the 'faithful servant'".
With regard to idoneity and sagacity: "Idoneity, or suitability, entails personal effort aimed at acquiring the necessary requisites for exercising as best we can our tasks and duties with intelligence and insight. It does not countenance 'recommendations' and payoffs. Sagacity is the readiness to grasp and confront situations with shrewdness and creativity. Idoneity and sagacity also represent our human response to divine grace, when we let ourselves follow
the famous dictum: 'Do everything as if God did not exist and then put it all in
God's hands as if you did not exist'".
Spirituality and humanity: "Spirituality is the backbone of all service in the
Church and in Christian life. It is what nourishes all our activity, sustaining
and protecting it from human frailty and daily temptation. Humanity is what embodies the truthfulness of our faith; those who renounce their humanity renounce everything. Humanity is what makes us different from machines and robots which feel nothing and are never moved. Once we find it hard to weep seriously or to laugh heartily - these are just two signs - we have begun our decline and the process of turning from 'humans' into something else. Humanity is knowing how to show tenderness and fidelity and courtesy to all. Spirituality
and humanity, while innate qualities, are a potential needing to be activated fully, attained completely and demonstrated daily".
Example and fidelity: "Blessed Paul VI reminded the Curia - in 1963 - of 'its calling to set an example'. An example of avoiding scandals which harm souls and
impair the credibility of our witness. Fidelity to our consecration, to our vocation, always mindful of the words of Christ, 'Whoever is faithful in a very
little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much' and 'If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes".
Reasonableness and gentleness: "Reasonableness helps avoid emotional excesses,
while gentleness helps avoid an excess of bureaucracy, programmes and planning.
These qualities are necessary for a balanced personality: 'The enemy - and forgive me for quoting St. Ignatius once again - pays careful heed to whether soul is coarse or delicate; if it is delicate, he finds a way to make it overly
delicate, in order to cause it greater distress and confusion'. Every excess is
a symptom of some imbalance".
Innocuousness and determination: "Innocuousness makes us cautious in our judgements and capable of refraining from impulsive and hasty actions. It is the
ability to bring out the best in ourselves, in others and in all kinds of situations by acting carefully and attentively. It consists of doing unto others
what we would have them do to us. Determination is acting with a resolute will,
clear vision, obedience to God and solely for the supreme law of the salus animarum".
Charity and truth: "Two inseparable virtues of Christian life, 'speaking the truth in charity and practising charity in truth'. To the point where charity without truth becomes a destructive ideology of complaisance and truth without charity becomes myopic legalism".
Openness and maturity: "Openness is honesty and rectitude, consistency and absolute sincerity with regard both to ourselves and to God. An honest and open
person does not act virtuously only when he or she is being watched; honest persons have no fear of being caught, since they never betray the trust of others. An honest person is never domineering like the 'wicked servant', with regard to the persons or matters entrusted to his or her care. Honesty is the foundation on which all other qualities rest. Maturity is the quest to achieve balance and harmony in our physical, mental and spiritual gifts. It is the goal
and outcome of a never-ending process of development which has nothing to do with age".
Respectfulness and humility: "Respectfulness is an endowment of those noble and
tactful souls who always try to show genuine respect for others, for their own work, for their superiors and subordinates, for dossiers and papers, for confidentiality and privacy, who can listen carefully and speak politely. Humility is the virtue of the saints and those godly persons who become all the
more important as they come to realise that they are nothing, and can do nothing, apart from God's grace".
"Diligence and attentiveness: "The more we trust in God and his providence, the
more we grow in diligence and readiness to give of ourselves, in the knowledge that the more we give the more we receive. What good would it do to open all the
Holy Doors of all the basilicas in the world if the doors of our own heart are closed to love, if our hands are closed to giving, if our homes are closed to hospitality and our churches to welcome and acceptance. Attentiveness is concern
for the little things, for doing our best and never yielding to our vices and failings. St. Vincent de Paul used to pray: "Lord, help me to be always aware of
those around me, those who are worried or dismayed, those suffering in silence,
and those who feel alone and abandoned".
