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Friday, February 5, 2016

The Pope receives the president of Zambia


Vatican City, 5 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father Francis received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Republic of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, 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 relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Zambia were noted. The Parties focused on the contribution of the Catholic Church through her educational, social and healthcare institutions, as well as her collaboration in combating poverty and social inequality, and the promotion of peaceful social and religious co-existence through a culture of dialogue and encounter. Attention then turned to themes of common interest, including migration, climate change and the protection of the environment.

Finally, mention was made of the international situation, with special attention to the conflicts that affect various areas of Africa and the commitment of the country to the peace processes in the Region.

Francis to meet Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in Cuba


Vatican City, 5 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy See and the Patriarchate of Moscow are pleased to announce that, by the grace of God, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet on February 12 next. Their meeting will take place in Cuba, where the Pope will make a stop on his way to Mexico, and where the Patriarch will be on an official visit. It will include a personal conversation at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, and will conclude with the signing of a joint declaration.

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that it will also be a sign of hope for all people of good will. They invite all Christians to pray fervently for God to bless this meeting, that it may bear good fruits.


Annual meeting on interreligious dialogue


Vatican City, 5 February 2016 (VIS) – The annual meeting between the officials of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and the staff of the Office for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation (IRDC) of the World Council of Churches (WCC), took place from 3 to 4 February in Geneva, Switzerland. Appropriately this was during Interfaith Harmony Week.

The meeting included reflection, prayer and the sharing of information regarding activities which had been carried out during 2015, as well as the discussion of plans for 2016. The staff of the two offices have collaborated in a variety of ways during recent years, either through joint initiatives, such as the publication of the document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct” (2011), or by each other’s supportive participation in events or projects organized by their respective offices.

2015 had marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which is recognised by the World Council of Churches, to have been a seminal moment in the history of Christian relationships with other religions. The meeting in 2106 offered the opportunity to reflect on future partnerships between the two institutions, in the light of their mutual desire to build further on the impetus given by the celebration of this important document.


Audiences


Vatican City, 5 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has received in audience:

- Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

- Bishop Baldomero Carlos Martini, emeritus of San Justo, Argentina;

- Bishop Han Lim Moon, auxiliary of San Martin, Argentina.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 5 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Giuseppe Favale as bishop of Conversano-Monopoli (area 1.099, population 252,786, Catholics 250,000, priests 144, permanent deacons 16, religious 196), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Palagiano, Italy in 1960 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He holds a degree in Utroque Iure from the Pontifical Lateran University and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including deputy priest, parish priest of the Cathedral, chancellor of the Curia, judicial vicar and vicar general. He is currently spiritual direction of the "Pio XI" Regional Seminary in Molfetta and delegate for young clergy in the diocese of Castellaneta. He was named Prelate of Honour of His Holiness in 2009. He succeeds Bishop Domenico Padovano, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, upon reaching the age limit, was accepted by the Father.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

General audience: God's justice is mercy


Vatican City, 3 February 2016 (VIS) – The relationship between mercy and justice, in the light of the Sacred Scriptures, was the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis in this Wednesday's general audience, which took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by more than ten thousand people.

"The Sacred Scripture presents God as infinite mercy, but also as perfect justice", he said. "How can the two be reconciled? They may appear to be contradictory, but this is not the case, as it is precisely God's mercy that leads us to achieve true justice. In the legal administration of justice, we see that those who consider themselves to have been victims of abuse consult a judge in court and ask that justice be done. It is a retributive justice, inflicting punishment on the guilty, according to the principle that each person receives what he deserves. … But this route does not lead to true justice, as in reality it does not conquer evil, it simply limits it. Instead, only by responding with good can evil truly be conquered".

The Bible, he explained, proposes a different form of justice, in which the victim invites the guilty party to convert, helping him to understand the harm he has done and appealing to his conscience. "In this way, recognising his blame, he can open up to the forgiveness that the injured party offers. … This is the way of resolving conflicts within families, in relations between spouses and between parents and children, in which the injured party loves the guilty and does not wish to lose the bond between them. It is certainly a difficult path: it demands that the victim be disposed to forgive and wishes for the salvation and the good of the perpetrator of the damage. But only in this way can justice triumph, as if the guilty party acknowledges the harm he has done and ceases to do so, the evil no longer exists and the unjust becomes just, as he has been forgiven and helped to find the way of good".

"God treats us sinners, in the same way. He continually offers us His forgiveness, He helps us to welcome Him and to be aware of our evil so as to free ourselves of it. God does not seek our condemnation, only our salvation. God does not wish to condemn anyone! … The Lord of Mercy wishes to save everyone. … The problem is letting Him enter into our heart. All the words of the prophets are an impassioned and love-filled plea for our conversion".

God's heart is "the heart of a Father Who loves all His children and wants them to live in goodness and justice, and therefore to live in fullness and happiness. A Father's heart that goes beyond our meagre concept of justice so as to open up to us the immense horizons of His mercy. A Father's heart that does not treat us or repay us according to our sins, as the Psalm says".

"It is precisely a Father's heart that we encounter when we go to the confessional", Francis emphasised. "Perhaps it will tell us something to better understand our evil, but at the confessional we all go in search of a father who will help us change our life; a father who gives us the strength to go on; a father who forgives us in God's name. Therefore, to be a confessor is a great responsibility, as the son or daughter who comes to you seeks only to encounter a father. And you, the priest there in the confessional, are the place where the Father does justice with His mercy", he concluded.

Interview with the Pope: seeking the richness of faith in Mexico


Vatican City, 3 February 2016 (VIS) – Next week Pope Francis will begin his apostolic trip to Mexico. From 12 to 17 February he will visit Mexico City, Ecatepec, Tuxtla Gutierrez, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Morelia and Ciudad Juarez, and will pray before Our Lady of Guadalupe. For the occasion, the agency Notimex recorded a series of brief questions and expressions of hope for the Mexican people in four videos, presented to the Holy Father. The Pope responded with a video that will be broadcast today on the Notimex website. The following is a summary of the questions and answers. The images can be obtained from the Vatican Television Centre.

Question: Why are you coming to Mexico? What brings you to Mexico?

Pope Francis: "What moves me most is this: what are coming to look for in Mexico? I will come to Mexico not like a Wise Man loaded with things to bring, messages, ideas, solutions to problems … I come to Mexico as a pilgrim, to look for something among the Mexican people. … I come to seek the wealth of faith you have, I come for that infectious wealth of faith. You have an idiosyncrasy, a way of being that is the fruit of a very long road, a history that has been forged slowly, with pain, with success, with failures, with searching, but with a common thread. You have great richness in your heart and, above all, you are not an orphaned people, as you are proud to have a Mother, and when a man or a woman or a people do not forget their Mother, this provides a wealth that cannot be described; it is received and transmitted. So, I will go in search of some of this in you. A people that does not forget its Mother, the Mother who forged her people in hope".

Question: What does Our Lady of Guadalupe represent for the Pope?

Pope Francis: "Security, tenderness. Sometimes I am afraid of certain problems or something unpleasant happens and I do not know how to react, and I pray to her. I like to repeat to myself, 'Do not be afraid, am I not here, your Mother?'. They are her words: 'Do not be afraid'. … I feel this, that she is our Mother, who cares, protects and leads a people, who leads a family, who gives the warmth of home, who caresses with tenderness and who banishes fear. … It is an eloquent image, that of a Mother like a blanket who covers and cares, in the midst of her people. … This is what I feel before Her. … What I would ask you, as a favour, is that this time, the third time I will be on Mexican soil, that you will let me spend a moment before the image. That is the favour I ask of you".

