From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Jun 8 08:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 106
- To the prelates of Puerto Rico: the Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system
- Tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
- Audience with the president of Argentina
- Angelus: those who are nourished by the bread of Christ cannot be indifferent
to those without daily bread
- Francis urges recognition of the rights of childhood
- Apostolic trip to Sarajevo
- Francis meets the clergy of Sarajevo: the pastoral ministry of hope
- Ecumenical and interreligious meeting: dialogue cannot be confined to the leaders of religious communities
- The Pope to the young of Bosnia and Herzegovina: keep the hope that inspires life
- The Pope interviewed by journalists during return flight from Sarajevo
- Pilgrimage is a symbol of life
- Cardinals Menichelli and Macario do Nascimento Clemente to take possession of
their titular churches
- Other Pontifical Acts
To the prelates of Puerto Rico: the Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) - The prelates of the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference were received in audience by Pope Francis this morning, at the end of
their "ad Limina" visit. In the written discourse he handed to the bishops, Francis recalls that one of the first dioceses of the American continent was founded on this Caribbean archipelago, and he invites them to be "heralds of the
Gospel and custodians of the hopes of the people", called to "continue inscribing the work of God in the local Churches, inspired by a spirit of ecclesial communion, ensuring that faith grows and the light of the truth shines
in our days too".
"Spend your energy not in divisions and conflicts, but rather in building and collaborating", the Pope advises. "Be aware that the more intense your communion
is, the more the mission is encouraged. Know how to keep a distance from any form of ideological or political trend that may lead you to waste time and your
true zeal for the Kingdom of God. The Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system, enabling her always to be a sign and safeguard of the transcendent nature of the human person".
"The bishop is a model for his priests, and I encourage them always to seek spiritual renewal and to discover anew the joy of ministering to the flock within the great family of the Church", Francis observes. "Before the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, I urge first you and then your priests to be faithful servants
of God's forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Reconciliation, which allows God's love to be experienced in the flesh and offers every penitent the source of true inner peace".
With reference to the task of the laity, the Pope reminds the bishops that "facilitating the sacramental life of the faithful and offering them an adequate
continuing formation enables them to fulfil their mission", and he expresses his
hope that, "encouraged by the example of distinguished laypersons such as Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Santiago, model of commitment and apostolic service, or the venerable master Rafael Cordero y Molina, they may continue along the path of a joyful adherence to the Gospel, deepening the social doctrine of the Church and participating lucidly and serenely in the public debates regarding the society in which they live".
The Pope also remarks that one of the initiatives that must be increasingly consolidated is that of the pastoral ministry of the family, "afflicted by serious social problems: the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption. These are issues that give rise to concern. Let me to draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage. ... The differences between man and women are not of the order of opposition or subordination, but rather communion and generation, always as the
image and semblance of God. Without mutual commitment, neither of the two will be able to understand the other in depth. The sacrament of marriage is a sign of
God's love for humanity and Christ's commitment to His Bride, the Church. Take care of this treasure, as one of the most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples".
Tenth meeting of the Council of Cardinals
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father's tenth meeting
with the Council of Cardinals began. The "Council of Nine" will continue its work until Wednesday 10 June.
Audience with the president of Argentina
Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) - This afternoon Pope Francis received the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in private audience. The
very cordial meeting lasted for more than an hour and a half and took place in the Pope's study next to the Paul VI Hall. The president once again expressed the affection and closeness of the Argentine people to the Pope and asked for his blessing for all their compatriots.
Following the meeting, in the adjacent hall, the Pope greeted the large delegation accompanying the president on her visit, which will continue tomorrow
with their attendance at the Conference of the FAO, meetings with the Italian authorities and finally a visit to the EXPO in Milan.
President Fernandez de Kirchner gave the Pope a number of very meaningful gifts: a large painting of the blessed bishop and martyr Oscar Arnulfo Romero by
the Argentine artist Eugenio Cuttica; a book by Alberto Methol Ferre, an author
greatly admired by the Holy Father ("Los estados continentales y el Mercosur");
an edition of the famous national poem "Martin Fierro", occasionally quoted by the Pope in his discourses; two bas-reliefs for the blind or partially-sighted,
with the title in braille, depicting the Virgin of Lujan, and a portrait of the
Pope; a basket of typical Argentine products and a volume on the architectural heritage of Argentina, published on the occasion of the Bicentenary.
The Pope's gift was a reproduction of a beautiful eleventh-century Russian icon
representing the "Our Lady of Tenderness".
This is the fifth time - including the inauguration of Francis' papacy and World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro - that the Argentine president has met with the Holy Father.
Angelus: those who are nourished by the bread of Christ cannot be indifferent to those without daily bread
Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) - At midday today - the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, or according to the better known Latin expression, Corpus Domini - the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray
the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Francis commented on the Gospel reading of this Sunday's liturgy, which narrates the institution of the Eucharist during the Last Supper, when Jesus, pronouncing the words, "Take; this is my body", assigns to the bread a function
"that is not solely that of simple physical nourishment, but rather that of being present in his Person in the midst of the community of believers".
The Last Supper is "the point of arrival of all of Christ's life. It is not merely the anticipation of His sacrifice that will be fulfilled on the Cross, but also the synthesis of an existence offered for the salvation of all of humanity". Therefore, "when we eat this bread, we are associated with Jesus' life, we enter into communion with Him, we undertake to achieve communion among
ourselves, and to transform our life into a gift, especially to the poorest".
"Today's Solemnity evokes this fraternal message, and urges us to welcome the invitation to conversion and to service, to love and to forgiveness. It inspires
us to convert, with our life, into imitators of what we celebrate in the liturgy. Christ, Who nourishes us in the form of the consecrated bread and wine,
is the same Whom we encounter in daily events. ... He is in every human being, even the smallest and most defenceless. The Eucharist, the source of love for the life of the Church, is a school of charity and solidarity. Those who are nourished by the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before those without
daily bread. Today, we are aware, this is an increasingly serious problem", Francis concluded.