Intrepidness and alertness: "Being intrepid means fearlessness in the face of troubles, like Daniel in the den of lions, or David before Goliath. It means acting with boldness, determination and resolve, 'as a good soldier'. It means being immediately ready to take the first step, like Abraham, or Mary. Alertness, on the other hand, is the ability to act freely and easily, without being attached to fleeting material things. The Psalm says: 'if riches increase,
set not your heart on them'. To be alert means to be always on the go, and never
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Jan 11 09:36:02 2016
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXVI - # 5
- To the Diplomatic Corps: the Holy See will never cease its efforts to take the
voice of peace to the ends of the earth
- Baptisms in the Sistine Chapel: offer your children the legacy of faith
- Angelus: the importance of celebrating the day of our Baptism
- Holy Father's calendar for January and February
- Other Pontifical Acts
To the Diplomatic Corps: the Holy See will never cease its efforts to take the
voice of peace to the ends of the earth
Vatican City, 11 January 2016 (VIS) - Today in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Apostolic Palace the Holy Father today received in audience in the the Diplomatic Corps accredited at the Holy See for the traditional new year exchange of greetings. The Pope was first greeted by the new dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Armindo Fernandes do Espirito Santo Vieira, ambassador of Angola, and began his discourse by mentioning the diplomats who died during this
last month, the ambassadors of Cuba, Rodney Alejandro Lopez Clemente, and of Liberia, Rudolf P. von Ballmoos. He also welcomed those attending for the first
time, noting that the number of ambassadors resident in Rome has increased during the last year. "It is an important sign of the interest with which the international community follows the diplomatic activity of the Holy See", he remarked.
Further proof of this interest is offered by the international agreements signed or ratified during the course of the year. In particular, Francis mentioned the agreements of a fiscal nature with Italy and the United States of
America, "reflecting the increased commitment of the Holy See to greater transparency in economic matters. No less important are the more general agreements aimed at regulating essential aspects of the Church's life and activity in different countries, such as the agreement sealed in Dili with the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste". He also cited the exchange of instruments of ratification of the agreement with Chad on the legal status of the Catholic Church in that country and the agreement signed and ratified with Palestine, which together with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Kuwait, demonstrate "how peaceful co-existence between the followers of different religions is possible when religious freedom is recognised and practical cooperation in the pursuit of the
common good, in a spirit of respect for the cultural identity of all parties, is
The Pope emphasised that the authentic practice of religion cannot fail to promote peace. "The mystery of the Incarnation shows us the real face of God, for whom power does not mean force or destruction but love, and for whom justice
is not vengeance but mercy". It is in the light of this that we must see the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, exceptionally inaugurated in Bangui during his Apostolic Journey in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
"In a country sorely tried by hunger, poverty and conflict, where fratricidal violence in recent years has left deep wounds, rending the nation and creating material and moral destitution, the opening of the Holy Door of Bangui Cathedral
was meant as a sign of encouragement to look ahead, to set out anew and resume dialogue. There, where God's name has been misused to perpetrate injustice, I wanted to reaffirm, together with the Muslim community of the Central African Republic, that 'those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of
peace' and consequently of mercy, for one may never kill in the name of God. Only a distorted ideological form of religion can think that justice is done in
the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenceless persons, as in
the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East".
The Pope went on to reflect on his Apostolic trips throughout the course of the
year, linked by the common thread of mercy, starting with Sarajevo, "a city deeply scarred by the war in the Balkans and the capital of a country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is uniquely significant for Europe and the entire world.
As a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, it is working successfully to build new bridges, to encourage those things which unite, and to see differences as opportunities for growth in respect for all".
In Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, he encountered "peoples who have not given up
in the face of difficulties, and who are facing with courage, determination and
solidarity their many challenges, beginning with widespread poverty and social inequality", he said. "During my journey to Cuba and the United States of America, I was able to embrace two countries which were long divided and which have decided to write a new page of history, embarking on the path of closer ties and reconciliation".
"In Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, during my Journey to Sri Lanka and to the Philippines, and more recently with the Synod of Bishops, I reaffirmed the centrality of the family, which is the first and most important school of mercy, in which we learn to see God's loving face and to mature and develop as human beings. Sadly, we recognise the numerous challenges presently facing families, 'threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine
the very institution of marriage by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral,
by a lack of openness to life'. Today there is a widespread fear of the definitive commitment demanded by the family; those who pay the price are the young, who are often vulnerable and uncertain, and the elderly, who end up being
neglected and abandoned".
The Pope went on to ask the ambassadors to reflect on "the poor, the marginalised and the 'least' of society", and in particular on the "grave crisis
of migration we are facing, in order to discern its causes, to consider possible
solutions, and to overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and
formidable phenomenon, which in 2015 has mainly concerned Europe, but also various regions of Asia and North and Central America".