Question: How would you help us to face the violence here?

Pope Francis: "Violence, corruption, war, children who cannot go to school because their country is at war, trafficking, arms manufacturers who sell weapons so that the wars of the world can continue … this is more or less the climate that we live in the world, and you are experiencing a part of it, a part of this 'war', this part of suffering, of violence, of organised trafficking. If I come to you, it is to receive the best of you and to pray with you, so that the problems … that you know exist may be resolved, because the Mexico of violence, the Mexico of corruption, the Mexico of drug trafficking, the Mexico of the cartels, is not the Mexico that our Mother loves, and of course I do not wish to cover up any of that; on the contrary, I would urge you to fight, day by day, against corruption, against trafficking, against war, against disunity, against organised crime, against human trafficking".

"'May you bring us a little peace', one of you said. Peace is something that must be worked on every day, and – to use a phrase that sounds like a contradiction – it must be fought for, every day. It is necessary to combat every day for peace, not for war. It is necessary to sow gentleness, understanding, peace. St. Francis prayed, 'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace'. I would like to be an instrument of peace in Mexico, but with all of you. … And how is peace formed? Peace is a craft, it is formed by hand. From the education of a child to the care for an elderly person: they are all seeds of peace. Peace is born of tenderness, peace is born of understanding, peace is born or is made in dialogue, not in rupture, and this is the key word: dialogue. Dialogue between leaders, dialogue with the people, and dialogue among all people. … Do not be afraid of listening to others, to seeing their motivations. And please, do not enter into any traps to make money; it enslaves life in an inner war and takes away freedom, because peace brings freedom. I come to ask the Virgin, along with you, to give us this peace, so that Our Lady of Guadalupe may give us peace in our heart, in the family, in the city, and in all the country".

Question: What do you wish for from us, and what are your hopes for us?

Pope Francis: "I come to serve, to be a servant of the faith for you … because I felt this vocation … to serve the faith of the people. But this faith must grow and go out into daily life; it must be a public faith. And faith becomes strong when it is public, above all … in moments of crisis. … It is true that there is a crisis of faith in the world. But it is also true that there is a great blessing and a desire … for faith to come forth, for faith to be missionary, for faith not to be closed up in a tin. Our faith is not a museum faith, and the Church is not a museum. Our faith is born of contact, of dialogue with Jesus Christ, our Saviour, with the Lord. … If faith does not go out into the street, it is no use; and taking faith out into the street does not mean merely a procession. That faith goes out into the street means that we show ourselves to be Christians in the workplace, in the family, at university, in college. … Faith wants to be on the streets, like Jesus. … Where did Jesus spend most of his time? On the street, preaching the Gospel, bearing witness. … Our faith demands that we too go forth, that we do not keep Jesus confined to ourselves without letting Him out, as Jesus goes out with us, so if we do not go forth, neither does He. … Renewing the faith means going out into the streets, not being afraid of conflict, seeking solutions to family, school, social and economic problems. Faith has to be my inspiration for my commitment to my people, and it has its risks and its dangers. I would like to end with some of our Mother's words; through me, she is saying to you, 'Do not be afraid of going forth, do not be afraid, my child, I am here and I am your Mother".


Francis closes the Year of Consecrated Life


Vatican City, 3 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday, the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Day of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis presided at the Holy Mass for the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, held in the Vatican Basilica at 5.30 p.m. Members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life concelebrated with the Holy Father.

During the rite, which opened with the blessing of the candles and the procession, the Pope pronounced a homily, extensive extracts of which are published below. He emphasised that gratitude, for the gift of the Holy Spirit that always inspires the Church through different charisms is the word that best summarises the Year of Consecrated Life.

"Before our eyes there is a simple, humble and great fact: Jesus was taken by Mary and Joseph to the temple of Jerusalem. He is a child like any other … but He is unique: He is the only begotten Son Who came for all of us. This Child brought us God's mercy and tenderness. Jesus is the face of the Father's mercy. This is the icon that the Gospel offers us at the end of the Year of Consecrated Life, a year lived with great enthusiasm. Like a river, it now flows into the sea of mercy, in this immense mystery of love that we are experiencing with the extraordinary Jubilee".

"Today's feast, especially in the East, is called the feast of encounter. Indeed, in the Gospel there are several encounters. In the temple, Jesus comes towards us and we come towards Him. We contemplate the encounter with the elderly Simeon, who represents the faithful hope of Israel and the exultation of the heart for the fulfilment of the ancient promises. We also admire the encounter with the elderly prophetess Anna. Simeon and Anna are hope and prophecy; Jesus is newness and completion. He presents Himself to us as God's perennial surprise. In this Child, born for all, the past, made up of memory and promise, and the future, full of hope, are brought together".

"We can see here the beginning of consecrated life. Consecrated men and women are called, first of all, to be men and women of encounter. Vocation, indeed, is not the result of a project of our own … but rather the grace of the Lord Who reaches out to us, through a life-changing encounter. Those who encounter Jesus cannot stay the same as they were before. Those who live this encounter become witnesses and make encounter possible for others too; and they become promoters of the culture of encounter, avoiding the self-referentiality that causes us to become self-centred".

"Jesus, to come towards us, did not hesitate to share in our human condition. … He did not save us 'from outside', He did not stay out of our drama, but instead chose to share our life. Consecrated men and women are called to be a concrete sign of this closeness to God, this sharing in the condition of frailty and sin and the wounds of man in our time".

"The Gospel also tells us that 'the child's father and mother marvelled at what was said about Him'. Joseph and Mary wondered at this encounter full of light and hope for all peoples. And we too, as Christians and as consecrated persons, are guardians of wonder. A wonder that always asks to be renewed; woe to those who settle into habit in spiritual life; woe to those whose charisms are crystallised in abstract doctrine. The charisms of the founders, as I have said many times, must not be sealed up in bottles – they are not museum pieces. Our founders were moved by the Holy Spirit, and were not afraid of getting their hands dirty in everyday life, getting involved in the problems of the people and reaching out courageously to the geographical and existential peripheries".

"Finally, from today's feast we learn to live with gratitude for the encounter with Jesus and for the gift of the vocation to consecrated life. Giving thanks: the Eucharist. How beautiful it is when we encounter the happy face of consecrated persons, perhaps of advanced age like Simeon or Anna, content and full of gratitude for their vocation. This is a word that can summarise all that we have lived during this Year of Consecrated Life: gratitude for the gift of the Holy Spirit, that always inspires the Church through the various charisms".

Following Mass in the Basilica, the Pope went out into St. Peter's Square to greet the many consecrated men and women who had not been able to enter the Vatican Basilica. He addressed the following words to them:

"Thank you for ending here, all together, this Year of Consecrated Life. And keep going! Each one of us has a place, a job to do in the Church. Please, do not forget your first vocation, your first call. Remember this. And with that love with which you were called, today the Lord continues to call to you. Do not let that beauty, that wonder of the first call, diminish. Keep working. … There is always something to do. The main thing is to pray. The centre of consecrated life is prayer. And so we age, but we age like good wine!".

"Let me say something to you. I like it when I find elderly men and women religious, with shining eyes, because the fire of spiritual life is alight in them. That flame has not been extinguished. … Continue to work and to look to tomorrow with hope, always asking the Lord to send us new vocations, so that our work of consecrated may keep going ahead. And memory: do not forget the first call! Work, day by day, and then the hope to go ahead and to sow. May the others who follow us receive the legacy we leave to them".