Francis urges recognition of the rights of childhood
Vatican City, 8 June 2015 (VIS) - After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled
his recent visit to Sarajevo, a symbolic city that was for centuries known for the co-existence of peoples and religions, to the extent that it earned the name
"Jerusalem of the West", but in the recent past has transformed into a symbol of
destruction and war. "A good process of reconciliation is now in process, and for this reason above all I went there: to encourage this path of peaceful co-existence between difference populations; a strenuous path, difficult but possible. And they are doing this well. I wish to again thank the authorities and citizens for their warm welcome, ... the dear Catholic community, to whom wished to take the affection of the universal Church, and in particular, all the
faithful: Orthodox, Muslim, Jews and those of other religious minorities. I appreciated the commitment to collaboration and solidarity among these people who belong to different religions, inspiring everyone to carry forward the work
of the spiritual and moral reconstruction of society. They work together as true
The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be celebrated next Friday, and
the Holy Father therefore invited all to think of Christ's immense love. World Day against Child Labour will be held on the same day. "Many children throughout
the world do not have the freedom to play or to go to school, and end up being exploited as cheap labour", he said. "I hope that the international community will commit itself diligently and constantly to promoting the active recognition
of childhood rights".
Francis meets the clergy of Sarajevo: the pastoral ministry of hope
Vatican City, 6 June 2015 (VIS) - The Cathedral of Sarajevo, consecrated to the
Sacred Heart, was the location of the Pope's meeting with priests, men and women
religious, and seminarians of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The building, damaged during the siege of Sarajevo, was subsequently restored and is now able to hold
250 people. At the entrance there is a statue of St. John Paul II to commemorate
his visit in 1997.
Francis was welcomed by the rector of the Cathedral and greeted by the cardinal
archbishop of Sarajevo, Vinko Puljic. He paused for a moment to worship the Holy
Sacrament and prayed silently before the tomb of the Servant of God Josip
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Fri Jul 10 08:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 129
- "Transform the logic of wastefulness into the logic of communion and community": Francis inaugurates the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress in Bolivia
- To the Bolivian clergy: "To pass by without hearing the pain of our people is
like listening to the word of God without letting it take root"
- To popular movements: the universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech in the Church's social teaching
- Other Pontifical Acts
"Transform the logic of wastefulness into the logic of communion and community": Francis inaugurates the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress in Bolivia
Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) "The Eucharist, bread broken for the life of the world" is the theme of the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia, which the Holy Father inaugurated yesterday with the celebration of Mass in Plaza del Cristo Redentor in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Francis dedicated his homily to the sharing of bread, which Jesus distributed to the multitude with the same hands He raised to heaven to bless God, before almost two million faithful gathered in the square and in the adjacent streets where maxi-screens had been installed.
The readings and prayers of the celebration were in Spanish and in indigenous languages: Guarani, Quechua and Aimara. The passage from the Gospel of St. Mark
recounted the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
"We have come from a variety of places, areas and villages, to celebrate the living presence of God among us", said the Pope. "We have travelled from our homes and communities to be together as God's holy People. The cross and the mission image remind us of all those communities which were born of the name of
Jesus in these lands. We are their heirs. The Gospel which we just heard speaks
of a situation much like our own. Like those four thousand people who gathered to hear Jesus, we too want to listen to His words and to receive His life. Like
them, we are in the presence of the Master, the Bread of Life.
"I am moved to see so many mothers carrying their children on their shoulders,
like so many of you here. Carrying them, you bring your lives, the future of your people. You bring all your joys and hopes. You bring the blessing of the earth and all its fruits. You bring the work of your hands, hands which work today in order to weave tomorrow's hopes and dreams. But those people's shoulders were also weighed down by bitter disappointments and sorrows, scarred
by experiences of injustice and of justice denied. They bore on their shoulders
all the joy and pain of their land. You too bear the memory of your own people.
Because every people has a memory, a memory which is passed on from generation to generation, a memory which continues to move forward. Frequently we tire of this journey. Frequently we lack the strength to keep hope alive. How often have
we experienced situations which dull our memory, weaken our hope and make us lose our reason for rejoicing! And then a kind of sadness takes over. We think only of ourselves, we forget that we are a people which is loved, a chosen people. And the loss of that memory disorients us, it closes our heart to others, and especially to the poor.
"We may feel the way the disciples did, when they saw the crowds of people gathered there. They begged Jesus to send them away, since it was impossible to
provide food for so many people. Faced with so many kinds of hunger in our world, we can say to ourselves: 'Things don't add up; we will never manage, there is nothing to be done'. And so our hearts yield to despair. A despairing heart finds it easy to succumb to a way of thinking which is becoming ever more
widespread in our world. It is a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are 'unproductive',
unsuitable or unworthy, since clearly those people don't 'add up'. But Jesus once more turns to us and says: 'They don't need to go away; you yourselves, give them something to eat'.
"Those words of Jesus have a particular resonance for us today: No one needs to
go away, no one has to be discarded; you yourselves, give them something to eat.
Jesus speaks these words to us, here in this square. Yes, no one has to be discarded; you, give them something to eat. Jesus' way of seeing things leaves no room for the mentality which would cut bait on the weak and those most in need. Taking the lead, He gives us His own example, He shows us the way forward.
What He does can be summed up in three words. He takes a little bread and some fish, He blesses them and then gives them to His disciples to share with the crowd. This is how the miracle takes place. It is not magic or sorcery. With these three gestures, Jesus is able to turn a mentality which discards others into a mindset of communion and community. I would like briefly to look at each
of these actions.
"Taking. This is the starting-point: Jesus takes His own and their lives very seriously. He looks at them in the eye, and He knows what they are experiencing,
what they are feeling. He sees in those eyes all that is present in the memory and the hearts of his people. He looks at it, He ponders it. He thinks of all the good which they can do, all the good upon which they can build. But He is not so much concerned about material objects, cultural treasures or lofty ideas.