"The Bible as a whole recounts the history of a humanity on the move, for mobility is part of our human nature", he added. "Human history is made up of countless migrations, sometimes out of an awareness of the right to choose freely, and often dictated by external circumstances. From the banishment from Eden to Abraham's journey to the promised land, from the Exodus story to the deportation to Babylon, sacred Scripture describes the struggles and sufferings,
the desires and hopes, which are shared by the hundreds of thousands of persons
on the move today, possessed of the same determination which Moses had to reach
a land flowing with 'milk and honey', a land of freedom and peace. Now as then,
we hear Rachel weeping for her children who are no more. Hers is the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions and human
rights violations, or political or social instability, which often make it impossible for them to live in their native lands. It is the outcry of those forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable
persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion".
"Now as then, we hear Jacob saying to his sons: 'Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die'. His is the voice of all those who flee extreme poverty, inability to feed their families or to receive medical care and
education, hopeless squalor or the effects of climate change and extreme weather
conditions. Sadly, we know that hunger continues to be one of the gravest banes
of our world, leading to the death of millions of children every year. It is painful to realise, however, that often these migrants are not included in international systems of protection based on international agreements".
"How can we not see in all this the effects of that 'culture of waste' which endangers the human person, sacrificing men and women before the idols of profit
and consumption? It is a grievous fact that we grow so inured to such situations
of poverty and need, to these tragedies affecting so many lives, that they appear 'normal'. ... We have grown indifferent to all sorts of waste, starting with the waste of food, which is all the more deplorable when so many individuals and families suffer hunger and malnutrition".
"The Holy See trusts that, amid today's sad context of conflicts and disasters,
the First World Humanitarian Summit, convened by the United Nations for May 2016, will succeed in its goal of placing the person and human dignity at the heart of every humanitarian response. What is needed is a common commitment which can decisively turn around the culture of waste and lack of respect for human life, so that no one will feel neglected or forgotten, and that no further
lives will be sacrificed due to the lack of resources and, above all, of political will".
We also hear today "the voice of Judah who counsels selling his own brother. His is the arrogance of the powerful who exploit the weak, reducing them to means for their own ends or for strategic and political schemes. Where regular migration is impossible, migrants are often forced to turn to human traffickers
or smugglers, even though they are aware that in the course of their journey they may well lose their possessions, their dignity and even their lives. In this context I once more appeal for an end to trafficking in persons, which turns human beings, especially the weakest and most defenceless, into commodities. The image of all those children who died at sea, victims of human callousness and harsh weather, will remain forever imprinted on our minds and hearts. Those who survive and reach a country which accepts them bear the deep and indelible scars of these experiences, in addition to those left by the
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Wed Feb 17 14:18:02 2016
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXVI - # 33
- To the clergy in Morelia: do not give in to the temptation of resignation
- Young Mexicans, the greatest treasure of this land
- Pope's telegram for the death of the UN ex-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
- Other Pontifical Acts
To the clergy in Morelia: do not give in to the temptation of resignation
Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) - Yesterday, Tuesday 16 February, the Pope
arrived at 8.45 a.m. (local time, 3.45 p.m. in Rome) in Morelia, capital of the
state of Michoacan, the geographical centre of Mexico and since 1991 a UNESCO World Heritage site on account of its Hispanic historic centre and baroque architecture, notably the Cathedral of the Transfiguration and the Palace of Justice. It is also the seat of an important university, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, founded in 1551 as the Colegio de San Nicolas, and currently attended by 45,000 students.
The Pope travelled by popemobile the nine kilometres separating the airport from the Venustiano Carranza stadium, which is able to hold 20,000 people. He was awaited by the priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and seminarians of the archdiocese. During the Mass, celebrated by the Holy Father,
the purhepecha language was used for the prayer of the faithful.
The Pope began his homily in a colloquial fashion: "There is a saying among us
which goes 'tell me how you pray, and I will tell you how you live; tell me how
you live and I will tell you how you pray. Because showing me how you pray, I will learn to find the God for Whom you live, and showing me how you live, I will learn to believe in the God to Whom you pray'. For our life speaks of prayer and prayer speaks of our life; praying is something learned, just as we learn to walk, to speak, to listen. The school of prayer is the school of life and in the school of life we progress in the school of prayer".