Presentation to the Pope of the book on the Papal fleet in the Dardanelles, 1657


Vatican City, 3 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning, at the conclusion of the General Audience, Rinaldo Marmara presented to Pope Francis a copy of his book "La Squadra Pontificia ai Dardanelli 1657 / Ilk Canakkale Zaferі 1657". This volume is an Italian and Turkish transliteration of a manuscript from the Chigi collection of the Vatican Apostolic Library that is an account of the papal fleet that participated in the Second Battle of the Dardanelles in 1657. During a presentation of the book last evening, the author stated that his objective was to make important archival material from the Vatican Archives and Vatican Library accessible to Turkish historians and researchers. The book, notwithstanding the painful memories of history, illustrates the importance of scholarly research and opening up archives to historical investigation in the service of truth and building bridges of cooperation and mutual understanding.

In light of this, the repeated commitment of Turkey to make its archives available to historians and researchers of interested parties in order to arrive jointly at a better understanding of historical events and the pain and suffering endured by all parties, regardless of their religious or ethnic identity, caught up in war and conflict, including the tragic events of 1915, is noted and appreciated. The painful events of history should not be forgotten; instead they require careful examination and reflection so that they may lead to the healing and purification of memory so necessary for reconciliation and forgiveness for individuals and peoples, as St. John Paul II affirmed.

The memory of the suffering and pain of both the distant and the more recent past, as in the case of the assassination of Taha Carım, Ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See, in June 1977, at the hands of a terrorist group, urges us also to acknowledge the suffering of the present and to condemn all acts of violence and terrorism, which continue to cause victims today.

Particularly heinous and offensive is violence and terrorism committed in the name of God or religion. As His Holiness Pope Francis stated during his visit to the Central African Republic: “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters. … Together, we must say no to hatred, no to revenge and no to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself". May these words inspire all people of goodwill to remember and affirm their brotherhood, solidarity, compassion and shared humanity and to reiterate their common stand against all violence.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Francis wishes a happy New Year to China: may dialogue between peoples contribute to peace and development


Vatican City, February 2016 (VIS) - To mark the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year, the Holy Father Francis has granted an extensive interview to the online daily Asia Times, Hong Kong. The Pope took the opportunity to express his wishes to President Xi Jinping and all the Chinese people, and his high esteem for the Chinese people and their culture, in the hope that the Chinese contribution to dialogue between peoples may contribute to peace and the integral development of the human family.

The original text can be found on the Asia Times website at atimes.com.; an abridged version is published below.

Asia Times: "What is China for you? How did you imagine China to be as a young man, given that China, for Argentina, is not the East but the far West? What does Matteo Ricci mean to you?"

Pope Francis: "For me, China has always been a reference point of greatness. A great country. But more than a country, a great culture, with an inexhaustible wisdom. For me, as a boy, whenever I read anything about China, it had the capacity to inspire my admiration. ... Later I looked into Matteo Ricci’s life and I saw how this man felt the same thing in the exact way I did, admiration, and how he was able to enter into dialogue with this great culture, with this age-old wisdom. He was able to “encounter” it. … Ricci’s experience teaches us that it is necessary to enter into dialogue with China, because it is an accumulation of wisdom and history. It is a land blessed with many things. And the Catholic Church, one of whose duties is to respect all civilisations, before this civilisation, I would say, has the duty to respect it with a capital “R”. The Church has great potential to receive culture".

Asia Times: "China, for the first time in its thousands of years of history, is emerging from its own environment and opening to the world, creating unprecedented challenges for itself and for the world. You have spoken of a third world war that is furtively advancing: what challenges does this present in the quest for peace?"

Pope Francis: "Being afraid is never a good counsellor. … And it is obvious that so much culture and so much wisdom, and in addition, so much technical knowledge – we have only to think of age-old medicinal techniques – cannot remain enclosed within a country; they tend to expand, to spread, to communicate. Man tends to communicate, a civilisation tends to communicate. It is evident that when communication happens in an aggressive tone to defend oneself, then wars result. But I would not be fearful. It is a great challenge to keep the balance of peace. … The Western world, the Eastern world and China all have the capacity to maintain the balance of peace and the strength to do so. We must find the way, always through dialogue; there is no other way. Encounter is achieved through dialogue. The true balance of peace is realised through dialogue. Dialogue does not mean that we end up with a compromise, half the cake for you and the other half for me. This is what happened in Yalta and we saw the results. No, dialogue means: look, we have got to this point, I may or may not agree, but let us walk together; this is what it means to build. And the cake stays whole, walking together. The cake belongs to everyone, it is humanity, culture. Carving up the cake, as in Yalta, means dividing humanity and culture into small pieces. And culture and humanity cannot be carved into small pieces".

Asia Times: "China has experienced over the last few decades tragedies without comparison. Since 1980 the Chinese have sacrificed that which has always been most dear to them, their children. For the Chinese these are very serious wounds. Among other things, this has left enormous emptiness in their consciences and somehow an extremely deep need to be reconciled with themselves and to forgive themselves. In the Year of Mercy what message can you offer the Chinese people?"

Pope Francis: "The aging of a population ... is happening in many places. … Perhaps behind this there is the fear you are alluding to, the mistaken perception, not that we will simply fall behind, but that we will fall into misery, so therefore, let’s not have children. There are other societies that have opted for the contrary. For example, during my trip to Albania, I was astonished to discover that the average age of the population is approximately 40 years. … Countries that have suffered and opt for youth. Then there is the problem of work. Something that China does not have, because it has the capacity to offer work both in the countryside and in the city. And it is true, the problem for China of not having children must be very painful; because the pyramid is then inverted and a child has to bear the burden of his father, mother, grandfather and grandmother. And this is exhausting, demanding, disorientating. It is not the natural way. I understand that China has opened up possibilities on this front".

Asia Times: "How should these challenges of families in China be faced, given that they find themselves in a process of profound change and no longer correspond to the traditional Chinese model of the family?"

Pope Francis: "The history of a people is always a path. A people at times walks more quickly, at times more slowly, at times it pauses, at times it makes a mistake and goes backwards a little, or takes the wrong path and has to retrace its steps to follow the right way. But when a people moves forward, this does not worry me because it means they are making history. And I believe that the Chinese people are moving forward and this is their greatness. … And I would go further: do not be bitter, but be at peace with your own path, even if you have made mistakes. I cannot say my history was bad, that I hate my history.
No, every people must be reconciled with its history as its own path, with its successes and its mistakes. And this reconciliation with one’s own history brings much maturity, much growth. … When one takes responsibility for one’s own path, accepting it for what it was, this allows one’s historical and cultural richness to emerge, even in difficult moments. And how can it be allowed to emerge? Here we return to the first question: in dialogue with today’s world. To dialogue does not mean that I surrender myself, because at times there is the danger, in the dialogue between different countries, of hidden agendas, namely, cultural colonisations. It is necessary to recognise the greatness of the Chinese people, who have always maintained their culture. And their culture – I am not speaking about ideologies that there may have been in the past – their culture was not imposed".

Asia Times: "The country’s economic growth proceeded at an overwhelming pace but this has also brought with it human and environmental disasters which Beijing is striving to confront and resolve. At the same time, the pursuit of work efficiency is burdening families with new costs: sometimes children and parents are separated due to the demands of work. What message can you give them?"

