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Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Pope in Kenya: the link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – The clear relationship between the protection of nature and constructing a just and equitable social order, the aspirations of the young and a fair distribution of natural and human resources were the central themes of Pope Francis' first discourse in Africa yesterday.

The Holy Father spoke in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the authorities and representatives of the political, economic and cultural spheres, in the gardens of the State House, the president's residence in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kenya, he said, “is a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society which plays a significant role in the region. In many ways your experience of shaping a democracy is one shared by many other African nations. Like Kenya, they too are working to build, on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multi-ethnic society which is truly harmonious, just and inclusive”.

“Yours too is a nation of young people. … The young are any nation’s most valuable resource. To protect them, to invest in them and to offer them a helping hand, is the best way we can ensure a future worthy of the wisdom and spiritual values dear to their elders, values which are the very heart and soul of a people”.

“Kenya has been blessed not only with immense beauty, in its mountains, rivers and lakes, its forests, savannahs and semi-deserts, but also by an abundance of natural resources. The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation which does you honour. The grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature. We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations, and an obligation to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received. These values are deeply rooted in the African soul. In a world which continues to exploit rather than protect our common home, they must inspire the efforts of national leaders to promote responsible models of economic development”.

“In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order”, the Holy Father emphasised. “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself. To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing. In the work of building a sound democratic order, strengthening cohesion and integration, tolerance and respect for others, the pursuit of the common good must be a primary goal. Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration. Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation”.

Addressing the country's political, cultural and economic leaders, he remarked that “the advancement and preservation of these great values is entrusted in a special way” to them. “This is a great responsibility, a true calling, in the service of the entire Kenyan people. The Gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. In that spirit, I encourage you to work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society. I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country. I assure you of the continued efforts of the Catholic community, through its educational and charitable works, to offer its specific contribution in these areas”.

“I am told that here in Kenya it is a tradition for young schoolchildren to plant trees for posterity. May this eloquent sign of hope in the future, and trust in the growth which God gives, sustain all of you in your efforts to cultivate a society of solidarity, justice and peace on the soil of this country and throughout the great African continent. I thank you once more for your warm welcome, and upon you and your families, and all the beloved Kenyan people, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings”.

Interreligious meeting in Nairobi: service to the common good

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi the Holy Father met with the heads of different Christian confessions (Anglican, Evangelical, Methodist, Pentecostal, and others) and of other religions (Animist, Muslim), along with seven other figures involved in the promotion of interreligious dialogue. The Pope spoke about the challenges presented by interreligious encounters, emphasising that ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury, but rather “essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs”.

“Indeed, religious beliefs and practice condition who we are and how we understand the world around us”, he continued. “They are for us a source of enlightenment, wisdom and solidarity, and thus enrich the societies in which we live. By caring for the spiritual growth of our communities, by forming minds and hearts in the truths and values taught by our religious traditions, we become a blessing to the communities in which our people live. In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good. In this light, and in an increasingly interdependent world, we see ever more clearly the need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness”.

He continued, “By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain. Here I think of the importance of our common conviction that the God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace. His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence. I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds. All too often, young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies. How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect! May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant His peace to our families and communities”.

The Holy Father recalled that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, “at which the Catholic Church committed herself to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship. I wish to reaffirm this commitment, which is born of our conviction of the universality of God’s love and the salvation which He offers to all. The world rightly expects believers to work together with people of good will in facing the many problems affecting our human family”. He concluded, “As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace”.

Mass at the University of Nairobi: build our lives on the firm foundation of His Word

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – Following the ecumenical and interreligious meeting, the Pope transferred to the University of Nairobi where he was awaited by around one million people. He celebrated Holy Mass in the same place as St. John Paul II during his trips to Africa in 1980, 1985 and 1995. “The Lord tells us that in the desert He will pour forth water on the thirsty land; He will cause the children of His people to flourish like grass and luxuriant willows. We know that this prophecy was fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But we also see it fulfilled wherever the Gospel is preached and new peoples become members of God’s family, the Church. Today we rejoice that it was fulfilled in this land. Through the preaching of the Gospel, you too we have all become part of the great Christian family”.

