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Sunday, March 31, 2013


Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – At 10:15 this morning, Easter Sunday, the Holy Father Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord's Resurrection in St. Peter's Square. Faithful from Rome and pilgrims from around the world participated in the celebration, which began with the "Resurrexit" rite—in which an icon of the Risen Lord, placed next to the papal altar, is opened and venerated to recall St. Peter's witness of the resurrection. The Pope did not give a homily since immediately after the Mass he gave his Easter message and “Urbi et Orbi” blessing (to the city and to the world).

In honour of the feast, St. Peter's Square was decorated with splendid floral arrangements. More than 40,000 flowers, donated by Dutch horticulturists, transformed the area around the altar into a magnificent garden. Yellow daffodils and white lilies highlighted, the colours of Easter and the papal flag that represent the purity of Jesus' sacrifice and the glory of his resurrection. The pink flowers—delphinium and cherry blossoms—symbolized the light of the risen Christ who destroys darkness.

At noon, from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father Francis addressed the over 250,000 people overflowing St. Peter's Square and those who were following the celebration by radio or television. He delivered his Easter proclamation—“God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden!”—and made a strong appeal for peace throughout the world. He then imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing. Following is the full text of the Pope's message:

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Easter! Happy Easter!”

What a joy it is to announce this message: Christ is risen! I would like it to go out to every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons… Most of all, I would like it to enter every heart, for it is there that God wants to sow this Good News: Jesus is risen, there is hope for you, you are no longer in the power of sin or of evil! Love has triumphed! Mercy has been victorious! God's mercy always triumphs!”

We too, like the women who were Jesus’ disciples, who went to the tomb and found it empty, may wonder what this event means (cf. Lk 24:4). What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. God's love can do this.”

This same love out of which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell—to the abyss of separation from God—this same merciful love has flooded Jesus' dead body with light and transfigured it; has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to an earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and He entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.”

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from the slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory, the living person.”

Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all time and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passing from the slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! Above all, the desert within, when are lacking love for God and neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).”

So this is the invitation that I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ’s Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God’s mercy! Let us be loved by Jesus! Let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.”

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.”

Peace for the Middle East, in particular between Israelis and Palestinians who struggle to find the road of agreement: that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq: that every act of violence may end. And above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?”

Peace for Africa, still the scene of bloody conflicts. In Mali: may unity and stability be restored. In Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Central African Republic where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.”

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.”

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Human trafficking is precisely the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.”

Dear brothers and sisters, to all of you who are listening to me, from Rome and from all over of the world, I address the invitation of the Psalm: 'Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel say: “His mercy endures forever”.' (Ps 118:1-2).”

Dear brothers and sisters who have come from all over the world to this Square, the heart of Christianity and to all of you joining us via the media, I repeat my wishes for a happy Easter! Bring to your families and your nations the message of joy, of hope, and of peace that every year, on this day, is powerfully renewed. May the Risen Lord, who defeated sin and death, sustain us all especially the weakest and those most in need. Thank you for your presence and the witness of your faith. A thought and special thanks for the gift of these beautiful flowers that come from the Netherlands. I affectionately repeat to all of you: May the Risen Christ guide all of you and all of humanity on the paths of justice, love, and peace!”

Then, in Latin, Pope Francis imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.


Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday at 8:30 in the evening, the Holy Father presided at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy began in the church atrium with a blessing of the new fire and the preparation of the Paschal candle. After processing to the altar with the lit candle and the singing of the “Exsultet”, the celebration continued with the Liturgy of the Word, the Baptismal Liturgy, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

During the Vigil, the Pope administered the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) to four catechumens: one from Italy, one from Albania, one from Russia, and one from the United States. After the Gospel was read, the Holy Father dedicated his homily to discussing the holy women who went to the tomb and found it empty. “We are afraid of God's surprises! He always surprises us!” Following is the full text of his homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel of this luminous night of the Easter Vigil, we are the first to meet the women who went to Jesus' tomb with spices to anoint his body (cf. Lk 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, of affection, of love. It is a traditional gesture for a beloved person who has died, just as we would do too. They had followed Jesus, listened to him, felt themselves to be understood in their dignity, and they had accompanied him to the end, on Calvary, an at the moment he was taken down from the cross.”

We can imagine how they felt as they made their way to his tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow because Jesus had left them and was dead, his story was over. Now they would go back to their previous lives. But the women continued to feel love and their love for Jesus compelled them to go to his tomb. At this point, however, something completely unexpected happens, something new, which upsets their hearts and their plans and which will upset their whole lives: They see the stone rolled away from the tomb. They draw near and they do not find the Lord's body. It is a reality that leaves them perplexed, doubtful, full of questions: 'What is happening?', What does this all mean?' (cf. Lk 24:4).”

Isn't that also what happens to us when something truly new occurs in our everyday lives? We stop, don't understand, don't know how to handle it. New things often frighten us, even the newness that God brings us, the newness that God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: we often prefer to hold on to our sureties, to stop at the tomb, to stop at just thinking about the departed one who, in the end, lives only in our memory like great persons of the past. We're afraid of God's surprises. Dear brothers and sisters, in our lives we are afraid of God's surprises! He always surprises us! That is how the Lord is!”