Pope Francis: "I would suggest a healthy realism; reality must be accepted from wherever it comes. … First, I must be reconciled with reality. I don’t like it, I am against it, it makes me suffer, but if I don’t come to terms with it, I won’t be able to do anything. The second step is to work to improve reality and to change its direction. … If this happens to a company which has worked for twenty years and there is a business crisis, then there are few avenues of creativity to improve it. On the contrary, when it happens in an age-old country, with its age-old history, its age-old wisdom, its age-old creativity, then tension is created between the present problem and this past of ancient richness. And this tension brings fruitfulness as it looks to the future. I believe that the great richness of China today lies in looking to the future from a present that is sustained by the memory of its cultural past".

Asia Times: "On the occasion of the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Monkey, would you like to send a greeting to the Chinese people, to the Authorities and to President Xi Jinping?"

Pope Francis: "On the eve of the New Year, I wish to convey my best wishes and greetings to President Xi Jinping and to all the Chinese people. And I wish to express my hope that they never lose their historical awareness of being a great people, with a great history of wisdom, and that they have much to offer to the world. The world looks to this great wisdom of yours. In this New Year, with this awareness, may you continue to go forward in order to help and cooperate with everyone in caring for our common home and our common peoples".

The Pope: consecrated life must be close to the people


Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The following are extensive extracts of the Holy Father's extemporaneous address to the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, which took place yesterday in the Paul VI Hall. This afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica he will celebrate the Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life.

"I have prepared a text for this occasion regarding the themes of consecrated life and three of its most important pillars: prophecy, closeness and hope.

"Men and women religious – that is, men and women consecrated to the service of the Lord who follow in the Church this road of poverty and of chaste love that leads to a paternity and maternity for all the Church, an obedience … that is not military, no; that is discipline, it is something else. It is the obedience of giving one's heart. And this is prophecy. 'But don't you want to do something else?' 'Yes, but according to the rules I must do this. … And if something isn't clear to me, I speak with the superior, and after dialogue, I obey'. This is prophecy, against the seed of anarchy, that the devil sows. … Prophecy means telling people that there is a road of happiness, greatness, a road that fills you with joy, that is indeed Jesus' way. It is the road of being close to Jesus. Prophecy is a gift, it is a charism that must be asked for from the Holy Spirit: that I might know how to say that word, at the right moment; that I do the right thing at the right moment; that all my life may be a prophecy".

The other word is closeness. Men and women are consecrated, not to distance themselves from people and to live in comfort; no, to become closer to and to understand the life of Christians and non-Christians, their suffering, their problems, the many things that can be understood only if a consecrated man or woman is close to them. … Consecrated life is not a status that allows us to watch others from a distance. Consecrated life must lead us to closeness to the people: physical and spiritual closeness, knowing the people. … Who is the person closest to a consecrated man or woman? His brother or her sister in the community. And also a pleasant, a good closeness, with love. … One way of alienating people is to gossip … the terrorism of gossip. A person who gossips is a terrorist in his or her own community, who throws words against others like a bomb, and then moves on. … The apostle James said that the most difficult virtue, the most difficult human and spiritual virtue to have, is that of controlling one's tongue. … 'But Father, if there is something, a defect, something to be corrected?'. You say it directly to the person: you have this attitude that bothers me, or is not good. Or if this would not be appropriate – because at times it is not prudent – then you can say it to the person who can remedy the situation, who can resolve the problem, and to no-one else. 'What? In the chapter?' Yes! In public, all that you feel you must say, because there is the temptation not to say things there, and then outside: 'Have you seen the superior? Than why didn't you say it there, in the chapter? Is this clear? These are virtues of closeness".

"And then, hope. I confess that it troubles me greatly when I see the decline in vocations, when I receive bishops and ask them, 'How many seminarians do you have?', and they tell me, 'Four or five...'. When, in your religious communities – male or female – you have one or two novices, and the community is ageing … When there are monasteries, great monasteries … that are kept going by four or five elderly nuns … Faced with all this, I am tempted to ask, against hope, 'Lord, what is happening? Why has the womb of consecrated life become so barren? Some congregations have experimented … what do they do? They welcome, 'Come, come, come!'. And then there are problems inside. No. It is necessary to welcome in a serious way. We must discern well if this is a true vocation and help it to grow. And I think that, counter to the temptation to lose hope, that leads us to this barrenness, we must pray more, and pray tirelessly. ...'Our congregation needs sons, daughters …': the Lord Who has been so generous will not fail to keep His promise. But we must ask Him. We must knock on the door of His heart. Because there is a danger – it is unpleasant, but I have to say it – when a religious Congregation sees that it has no sons and starts to become increasingly small, it becomes attached to money. And you know that money is the dung of the devil. When they cannot have the grace of vocations and sons, they think that money will save their lives, and they think about their old age; that they may not lack this or that. And this is not hope! Hope comes only from the Lord! Money will never give you this".

"I thank you for what you do. Consecrated persons, each one with his or her own charism. And I would like to underline what women religious and nuns do. What would the Church be without nuns? I have said this before: when you go to hospital, to colleges, parishes, neighbourhoods, missions, there are men and women who have given their lives. ...When you go to a cemetery and see the many missionaries and nuns who died at the age of forty, from sicknesses, from the fevers they caught, who burned their lives. These are saints, these are seeds! We must ask the Lord to look to these cemeteries and to see what our antecedents did, and to give us more vocations, because we need them".


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Robert Bourgon as bishop of Hearst (area 799, population 139,977, Catholics 138,000, priests 89, permanent deacons 7, religious 104), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Sudbury, Canada in 1956 and was ordained a priest in 181. He holds a doctorate in canon law and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles, including parish vicar, parish priest, judge of the ecclesiastical tribunal and diocesan chancellor. He is currently vicar general of the diocese of Sault Saint Marie. He succeeds Bishop Vincent Cadieux, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Msgr. Robert Bourgon, bishop-elect of Hearst, Canada, as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Moosonee, Canada, united in persona episcopi with that of Hearst, under the pastoral care of Bishop Cadieux.

- Archimandrite Manuel Nin, O.S.B., as apostolic exarch for the faithful of Byzantine Rite in Greece (Catholics 6,000, priests 6, religious 11). The bishop-elect was born in El Vendrell, Spain in 1956, gave his religious vows in 1980 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a degree in theology and has served as spiritual father and rector of the Pontifical Greek College, first assistant to the president of the Sublacense Cassinese Congregation. He is currently consultor in the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff and member of the Liturgical Commission of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He succeeds Bishop Dimitrios Salachas, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same exarchate in accordance with canons 201 and 1 of the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches.

- Rev. Christudas Rajappan as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Trivandrum of the Latins (area 686, population 368,000, Catholics 261,220, priests 230, religious 891). The bishop-elect was born in 1971 in India and was ordained in 1998. He holds a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urbanian University, and has served as parish administrator, director of the KCYM in Trivandrum, chaplain of the Catholic Hostel, and spiritual director and professor at St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary in Alwaye. He is currently rector of St. Vincent's Seminary in Menankulam, director of the Board of Clergy and Religious, and pastor of the St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Kochuthura.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Church and the world await your prophecy, closeness and hope, says the Pope to the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life


Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – The Year of Consecrated Life, convoked by Pope Francis at the end of 2014 and which began with a prayer vigil in November of the same year in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major, closes tomorrow with a solemn Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Basilica. Along the way there have been events, seminars, chains of prayer in monasteries around the world, and an encounter between consecrated persons of different Christian confessions which, the Pontiff affirmed, is an initiative that it would be useful to continue.