Francis commented that Isaiah’s prophecy invites us to look to our own families, and to realise how important they are in God’s plan. “Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children”, he said. “The health of any society always depends on the health of its families. For their sake, and for the good of society, our faith in God’s word calls us to support families in their mission in society, to accept children as a blessing for our world, and to defend the dignity of each man and woman, for all of us are brothers and sisters in the one human family”.

“In obedience to God’s word, we are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, do not care for the elderly and threaten the life of the innocent unborn. We are called to respect and encourage one another, and to reach out to all those in need. Christian families have this special mission: to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his Spirit. This is especially important today, for we are seeing the growth of new deserts created by a culture of materialism selfishness and indifference to others”.

The Pope made a special appeal to the young people of the nation: “Let the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity. May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God”.

He remarked that Jesus, “wants all of us to build our lives on the firm foundation of His word. And that is the charge which the Lord gives to each of us. He asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel. Men and women who are channels of God’s grace, who enable His mercy, kindness and truth to become the building blocks of a house that stands firm. A house which is a home, where brothers and sisters at last live in harmony and mutual respect, in obedience to the will of the true God, Who has shown us, in Jesus, the way to that freedom and peace for which all hearts long”.

“Stand strong in faith! Do not be afraid, for you belong to the Lord”, he concluded. “Mungu awabariki! God bless you! Mungu abariki Kenya! God bless Kenya!”.

Memorandum of understanding between the Holy See and Italy for the protection of Rome's historic city centre

Vatican City, 26 November 2015 (VIS) – Today in the in the Palace of the Governorate, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Governorate of Vatican City State and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism of the Italian Republic on cooperation in the protection and enhancement of cross-border UNESCO site, the “Historic centre of Rome, the extraterritorial properties of the Holy See in the city and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls”, registered in the World Heritage List.

The Memorandum was signed on behalf of the Holy See by Bishop Fernando Vergez Alzaga, L.C., general secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and for the Italian Republic by Antonia Pasqua Recchia, general secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.

Given that the cross-border site, “Historic centre of Rome, the extraterritorial properties of the Holy See in the city and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls” necessarily involves both Italy and the Holy See, each in accordance with its own jurisdiction, the Memorandum of Understanding, notwithstanding reciprocal competences and in compliance with its legislation, the Parties undertake to continue their cooperation in the protection and enhancement of the site, as well as the conservation of its exceptional universal value, as established in the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the related guidelines.

To reach these objectives, this agreement also institutes a permanent body for mutual cooperation, the “Cross-Border Coordination Group”, to whom the competences of coordination, monitoring, information and the enhancement of the site are conferred.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Pope greets victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, before commencing his eleventh apostolic trip

Vatican City, 25 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father departed for Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, on the eleventh apostolic trip of his papacy.

At 7.15 a.m., before leaving for Rome's Fiumicino airport, he received in the Domus Sanctae Marthae eleven women and six children from a Refuge House for victims of domestic violence and trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, according to the Apostolic Almoner. The women were Italian, Nigerian, Romanian and Ukrainian, and are housed in a structure managed by a religious congregation in a village in the Lazio region.

Following the audience, the Pope travelled by car to Fiumicino where he departed for Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, where he is expected to arrive shortly after 3 p.m. (Rome), 5 p.m. local time. He will be received by the president of the Republic, Uhuru Kenyatta, and by the cardinal archbishop of Nairobi John Njue, along with the president of the Episcopal Conference Bishop Philip A. Anyolo and other representatives of the episcopate.

He will then transfer to the State House of Nairobi, where the welcome ceremony and courtesy visit to President Uhuru Kenyatta will take place. Subsequently, in the garden of the State House, he will meet with the authorities and the diplomatic corps, along with other figures from the political, economic and cultural spheres, after which he will pronounce his first discourse on African soil.

Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez, Pope's special envoy to Cumana

Vatican City, 25 November 2015 (VIS) – In a letter published today, written in Latin and dated 9 November, the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, archbishop of Santo Domingo, as his special envoy to the celebration of the fifth centenary of Cumana, Venezuela, the birthplace of the evangelisation of South America, to be held on 27 November.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 25 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Nazare, Brazil, presented by Bishop Severino Vatista de Franca, O.F.M. Cap., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Campanha, Brazil, presented by Bishop Diamantino Prata de Carvalho, O.F.M., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Pedro Cunha Cruz, coadjutor of the same diocese.

- appointed Bishop Edmar Paron, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Paranagua (area 11,537, population 507,000, Catholics 391,000, priests 29, deacons 1, religious 42), Brazil.