He commented that Paul said to his favourite disciple Timothy, while teaching or encouraging him to live the faith: "Remember your mother and your grandmother". "And seminarians, when entering seminary often used to tell me: 'Father, I would like to have deeper mental prayer'. 'Look, you carry on praying
as they taught you to at home and then later, little by little, your prayer will
mature, just as you grew up'. Praying is something learned, just like life".
"Jesus wished to introduce His companions into the mystery of Life, into the mystery of His life. He showed them by eating, sleeping, healing, preaching and
praying, what it means to be Son of God. He invited them to share His life, His
interiority, and in His presence among them He allowed them to touch, in His flesh, the life of the Father. He helped them to experience, in His gaze, in His
going out in power, the newness of saying 'Our Father'. In Jesus this expression
'Our Father' has no trace of routine or mere repetition. On the contrary, it contains a sense of life, of experience, of authenticity. With these two words,
'Our Father', He knew how to live praying and to pray living. Jesus invites us to do the same. Our first call is to experience this merciful love of the Father
in our lives, in our experiences. His first call is to introduce us into the new
dynamic of love, of sonship. Our first calling is to learn to say, 'Our Father',
as Paul insists: Abba. 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!', says St. Paul, 'Woe to me!'. For to evangelise, he continues, is not a cause for glory but rather a need".
"He has invited us to share in His life, His divine life, and woe to us consecrated men and women, seminarians, priests, bishops, woe to us if we do not
share it, woe to us if we are not witnesses to what we have seen and heard, woe
to us. We do not want to be 'administrators of the divine', we are not and do not want to be employees in God's firm, for we are invited to share in His life,
we are invited to enter into His heart, a heart that prays and lives, saying, 'Our Father'. What is our mission if not to say with our lives ... 'Our Father'?"
He Who is Our Father, it is He to Whom we pray every day with insistence. And what do we tell Him in one of the petitions of that prayer? Lead us not into temptation. Jesus Himself did the same thing. He prayed that His disciples - yesterday's and today's - would not fall into temptation. What could be one of the sins which besets us? What could be one of the temptations which springs up
not only in contemplating reality but also in living it? What temptation can come to us from places often dominated by violence, corruption, drug trafficking, disregard for human dignity, and indifference in the face of suffering and vulnerability? What temptation might we suffer over and over again
- we who are called to the consecrated life, to the presbyterate, to the episcopate - what temptation could might we endure in the face of all this, in the face of this reality which seems to have become a permanent system?"
"I think that we could sum it up in a single word: 'resignation'. And faced with this reality, the devil can overcome us with one of his favourite weapons:
resignation. 'And what are you going to do about it? Life is like that'. A resignation which paralyses us and prevents us not only from walking, but also from making the journey; a resignation which not only terrifies us, but which also entrenches us in our 'sacristies' and false securities; a resignation which
not only prevents us from proclaiming, but also inhibits our giving praise and takes away the joy, the joy of giving praise. A resignation which not only hinders our looking to the future, but also stifles our desire to take risks and
to change. And so, 'Our Father, lead us not into temptation'".
"How good it is for us to tap into our memories when we are tempted", exclaimed
the Pope. "How much it helps us to look at the 'stuff' of which we are made. It
did not all begin with us, nor will it all end with us, and so it does us good to look back at our past experiences which have brought us to the present. And in this remembering, we cannot overlook someone who loved this place so much, who made himself a son of this land", he continued, referring to the Spanish Vasco Vazquez de Quiroga, first bishop of Michoacan. "We cannot overlook that person who could say of himself: 'They took me from the tribunal and put me in charge of the priesthood for my sins. Me, useless and quite unable to carry out
such a great undertaking; me, who didn't know how to use an oar, they chose me to be the first Bishop of Michoacan'".
"With you, I would like to recall this evangeliser, first known as 'the Spaniard who became an Indian'. The situation of the Purhepechas Indians, whom he described as being 'sold, humiliated, and homeless in marketplaces, picking up scraps of bread from the ground', far from tempting him to listless resignation, succeeded in kindling his faith, strengthening his compassion and inspiring him to carry out plans that were a 'breath of fresh air' in the midst
of so much paralysing injustice. The pain and suffering of his brothers and sisters became his prayer, and his prayer led to his response. And among the Indians, he was known as 'Tata Vasco', which in the Purhepechan language means,
Father, dad, daddy", invoked the Holy Father at the end of his homily, "Lead us
not into the temptation of resignation, lead us not into the temptation of falling into sloth, lead us not into the temptation of losing our memory, lead us not into the temptation of forgetting our elders who taught us by their lives
to say, 'Our Father'".