This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Pope received in audience the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, the final event of the Year. He addressed some extemporaneous remarks to those present, setting aside the text previously prepared for the occasion, extensive extracts of which are reproduced below:

"One day Jesus, in His infinite mercy, addressed each one of us and told us personally, 'Come'. If we are here it is because we answered 'yes', at times with an adhesion full of enthusiasm and joy, at other times more difficult, perhaps uncertain", but always "with generosity, letting ourselves be guided along paths that we would not even have imagined", learning from Christ "the relationship with the Father, receiving His Spirit, learning to love the poor and sinners. We have followed Him together, learning service, acceptance, forgiveness and fraternal charity from Him. Our consecrated life has meaning because staying with Him and taking Him with us along the streets of the world, conforms us to Him, makes us Church, a gift for humanity".

"The Year that is coming to an end, but our commitment to staying faithful to the call we have received and to growing in love, giving and creativity, continues. Therefore I would like to leave you with three words. … The first word is prophecy, characteristic of consecrated life. … You are called, first and foremost, to proclaim with your life, before your words, the reality of God: to say God. If at times He is denied or marginalised or ignored, we must ask ourselves if perhaps we have not allowed His face to be transparent, instead showing our own. The face of God is that of a Father, 'merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love'".

The second word is closeness. "God, in Jesus, comes close to every man and every woman: He has shared in the joy of the spouses in Cana of Galilee and the anguish of the widow of Nain; He enters into the house of Jairus, touched by death, and the house of Bethany, perfumed with nard; He took upon Himself illness and suffering, to the point of giving His life in ransom. Following Christ means going where He went; taking upon onself, like the good Samaritan, the wounded we encounter along the road; going in search of the lost sheep. To be, like Jesus, close to the people; sharing their joys and pains, showing with our love the paternal face of God and the maternal caress of the Church. May no-one ever feel distant, detached, closed or barren. Each one of you is called upon to serve your brothers, following your own charism: with prayer, with catechesis, with teaching, with the care of the sick or the poor, announcing the Gospel, or performing the various works of mercy. The important thing is not to live for yourselves, just as Jesus did not live for Himself, but for the Father and for us".

Finally, hope: bearing witness to God and His merciful love, consecrated men and women can inspire hope in our humanity, "marked by so anguish and fear, and at times tempted to be discouraged. You can enable the renewing force of the beatitudes to be felt; of honesty and compassion, the value of goodness, of the simple life, essential and full of meaning. And you can nurture hope in the Church too. I think for example of ecumenical dialogue. The charismatic and prophetic witness of consecrated life in the variety of its forms can help us to acknowledge ourselves as more united and can promote full communion".

"In your daily apostolate, do not let yourselves be conditioned by your age or number. What counts is the capacity to repeat the initial 'yes' to the call from Jesus that continues to be heard, in an ever new way, in every season of life. His call and our response keep our hope alive. Prophecy, closeness, hope. Living in this way, you will have joy in your heart, the distinctive sign of Jesus' followers and, in particular, of consecrated persons".




Pope Francis' prayer intentions for February


Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father's universal prayer intention for February is: “That we may take good care of creation – a gift freely given – cultivating and protecting it for future generations”.

His intention for evangelisation is: “That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia”.

Pope's video message for the closure of the International Eucharistic Council in the Philippines: the Eucharist teaches us to act with integrity


Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – Yesterday, 31 January, with the Holy Mass presided by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, the pontifical legate closed the 51st International Eucharistic Council, which began on 24 January in Cebu, Philippines, on the theme "Christ in you, our hope of glory: the Eucharist, source and goal of the Church's mission".

Following the Eucharistic celebration, a video message from Pope Francis was broadcast, in which he emphasises that the theme of the Congress "reminds us that the risen Jesus always lives and is present in His Church, above all in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Christ’s presence among us is not only a consolation, but also a promise and a summons. It is a promise that everlasting joy and peace will one day be ours in the fullness of his Kingdom. But it is also a summons to go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child".

The Holy Father invites reflection on two gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper: table fellowship and the washing of feet. With regard to the former, he recalls how important it was for Jesus to share meals with his disciples, but also, and especially, with sinners and the outcast. "Sitting at the table, Jesus was able to listen to others, to hear their stories, to appreciate their hopes and aspirations, and to speak to them of the Father’s love. At each Eucharist, the table of the Lord’s Supper, we should be inspired to follow His example, by reaching out to others, in a spirit of respect and openness, in order to share with them the gift we ourselves have received".

This is especially important in Asia, where the Church is committed to "respectful dialogue with the followers of other religions" and where "this prophetic witness most often takes place, as we know, through the dialogue of life". Through the testimony of "lives transformed by God’s love, we best proclaim the Kingdom’s promise of reconciliation, justice and unity for the human family. Our example can open hearts to the grace of the Holy Spirit, Who leads them to Christ the Saviour".

The other gesture, the washing of feet, is "a sign of humble service, of the unconditional love with which He gave his life on the Cross for the salvation of the world. The Eucharist is a school of humble service. It teaches us readiness to be there for others. This too is at the heart of missionary discipleship". The Pope gives the example of the aftermath of the typhoon that brought immense devastation to the Philippines, yet it also brought in its wake an immense outpouring of solidarity, generosity and goodness. "People set about rebuilding not just homes, but lives. The Eucharist speaks to us of that power, which flows from the Cross and constantly brings new life. It changes hearts. It enables us to be caring, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to be sensitive to the cry of our brothers and sisters in need. It teaches us to act with integrity and to reject the injustice and corruption which poison the roots of society".

Pope Francis concluded by announcing that the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2020 in Budapest, Hungary.


Angelus: the only privilege in the eyes of God is not having privileges


Vatican City, 31 January 2016 (VIS) – At midday today the Pope prayed the Angelus with the pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter's Square. Beforehand he commented on the day's Gospel reading, which "like last Sunday leads us to the synagogue of Nazareth, the village of Galilee where Jesus grew up in His family and was known to all. He had left shortly before to begin His public life, but returns for the first time and presents Himself to the community, gathered on the Sabbath in the synagogue. He reads the passage from the prophet Isaiah, who speaks about the future messiah, and at the end declares: 'Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing'. His fellow townspeople, at first surprised and admiring, began to sneer and murmur among themselves, and to say, 'why does this man who claims to be the Consecrated of the Lord not repeat here the works and miracles that He did in Capernaum and the other nearby towns?'. Jesus then declares, 'No prophet is accepted in his own native place', and recalls the great prophets of the past, Elijah and Elisha, who worked miracles for the pagans in order to denounce the lack of faith of their people. At this point, those present are offended, they rise in indignation, they drive Jesus out of the town and want to throw Him over a precipice. But He, with the strength of His peace, 'passed through the midst of them and went away'. His hour had not yet come".

The Pope explained that this account of the Evangelist Luke is not simply the story of a community dispute, as can sometimes happen in our own neighbourhoods too, caused by envy and jealousies, but also brings to light a temptation that a religious person is always vulnerable to — we are all vulnerable to it — and which we must certainly avoid. … It is the temptation to consider religion as a human investment and thus to 'negotiate' with God, seeking our own interests. Instead, true religion is receiving the revelation of a God Who is the Father and Who cares for every one of his creatures, even the smallest and least significant in the eyes of man. This is precisely what Jesus’ prophetic ministry consists of: announcing that no human condition can be a motive for exclusion … from the heart of the Father, and that the only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges. The only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges, of not having protectors, of abandoning oneself in His hands".