- appointed Msgr. Roberto Filippini as bishop of Pescia (area 224, population 121,637, Catholics 112,920, priests 67, deacons 8, religious 80), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Vinci, Italy, and was ordained a priest in 1973. He holds a licentiate in scripture, and has served as parish priest, diocesan vicar, head of the inter-diocesan school of theology in Camaiore, Lucca, and rector of the “Santa Caterina” archiepiscopal seminary in Pisa. He is currently spiritual father of the same “Santa Caterina” seminary and chaplain of the prison of Pisa.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Pope meets the Board of Directors of the IOR and appoints a new Director

Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, at around 10.30, the Holy Father visited the premises of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) where he spoke with the Board of Directors for approximately twenty minutes, during which he communicated the appointment of the new Director general, Dr. Gian Franco Mammi, to be assisted by Dr. Giulio Mattietti pending the selection of a new Deputy Director.

First hearing in trial for the disclosure of confidential information

Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, at 10.30 a.m. at the Vatican City State Tribunal, the first hearing in the criminal trial of Msgr. Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, Nicola Maio, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, accused of offences connected to the disclosure of reserved information and documents.

The defendants were all present, accompanied by their respective lawyers: Emanuela Bellardini for Msgr. Vallejo Balda, ex officio; Agnese Camilli for Francesca Chaouqui, ex officio; Rita Claudia Baffioni for Nicola Maio, ex officio; Lucia Musso for Emiliano Fittipaldi, private; and Roberto Palombi for Gianluigi Nuzzi, private.

The representative for the injured party, i.e. the Holy See, was not present.

The panel of judges was composed of Professor Giuseppe Della Torre, president; Professor Piero Antonio Bonnet, judge; Professor Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, judge; and Professor Venerando Marano, substitute judge.

The Office of the promotor of justice (the prosecutor's office) was represented by the promotor, Professor Gian Piero Milano, and the adjunct promotor, Professor Roberto Zannotti.

After the reading of the criminal charges by the chancellor, the president communicated that he had forwarded to the Court of Appeal the request for the appointment of two further private lawyers by Nuzzi and Msgr. Vallejo Balda, for eventual authorisation.

Two preliminary objections were heard, by Bellardini regarding the time limits for evidence for the defence, and – following a declaration by Fittipaldi – from Musso on the nullity of the writ served on Fittipaldi due to a lack of precision regarding the alleged offences.

The promotor of justice, in the person of Professor Zannotti, responded to the second objection, arguing that the intention was not to violate the freedom of the press, but that the defendant was required to respond regarding the activities conducted to obtain the published information and documents, and that this had been specified in the writ.

The panel of judges, after a meeting in the chamber lasting three quarters of an hour, rejected the two objections present and established the date of the next hearing, to be held on Monday 30 November at 9.30 a.m., during which the questioning of defendants will commence, starting with Msgr. Vallejo Balda, followed by Francesca Chaouqui, and then the other defendants. Various hearings are expected to be held during that week.

The hearing was closed before midday.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Fr. Steven Joseph Lopes as ordinary bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of “The Chair of St. Peter”, United States of America. The bishop-elect was born in Fremont, United States of America on 22 April, and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and is currently an official of the secretariat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He succeeds Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson, whose resignation from the pastoral ministry of the same Personal Ordinariate in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

- Fr. Paul McAleenan and Msgr. John Wilson as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Westminster (area 3,634, population 4,831,000, Catholics 485,300, priests 600, permanent deacons 18, religious 1,289), England.

Bishop-elect McAleenan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Westminster, including parish vicar and parish priest. He is currently canon of Westminster Cathedral.

Bishop-elect Wilson was born in Sheffield, England in 1968, was baptised in the Anglican Communion and received in the Catholic Church in 1985. He was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology and religious studies from the University of Leeds, England, a bachelor's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsianum of Rome and a doctorate in ethics from the University of Durham, England. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles in the diocese of Leeds, including parish vicar, professor of moral theology, episcopal vicar for evangelisation, and apostolic administrator. He is currently parish priest in Wakefield, Yorkshire. In 2011 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Audience with the governor general of Antigua and Barbuda

Vatican City, 23 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the governor general of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams, 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, emphasis was placed on the good bilateral relations, strengthened during recent years by the appointment of an Ambassador to the Holy See. Attention then turned to the contribution offered by the Catholic Church to the promotion of the protection of the human person, as well as in the sectors of education and assistance to those most in need, and the hope of a fruitful mutual collaboration was expressed.