Brothers and sisters, let's not close ourselves to the newness that God wants to bring to our lives! Often we are tired, disheartened, sad; We feel the weight of our sins and think we're not going to make it. Let's not get locked up in ourselves. Let's not lose our confidence. Let us never give up. There are no situations that God cannot change; There is no sin that He won't forgive if we open ourselves to him.”

But let's go back to the Gospel, to the women, and take a step forward. They find the tomb empty. Jesus' body is not there. Something new has happened but this still doesn't tell them anything certain. It raises questions and leaves them perplexed without offering an answer. And then, two men in dazzling garments who say: 'Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but He has been raised.' (Lk 24:5-6). What had been a simple gesture, an act certainly undertaken in love—going to the tomb—now transforms into an occurrence, a truly life-changing event.”

Nothing remains as it was before, not only in the lives of those women, but also in our lives and in our story of humanity. Jesus isn't someone who has died. He is risen. He is the Living One! He has not simply come back to life but is life itself because He is the Son of God who is the Living God. Jesus is no longer in the past but lives in the present and is projected toward the future. Jesus is God's eternal 'today'.This is how God's newness presents itself to the eyes of the women, of the disciples, of all of us: victory over sin, over evil, over death, over everything that oppresses our lives and gives them a less human face.”

This is a message that is addressed to me, to you, dear sister, to you, dear brother. How many times do we need Love to tell us: Why do you seek the living one among the dead? Our problems and our everyday worries tend to wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death lies. Let's not look there for He who is alive!”

Accept the Risen Jesus into your life, then. Welcome him as a friend, with confidence. He is life! If up to now you have been distant from him, take a small step: He will welcome you with open arms. If you are indifferent, take the risk: You will not be disappointed. If following him seems difficult to you, don't be afraid: entrust yourself to him and rest assured that He is close to you. He is with you and will give you the peace you are seeking and the strength to live as He wants you to.”

There is one last, simple element that I would like to emphasize in the Gospel of this luminous Easter Vigil. The women encounter the newness of God. Jesus is risen, He is the Living One. But, faced with the empty tomb and the two men in dazzling garments, their first reaction is one of fear: They 'bowed their faces to the ground', St. Luke notes. They didn't even have the courage to look. But, when they hear the announcement of the Resurrection, they accept it with faith. And the two men in dazzling garments introduce a fundamental word: remember. 'Remember what He said to you while He was still in Galilee … And they remembered his words.' (Lk 24:6,8).”

This is a call to remember their encounter with Jesus, with his words, his deeds, his life. It is precisely this loving remembrance of their experience with the Master that leads the women to overcome every fear and to take the announcement of the Resurrection to the Apostles and to all the others (cf. Lk 24:9). Remembering what God has done and continues to do for me, for us; remembering the path we have travelled—this opens wide our hearts to hope for the future. Let's learn to remember what God has done in our lives!”

On this radiant night, calling upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary who keeps all things in her heart (Lk 2:19,51), let us ask the Lord to give us a share in his Resurrection. May He open us to the newness that transforms, to God's surprises that are so beautiful. May He make us men and women who are capable of remembering what He does in our personal lives and in the history of the world. May He make us capable of hearing him as the Living One, who lives and is at work amongst us. May He teach us every day, dear brothers and sisters, to not seek among the dead for He who is living. Amen.”


Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – The Pope's general prayer intention for April is: "That the public, prayerful celebration of faith may give life to the faithful."

His mission intention is: "That mission churches may be signs and instruments of hope and resurrection.”


Vatican City, 31 March 2013 (VIS) – Although there is usually no VIS bulletin during the Easter holidays, this year the Vatican Information Service has transmitted all the acts of the new Pope during the Easter Triduum. With the conclusion of those holy days, however, tomorrow and the following day—Monday 1 April and Tuesday 2 April, which are still holidays in the Vatican—there will be no VIS bulletin. The service will resume on Wednesday, 3 April.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – At 5:00pm in St. Peter's Basilica yesterday, Good Friday, the Holy Father presided over the celebration of the Lord's Passion. After the Liturgy of the Word—in which we heard the account of the Passion according to St. John—and the homily, the universal prayers were recited. The rite continued with the adoration of the Cross and ended with communion.

Hours later, at 9:15pm, Pope Francis presided for the first time over the Way of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum. This year, the meditations and prayers accompanying the stations were written by young Lebanese Catholics, guided by Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon. The images in the booklet reproduced 19th century illustrations of the Way of the Cross made by an unknown Franciscan in Bethlehem. Over a hundred thousand people, many of them youth as well as a large group of Lebanese pilgrims, attended the event.

The Holy Father followed the ceremony, which was broadcast by Vatican Television, from a small platform on the side of the Palatine hill. Two young persons from the diocese of Rome and two Lebanese youth carried the torches alongside the cross, which was carried—for the first and last station—by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome, then an Italian and an Indian family, then a woman in a wheelchair, then by two Chinese seminarians, then two Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, then two Nigerian sisters, then two Lebanese sisters, and then two Brazilian youth. At the end of the Way of the Cross the Pope spoke the following words:

Dear Brother and Sisters,
Thank you for having taken part in these moments of deep prayer. I also thank those who have accompanied us through the media, especially the sick and elderly. I do not wish to add too many words. One word should suffice this evening, that is the Cross itself. Jesus' Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world.”

Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if He is silent. And yet, God has spoken. He has replied and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, and forgiveness. It is also a judgement, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Let us remember this: in judging us, God loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned. Not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns; He only loves and saves.”

Dear brothers and sisters, the word of the Cross is also the answer which Christians offer in the face of evil, the evil that continues to work in us and around us. Christians must respond to evil with good, taking the Cross upon themselves as Jesus did. This evening we have heard the witness given by our Lebanese brothers and sisters. They are the ones who composed these beautiful prayers and meditations. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for this work and above all for the witness they offer. We were able to see this when Pope Benedict visited Lebanon. We saw the beauty and the strong bond of communion joining Christians together in that land and the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters and so many others. That occasion was a sign to the Middle East and to the whole world: a sign of hope.”

Now let us continue this “Via Crucis” in our daily lives. Let us walk together along the Way of the Cross and let us do so carrying in our hearts this Word of love and forgiveness. Let us walk forward waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus who loves us so much. He is all love!”


Vatican City, 30 March 2013 (VIS) – From 5:15pm until 6:40 this afternoon, there will be an extraordinary exposition of the Holy Shroud in the Cathedral of Turin, Italy. The initiative is part of the Year of Faith that was proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI and will be broadcast by the Italian television channel, RAI1.

For the occasion, Pope Francis recorded a video message, the text of which we offer below.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I join all of you gathered before the Holy Shroud, and I thank the Lord who, through modern technology, offers us this possibility.”

Even if it takes place in this way, our gaze is not a mere 'observing', but rather a veneration. It is a prayerful gaze. I would go further: It is a letting ourselves be looked upon. This Face has eyes that are closed. It is the face of one who is dead and yet, mysteriously, He is watching us and in silence He speaks to us. How is this possible? How is it that the faithful, like you, pause before this Icon of a man who has been scourged and crucified? It is because the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our hearts and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.”

Let us therefore allow ourselves to be reached by this gaze, which is directed not to our eyes but to our hearts. In silence, let us listen to what He has to say to us from beyond death itself. By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; the merciful Love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world in order to free us from its power. This disfigured Face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life that does not respect their dignity, by war and the violence that afflict the weakest… And yet, the Face of the Shroud conveys a great peace. This tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty. It is as if it let a restrained but powerful energy within it shine through, as if to tell us: have faith; do not lose hope; the power of God's love, the power of the Risen One, conquers all.”

So, looking upon the Man of the Shroud, I make Saint Francis of Assisi's prayer before the Crucifix my own: 'Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart, and grant me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may carry out your holy and true command. Amen.'”

Friday, March 29, 2013


Vatican City, 29 March 2013 (VIS) – At 5:00pm yesterday afternoon, Holy Thursday, Pope Francis left the Vatican to go to the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors where he celebrated the “in Coena Domine”—the Lord's Supper—Mass, which is the first of the Easter Triduum. Around fifty of the boys and girls detained at the juvenile centre located on the outskirts of Rome were in attendance. The Pope washed the feet of ten boys and two girls and, in his homily, said that their obligation is to help others “as a priest and as a bishop should be at your service. It is a duty that comes from my heart.”

At the moment of washing their feet, Pope Francis kneeled six times, each time washing the feet of the young people in front of him. The Holy Father began by washing their feet, then dried them, and finally kissed them. The girls whose feet he washed were an Italian and an Eastern European. Following is the full text of the homily that the Pope delivered after the Gospel was read.

This is touching. Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Peter did not understand anything; he refused. But Jesus explained to him. Jesus—God—has done this! And He himself said to his disciples: 'Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me “teacher” and “master”, and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.' (Jn 13:12-15)”

This is the Lord's example: He is the most important one and He washes [other's] feet because those who are the highest among us must be at the service of others. And this is a symbol, a sign, isn't it? Washing someone's feet is [saying] 'I am at your service'. And us too, among us, shouldn't we wash one another’s feet every day—but what does this mean? That we must help each other, help one another. Sometimes I'm angry at someone … but … let it go. Forget it. And, if someone asks a favour of you, do it. Help each other.”

This is what Jesus teaches us and this is what I am doing. I do it wholeheartedly because it is my duty. As priest and as bishop I must be at your service. But it is a duty that comes from my heart: I love it. I love this and I love doing it because the Lord has taught me this. But you as well, help each other; always help each other; help one another.”

And so, in helping one another we do good to each other. Now we'll have this ceremony of washing of the feet and we will think, each of us will think: 'Am I truly ready, am I ready to serve and to help another?' Let's just think of that. And let's think that this sign is Jesus' caress that Jesus does because He came precisely for this: to serve and to help us.”

Concelebrating the Mass with the Holy Father were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, the Pope's personal secretary, and the institute's chaplain, Fr. Gaetano Greco, a tertiary Capuchin of Our Lady of Sorrows, with one of his confreres. The Mass was celebrated in the institute's chapel, which is dedicated to the “Merciful Father”. Of the youth in attendance, around 11 were girls. At the end of the ceremony, Pope Francis again gathered with the youth in the institute's gym where, among others, the Italian Minister for Justice, Paola Severino, was present. The youth of the detention centre gave the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they had made themselves in the institute's workshop.