He is concerned with people. The greatest wealth of a society is measured by the
lives of its people, it is gauged by its elderly, who pass on their knowledge and the memory of their people to the young. Jesus never detracts from the dignity of anyone, no matter how little they possess or seem capable of contributing.
"Blessing. Jesus takes what is given Him and blesses His heavenly Father. He knows that everything is God's gift. So He does not treat things as "objects", but as part of a life which is the fruit of God's merciful love. He values them.
He goes beyond mere appearances, and in this gesture of blessing and praise He asks the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Blessing has this double aspect: thanksgiving and transformative power. t is a recognition that life is always a gift which, when placed in the hands of God, starts to multiply. Our Father never abandons us; he makes everything multiply.
"Giving. With Jesus, there can be no 'taking' which is not a 'blessing', and no
blessing which is not also a 'giving'. Blessing is always mission, its purpose is to share what we ourselves have received. For it is only in giving, in sharing, that we find the source of our joy and come to experience salvation. Giving makes it possible to refresh the memory of God's holy people, called and
sent forth to bring the joy of salvation to others. The hands which Jesus lifts
to bless God in heaven are the same hands which gave bread to the hungry crowd.
We can imagine how those people passed the loaves of bread and the fish from hand to hand, until they came to those farthest away. Jesus generated a kind of
electrical current among His followers, as they shared what they had, made it gift for others, and so ate their fill. Unbelievably, there were even leftovers:
enough to fill seven baskets. A memory which is taken, blessed and given always
satisfies people's hunger.
"The Eucharist is 'bread broken for the life of the world'. That is the theme of the Fifth Eucharistic Congress to be held in Tarija, which today we inaugurate. The Eucharist is a sacrament of communion, which draws us out of our
individualism in order to live together as disciples. It gives us the certainty
that all that we have, all that we are, if it is taken, blessed and given, can,
by God's power, by the power of His love, become bread of life for all. The Church is a community of remembrance. Hence, in fidelity to the Lord's command,
she never ceases to say: 'Do this in remembrance of me'. Generation after generation, throughout the world, she celebrates the mystery of the Bread of Life. She makes it present and she gives it to us. Jesus asks us to share in His
life, and through us He allows this gift to multiply in our world. We are not isolated individuals, separated from one another, but rather a people of remembrance, a remembrance ever renewed and ever shared with others. A life of remembrance needs others. It demands exchange, encounter and a genuine solidarity capable of entering into the mindset of taking, blessing and giving.
It demands the logic of love.
Pope Francis concluded his homily by recalling that Mary, like many of the mothers present, "bore in her heart the memory of her people. She pondered the life of her Son. She personally experienced God's grandeur and joyfully proclaimed that He 'fills the hungry with good things'. Today may Mary be our model. Like her, may we trust in the goodness of the Lord, who does great things
with the lowliness of his servants".
To the Bolivian clergy: "To pass by without hearing the pain of our people is like listening to the word of God without letting it take root"
Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) - "How can you love God, whom you do not see,
if you do not love your brother whom you do see?" was the question Pope Francis
posed to the four thousand Bolivian priests, men and women religious and seminarians whom he met yesterday afternoon in the "Coliseo Don Bosco", a school
managed by Salesian Fathers. The Holy Father commented on the passage from the Gospel about the blind man Bartimaeus, a beggar who, hearing Jesus approach with
the apostles and a large crowd of followers, calls out to be healed.
"If we translate this, forcing the language", said the Pope, "around Jesus we find the bishops, priests, nuns, seminarians, active laypeople, all those who follow Jesus, listening to Him, and the faithful people of God".
"Two things about this story jump out at us and make an impression", remarked Francis. "On the one hand, there is the cry of a beggar, and on the other, the different reactions of the disciples. Let us think of the different reactions of
the bishops, the priests, the nuns, the seminarians, and the cries that are heard or that go unheeded. It is as if the Evangelist wanted to show us the effect which Bartimaeus' cry had on people's lives, on the lives of Jesus' followers. How did they react when faced with the suffering of that man on the side of the road, in his misery, whom nobody noticed, to whom nobody gave anything ... who did not enter into that circle of the Lord's followers".
The Gospel tells us of the three responses to the cry of the blind man: they passed by, they told him to be quiet, and they told him to take heart and get up.
"They passed by. Perhaps some of those who passed by did not even hear his shouting, because they were not listening. They were with Jesus ... they wanted to
hear Jesus. They did not listen. Passing by is the response of indifference, of
avoiding other people's problems because they do not affect us. It is not my problem. We do not hear them, we do not recognise them. Deafness. Here we have the temptation to see suffering as something natural, to take injustice for granted. And yes, there are people like this. I am here with God, with my consecrated life, and yes, it is natural that there are sick people ... the poor ...
people who suffer; and so it is also natural that a cry or a plea for help does
not attract my attention. And we say to ourselves, 'This is nothing unusual; this is the way things are'. It is the response born of a blind, closed heart, heart which has lost the ability to be touched and hence the possibility to change. A heart used to passing by without letting itself be touched; a life which passes from one thing to the next, without ever sinking roots in the lives
of the people around us, simply because it is part of the elite that follows the
Lord. We could call this 'the spirituality of zapping'. It is always on the move, but it has nothing to show for it. There are people who keep up with the latest news, the most recent best sellers, but they never manage to connect with
others, to strike up a relationship, to get involved, even with the Lord they
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Tue Sep 15 10:12:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 156
- Message for the 24th World Day of the Sick
- Statistics of the Catholic Church in Cuba and the United States of America
- Participants in the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops
- Other Pontifical Acts
Message for the 24th World Day of the Sick
Vatican City, 15 September 2015 (VIS) - "Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like Mary: 'do whatever he tells you'" is the title of the Holy Father's message for the 24th World Day of the Sick (11 February, liturgical memory of Our Lady of Lourdes). This year the Day will be solemnly celebrated in the Holy
Land, and for this reason, reflecting on the Gospel account of the wedding at Cana, the Pope recalls that illness, especially when grave, challenges our human
existence and causes us to pose questions that explore the depths of the person.