Finally, the parties considered some themes of regional and global relevance, with particular reference to migratory flows and climate change.

The Pope's video messages to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic

Vatican City, 23 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis' video messages filmed in preparation for his apostolic visit to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic from 25 to 30 November were broadcast in the three countries.

In the message destined for Kenya and Uganda, after greeting the families of both countries, the Holy Father says, “I am coming as a minister of the Gospel, to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ and His message of reconciliation, forgiveness and peace. My visit is meant to confirm the Catholic community in its worship of God and its witness to the Gospel, which teaches the dignity of every man and woman, and commands us to open our hearts to others, especially the poor and those in need”.

“At the same time”, he continues, “I wish to encounter all the people of Kenya and Uganda, and to offer everyone a word of encouragement. We are living at a time when religious believers, and persons of good will everywhere, are called to foster mutual understanding and respect, and to support each other as members of one human family. For all of us are God's children. A highlight of my visit will be my meetings with young people, who are your greatest resource and our most promising hope for a future of solidarity, peace and progress”.

In his message to the Central African Republic, the Holy Father greets all members of the population with affection and joy, regardless of their ethnic origin or religion. “It will be the first time in my life that I come to the African continent, so beautiful and so rich in its nature, people and cultures; and I look forward to great discoveries and enriching encounters”, he reveals.

“Your country has for too long now experienced a situation of violence and insecurity, of which many of you are innocent victims. The objective of my visit is, first and foremost, to bring you, in the name of Jesus, the comfort of consolation and hope. With all my heart I hope that my visit may contribute, in one way or another, to healing your wounds, and opening the way to a brighter future for Central Africa and all her inhabitants”.

“The theme of this trip will be: passing to the other side. It is a theme which invites your Christian communities to look resolutely ahead, and to encourage each person to renew his relationship with God and his brothers, to build a more just and fraternal world. I will have the joy of opening for you – a little in advance – the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will I hope offer a providential opportunity for authentic forgiveness, for giving and receiving, and for rebirth in love”.

“I come to you as a messenger of peace”, he concludes. “I wish to support interreligious dialogue to foster peaceful coexistence in your country; I know this is possible, as we are all brothers”.

Angelus: the Christian's power and strength is in the Cross

Vatican City, 22 November 2015 (VIS) – On the Solemnity of Christ the King, celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Pope devoted his reflection before today's Angelus prayer to the difference between Jesus' reality and that of the world, referring to the Gospel passage that narrates his appearance before Pilate, in which He affirms that He is King, but that His kingdom “is not of this world”.

“This does not mean that Christ is the king in another world, but rather that He is a different kind of king”, explained Francis. “Here there is a contraposition of two types of logic. Worldly logic is based on ambition and competition; it fights with the weapons of fear, bribery and the manipulation of consciences. The logic of the Gospel, that is, the logic of Jesus, is instead expressed in humility and gratitude. It is affirmed silently but effectively with the force of truth. The kingdoms of this world are at times sustained by arrogance, rivalries, oppression; whereas Christ's is a 'kingdom of justice, of love and of peace'”.

Jesus reveals Himself as King in the crucifixion, demonstrating the “surprising gratuitousness of love”. While the Cross may seem to some to be a failure, it is rather “the failure of sin that sin is a failure. In the failure of human ambitions, there is the triumph of the cross, there is the gratuitousness of love. … For a Christian, to speak of power and strength means to make reference to the power of the cross, and the strength of Jesus’ love: a love that remains firm and complete, even when faced with rejection, and which is shown as the fulfilment of a life committed entirely to the benefit of humanity”.

Paradoxically the truth of Jesus is indeed the challenge posed to him with irony by his adversaries: “He can’t save Himself!” “If Jesus had come down from the cross, he would have given in to the temptations of the Prince of this world. Instead, He does not save Himself so as to be able to save others, to give his life for us, for each one of us”. … One of the wrongdoers who was crucified with Him the 'good thief', understood this well, and pleaded with him, 'remember me when you enter your kingdom'. This criminal this was a criminal was a corrupt person, who had been condemned to death for all the brutalities he had committed in his life. But he saw love in Jesus' attitude and in His humility. Jesus' majesty does not oppress us, but rather frees us from our weaknesses and miseries, encouraging us to walk the path of the good, of reconciliation and forgiveness”.