Before leaving, the Pope thanked the youth for welcoming him and when one of the youth asked him why he had decided to visit their detention centre the Pope answered that his heart had compelled him. “It is a feeling that came from my heart; I felt it. Where are those who, perhaps, will help me most to be humble, to be a server as a bishop must be? And I thought, I asked: 'Where are people who would like me to visit?' And they told me: 'Perhaps Casal del Marmo.' And when they told me that, I came here. But it just came from my heart. Matters of the heart cannot be explained; they just come [to you]. Thanks!” On bidding them farewell he told the youth: “I'm going now. Thank you so much for your welcome. Pray for me. Don't let yourselves be robbed of hope. Always go forward. Thank you very much!”


Vatican City, 29 March 2013 (VIS) – The Vatican website has released a new version of the papal coat of arms that incorporates a few changes. For the Marian symbol, instead of a five-pointed star, there is now an eight-pointed star, which also represents the 8 beatitudes. The nard flower representing St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, has been made to more closely represent that flower. Finally, Francis' motto “miserando atque eligendo” underneath the shield has been placed upon a scroll of white parchment with a red backside. The Jesuit emblem remains the same. More details on the coat of arms can be found in the “FRANCIS' COAT OF ARMS” notice of the bulletin of 19 March: www.vis.va.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Vatican City, 28 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning, Pope Francis warned Catholic priests around the world that “the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties” comes from seldom going out of oneself, which leads to “missing out on the best of our people”. Instead, he strongly urged priests to be “shepherds who have the smell of their sheep'.”

The solemn Holy Thursday Chrism Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica opens the Paschal Triduum of Holy Week. During the course of the Mass, celebrated in all the churches and cathedrals throughout the world, priests renew the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that they made at their ordination. Also, the oil used to anoint catechumens and the oil used to anoint the sick as well as the chrism oil—olive oil scented with balsam—used to anoint those being baptised, confirmed, or receiving Holy Orders is blessed.

The Chrism Mass presided over by the Holy Father was concelebrated by the over 2,000 cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and priests present and was attended by over 10,000 faithful. Francis pointed out to them that the “clear proof” to recognizing a good priest is “by the way his people are anointed”. He added that “it is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others”.

He developed this theme throughout his homily, which he began by recalling that this Mass was a reminder to all priests—including himself—of the day of their ordination. In this context the Pope explained what it means to be anointed ones, to “be for” others, and he focused on the meaning of the liturgical vestments. “When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs, of which we have so many in our times.”

At the same time, he noted how “the beauty of all these liturgical things ... is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics” as it is destined to the action expected of priests. “The ointment, dear brothers, is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.”

The Holy Father also gave concrete details to inspire priests in their pastoral mission, commenting that: “our people like to hear the Gospel preached with 'unction', they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the 'outskirts' where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: '“Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem', 'Bless me, Father', 'Pray for me'.”

What I want to emphasize,” the Pope said, “is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal—but only apparently so—the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it. To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from haemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment.”

Before finishing his homily, the Holy Father also addressed the lay faithful, urging them to “be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.”


Vatican City, 28 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, Wednesday 27 March 2013, the Holy Father received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the course of the audience the pontiff authorised the dicastery to promulgate the decrees concerning the following causes::

- attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Maria Theresia Bonzel (nee Regina Christine Wilhelmine Bonzel), foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe, Germany. Born in Olpe on 17 September 1830 and died there on 6 February 1905.

- Servant of God Manuel Basulto y Jimenez, bishop of Jaen, Spain, and five Companions; killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1937.

- Servant of God Jose Maximo Moro Briz and four Companions, priests of the Diocese of Avila, Spain; killed in hatred of the faith in Spain in 1936.

- Servant of God Vladimir Ghika, priest of the archdiocese of Bucharest, Romania. Born in Istanbul, Turkey on 25 December 1873 and killed in hatred of the faith in Bucharest on 16 May 1954.

- Servant of God Joaquin Jovani Marin and 14 Companions from the Diocesan Labourer Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1938.

- Servant of God Andres from Palazuelo (ne Miguel Francisco Gonzalez-Diez Gonzalez-Nunez), professed priest of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, and 31 Companions; killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1937.

- Servant of God Giuseppe Girotti, professed priest of the Order of Preachers. Born in Alba, Italy, on 19 July 1905 and killed in hatred of the faith in Dachau, Germany, in 1945.

- Servant of God Stefano Sandor, professed religious of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Born in Szolnok, Hungary, on 26 October 1914 and killed in hatred of the faith in Budapest, Hungary, on 8 June 1953.

- Servant of God Rolando Rivi, seminarian of the diocese of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla. Born in Castellarano, Italy, on 7 January 1931 and killed in hatred of the faith in Piane di Monchio, Italy, on 13 April 1945.

- Servant of God Eladio Mozas Santamera, diocesan priest and founder of the Josephine Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity. Born in Miedes de Atienza, Spain, on 18 February 1837 and died in Plasencia, Spain, on 18 March 1897.

- Servant of God Manuel Aparici Navarro, diocesan priest. Born in Madrid, Spain, on 11 December 1902 and died there on 28 August 1964.