The following is the full text of his message, signed in the Vatican on 15 September, the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.
"The twenty-fourth World Day of the Sick offers me an opportunity to draw particularly close to you, dear friends who are ill, and to those who care for you. This year, since the Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, I wish to propose a meditation on the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle through the intervention
of his Mother. The theme chosen - Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like
Mary: 'Do whatever he tells you' is quite fitting in light of the Extraordinary
Jubilee of Mercy. The main Eucharistic celebration of the Day will take place on
11 February 2016, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Nazareth itself, where 'the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us'. In Nazareth, Jesus began his salvific mission, applying to himself the words of the
Prophet Isaiah, as we are told by the Evangelist Luke: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has
sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord'.
Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that
all is lost, that things no longer have meaning.
In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness,
pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key
by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key
that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.
At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary is the thoughtful woman who sees a serious problem for the spouses: the wine, the symbol of the joy of the feast, has run out. Mary recognises the difficulty, in some way makes it her own, and acts swiftly and discreetly. She does not simply look on, much less spend time in finding fault, but rather, she turns to Jesus and presents him with the concrete
problem: 'They have no wine'. And when Jesus tells her that it is not yet the time for him to reveal himself, she says to the servants: 'Do whatever he tells
you'. Jesus then performs the miracle, turning water into wine, a wine that immediately appears to be the best of the whole celebration. What teaching can we draw from this mystery of the wedding feast of Cana for the World Day of the
The wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the centre there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign; around him are the disciples, the first
fruits of the new community; and beside Jesus and the disciples is Mary, the provident and prayerful Mother. Mary partakes of the joy of ordinary people and
helps it to increase; she intercedes with her Son on behalf of the spouses and all the invited guests. Nor does Jesus refuse the request of his Mother. How much hope there is in that event for all of us! We have a Mother with benevolent
and watchful eyes, like her Son; a heart that is maternal and full of mercy, like him; hands that want to help, like the hands of Jesus who broke bread for those who were hungry, touched the sick and healed them. All this fills us with
trust and opens our hearts to the grace and mercy of Christ. Mary's intercession
makes us experience the consolation for which the apostle Paul blesses God: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our affliction, so
that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ's sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow'. Mary is the 'comforted' Mother who comforts her children.
At Cana the distinctive features of Jesus and his mission are clearly seen: he
comes to the help of those in difficulty and need. Indeed, in the course of his
messianic ministry he would heal many people of illnesses, infirmities and evil
spirits, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, restore health and dignity
to lepers, raise the dead, and proclaim the good news to the poor. Mary's request at the wedding feast, suggested by the Holy Spirit to her maternal heart, clearly shows not only Jesus' messianic power but also his mercy.
In Mary's concern we see reflected the tenderness of God. This same tenderness
is present in the lives of all those persons who attend the sick and understand
their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they look upon them with
eyes full of love. How many times has a mother at the bedside of her sick child,
or a child caring for an elderly parent, or a grandchild concerned for a grandparent, placed his or her prayer in the hands of Our Lady! For our loved ones who suffer because of illness we ask first for their health. Jesus himself
showed the presence of the Kingdom of God specifically through his healings: 'Go
and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have
the good news proclaimed to them'. But love animated by faith makes us ask for them something greater than physical health: we ask for peace, a serenity in life that comes from the heart and is God's gift, the fruit of the Holy Spirit,
a gift which the Father never denies to those who ask him for it with trust.
In the scene of Cana, in addition to Jesus and his Mother, there are the 'servants', whom she tells: 'Do whatever he tells you'. Naturally, the miracle takes place as the work of Christ; however, he wants to employ human assistance
in performing this miracle. He could have made the wine appear directly in the jars. But he wants to rely upon human cooperation, and so he asks the servants to fill them with water. How wonderful and pleasing to God it is to be servants
of others! This more than anything else makes us like Jesus, who 'did not come to be served but to serve'. These unnamed people in the Gospel teach us a great
deal. Not only do they obey, but they obey generously: they fill the jars to the
brim. They trust the Mother and carry out immediately and well what they are asked to do, without complaining, without second thoughts.
On this World Day of the Sick let us ask Jesus in his mercy, through the intercession of Mary, his Mother and ours, to grant to all of us this same readiness to be serve those in need, and, in particular, our infirm brothers and
sisters. At times this service can be tiring and burdensome, yet we are certain
that the Lord will surely turn our human efforts into something divine. We too can be hands, arms and hearts which help God to perform his miracles, so often hidden. We too, whether healthy or sick, can offer up our toil and sufferings like the water which filled the jars at the wedding feast of Cana and was turned
into the finest wine. By quietly helping those who suffer, as in illness itself,
we take our daily cross upon our shoulders and follow the Master. Even though the experience of suffering will always remain a mystery, Jesus helps us to reveal its meaning.
If we can learn to obey the words of Mary, who says: 'Do whatever he tells you', Jesus will always change the water of our lives into precious wine. Thus this World Day of the Sick, solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, will help fulfil the hope which I expressed in the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary
Jubilee of Mercy: aI trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with [Judaism and Islam] and with other noble religious
traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination' (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). Every hospital and nursing home can
be a visible sign and setting in which to promote the culture of encounter and peace, where the experience of illness and suffering, along with professional and fraternal assistance, helps to overcome every limitation and division.
For this we are set an example by the two religious sisters who were canonised
last May: S.t Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas and St. Mary of Jesus Crucified Baouardy, both daughters of the Holy Land. The first was a witness to meekness and unity, who bore clear witness to the importance of being responsible for one
another other, living in service to one another. The second, a humble and illiterate woman, was docile to the Holy Spirit and became an instrument of encounter with the Muslim world.