“Faced with so many lacerations in the world, so many wounds in the flesh of man, let us ask the Virgin Mary to sustain us in our commitment to imitating Jesus, our King, making His kingdom present with gestures of tenderness, of understanding, of mercy”.

After the Angelus prayer, the Pope mentioned that yesterday in Barcelona, Spain, Federico de Berga and 25 companion martyrs were beatified. They had been “assassinated during the ferocious persecution of the Church during the last century. They were priests, young men who had professed their faith and were awaiting ordination, and lay brethren belonging to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Let us entrust to their intercession the many brothers and sisters of ours who unfortunately in our times, in many parts of the world, are still persecuted for their faith in Christ”.

Finally, the Holy Father commented that on Wednesday he will begin his apostolic trip to Africa to visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, and he asked all present to pray for this trip, so that it may be a sign of love for all. “Together, let us ask Our Lady to bless these dear lands, so that there may be peace and prosperity there”.

Attack in Mali: the Pope strongly condemns “senseless violence”

Vatican City, 22 November 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has sent a telegram on behalf of the Holy Father to Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, following the terrorist attack against a hotel in which 27 people lost their lives. The following is the full text of the message:

“Saddened to learn of the tragic attack in Bamako, His Holiness Pope Francis joins in prayer with the suffering of the mourning families and of the people of Mali. He entrusts all the victims to God's mercy, and prays that He welcome them in His light. He expresses his deepest sympathy with the injured and their families, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in their suffering. Appalled by this senseless violence, which he strongly condemns, the Holy Father implores of God the conversion of hearts and the gift of peace, and invokes the abundance of divine blessings on all those affected by this tragedy”.

The true educator must take risks

Vatican City, 21 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received the participants in the World Congress “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion”, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education. The congress, held in Rome from 18 to 21 November, commemorated fifty years since “Gravissimum educationis”, the Conciliar declaration on Christian education, and the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution “Ex corde Ecclesiae” on the Catholic university.

During the encounter, the Pope heard testimonies from Catholic schools and universities from around the world, and answered three questions. The first was on how educational institutions, present in a diverse range of nations, can be truly Christian. “It is not possible to speak of Catholic education without speaking of humanity, as Catholic identity is God made man”, Francis answered. “Going ahead in terms of attitudes, full human values, opens the door to the seed of Christianity. Faith then follows. Educating in a Christian fashion is not only about catechesis: this is just a part. … It involves educating the young and children in human values in all realities, and one of these is transcendence. … For me, the greatest crisis in education, from a Christian perspective, is closure to transcendence. We are not open to transcendence. It is necessary to prepare hearts so that the Lord manifests Himself”.

In response to the second question, on the meaning of the culture of encounter for all people involved in the promotion of education, Francis said, “It means taking risks. An educator who does not take risks is not able to educate. A father and mother who do not risk do not educate their children well. Risking in a reasoned way. What does this mean? It means learning to walk. The true educator must teach managed and reasonable risk”.

The final question related to the future challenges posed to the educator by the current moments of war, which, the Pope said, required them to become patient builders of peace. “The greatest failure of an educator is to educate 'behind walls'. … The walls of a selective culture, the walls of a culture of safety, the walls of a well-off social sector that does not move ahead”. He concluded by encouraging all educators to think about how they can bring mercy into the field of education. “How can we ensure that the Father's Love, specially emphasised in this Year of Mercy, finds its way into our educational work?”.

Communique from the Holy See Press Office

Vatican City, 21 November 2015 (VIS) – The Vatican City State Tribunal has notified the defendants and their lawyers of the request for indictment by the Office of the Promotor of Justice, after the completion of the preliminary phase of the current proceedings for the wrongful disclosure of reserved information and documents, and of the consequent Decree of Indictment issued by the president of the Tribunal on 20 November.

The following is an extract of the Decree, which was signed by the Promotor of Justice Gian Pietro Milano, and the adjunct Promotor of Justice Roberto Zannotti.