- Servant of God Moises Lira Serafin, professed priest of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and founder of the Missionaries of Charity of Mary Immaculate. Born in Zacatlan, Mexico, on 16 September 1893 and died in Mexico City, Mexico on 25 June 1950.

- Servant of God Generoso of the Crucified (ne Angelo Fontanarosa), professed priest of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Born in Vetralla, Italy, on 6 November 1881 and died in Mascalucia, Italy, on 9 January 1966.

- Servant of God Olinto Marella, diocesan priest. Born in Pallestrina, Italy, on 14 June 1882 and died in San Lazzaro di Savena, Italy, on 6 September 1969.

- Servant of God Antoine Kowalczyk, lay brother of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Born in Dzierzanow, Poland, on 04 June 1866 and died in Edmonton, Canada on 10 July 1947.

- Servant of God Silvia Cardoso Ferreiro da Silva, laywoman. Born in Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal, on 26 July 1882 and died there on 2 November 1950.


Vatican City, 28 March 2013 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father appointed Bishop Mario Aurelio Poli as metropolitan archbishop of Buenos Aires (area 203, population 2,891,082, Catholics 2,647,000, priests 834, permanent deacons 7, religious 2,379), Argentina. The archbishop-elect was born in Buenos Aires in 1947, was ordained a priest in 1978, and received episcopal ordination in 2002. Since ordination he has served in several pastoral and academic roles, most recently as bishop of Santa Rosa, Argentina. On the Argentine Episcopal Conference he was a member of the Episcopal Commissions for Catholic Education and for Ministers and is currently president of the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and Biblical Ministry.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Vatican City, 27 March 2013 (VIS) - “I am happy to welcome you to this, my first general audience,” Pope Francis said to the thousands of faithful who filled St. Peter's Square to participate in the Bishop of Rome's first catechesis. “With gratitude and veneration,” he continued, “I take up this 'witness' from the hands of my beloved predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. After Easter we will return to the catechesis of the Year of Faith. Today I want to focus on Holy Week. We began this week—the heart of the entire liturgical year—during which we accompany Jesus in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, with Palm Sunday.

But what,” the Pope asked, “does it mean for us to live Holy Week? What does it mean to follow Jesus on his journey to Calvary, toward the Cross and his Resurrection? On his earthly mission, Jesus walked the streets of the Holy Land. He called 12 simple persons to stay with him, sharing his path and continuing his mission … He spoke to everyone, without distinction: to the great and the humble ... the powerful and the weak. He brought God's mercy and forgiveness. He healed, consoled, understood. He gave hope. He brought to all the presence of God who cares for every man and woman as a good father and a good mother cares for each of their children.”

God,” Francis emphasized, “didn't wait for us to come to him. It was He who came to us. … Jesus lived the everyday reality of the most common persons. … He cried when he saw Martha and Mary suffering for the death of their brother Lazarus … He also experienced the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that He is with us, in our midst. … Jesus has no home because his home is the people, us ourselves. His mission is to open the doors to God for all, to be the presence of God's love.”

During Holy Week we are living the apex … of this plan of love that runs throughout the history of the relationship between God and humanity. Jesus enters into Jerusalem to take the final step in which his entire existence is summed up. He gives himself completely, keeping nothing for himself, not even his life. At the Last Supper, with his friends, He shares the bread and distributes the chalice 'for us'. The Son of God offers himself to us; puts his Body and his Blood in our hands to be always with us … And in the Garden of the Mount of Olives, as at the trial before Pilate, he makes no resistance, but gives himself.”

Jesus doesn't live this love that leads to sacrifice passively or as his fatal destiny. He certainly didn't hide his deep human turmoil when faced with violent death, but he entrusted himself to the Father with full confidence ... to show his love for us. Each one of us can say, 'Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me'.”

What does this mean for us? It means that this path is also mine, also yours, also our path. Living Holy Week, following Jesus not only with moved hearts, means learning to come out of ourselves … in order to meet others, in order to go toward the edges of our existence, to take the first steps towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are farthest from us, those who are forgotten, those who need understanding, consolation, and assistance.”

Living Holy Week is always going deeper into God's logic, into the logic of the Cross, which is not first and foremost a logic of sorrow and death but one of love and the self giving that brings life. It is entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following, accompanying Christ, staying with him when he demands that we 'go out': out of ourselves, out of a tired and habitual way of living the faith, out of the temptation of locking ourselves in our own schemes that wind up closing the horizon of God's creative action. God went out of himself in order to come amongst us … to bring us the mercy … that saves and gives hope. And we, if we want to follow and remain with him, cannot be satisfied with staying in the sheep pen with the ninety-nine sheep. We have to 'go out', to search for the little lost sheep, the furthest one, with him.”

Often,” he observed, “we settle for some prayers, a distracted and infrequent Sunday Mass, some act of charity, but we don't have this courage to 'go out' and bring Christ. We are a little like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus talks of his passion, death, and resurrection, of giving himself and love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and scolds him. What Jesus is saying shakes up his plans, seems unacceptable, the safe certainty he had constructed, his idea of the Messiah, in difficulty. And Jesus … addressing some of the harshest words of the Gospel to Peter, says: 'Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.' God thinks mercifully. God thinks like a father who awaits the return of his son and goes out to meet him, sees him coming when he is still afar … a sign that he was awaiting him every day from the terrace of his house. God thinks like the Samaritan who doesn't pass by the unfortunate man, pitying him or looking away, but rather assisting him without asking anything in return, without asking if he was a Jew or a Samaritan, rich or poor.”