To all those who assist the sick and the suffering I express my confident hope
that they will draw inspiration from Mary, the Mother of Mercy. 'May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us
may rediscover the joy of God's tenderness', allow it to dwell in our hearts and
express it in our actions! Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary our trials and tribulations, together with our joys and consolations. Let us beg her to turn her eyes of mercy towards us, especially in times of pain, and make us worthy of
beholding, today and always, the merciful face of her Son Jesus!
With this prayer for all of you, I send my Apostolic Blessing".
Statistics of the Catholic Church in Cuba and the United States of America
Vatican City, 15 September 2015 (VIS) - In view of the Pope's upcoming apostolic trip to Cuba and the United States of America, the Central Church Statistics Office has published the statistics relating to the Catholic Church in the two countries, current as of 31 December 2013.
Cuba has a surface area of 110,861 km2 and a population of 11,192,000 inhabitants, of whom 6,775,000 are Catholics, equivalent to 60.5 per cent of the
population. There are 11 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 283 parishes and 2,094
pastoral centres. There are currently 17 bishops, 365 priests, 659 men and women
religious, and 4,395 catechists. There are 85 seminarians. The Church has six centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard
to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in Cuba there are 173 hospitals and clinics, one home for the elderly or disabled, two orphanages and nurseries, and three special centres for social education or re-education and institutions of other types.
The United States have a surface area of 9,372,616 km2 and a population of 316,253,000 inhabitants, of whom 71,796,000 are Catholics, representing 22.7 per
cent of the population. There are 196 ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 18,256 parishes and 2,183 pastoral centres. There are currently 457 bishops, 40,967 priests, 55,390 men and women religious, 381,892 catechists and 5,829 seminarians. The Church has 11,265 centres for Catholic education, from pre-school to university level. With regard to charitable and social centres belonging to the Church or directed by ecclesiastics or religious, in the United
States there are 888 hospitals and clinics, two leper colonies, 1,152 homes for
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Sat Sep 26 08:36:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 165
- Francis at the United Nations: critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts
- Memorial at Ground Zero: life will always triumph over the prophets of destruction
- Meeting with the children and families of immigrants in Harlem
- Mass in Madison Square Garden: God is living in our cities
- Other Pontifical Acts
Francis at the United Nations: critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts
Vatican City, 26 September 2015 (VIS) - The Pope's second day in New York began
with his visit to the United Nations headquarters, where the Holy See has been represented since 1964 in its status as a Permanent Observer, with the right of
participation without the right to vote.
Upon arrival the Holy Father was greeted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,
with his wife and two children of United Nations workers who have lost their lives in service, who offered him a bouquet of flowers. The Pope met privately with the Secretary General who subsequently accompanied him to the hall to greet
the organisation's staff. Francis laid a floral wreath before the plaque commemorating staff who have lost their lives in service, recalling that the work performed by United Nations employees, from experts to interpreters, kitchen staff to security personnel, constitutes in many respects the "backbone"
of the Organisation.
"Most of the work done here does not appear in the news", he said. "Behind the
scenes your daily efforts make possible many of the diplomatic, cultural, economic and political initiatives of the United Nations, which are so important
in responding to the hopes and expectations of the peoples who make up our human
family. Thank you for what you do".
The Pope then travelled by golf cart to the building of the Assembly General where he met, again privately and individually, with the presidents of the 70th
General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) and the 69th, Sam Kahamba Kutesa (Uganda), along with the president of the Security Council, Vitaly Churkin (Russian Federation).
After these meetings, the Holy Father entered the Assembly hall where he was greeted with great applause. After the welcome from the president of the 70th General Assembly and the Secretary General of the United Nations, he addressed the Representatives of the Nations, mentioning the praiseworthy achievements of
the United Nations during the seventy years of its existence, the construction of structures of international human rights law, and its activity in peace-keeping and reconciliation. He then turned to the issues of the environment and the social and economic exclusion of a large proportion of the world's population. He reiterated that war denies all rights, underlining the need for tireless recourse to negotiation, and denounced religious persecution.
He also warned against any type of ideological colonisation and defined drug trafficking as a war which is "taken for granted and poorly fought". He emphasised that international financial bodies must "care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to
mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence".
The following is the full text of Pope Francis' address:
"Once again, following a tradition by which I feel honoured, the Secretary General of the United Nations has invited the Pope to address this distinguished
assembly of nations. In my own name, and that of the entire Catholic community,
I wish to express to you, Mr Ban Ki-moon, my heartfelt gratitude. I greet the Heads of State and Heads of Government present, as well as the ambassadors, diplomats and political and technical officials accompanying them, the personnel
of the United Nations engaged in this 70th Session of the General Assembly, the
personnel of the various programmes and agencies of the United Nations family, and all those who, in one way or another, take part in this meeting. Through you, I also greet the citizens of all the nations represented in this hall. I thank you, each and all, for your efforts in the service of mankind.
"This is the fifth time that a Pope has visited the United Nations. I follow in
the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, in1965, John Paul II, in 1979 and 1995, and my most recent predecessor, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2008. All of them expressed their great esteem for the Organisation, which they considered the appropriate juridical and political response to this present moment of history, marked by our technical ability to overcome distances and frontiers and, apparently, to overcome all natural limits to the exercise of power. An essential response, inasmuch as technological power, in the hands of nationalistic or falsely universalist ideologies, is capable of perpetrating tremendous atrocities. I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.
"The United Nations is presently celebrating its seventieth anniversary. The history of this organised community of states is one of important common achievements over a period of unusually fast-paced changes. Without claiming to
be exhaustive, we can mention the codification and development of international
law, the establishment of international norms regarding human rights, advances in humanitarian law, the resolution of numerous conflicts, operations of peace-keeping and reconciliation, and any number of other accomplishments in every area of international activity and endeavour. All these achievements are lights which help to dispel the darkness of the disorder caused by unrestrained
ambitions and collective forms of selfishness. Certainly, many grave problems remain to be resolved, yet it is also clear that, without all this international
activity, mankind would not have been able to survive the unchecked use of its own possibilities. Every one of these political, juridical and technical advances is a path towards attaining the ideal of human fraternity and a means for its greater realisation.