The Promotor of Justice, with regard to articles 353, 355 and 359 of the Code of Penal Procedure, requests His Excellence the President of the Tribunal to issue, against the persons indicated as follows: Lucio Angel Vallejo, born in Villamediana de Iregua, Spain on 12 June 1961; Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, born in Cosenza, Italy on 18 December 1981; Nicola Maio, born in Benevento on 2 March 1978; Emiliano Fittipaldi, born in Naples on 13 November 1974 and Gianluigi Nuzzi, born in Milan on 3 June 1969, a decree of summons to trial.

Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui and Nicola Maio for the offence defined in art. 248 CPP (this latter as substituted by art. 25 of Law IX of 11 July 2013), “because within the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and COSEA they associated in order to form a criminal organisation, with own autonomous composition and structure, organised by Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, with the objective of committing further crimes of disclosure of information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State”.

All the aforementioned, accused of the crime set forth in articles 63 and 116 bis of the CPP (this latter introduce by Law IX of July 2013), “as, in collaboration with each other, Vallejo Balda in his role as Secretary General of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs, Chaouqui as member of COSEA, Maio as collaborator with Vallejo Balda for issues relating to COSEA, Fittipaldi and Nuzzi as journalists, illegally procured and subsequently disclosed information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State; in particular, Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio obtained such information through their respective roles in the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and in the COSEA; whereas Fittipaldi and Nuzzi solicited and applied pressure, especially to Vallejo Balda, to obtain reserved documents and information, which they used in part to prepare two books published in Italy in November 2015”.

The crimes were committed in Vatican City between March 2013 and November 2015.

Decree of trial

Following the request for trial presented by the Promotor of Justice, the president of Vatican City State Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, issued the decree establishing for 24 November 2015, at 10.30, the first hearing in the trial against the defendants Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, Nicola Maio, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, specifying that if they do not appear they will be judged in absentia.

At the same time the panel of judges will be composed as follows: Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president; Professor Piero Antonio Bonnet, judge; Professor Paolo Pappanti-Pelletier, judge; Professor Venerando Marano, substitute judge.

The decree establishes that the evidence for the defence must be submitted by 12.30 on 28 November 2015, while the citaiton of texts will be reserved to subsequent provisions.

Cardinal John Atcherley Dew to take possession of his titular church

Vatican City, 23 November 2015 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that on Sunday, 29 November, at 10.30 a.m., Cardinal John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, will take possession of the title of Sant'Ippolito (Via di Sant'Ippolito, 56).


Vatican City, 21 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Hatem Seif El Nasr, ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, presenting his credential letters;

- Archbishop Henryk Jozef Nowacki, apostolic nuncio in Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Norway;

- Msgr. Francesco Follo, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 23 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Msgr. Tadeusz Litynski as bishop of Zielona Gora – Gorzow (area 14,814, population 1,160,000, Catholics 989,000, priests 641, religious 283), Poland. Msgr. Litynski is currently auxiliary of the same diocese. He succeeds Bishop Stefan Regmunt, whose resignation upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- Bishop Rafael Sandoval Sandoval, M.N.M., of Tarahumana, Mexico, as bishop of Autlan (area 14,744, population 357,000, Catholics 341,000, priests 120, religious 192), Mexico.

On Saturday 21 November, the Holy Father appointed:

- Msgr. Nuno Manuel dos Santos Almeida as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Braga (area 2,857, population 964,800, Catholics 886,700, priests 465, permanent deacons 12, religious 676), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Viseu, Portugal in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of Porto, and has served as parish priest in various parishes in the diocese of Viseu, president of the Priestly Fraternity of Viseu, and member of the college of consultors and the presbyteral council.

- Bishop Francisco Mendoza De Leon as coadjutor of the diocese of Antipolo (area 1,828, population 3,958,820, Catholics 3,153,824, priests 178, religious 811), Philippines. Bishop De Leon is currently auxiliary of the same diocese.

- Bishop David William V. Antonio, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, Philippines, as apostolic administrator “sede plena” of the apostolic vicariate of San Jose in Mindoro, Philippines.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Audience with the president of Ukraine: favour a political solution to resolve conflict

Vatican City, 20 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko was received in audience by the Holy Father Francis. He subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

The cordial discussions, in reaffirming the good relations between the Holy See and Ukraine, were dedicated principally to matters connected with the situation of conflict in the country. In this respect the hope was shared that, with the commitment of all the interested Parties, political solutions may be favoured, starting with the full implementation of the Minsk Accords. At the same time, concern was expressed regarding the difficulties of facing the humanitarian crisis, with particular reference to access for specialised organisations to areas affected by hostilities, to healthcare, to the exchange of prisoners, and the economic and social repercussions of the conflict, experienced throughout the territory.