Holy Week,” Francis concluded, “is a time of grace that the Lord gives us to open the doors of our hearts, of our lives, of our parishes—so many closed parishes are a shame—of our movements and associations, to 'go out' and meet others, to draw near them and bring them the light and joy of our faith. To always go out with the love and tenderness of God!”

After the catechesis and the summaries in different languages that the Gospel readers gave, the Pope greeted all the groups in Italian. Also in Italian, he addressed, among other groups, the university students participating in the international UNIV Congress sponsored by the Prelature of Opus Dei, thanking them for their prayers and affection for the Pope. “With your presence in the university world, each one of you carries out what St. Josemaria Escriva wished for: 'It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all humankind'.”


Vatican City, 27 March 2013 (VIS) – The solemn celebration of the Eucharist during which Francis will take possession of the cathedra of the Bishop of Rome will take place in the Lateran Basilica on 7 April, the Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, at 5:30pm.


Vatican City, 27 March 2013 (VIS) – After the catechesis of this morning's General Audience, the Holy Father called for an immediate end to the violence in the Central African Republic.

I am attentively following what has been happening in these hours in the Central African Republic and I wish to ensure all those who are suffering—especially the relatives of the victims, the wounded, and those who have lost their homes and been forced to flee—of my prayers. I call for an immediate halt to the violence and looting, and that a political solution to the crisis may be reached as soon as possible so that peace and harmony may be restored in that dear country, which has, for too long, been marked by conflict and division.”


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – “Francesco – Elezione di un Papa che viene dalla fine del mondo” (Francis: Election of a Pope from the Ends of the Earth) is the title of the documentary from Vatican Television, made in collaboration with the Officina della Comunicazione (OC) and the Italian newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera. The DVD will be distributed as a supplement to the Friday, 2 April edition of the newspaper.

The documentary registers the events following Pope Benedict XVI's renunciation of the papacy, the days of the Sede Vacante, and the conclave that brought the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope. Through images and previously unpublished interviews with four cardinals—Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter; Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals—it reconstructs the most important stages of this period, culminating in the meeting of the two pontiffs this past Saturday, 23 March, in Castel Gandolfo.

The DVD supplement will cost 10.90 euro. Put together in record time, it was presented this morning in the Press Office of the Holy See by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, director of Vatican Television; and Dr. Ferruccio De Bortoli, editor of Il Corriere della Sera.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – The Mass of the Lord's Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM) will be, by his express desire, very simple, as reported by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.

Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The Pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful.

After the Mass, the Pope will meet with the youth and the IPM's personnel in the Institute's gym. Around 150 persons are expected to attend, including the Minister for Justice, Paola Severino, accompanied by the Head of the Department of Justice for Minors, Caterina Chinnici, the Commander of the Institute's Penitentiary Police, Saulo Patrizi, and the Institute's director, Liana Giambartolomei.

The youth will give the Pope a wooden crucifix and kneeler, which they made themselves in the Institute's workshop. The Holy Father will bring Easter eggs and “colomba” (the traditional Italian Easter cake in the shape of a dove) for all.

Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted.


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis sent a telegram to the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in Rome, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, with his greetings for the Jewish celebration of Pesach, or Passover, which began at sundown yesterday evening.

The Bishop of Rome thanked Rabbi Di Segni for his presence at the celebrations of the beginning of his pontificate and asked him to extend the pontiff's “best wishes for the great Feast of Pesach” to the entire Jewish community of Rome.

May the Almighty, who freed his People from slavery in Egypt in order to lead them to the promised land, continue to deliver you from all evil and to accompany you with his blessing. I ask you to pray for me, while I assure you of my prayers for you, confident that we can deepen our ties of mutual esteem and friendship.”

The telegram was published on the home page of the Roman Jewish community's website, with the information that Rabbi Di Segni had been greatly pleased to receive the pontiff's greetings and that he will soon thank the Pope when it is his turn to send the Pope his best wishes for the upcoming Easter celebration.


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) – In their Easter message, the leaders of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem invite the faithful around the world to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, extending an ecumenical appeal to visit those churches and to “walk with the living stones of this land, following in the footsteps of the Risen Christ”. The text continues: “The Christian presence here, in the Mother City of our faith, remains a beacon of the light of the Risen Christ that the first disciples were witness to in front of the empty tomb.”

We invite all people of faith and good will in the world, particularly those in positions of authority, to strive for justice and peace among nations. We especially pray for Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and all those places suffering political upheaval. We pray for all victims of violence and oppression, for prisoners, for those who live without security, fugitives, and refugees, especially those here in our land.”

The Christian leaders conclude by asking all those who cannot make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land “to sustain the people of this land in their prayers,” emphasizing that the Christina presence in the region continues to decline.


Vatican City, 26 March 2013 (VIS) - Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, issued a statement calling for the adoption of a treaty banning the transfer of arms when violations of humanitarian or human rights are taking place. The statement was read during the Final Conference of the UN's Arms Trade Treaty, which is taking place in New York until 28 March.