“The 'today' proclaimed by Christ that day applies to every day; it resonates for us in this Square too, reminding us of the current importance of and need for salvation brought by Jesus to humanity. God goes out towards the men and women of all times and places in the concrete situations in which they find themselves. He also comes out towards us. He is always the one Who takes the first step. He comes to visit us with His mercy, to lift us from the dust of our sin; He comes to extend His hand to lift us from the abyss in which our pride has caused us to fall, and He invites us to welcome the consoling truth of the Gospel and to walk the paths of righteousness. He always comes to find us, to seek us".

Francis concluded by invoking Our Lady, explaining that the situation was a foretaste of what she would suffer below the Cross, seeing her Son in the synagogue, "first admired, then challenged, then insulted, and threatened with death. In her heart, filled with faith, she conserved all these things".


The Pope: be instruments of peace


Vatican City, 31 January 2016 (VIS) – Following today's Marian prayer the Pope greeted all the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square and mentioned that today is World Leprosy Day. "This illness, although in regression, unfortunately still afflicts the poorest and most marginalised people. It is important to keep alive our solidarity with these brothers and sisters who are incapacitated by this disease. We assure them of our prayers and of our support to those who assist them. Well done to these laypeople, these nuns, these priests".

The Holy Father also dedicated some words to a group of young people from Catholic Action of the diocese of Rome, who have come to the end of their Caravan of Peace. He encouraged them to be instruments of peace and mercy among their peers, so that this year their "witness of peace, inspired by faith in Jesus, may be even more joyful and aware, enriched by the gesture of passing through the Holy Door". A group of young people read the Message aloud and released balloons in the square as a symbol of peace.


First Jubilee audience: mercy and mission


Vatican City, 30 January 2016 (VIS) – Pope Francis dedicated the first of his Jubilee audiences to the theme "Mercy and Mission". The Jubilee audiences are an initiative of the Holy Father during the Holy Year, enabling those who are unable to attend the Wednesday general audiences to participate in his catechesis. On this occasion more than 22,000 people were present in St. Peter's Square.

"Day by day we enter into the life of this Holy Year of Mercy. With His grace, the Lord guides our steps as we cross the Holy Door and comes towards us so as to stay always with us, despite our shortcomings and our contradictions. Let us never tire of asking His forgiveness, as when we are weak His closeness makes us stronger and allows us to live our faith with greater joy".

Referring to the close link between mercy and mission, Francis underlined that as Christians we have the responsibility to be missionaries of the Gospel. "When we receive good news or have a good experience it is natural that we wish to communicate it to others. … The joy we feel inspires us to do so. It should be the same when we encounter the Lord. Indeed, the concrete sign we have truly encountered Jesus is the joy we feel in communicating this to others too. This is not proselytism, but rather it is a gift: I give you what makes me joyful. Reading the Gospel we see that this was also the experience of the first disciples. … Encountering Jesus is the same as encountering His love. This love transforms us and makes us able to transmit to others the strength that it gives us".

"We could say that the day of our Baptism each one of us is given another name alongside the one we receive from our mother and father, and this name is 'Christopher', which means 'Christ-bearer'. The name of our approach, as bearers of Christ's joy and mercy", remarked the Holy Father. "The Christian is a bearer of Christ. … But the mercy we receive from the Father is not given to us as a private consolation, but rather makes us instruments to enable others to receive the same gift. There is a wonderful circularity between mercy and mission".

"Living mercy makes us missionaries of mercy, and being missionaries enables us increasingly to grow in God's mercy. So, let us take seriously the fact of being Christians, and let us commit ourselves to living as believers, because only in this way may the Gospel touch the people's hearts, opening them to receive the grace of love", concluded the Holy Father.



The Pope reiterates the importance of protecting workers' health


Vatican City, 30 January 2016 (VIS) – Following his catechesis the Pope greeted, among others, the Italian faithful including members of the National Association of Maimed and Injured Workers (ANMIL), whose presence offered the Holy Father the opportunity to reiterate the importance of protecting workers' health and safety and defending human life, a gift from God, especially when it is at its weakest and most fragile.

He also addressed the managers and employees of Rome's transport agency, ATAC, encouraging them in their work as today, he said, "the quality of social life depends greatly on the quality of transport". He expressed his hope for increased efforts to reduced pollution and thanked ATAC employees for their service to pilgrims, especially during the Jubilee Year.

Finally, he greeted the young, the sick and newly-weds. "Tomorrow we commemorate St. John Bosco, the apostle of youth. Look to him, dear young people, as an exemplary educator. You, dear sick people, may learn from his spiritual experience always to trust in the crucified Christ. And you, dear newly-weds, ask his intercession so as to take on your conjugal mission with generous commitment".

Presentation of the book "Witnesses of the Resurrected"


Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present the book "Witnesses of the Resurrected", the proceedings of the annual formation course for new bishops organised by the Congregation for Bishops, edited by the Vatican Publishing House (LEV). The speakers were Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari, secretary of the same Congregation, and Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto, rapporteur of the Course.

"This experience began from afar", said Cardinal Ouellet. "Indeed, the Synods held during the last decades have shown that there is a need for the formation of all those who form part of the Church: laypeople, priests, men and women religious, and also bishops. … In the light of these declarations, the Congregation for Bishops, after careful discernment, began its experience of the course for new bishops. The first event, coordinated by the then-prefect, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, was carried out in late June and early July 2001. The next will therefore be the sixteenth edition. Bishops from all over the world will travel to Rome for this initiative, under the patronage of the Congregation for Bishops, in collaboration with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and, occasionally, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples".

"This means that more than 1500 bishops have started their pastoral mission via this experience of eight or nine days of cohabitation, fraternal exchange, conferences, debates and, above all, encounters with the Holy Father and representatives of the Curia Romana and the episcopate worldwide. The content shared in this course is published in this book and made available to the public, to allow observations and suggestions to be made that may be useful for improving the experience".

Archbishop Francesco Cacucci explained that "in a moment of hyperactivity and fragmentation, the bishop is called upon today more than ever to be a man of synthesis and to help priests, "brothers and friends", to share the essential. … The Congress of Italian Churches, held in Florence last November, was encouraged by the Holy Father to live an effective synodality. Walking together (synod) with priests, consecrated persons and laypeople may be tiresome but it is an expression of love, of the communion in the Church. It may be said, after St. Augustine, that when one loves, even hardship is beloved. Therefore, to be a 'witness of the Resurrecetd', the bishop is called upon to be a man of prayer, especially of prayer for intercession".

Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari added that during these sixteen years the number of bishops participating has always been more than a hundred, and explained that after the first meetings, the Congregation for Oriental Churches joined in the experience, sending more bishops. "This presence has enabled us to obtain a better knowledge of the situation of these churches, which often face problems or are in minority situations, so as to strengthen fraternal relations with them", he concluded.



Archbishop Zimowski, Pope's special envoy to the World Day of the Sick


Vatican City, 30 January 2016 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 12 January, the Holy Father appoints Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care) as his special envoy at the celebration of the World Day of the Sick, to be held in Nazareth on 11 February 2016.


Audiences


Vatican City, 1 February 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Bishop Marcelo Daniel Colombo of La Rioja, Argentina;

- Bishop Hugo Nicolas Barbaro of San Roque de Presidencia Roque Saenz Pena, Argentina;

- Mother Zulema Nelly Zayas, superior general of the "Hijas del Divino Salvador" congregation.