The meeting provided an opportunity to highlight the important role of the Church in society, as well as the contribution of the Greek Catholic and Latin rite communities to the life of the country.

To German bishops: overcome the erosion of faith through pastoral outreach

Vatican City, 20 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience the prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Germany at the end of their “ad Limina” visit. At the end of the audience the Holy Father handed them a written discourse in which he thanks the German Church for the support given in the form of many works of charity which benefit thousands of people throughout the world. He also mentions that in this exceptional moment, in which large numbers of migrants are arriving in Europe, fleeing from war and persecution, the Christian Churches and many other citizens in Germany have welcomed them warmly offering them assistance and human closeness. Finally, he refers to the erosion of Catholic faith in Germany and the greatly reduced participation in the sacraments and in Sunday Mass in recent decades.

Francis writes that there are great differences not only between the Catholic communities in east and west Germany, but also between north and south, although everywhere the Church is committed with professionalism in social and charitable fields and is very active also in education. On the other hand, in traditionally Catholic regions there has been a major decline in participation in Sunday Mass, as well as in sacramental life. While during the 1960s almost all the faithful participated in Holy Mass every Sunday, now there is attendance of often less than ten per cent, and fewer partake in the sacraments, especially Reconciliation, which has all but disappeared.

In this situation, the Pope emphasises that first it is necessary to overcome this “paralysing resignation”. Although “certainly it is not possible to rebuild from the relics of the good times past … we can be inspired by the life of the first Christians”, such as Priscilla and Aquila, St. Paul's faithful collaborators, who bore witness “with convincing words, but above all with their life, that the truth based on Christ's love for His Church, is truly worthy of faith. They opened up their house for the proclamation of the Gospel”. The example of these “volunteers”, he writes, “can make us reflect, considering the tendency towards a growing institutionalisation. New structures are always being inaugurated, for which in the end there is a lack of faithful. It is a sort of new pelagianism, which leads us to place our trust in administrative structures, in perfect organisations. An excessive centralisation, instead of helping, can complicate the life of the Church and her missionary dynamic. The Church is not a closed system that always revolves around the same questions. The Church is living, and she presents herself to men in their own situations; she knows how to unsettle and to inspire”.

“The current imperative is pastoral conversion, that is, ' a renewal of structures … as part of an effort to make them more mission-oriented, to make ordinary pastoral activity on every level more inclusive and open, to inspire in pastoral workers a constant desire to go forth'. … We must stay among the people with the ardour of those who were the first to welcome the Gospel. And 'whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up … words with new meaning for today's world”.

“In this context of new evangelisation, it is indispensable for the bishop to diligently perform his function as a teacher of the faith – of the faith transmitted and experienced in the living communion of the universal Church – in the many fields of his pastoral ministry”, he continues. “Fidelity to the Church and to the Magisterium does not contradict academic freedom, but requires a humble attitude of service to the gifts of God. The 'sentire cum Ecclesia' must characterise in particular those who educate and form the new generations”.

Parish communities are places where faith is experienced and lived most fully, he adds. “Sacramental life must be one of the bishop's fundamental concerns”. In this regard the Pope highlights two points: Confession and Eucharist. “Confession is the place where the gift of God's forgiveness and mercy is given. In Confession, there begins the transformation of each Christian and the reform of the Church. I trust that greater attention will be given to this Sacrament, which is so important for spiritual renewal, in diocesan and parochial pastoral planning during the Holy Year, and also afterwards. It is also necessary always to emphasise the close relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood. Pastoral plans that do not accord sufficient importance to priests in their ministry of governing, teaching and sanctifying with regard to the structure and the sacramental life of the Church, experience teaches us, are destined to fail”.

Finally, “a task of the Bishops that is never sufficiently appreciated is commitment to life. The Church must never tire of being an advocate for life and must not take steps back in her announcement that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death. Here we must never make compromises, as otherwise we too become accomplices to the unfortunately widespread throwaway culture”.