"I also pay homage to all those men and women whose loyalty and self-sacrifice
have benefited humanity as a whole in these past seventy years. In particular, would recall today those who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation among
peoples, from Dag Hammarskj%ld to the many United Nations officials at every level who have been killed in the course of humanitarian missions, and missions
of peace and reconciliation.
"Beyond these achievements, the experience of the past seventy years has made it clear that reform and adaptation to the times is always necessary in the pursuit of the ultimate goal of granting all countries, without exception, a share in, and a genuine and equitable influence on, decision-making processes. The need for greater equity is especially true in the case of those bodies with
effective executive capability, such as the Security Council, the Financial Agencies and the groups or mechanisms specifically created to deal with economic
crises. This will help limit every kind of abuse or usury, especially where developing countries are concerned. The International Financial Agencies are should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that
they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion
"The work of the United Nations, according to the principles set forth in the Preamble and the first Articles of its founding Charter, can be seen as the development and promotion of the rule of law, based on the realisation that justice is an essential condition for achieving the ideal of universal fraternity. In this context, it is helpful to recall that the limitation of power is an idea implicit in the concept of law itself. To give to each his own,
to cite the classic definition of justice, means that no human individual or group can consider itself absolute, permitted to bypass the dignity and the rights of other individuals or their social groupings. The effective distribution of power (political, economic, defence-related, technological, etc.) among a plurality of subjects, and the creation of a juridical system for
regulating claims and interests, are one concrete way of limiting power. Yet today's world presents us with many false rights and - at the same time - broad
sectors which are vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised: for example, the
natural environment and the vast ranks of the excluded. These sectors are closely interconnected and made increasingly fragile by dominant political and economic relationships. That is why their rights must be forcefully affirmed, by
working to protect the environment and by putting an end to exclusion.
"First, it must be stated that a true 'right of the environment' does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We
live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which 'are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics
and biology', is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favourable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity. Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We
Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of
the Creator; he is not authorised to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good.
"The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Sep 28 08:24:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 166
- Francis meets with the victims of sexual abuse: perpetrators will be held accountable
- Francis to visiting bishops: Appreciation and gratitude to families must prevail over complaints
- It is painful to see prison systems that do not care for wounds, soothe pain or offer new possibilities: the Pope to inmates at Curran-Fromhold penitentiary
- Concluding Mass at the World Meeting of Families: God wants all His children to take part in the feast of the Gospel
- Francis leaves the United States: I thank the Lord that I was able to witness
the faith of God's people in this country
- Message for World Youth Day in Krakow, 2016: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy"
- World Youth Day and the Year of Mercy coincide to make "a Youth Jubilee at world level"
Francis meets with the victims of sexual abuse: perpetrators will be held accountable
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) - The final day of the Pope's apostolic trip began yesterday with his meeting at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary with
victims of sexual abuse perpetrated when they were minors by members of the clergy, or members of their families or teachers. The group was composed of five
adults - 3 women and 2 men - accompanied by Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, archbishop of Boston and president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, instituted by the Pope, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Joseph Fitzgerald, head of the diocesan office for the protection
of minors in the same diocese.
During the meeting, which lasted half an hour, Francis listened to their accounts of their experiences, addressed them as a group and then greeted each one individually. He prayed with them and manifested his participation in their
suffering, his pain and his shame for the harm caused by members of the clergy or ecclesiastical collaborators.
"Thank you for corning here today", he said. "Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered. You are precious children of God who should always expect our protection, our care and our love. I am profoundly sorry that
your innocence was violated by those who you trusted. In some cases the trust was betrayed by members of your own family, in other cases by priests who carry
a sacred responsibility for the care of soul. In all circumstances, the betrayal
was a terrible violation of human dignity.
"For those who were abused by a member of the clergy, I am deeply sorry for the
times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you.
I deeply regret that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children. It is very disturbing to know that in some cases bishops even were abusers. I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.
"We are gathered here in Philadelphia to celebrate God's gift of family life. Within our family of faith and our human families, the sins and crimes of sexual
abuse of children must no longer be held in secret and in shame. As we anticipate the Jubilee Year of Mercy, your presence, so generously given despite
the anger and pain you have experienced, reveals the merciful heart of Christ. Your stories of survival, each unique and compelling, are powerful signs of the
hope that comes from the Lord's promise to be with us always.
"It is good to know that you have brought family members and friends with you today. I am grateful for their compassionate support and pray that many people of the Church will respond to the call to accompany those who have suffered abuse. May the Door of Mercy be opened wide in our dioceses, our parishes, our homes and our hearts, to receive those who were abused and to seek the path to forgiveness by trusting in the Lord. We promise to support your continued healing and to always be vigilant to protect the children of today and tomorrow.
"When the disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus recognised that
He was the Risen Lord, they asked Jesus to stay with them. Like those disciples,
I humbly beg you and all survivors of abuse to stay with us, to stay with the Church, and that together, as pilgrims on the journey of faith, we might find our way to the Father".
Francis to visiting bishops: Appreciation and gratitude to families must prevail over complaints
Vatican City, 28 September 2015 (VIS) - Shortly after his meeting with a group
of victims, the Holy Father returned to the issue of sexual abuse at the beginning of his address to the three hundred bishops attending the World Meeting of Families, held in the great Chapel of the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.