In his message, the archbishop urged “delegations to work together in a consensual manner in order to achieve a historic treaty to control the international trade in arms.” He recalled that, since the start of negotiations, the Holy See has called for “a strong, effective and credible Arms Trade Treaty which will have a real and lasting impact on all people longing to live in a more secure and safe world”.

The statement asserted that “the Holy See has stressed that a responsible international arms trading system should provide strong protections against the transfer of arms to countries where such arms are being used against civilian populations in violation of internationally agreed humanitarian and human rights laws. Further, the Holy See has urged delegations to reorient the regulation of the trade in arms from one which is controlled through the lens of sheer economic interests to one which places overriding importance on human concerns and protecting human life and families.”

Monday, March 25, 2013


Vatican City, 25 March 2013 (VIS) – The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has made public the calendar of celebrations at which Pope Francis is scheduled to preside during Holy Week:

28 March, Holy Thursday: 9:30am, Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica
             5:30pm, Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Casal del Marmo youth detention centre

29 March, Good Friday: 5:00pm, Celebration of the Lord's Passion in the Vatican Basilica
             9:15pm, Via Crucis at the Colosseum

30 March, Holy Saturday: 8:30, Easter Vigil in the Vatican Basilica

31 March, Easter Sunday: 10:15am, Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square
             12:00pm “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing


Vatican City, 25 March 2013 (VIS) - “Guarire dalla corruzione” (Recovering from Corruption) and “Umilta, la strada verso Dio” (Humility: The Road towards God) are the titles of the first two books by the new Pope to be published in Italian. Tomorrow, 26 March, they will be presented to the press at the Curci Hall of the offices of the Jesuit periodical “La Civilta Cattolica”.

Written when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, both texts draw upon the spirituality expressed by St. Ignatius of Loyola in his “Spiritual Exercises” to describe the profound mechanism of corruption in society—including the Church—and to note solutions, among which is the need for an ecclesial life characterized by fraternal charity.

Guarire dalla corruzione” (orig. “Corrupcion y pecado”) is a text on morality. Based on an analysis of the spread of corruption in Argentine society and around the world, it locates the root of this evil within the heart. The text makes a novel distinction between the phenomena of corruption and sin. The afterword is written by Judge Pietro Grasso, president of the Italian Senate and former head of Italy's national anti-mafia prosecutor's agency.

Umilta, la strada verso Dio” (orig. “Sobre la acusacion de si mismo”) has a strongly spiritual character. It introduces a text—widely cited in the book—by Dorotheus of Gaza, a 6th century Church Father, on humility. The book includes an appendix written by the prior of the ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose, Enzo Bianchi, who updates Dorotheus' message through the reading offered by Pope Francis.


Vatican City, 25 March 2013 (VIS) – The Square Garden (“Giardino Quadrato”), ordered by Pope Paul III Farnese who also commissioned Michelangelo to paint “The Last Judgment” in 1534, will be open to visitors of the Vatican Museums beginning today.

Created by the architect Jacopo Meleghino, it is a classical Italian garden with four lawns bordered by hedges and covers nearly a hectare of ground. It has now been furnished with benches, upon which visitors can take a break from their tour of the museums. From the garden you can see the dome of St. Peter, the grove that covers the Vatican hill, and the walls of the museums' Pinacotheca, which houses works by Raphael, da Vinci, and Caravaggio.

Visiting hours for the Square Garden will be the same as those of the Vatican Museums.


Vatican City, 25 March 2013 (VIS) – This morning, the Holy Father received in separate audiences:

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops,

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and

Mr. Hector Federico Ling Altamirano, ambassador of Mexico, on his farewell visit.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Vatican City, 24 March 2013 (VIS) – More than 250 thousand people gathered this morning to attend Palm Sunday Mass, which Pope Francis celebrated in St. Peter's Square. For the thirteenth consecutive year, the olive trees and branches that adorned St. Peter's Square and were distributed to the faithful present were a gift from the Puglia region of Italy. The floral design that decorated the altar this year reflected the geography of the five continents: 60,000 olive branches were mixed with grasses and peach leaves, thyme, myrtle, ferns, strawberries, broom, lilies, wallflowers, and celery-leaved buttercups. The two centuries-old olive trees that were placed at the foot of the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul in the square will be planted in the Vatican Gardens after the Mass.

The celebration began at 9:15am with a procession of palm branches in which 620 persons—cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, children, and lay persons—participated. Some 2,000 palm branches were brought in from the Ligurian towns of San Remo and Bordighera in Northern Italy, as has been the tradition now for five centuries. The Pope entered the square while the choir and crowd sang the Hosanna. After reaching the foot of the square's obelisk, the Pope blessed the palms and olive branches of those in the square.

The procession then continued to the altar on the Sagrato of the Basilica. The Pope carried one of the three-metre long palm branches, which had been artistically braided so as to represent the Holy Trinity. Concelebrating with the Pope were: Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome; Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, O. Carm., vice gerent of the diocese of Rome.