Francis: the sanctification of the priest is closely linked to that of his people

Vatican City, 20 November 2015 (VIS) – The Congregation for the Clergy, whose prefect is Cardinal Beniamino Stella, has organised a congress at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Vatican Council II decrees “Optatum totius” and “Presbyterorum ordinis”, dedicated to the formation of priests. At the closing of the Congress Pope Francis received the participants in audience this morning in the Sala Regia. The following are extensive extracts of his address.

“Given that the vocation to the priesthood is a gift that God gives to some for the good of all, I would like to share with you some thoughts, starting form the relationship between priests and other people, following on from no.3 of 'Presbyterorum ordinis', in which there is a little compendium of the theology of priesthood, from the Letter to the Hebrews: 'Priests, who are taken from among men and ordained for men in the things that belong to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, nevertheless live on earth with other men as brothers' amid brothers. Let us consider these three moments: 'taken from among men', 'ordained for men', and present among other men”.

“The priest is a man who is born in a certain human context: there he learns the primary values, absorbs the spirituality of the people, grows accustomed to relations. Priests also have a history, they are not 'mushrooms' that suddenly appear in the Cathedral on the day of their ordination. It is important for formators and priests themselves to remember this and to know how to take into account this personal history along the path of formation. … A good priest, therefore, is first of all a man with his own humanity, who knows his own history, with its riches and its wounds, who has learned to make peace with this, achieving the fundamental serenity proper to one of the Lord's disciples. Human formation is therefore a necessity for priests, so that they learn not to be dominate by their limits, but rather to put their talents to use”.

“We priests are apostles of joy: we announce the Gospel, which is the quintessential 'good news'; we certainly do not give strength to the Gospel – some believe this – but we can favour or hinder the encounter between the Gospel and people. Our humanity is a the clay vase in which we conserve God's treasure, a vase we must take care of, so as to transmit well its valuable contents”.

“A priest cannot lose his roots: he always remains a man of the people and the culture that have produced him; our roots help us to remember who we are and to where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from above but are instead called by God, who takes us 'from among men', to 'ordain us for men'. This is the second step”.

“Responding to God's call, we become priests to serve our brothers and sisters. The images of Christ we take as a point of reference for our ministry as priests are clear: He is the 'Supreme Priest', at the time close to God and close to man; He is the 'Servant', Who washes the feet and makes Himself close to the weakest; and He is the 'Good Shepherd', Who always cares for His flock”.

“They are the three images we must look to, thinking of the ministry of priests, sent to serve men, to bring God's mercy to them, to announce His Word of life. We are not priests for ourselves, and our own sanctification is closely linked to that of our people, our anointment with theirs. You have been anointed for your people. Knowing and remembering that we are ordained for the people, the holy people of God, helps priests not to think of themselves, to be authoritative and not authoritarian, firm but not hard, joyful but not superficial: in short, pastors, not functionaries. St. Ambrose, in the fourth century, said that where there is mercy, there is the spirit of the Lord; where there is rigidity there are only His ministers. The minister without the Lord becomes rigid, and this is a danger for the people of God”.

“Finally, what is born with the people must stay with the people. The priests is always among other men: he is not a professional of pastoral ministry or evangelisation, who arrives and does what he is supposed to do – perhaps well, but as if it were a profession like any other – before then going away and living a separate life. One becomes a priest in order to stay in the midst of the people. The good that priests can do arises above all from their closeness and their tender love for people. They are not philanthropists or functionaries, but fathers and brothers”.


Vatican City, 20 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience the following prelates of the Episcopal Conference of the Federal Republic of Germany, on their “ad Limina” visit:

- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, archbishop of Köln, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Dominik Schwaderlapp, and Bishop Ansgar Puff;

- Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff of Aachen, with his auxiliaries, Bishop Karl Borsch and Bishop Johannes Bundgens;

- Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen, military ordinary, with his auxiliaries Bishop Ludger Schepers and Bishop Wilhelm Zimmermann;

- Bishop Thomas Löhr, auxiliary of Limburg;

- Bishop Felix Genn, Vescovo di Münster, with his auxiliaries Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers, Bishop Christoph Hegge, BIshop Wilfried Theising and Bishop Stefan Zekorn;

- Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, with his auxiliaries Bishop Robert Brahm, Bishop Jörg Michael Peters and Bishop Helmut Karl Dieser, and

- Bishop Piotr Kryk, apostolic exarch for Ukrainian faithful of Byzantine rite resident in Germany and Scandinavia.
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