"I am deeply pained by the stories, the sufferings and the pain of minors who were sexually abused by priests. I continue to be ashamed that persons charged with the tender care of those little ones abused them and caused them grave harm. I deeply regret this. God weeps. The crimes and sins of sexual abuse of minors may no longer be kept secret; I commit myself to ensuring that the Church
makes every effort to protect minors and I promise that those responsible will be held to account. Survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy; humbly we owe our gratitude to each of them and to their families for their great courage in shedding the light of Christ on the evil sexual abuse of minors. I say this because I have just met with a group of persons abused as children, who are helped and accompanied here in Philadelphia
with particular care by Archbishop Chaput, and we felt that I should communicate
this to you".
Moving on to the issue of the family, he pronounced a discourse, at times improvised, in which he focused on the characteristics of families in today's society and the mission of bishops, reiterating that as pastors they must not be
afraid to stay in the midst of families, with all their problems and their capacities, as " A Christianity which does little in practice, while incessantly
explaining its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced".
The following are extensive extracts from the Pope's address:
"For the Church, the family is not first and foremost a cause for concern, but
rather the joyous confirmation of God's blessing upon the masterpiece of creation. Every day, all over the world, the Church can rejoice in the Lord's gift of so many families who, even amid difficult trials, remain faithful to their promises and keep the faith! I would say that the foremost pastoral challenge of our changing times is to move decisively towards recognising this gift. For all the obstacles we see before us, gratitude and appreciation should
prevail over concerns and complaints. The family is the fundamental locus of the
covenant between the Church and God's creation. Without the family, not even the
Church would exist. Nor could she be what she is called to be, namely 'a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race'.
Needless to say, our understanding, shaped by the interplay of ecclesial faith and the conjugal experience of sacramental grace, must not lead us to disregard
the unprecedented changes taking place in contemporary society, with their social, cultural - and now juridical - effects on family bonds. These changes affect all of us, believers and non-believers alike. Christians are not 'immune'
to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim".
"Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable
and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer
the case. To describe our situation today, I would use two familiar images: our
neighbourhood stores and our large supermarkets. There was a time when one neighbourhood store had everything one needed for personal and family life. The
products may not have been cleverly displayed, or offered much choice, but there
was a personal bond between the shopkeeper and his customers. ... They trusted one
another. They built up trust".
"Then a different kind of store grew up: the supermarket. Huge spaces with a great selection of merchandise. The world seems to have become one of these great supermarkets; our culture has become more and more competitive. Business is no longer conducted on the basis of trust; others can no longer be trusted. There are no longer close personal relationships. Today's culture seems to encourage people not to bond with anything or anyone, not to trust. ... Today consumerism determines what is important. Consuming relationships, consuming friendships, consuming religions, consuming, consuming... Whatever the cost or consequences. A consumption which does not favour bonding, a consumption which has little to do with human relationships. Social bonds are a mere 'means' for the satisfaction of 'my needs'. The important thing is no longer our neighbour,
with his or her familiar face, story and personality".
"The result is a culture which discards everything that is no longer 'useful' or 'satisfying' for the tastes of the consumer. We have turned our society into
a huge multicultural showcase tied only to the tastes of certain 'consumers', while so many others only 'eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table'.
This causes great harm. I would say that at the root of so many contemporary situations is a kind of impoverishment born of a widespread and radical sense of
loneliness. ... Loneliness with fear of commitment in a limitless effort to feel
"Should we blame our young people for having grown up in this kind of society?
Should we condemn them for living in this kind of a world? Should they hear their pastors saying that 'it was all better back then'. ... No, I do not think
that this is the way. As shepherds following in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, we are asked to seek out, to accompany, to lift up, to bind up the wounds of our time. To look at things realistically, with the eyes of one who feels called to action, to pastoral conversion. The world today demands this conversion on our part. 'It is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. ... The Gospel is not a product to be consumed;
it has nothing to do with consumerist culture".
"We would be mistaken, however, to see this culture of the present world as mere indifference towards marriage and the family, as pure and simple selfishness. ... We must not fall into this trap. Many young people, in the context of this culture of discouragement, have yielded to a form of unconscious
acquiescence. They are paralysed when they encounter the beautiful, noble and truly necessary challenges which faith sets before them. Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, without really being lived to the full. In Congress, a few days ago, I said that we are living in a culture that drives and convinces young people not to form a family, some through lack of material means to do so, and others because they have the means but are comfortable as they are, but this is
the temptation - not to form a family".
"As pastors, we bishops are called to collect our energies and to rebuild enthusiasm for making families correspond ever more fully to the blessing of God
which they are! We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending
a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the
"A Christianity which 'does' little in practice, while incessantly 'explaining'
its teachings, is dangerously unbalanced. I would even say that it is stuck in vicious circle. A pastor must show that the 'Gospel of the family' is truly 'good news' in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history. The world
and history is transformed by families".
A pastor serenely yet passionately proclaims the word of God. He encourages believers to aim high. He will enable his brothers and sisters to hear and experience God's promise, which can expand their experience of motherhood and fatherhood within the horizon of a new 'familiarity' with God.
From Vatican Information Service@1:2320/100 to All on Mon Oct 26 10:03:02 2015
VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE
YEAR XXII - # 188
- The Church's first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to
proclaim God's mercy
- Final Relatio of the Synod: truth and mercy
- Closing Mass of the Synod: what the people sow today in tears, they will reap
tomorrow in joy
- The first to walk with us is our Father
- The Pope visits Cardinal Roger Etchegaray
- Francis receives the Synod of the Chaldean Church: I pray that Christians will
not be forced to abandon Iraq and the Middle East
- To military chaplains: offer a consoling and fraternal presence to returning servicemen
- To the Gypsy population: the time has come to eradicate prejudice
- Telegram for the death of Cardinal Korec, tireless defender of the Christian faith and human rights
- Cardinals, patriarchs and bishops from all over the world launch an appeal to
the negotiators of COP 21
The Church's first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to
proclaim God's mercy
Vatican City, 24 October 2015 (VIS) - The final General Congregation of the 14
th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops concluded today with an address from Pope Francis. The Holy Father spoke about how these three weeks of
intense work have had different meanings for families, the Christian community and the Church, and reiterated that "the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae
but the gratuitousness of God's love and forgiveness".