After the celebration, the Pope transferred to the archiepiscopal residence of
Morelia where he lunched, and from there proceeded to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (1644-1744), baroque in style with neo-Classical elements and tiled domes, which dominates the Plaza de las Armas. In the sacristy, where alongside sixteenth-century paintings, there is a figure of Christ made using mix of corn and honey using pre-Hispanic techniques, Francis met and conversed with fourteen rectors of Mexican universities and six leaders of other Christian
The Holy Father was also greeted by around one hundred children, catechumens, whom he thanked for their visit. "I will ask Jesus to let you grow surrounded by
love, like He did", he said. "With much love so as to be true Christians, to fulfil the commandment that Jesus gave us: to love God above all else, and our neighbour as Jesus did, as we love ourselves or better, as He loved us. And we will also ask Our Lady to look after us and to bless us. Above all, let all of us think in our hearts of our families and our friends, and even if you are at odds with any of them, ask the Virgin to care for them all the same; in this way
we make friends rather than enemies, because life is not good with enemies, and
He Whom makes us true friends is God, in our heart".
Likewise he congratulated the choir which had dedicated a song to him, commenting that "art and sport enlarge our hearts and make us grow well, with fresh air and without crushing life. Continue to be creative", he added, "in search of beauty, of good things, of that which lasts for ever, and never let anyone trample on this".
Young Mexicans, the greatest treasure of this land
Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) - At 4 p.m. local time (11 p.m. in Rome),
Francis arrived at the Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon stadium in the city of
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Fri Feb 19 09:53:02 2016
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXVI - # 34
- To the detainees of CeReSo 3 in Cuidad Juarez: those who have experienced hell
can be prophets for society
- Francis to the world of work: "God will hold enslavers to account"
- Mass in Ciudad Juarez: no more death and exploitation
- The Pope leaves Mexico: many lights proclaim hope in the Mexican people
To the detainees of CeReSo 3 in Cuidad Juarez: those who have experienced hell
can be prophets for society
Vatican City, 17 February 2016 (VIS) - Yesterday at 10 a.m. local time (6 p.m.
in Rome) the Holy Father began the last leg of his apostolic trip in Mexico: Ciudad Juarez, for two centuries the only land passage to the United States. Indeed, Cuidad Juarez is situated on the Rio Grande, facing the Texan city of El
Paso. The two form a metropolitan area with two million inhabitants. It is a very developed industrial centre and, according to various statistics, one of the most violent cities in the world, due principally to drug trafficking across
the border with the United States. It also has around 950 armed gangs with tens
of thousands of members, and is home to hundreds of Mexican gang members deported from the United States. During the last four years of the drugs war, 212,000 inhabitants - or around 18 per cent of the population - abandoned the city. Ciudad Juarez is sadly renowned for the disappearance of thousands of women, typically from poor families, who worked in the maquiladoras (clandestine
factories). The theme of the abduction and murder of these women has featured in
literature and cinema, and various associations have been established to defend
women, including "Nuestras hijas de regreso a casa" ("Bring our daughters back home").
The Holy Father began his day in Ciudad Juarez with a visit to the CeReSo 3 penitentiary, which formed part of a project for the requalification of the penal institutions of the State of Chihuahua, and has been awarded for its observance of international norms in the field. It houses three thousand detainees including a limited number of women. Upon arrival Francis greeted the
families of some of the inmates, and proceeded to the chapel where he was awaited by staff and the priests of the penitentiary's pastoral service, to whom
he addressed some words of thanks for their work. "You encounter much fragility.
Therefore I would like to offer you this fragile image", he said, referring to the crystal crucifix he gave to the Centre to commemorate his visit. "Crystal is
fragile, it breaks easily. Christ on the Cross represents the greatest fragility
of humanity; however it is this fragility that saves us, that helps us, that enables us to keep going and opens the doors of hope. It is my wish that each one of you, with the blessing of the Virgin and contemplating the fragility of Christ Who died to save us, sowing seeds of hope and resurrection".
He was awaited in the Centre's main courtyard by seven hundred detainees, of whom he greeted around fifty in person. One of them gave a testimony in which he
affirmed that the presence of the Holy Father was a call to mercy especially for
those who had lost hope in their rehabilitation and for those who had forgotten
that there are human beings in prison. Francis then addressed those present, remarking first that he could not have left "without greeting you and celebrating with you the Jubilee of Mercy", adding that mercy "embraces everyone
and is found in every corner of the world. There is no place beyond the reach of
his mercy, no space or person it cannot touch".
"Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy with you is recalling the pressing journey that we must undertake in order to break the cycle of violence and crime. We have already lost many decades thinking and believing that everything will be resolved by isolating, separating, incarcerating, and ridding ourselves of problems, believing that these policies really solve problems. We have forgotten
to focus on what must truly be our concern: people's lives; their lives, those of their families, and those who have suffered because of this cycle of violence".
"Divine Mercy reminds us that prisons are an indication of the kind of society
we are. In many cases they are a sign of the silence and omissions which have led to a throwaway culture, a symptom of a culture that has stopped supporting life, of a society that has abandoned its children. Mercy reminds us that reintegration does not begin here within these walls; rather it begins before, it begins 'outside', in the streets of the city. Reintegration or rehabilitation
begins by creating a system which we could call social health, that is, a society which seeks not to cause sickness, polluting relationships in neighbourhoods, schools, town squares, the streets, homes and in the whole of the social spectrum. A system of social health that endeavours to promote a culture which acts and seeks to prevent those situations and pathways that end in damaging and impairing the social fabric".
"At times it may seem that prisons are intended more to prevent people from committing crimes than to promote the process of rehabilitation that allows us to address the social, psychological and family problems which lead a person to
act in a certain way", he observed. "The problem of security is not resolved only by incarcerating; rather, it calls us to intervene by confronting the structural and cultural causes of insecurity that impact the entire social framework. Jesus' concern for the care of the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless
and prisoners sought to express the core of the Father's mercy. This becomes a moral imperative for the whole of society that wishes to maintain the necessary
conditions for a better common life. It is within a society's capacity to include the poor, infirm and imprisoned, that we see its ability to heal their wounds and make them builders of a peaceful coexistence. Social reintegration begins by making sure that all of our children go to school and that their families obtain dignified work by creating public spaces for leisure and recreation, and by fostering civic participation, health services and access to
basic services, to name just a few possible measures. The whole rehabilitation process starts here".
"Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy with you means learning not to be prisoners of the past, of yesterday. It means learning to open the door to the future, to
tomorrow; it means believing that things can change. Celebrating the Jubilee of
Mercy with you means inviting you to lift up your heads and to work in order to
gain this space of longed-for freedom. Celebrating the Jubilee of Mercy with you
means repeating this phrase that we heard a little while ago, so well expressed
and with such force: 'When they gave me my sentence ,someone said to me: do not
ask the reason why you are here, but the purpose. And this 'purpose' keeps us going ahead; it enables us to overcome the barrier of the social deception that
would have us believe that security and order are obtained only through imprisonment".
"We know that we cannot turn back, we know that what is done, is done. This is
the way I wanted to celebrate with you the Jubilee of Mercy, because it does not
exclude the possibility of writing a new story and moving forward. You suffer the pain of a failure, you feel the remorse of your actions and in many cases, with great limitations, you seek to remake your lives in the midst of solitude.
You have known the power of sorrow and sin, and have not forgotten that within your reach is the power of the resurrection, the power of divine mercy which makes all things new. Now, this mercy can reach you in the hardest and most difficult of places, but such occasions can also perhaps bring truly positive results. From inside this prison, you must work hard to change the situations which create the most exclusion. Speak with your loved ones, tell them of your experiences, help them to put an end to this cycle of violence and exclusion. The one who has suffered the greatest pain, and we could say 'has experienced hell', can become a prophet in society. Work so that this society which uses people and discards them will not go on claiming victims".
"As I say these things, I recall Jesus' words: 'Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone'. I should leave now ... in saying these
things to you, I do not do so as if I were in the pulpit, wagging my finger; I do so on the basis of the experience of my own wounds, errors and sins that the
Lord has wished to forgive and re-educate. I do so on the basis of the knowledge
that, without His grace and my vigilance, I could easily repeat them. Brothers,
I always ask myself, as I enter a prison, 'Why them and not me?'. And it is a mystery of divine mercy. But we all celebrating this divine mercy today, looking
ahead with hope".
Finally, the Pope addressed all the staff and those who undertake any type of work that brings them into contact with inmates, urging them to remember their potential to be "signs of the heart of the Father", and adding, "We need one another; as our sister said to us, recalling the Letter to the Hebrews: let us feel we are imprisoned alongside them".
Before giving his blessing, he invited those present to pray a moment in silence: "Each one knows what he wants to say to the Lord; each person knows