On Saturday 30 January the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 30 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, S.D.B., as bishop of Dili (area 4,750, population 595,000, Catholics 562,000, priests 133, permanent deacons 1, religious 502), East Timor. The bishop-elect was born in Venilale, East Timor in 1967, gave his religious vows in 1997 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He has served in a number of pastoral roles including formator of novices, bursar of the House of Formation in Venilale and parish vicar, master of novices, and director of the House of Salesians and the Don Bosco Technical School in Fatumaca. He is currently provincial of the Salesians.

- Fr. Carlos Alberto Salcedo Ojeda, O.M.I., as auxiliary of Huancayo (area 4,750, population 595,000, Catholics 562,000, priests 133, permanent deacons 1, religious 425), Peru. The bishop-elect was born in Comas, Peru in 1960, gave his religious vows in 1993 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish vicar, parish priest, counsellor of the delegation of Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in Peru, director of the pre-novitiate "St. Eugene Mazenod" in Lima, secretary of the O.M.I. team for the formation of the Latin America region and assistant to the master of novices of the international novitiate in Asuncion, Paraguay. He is currently episcopal vicar in the archdiocese of Huancayo, parish priest, and coordinator of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of the Oblate Delegation in Peru.

Friday, January 29, 2016

To the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: faith is not only knowledge committed to memory, but truth lived in love


Vatican City, 29 January 2016 (VIS) – "Mercy is the foundation of the life of the Church: the first truth of the Church, indeed, is Christ's love", were the opening words of the Holy Father's discourse to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whom he received in audience this morning in the Clementine Hall. The Pope went on to urge all the Christian people, both pastors and the faithful, to rediscover during this Jubilee the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as when, in the twilight of life, we are asked if we have given food to the hungry and given the thirsty water to drink, we will also be asked "if we have helped people to set their doubts aside, if we have committed ourselves to welcoming sinners, admonishing them and correcting them, if we have been able to combat ignorance, especially in relation to the Christian faith and the righteous life".

"In faith and in charity a cognitive and unifying relationship is established with the mystery of Love, which is God Himself. The effective mercy of God became, in Jesus, affective mercy, as He made Himself man for the salvation of mankind. The task entrusted to your Dicastery here finds its ultimate foundation and and adequate justification. Christian faith, indeed, is not only knowledge to be committed to memory, but also truth to live in love. Therefore, along with the doctrine of the faith, it is also necessary to safeguard the integrity of customs, particularly in the most delicate areas of life. Adhering to faith in the person of Christ implies both an act of reason and a moral response to His gift. In this respect, I thank you for all your commitment and the responsibility you exercise in treating cases of abuse of minors by members of the clergy".

"Safeguarding the integrity of faith and customs is a delicate task. Performing this mission well requires collegial commitment. … The correct synodality must be promoted at all levels of ecclesial life", added the Pope, citing in this respect the meeting organised by the Congregation with the Doctrinal Commissions of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, enabling various doctrinal and pastoral challenges to be faced in a collegial way and thus inspiring in the faithful "a new missionary impulse and greater openness to the transcendent dimension of life, without which Europe runs the risk of losing its humanist spirit that it nevertheless loves and defends".

Another significant contribution of the Congregation to the renewal of ecclesial life was its study on complementarity between hierarchical and charismatic gifts, called upon to collaborate in synergy for the good of the Church and the world, and whose relationship evokes the Trinitarian root, the bond between the divine Word made flesh and the Holy Spirit, which is always a gift of the Father and the Son.

"It is precisely this root, if acknowledged and listened to humbly, that permits the Church to let herself be renewed at any time. … Unity and plurality are the seal of a Church that, moved by the Spirit, knows how to walk with a sure and faithful step towards the purpose that the Risen Lord has indicated to them throughout history. Here we see clearly how the synodal dynamic, if correctly understood, is born from communion and leads towards an increasingly implemented, deepened and extended, in the service of the life and the mission of the People of God".


Two initiatives linked to the Jubilee: the Missionaries of Mercy and the translation to Rome of the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Leopold Mandic


Vatican City, 29 January 2016 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and Msgr. Graham Bell, under-secretary of the same dicastery, presented two initiatives linked to the Jubilee Year: the Missionaries of Mercy and the temporary translation to Rome of the relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina and St. Leopold Mandic.

"It is has been almost two months now since Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s", said Archbishop Fisichella. "Since that moment, the Doors of Mercy have been opened all around the world. The incredible number of people who have registered for these events allows us to acknowledge how this insight of Pope Francis, his idea of having this Extraordinary Jubilee, has answered a true need of the people of God who are receiving this event of grace with great joy and enthusiasm. We can conclude from this participation that the Jubilee is being intensely lived in all the world and in every local Church, where this time of grace is being organised as a genuine form of renewal for the Church and as a particular moment of the new evangelisation".

"Every day we receive thousands of pictures and documents from around the world attesting to the commitment and the faith of believers", he continued. "Yet all of this activity has not stopped a substantial number of pilgrims from arriving in Rome during this period. According to the data available to us on a daily basis, as of today 1,392,000 people have participated in Jubilee events. An interesting detail is that 40 per cent of those who have attended come from abroad, speaking largely Spanish and French. We have registered pilgrims from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Korea, Kenya, Mozambique, El Salvador, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, the Fiji Islands, Russia, Belarus, the Seychelles, the Ivory Coast, Chad, Kuwait, the U.S.A., Albania and from many other countries. I would like to reiterate that this is not the criteria by which to judge the actual outcome of the Jubilee. A Holy Year of mercy goes well beyond numbers, for it is intended to touch the hearts and the minds of people in order to assist them in coming to understand the ways in which God’s great love manifests itself in their daily lives. It is a time during which to assess our lives of faith and to understand how we are capable of conversion and renewal, both of which come from recognising the importance of remaining focused upon what is essential. In any case, a general evaluation of the Jubilee cannot be made after only two months but must be done at its conclusion. All of the other considerations at the moment are incomplete and temporary and, thus, do not merit particular attention".

Archbishop Fisichella described two signs of the Holy Father's concrete witness of mercy. On Friday, December 18, he opened the Door of Charity in the homeless shelter, “Don Luigi di Liegro”, where he celebrated Holy Mass in the refectory. On January 15, he visited first the “Bruno Buozzi” nursing home for the elderly in Torrespaccata, Rome, then the Casa Iride where he spent time with those in vegetative states who are being assisted by their families. "These signs possess a symbolic value before all of the many needs that are present in society today", he emphasised, "intended to stir in all of us a greater awareness of the many situations of need in our cities and to offer a small response of caring and aid".

Following these reflections on the first two months of the Jubilee, the prelate presented two upcoming special events. The first is the presence in Rome of the reliquaries containing the relics of St. Leopold Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina. "Such an occasion is of great significance for it is an unprecedented event, given the stories of these two saints who spent their lives in the service of the mercy of God. Fr. Leopold (1866-1942) was canonised by St. John Paul II on December 16, 1983 and is less well known than St. Pio. Yet, his hunger for holiness spread beyond the Church of Padua, where he lived the major part of his life and where his memory and his relics remain. Originally from Croatia, this Capuchin father dedicated all of his life to the confessional. For almost thirty years, he spent from ten to fifteen hours a day in the secrecy of his cell, the very place which became a confessional for thousands of people who found in their relationships with him the privileged witness of forgiveness and of mercy. Some of his brothers noted that he was 'ignorant and too lenient in forgiving everyone without discernment'. Yet, his simple and humble response to this charge leaves one speechless: 'Should the Crucified blame me for being lenient, I would answer Him: Lord, you gave me this bad example. I have not yet reached the folly of your having died for souls'".