The following are extensive extracts from the Pope's address:
"As I followed the labours of the Synod, I asked myself: What will it mean for
the Church to conclude this Synod devoted to the family?
Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the
Church's tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been
Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully
studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the
It was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of
the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.
It was about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church's pastors, who came to Rome bearing on their shoulders the burdens and the hopes, the riches and the challenges of families throughout the world.
It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.
It was about trying to view and interpret realities, today's realities, through
God's eyes, so as to kindle the flame of faith and enlighten people's hearts in
times marked by discouragement, social, economic and moral crisis, and growing pessimism.
It was about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness, against all those who would "indoctrinate" it in dead stones to be hurled at others.
It was also about laying bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church's teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.
It was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and
of sinners seeking forgiveness, not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves poor sinners.
It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the
children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.
In the course of this Synod, the different opinions which were freely expressed
- and at times, unfortunately, not in entirely well-meaning ways - certainly led
to a rich and lively dialogue; they offered a vivid image of a Church which does
not simply 'rubber stamp', but draws from the sources of her faith living waters
to refresh parched hearts.
And - apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church's Magisterium
- we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous - almost! - for a bishop from another;
what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others
simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and every general principle - as I said, dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church's Magisterium - every general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied. The 1985 Synod, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, spoke of inculturation as 'the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity, and the taking root of Christianity in the various human cultures'. Inculturation does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.
We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is
ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.
And without ever falling into the danger of relativism or of demonising others,
we sought to embrace, fully and courageously, the goodness and mercy of God who
transcends our every human reckoning and desires only that 'all be saved'. In this way we wished to experience this Synod in the context of the Extraordinary
Year of Mercy which the Church is called to celebrated.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Synod experience also made us better realise that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its
spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God's love
and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae they are necessary - or from the importance of laws and divine commandments, but
rather to exalt the greatness of the true God, Who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of His Mercy. It does have to do with overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother and the jealous labourers. Indeed, it
means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa.
In this sense, the necessary human repentance, works and efforts take on a deeper meaning, not as the price of that salvation freely won for us by Christ on the cross, but as a response to the One who loved us first and saved us at the cost of his innocent blood, while we were still sinners.
The Church's first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to
proclaim God's mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord.
Blessed Paul VI expressed this eloquently: 'We can imagine, then, that each of
our sins, our attempts to turn our back on God, kindles in Him a more intense flame of love, a desire to bring us back to Himself and to His saving plan... God,
in Christ, shows Himself to be infinitely good. God is good. Not only in Himself; God is - let us say it with tears - good for us. He loves us, He seeks
us out, He thinks of us, He knows us, He touches our hearts and He waits for us.
He will be - so to say - delighted on the day when we return and say: aLord, in
your goodness, forgive me. Thus our repentance becomes God's joy".
St. John Paul II also stated that: 'the Church lives an authentic life when she
professes and proclaims mercy ... and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour's mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser'.
Benedict XVI, too, said: 'Mercy is indeed the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God ... May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for mankind. When the Church has to recall an unrecognised truth, or a betrayed good, she always does so impelled by merciful
love, so that men may have life and have it abundantly'.
In light of all this, and thanks to this time of grace which the Church has experienced in discussing the family, we feel mutually enriched. Many of us have
felt the working of the Holy Spirit Who is the real protagonist and guide of the
Synod. For all of us, the word 'family' does have the same sound as it did before the Synod, so much so that the word itself already contains the richness
of the family's vocation and the significance of the labours of the Synod.
In effect, for the Church to conclude the Synod means to return to our true 'journeying together' in bringing to every part of the world, to every diocese,
to every community and every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of
the Church and the support of God's mercy. Thank you".
Final Relatio of the Synod: truth and mercy
Vatican City, 24 October 2015 (VIS) - The Synod Fathers approved by 177 votes out of 265, a two-thirds majority, the final Relatio of the 14th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod on the Family, made up of 94 paragraphs, each one
of which was voted on individually. The director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., gave a briefing on the document, which was authorised for publication in Italian by Pope Francis.
Fr. Lombardi remarked that the text takes into account the many difficulties faced by the family, but also its great capacity for facing and reacting to them. The conclusive document of the Synod includes many of the amendments to the Instrumentum Laboris presented by the Synod Fathers and therefore reflects the voice of the Assembly.
With reference to the two paragraphs dedicated to complex family situations, which were approved by a very slender majority of 178 and 180 votes, Fr. Lombardi noted that they regard the pastoral approach to wounded families or those that are irregular from a canonical point of view and in terms of the discipline of the Church: in particular, cohabitation, civil marriage, divorced
and remarried persons and the way of pastorally addressing these situations.
Fr. Lombardi underlined that the tone of the document is positive and welcoming, and that it has greatly enriched the Instrumentum Laboris. Similarly,
the Pope's Motu Proprio on the reform of marriage annulment procedures made an effective and decisive contribution to the theme of the Synod.
The final Relatio reaffirms the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental
marriage, which is not a yoke but rather a gift from God, a truth based in Christ and in His relationship with the Church. At the same time, it underlines
that truth and mercy converge in Christ, which leads to welcome to wounded families. Without expressly mentioning access to the Eucharist for remarried divorcees, the Synod document recalls that they are not excommunicated and refers the analysis of complex family situations to the discernment of pastors.
This discernment, the text underlines, must be applied in accordance with the teaching of the Church, with trust in God's mercy that is denied to no-one. With
regard to cohabiting couples, the text reiterates that this situation should be
faced constructively, seeking to transform it into an opportunity for a path to
conversion towards the fullness of marriage and family, in the light of the Gospel.
Other salient points of the document refer to homosexuality. There must be no discrimination against people with homosexual tendencies, but at the same time the text states that the Church is contrary to same-sex unions and external pressure on the Church in relation to this matter is not accepted. There are