St. Pio (1887-1968), canonised in 2002 by St. John Paul II, "does not require lengthy presentation. This simple Capuchin friar spent his entire life at San Giovanni Rotondo without ever leaving that town. Certainly, during his life, some in Rome caused him to suffer, but his holiness always prevailed. In the silence of obedience, he also became a privileged witness of mercy, dedicating all of his life to the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are grateful to the Capuchin Fathers and to the Bishops of the Dioceses of Padua and Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo for having responded so graciously to the wish of the Pope that the relics of these two saints remain in Rome for a period of time during the Jubilee".

"The program is quite simple", he explained. "The urns containing the relics will arrive in Rome on February 3 where they will be placed in the Church of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura. The church will be open to the faithful starting at 15:00 with a celebration of reception. The relics will remain in San Lorenzo until 20:30 the following day, during which time there will be a number of celebrations reserved for the vast extended Franciscan Family. An all-night vigil is being organised in the Jubilee Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, which will begin at 22:00 on February 4. The prayer will continue until the following day, February 5, with various celebrations and will conclude with Holy Mass at 14:00 presided by Michele Castoro, the Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo. At 16:00, a procession with the two reliquaries containing the relics will begin from San Salvatore in Lauro and then proceed the entire length of Via della Conciliazione in order to arrive at the parvis of St. Peter’s Basilica. There, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, will receive the relics and after a moment of prayer, will then accompany the relics into the Basilica where they will be placed in the central nave before the Altar of the Confession for people to venerate. The relics will remain in St. Peter’s for veneration until the morning of February 11 when, after the Holy Mass of thanksgiving at 7:30 am at the Altar of the Chair, they will be returned to their original homes. It is opportune to note that on February 10, Ash Wednesday, the Basilica will remain closed in the morning for the General Audience and then, in the afternoon, Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica to mark the beginning of Lent. Thus, those who wish to venerate the relics are kindly asked to choose to do so on one of the previous days and to follow along the Jubilee reserved walkway in order to enter through the security check point as rapidly as possible".

The second event is the celebration that will take place on Ash Wednesday, when the Holy Father will give the mandate to the Missionaries of Mercy. "As attested to in the Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae vultus, the Missionaries are to be a 'sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon. They will be missionaries of mercy because they will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again. They will be led in their mission by the words of the Apostle: ‘For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all’”.

"Thus, the Missionaries of Mercy are a select number of priests who have received from the Pope the charge to be privileged witnesses in their respective Churches of the extraordinariness of this Jubilee event", explained the archbishop. "It is only the Pope who nominates these Missionaries, not the Bishops, and it is he who entrusts them with the mandate to announce the beauty of the mercy of God while being humble and wise confessors who possess a great capacity to forgive those who approach the confessional. The Missionaries, who come from every continent, number over 1,000. I am delighted to announce that there are Missionaries coming from many distant countries and, among these, some of which have a uniquely significant importance such as: Burma, Lebanon, China, South Korea, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Burundi, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Latvia, East Timor, Indonesia, Thailand, and Egypt. There will also be Oriental Rite priests".

"We have received a great response for participation but must place a limit on the large number of requests in order to ensure that the specific sign value, one which expresses how truly special the initiative is, be maintained", he remarked. "All of the Missionaries have received the permission of their respective diocesan Bishops or Religious Superiors and will make themselves available to those requesting their services throughout the entirety of the Jubilee but, most especially, during the Lenten Season. There will be seven hundred Missionaries arriving in Rome. Pope Francis will meet with them on February 9 in order to express his feelings regarding this initiative which will certainly be one of the most touching and significant of the Jubilee of Mercy. On the following day, only the Missionaries of Mercy will concelebrate with the Holy Father, during which time they will receive the 'mandate', as well as the faculty to absolve those sins reserved to the Holy See. An interesting story may help to capture the pastoral interest that this initiative has garnered around the world. Father Richard from Australia will visit 27 communities in his rural Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle where there is only one church and no priests in residence. Traveling in a camper, he will journey from community to community as a 'Missionary of Mercy on Wheels'! This is but an example of the way in which the Jubilee is meant to reach all, allowing everyone to touch the closeness and the tenderness of God".

Finally, other Jubilee events are planned. The first Jubilee Audience will be held in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, January 30. "Pope Francis has responded generously to the many requests he has received from pilgrims who wish to meet him. Consequently, one Saturday a month has been added to the official calendar for a special audience, one which will be in addition to the regular Wednesday Audiences. This first audience already has 20,000 people registered. Another event of particular interest is the Jubilee for the Curia, the Governorate, and Institutions connected to the Holy See to be held on 22 February. This celebration will begin with a reflection given by Fr. Marco Rupnik at 8:30 am in the Paul VI Hall. After this meditation, there will be a procession through St. Peter’s Square which will pass through the Holy Door. Holy Mass will then be celebrated by Pope Francis at 10 am".

"The Jubilee continues to follow its course and we are certain that, in accord with the desires of Pope Francis, it will be an important opportunity to live out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us”, concluded the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation.



World Leprosy Day: combating disease and reintegrating survivors in society


Vatican City, 29 January 2016 (VIS) – Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, has written a message for the 63rd World Leprosy Day, the theme of which this year is "To live is to help to live".

"This Day … constitutes for everyone an opportunity to continue with the fight against this terrible infection, as well as to weaken the ostracism that often burdens the people who carry its unmistakable signs", writes the prelate. "This is a marginalisation that can be traced back to a natural sense of self-defence in relation to a disease which at one time was incurable, and to an almost ‘ancestral’ fear which, however, today no longer has any reason to exist given that leprosy can be defeated and those who have been cured of it can go back to living".

"Making its own the commitment of the Church to caring for people with leprosy and supporting those who have been cured of it, and in order to increase the sensitivity of men and women of good will, our Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, cooperating, respectively, with the Sasakawa Foundation and the Raoul Follereau Foundation, has organised two study days which will be held on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 June 2016 in the Vatican. At that event, those taking part will be able to be present at the celebration of the Eucharist presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday 12 June, on the occasion of the Jubilee for the Sick and Disabled".

"We must feel ourselves committed to finding a new impetus against this disease, broadening activities involving information and prevention, but above all fostering, as a gesture of true ‘com-passion’, the social and occupational reintegration of those who have been cured of it and who – despite the fact that they carry the marks of this disease on their bodies – have maintained intact their dignity as persons", concludes Msgr. Zimowski.



Audiences


Vatican City, 29 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father received in audience:

- Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA);

- Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity;

- Archbishop Luciano Suriani, apostolic nuncio in Serbia.


Other Pontifical Acts


Vatican City, 29 January 2016 (VIS) – The Holy Father:

- appointed Msgr. Luigi Mansi as bishop of Andria (area 799, population 139,977, Catholics 138,000, priests 89, permanent deacons 7, religious 104), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Cerignola, Italy in 1952 and was ordained a priest in 1975. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Lateran University and a doctorate in theological anthropology from the Pugliese Theological Faculty. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles in the diocese of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano, including vice rector of the episcopal seminary, rector of the diocesan seminary, head of vocational pastoral ministry, director and lecturer in theology at the diocesan Institute of Religious Sciences and the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences of the Pontifical Lateran University, master of ceremonies, episcopal chancellor and parish priest. He is currently episcopal vicar for pastoral ministry, and member of the episcopal council, the presbyteral council and the college of consultors. In 1991 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness. He succeeds Bishop Raffaele Calabro, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- elevated Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, to the dignity of bishop.
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