The choir sang the Kyrie while the Pope venerated and incensed the altar. The Liturgy of the Word included readings from Isaiah and St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians. After the Gospel reading of the Passion, proclaimed by three deacons, the Pope's homily focused on three central aspects: Joy, the Cross, and Youth. His full homily can be read below.

As part of the closing rites of the Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus. Then, re-entering the Vatican walls, the Pope took a long route through the square, greeting those gathered and being especially attentive to the young and the sick.


Vatican City, 24 March 2013 (VIS) – Following is the whole text of Pope Francis' homily during the Palm Sunday Mass that begins the Holy Week celebrations. The Holy Father commented on the World Youth Day that the entire Church celebrates today, asking that we live the faith “with a young heart”. The pontiff urged the youth to “tell the world that it is good to follow Christ!”

Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!' (Lk 19:38).“

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.”

This is Jesus. This is his heart that looks upon all of us, who sees our sicknesses, our sins. Jesus' love is great. And so He enters into Jerusalem with this love and looks upon all of us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light—the light of the Jesus' love, of his heart—joy, and celebration.”

At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms. We also welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God but He lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He enlightens us along the journey. And thus today we have welcomed him.”

And this is the first word that I want to tell you: 'Joy!' Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us. It comes from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! This is the moment when the enemy comes, when the devil, often times dressed as an angel, comes and insidiously tells us his word. Don't listen to him! Follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Please don't let him steal our hope. Don't let him steal our hope, that hope that Jesus gives us.”

The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: He is riding on a donkey; He is not accompanied by a court; He is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who had the sense to see something more in Jesus; those with a sense of faith that tells them: 'This is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers. He enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood.”

And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals, 'You are princes, but of a crucified King.' That is Jesus' throne. Jesus takes it upon himself... Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin—all of us—and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which none of us can take with us, it must be left behind.”

Here the Pope added a personal note: “My grandmother used to tell us children, 'A shroud has no pockets!'” Then he continued: “Loving money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And also—each of us knows and recognizes—our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.”

Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus' does for all of us upon his throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! It leads to the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what He did that day of his death.”

Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: Youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession when you entered. I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart,” and here he emphasized, “a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty, a young heart. With Christ, the heart never grows old!”

Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves and in going outside of ourselves, that we have true joy and through God's love He has conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.”

Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to this coming July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well in your communities—prepare spiritually above all—so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.” Then, in an unscripted exhortation, the Pope called out: “Young persons, you must tell the world that it's good to follow Jesus, that it's good to go with Jesus. Jesus' message is good. It's good to go outside ourselves to the ends of the earth and of existence to bring Jesus! Three words: Joy, Cross, and Youth.”

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.”


Vatican City, 24 March 2013 (VIS) – At the end of this morning’s Mass for Palm Sunday, and before praying the Angelus, the Pope called upon the intercession of our Lady, particularly in favour of those suffering with tuberculosis and young persons.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “At the end of this celebration, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she may accompany us during Holy Week. May she, who followed her Son with faith all the way to Calvary, help us to walk behind him, carrying his Cross with serenity and love, so as to attain the joy of Easter. May Our Lady of Sorrows support especially those who are experiencing difficult situations. My thoughts turn to the people afflicted with tuberculosis, as today is the World Day against this disease. To Mary I entrust especially you, dear young people, and your path towards Rio de Janeiro: This July, Rio! Prepare your hearts spiritually. May all of you have a good journey!”

Then, in several languages, Francis wished the youth joy on their journey.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Two Popes Meet

Francis and Benedict together at Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, 23 March 2013 (VIS) – Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, called this afternoon's encounter between Pope Francis and the Bishop emeritus of Rome Benedict XVI “a moment of profound communion”. Although live coverage of the historic event was not provided, recorded images of the two praying together and sitting in the library of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace has been made available. Following are the notes Fr. Lombardi made of the historic event.

The Holy Father's helicopter landed at the heliport of Castel Gandolfo at 12:15pm and the Pope emeritus' car approached the landing site. Accompanying the Holy Father were: Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Leonardo Sapienza, S.C.I., regent of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household; and Msgr. Alfred Xuereb.

As soon as the Holy Father alighted, the Pope emeritus approached him and the two embraced. After briefly greeting the others present—Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, and Dr. Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas—they got into the car to take them to the Apostolic Palace. Pope Francis took the right-hand seat, traditionally reserved for the Pope, while the Pope emeritus took the left-hand seat. Aboard the same car was also Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household.

The car then brought them to the elevators of the Apostolic Palace and the two protagonists of the historic meeting ascended to the papal apartments where they went straight to the chapel for a moment of prayer. In the chapel, the Pope emeritus offered the place of honour to Pope Francis, who instead responded “We are brothers” and wanted them to share the same kneeler.

After a short time of prayer they went to the apartments' library where their private meeting began around 12:30pm. It is the library where the Pope normally receives important guests at Castel Gandolfo. Their meeting lasted around 45 minutes. Pope Francis had brought a beautiful icon as a gift to the Pope emeritus.

Regarding clothing, as previously noted, the Pope emeritus wears a simple white cassock without the fascia (sash) or shoulder cape, the two details that distinguish it from Pope Francis' clothing. The only private and confidential portion of the meeting was when the two met in the library, as the secretaries, Archbishop Gänswein and Msgr. Xuereb, were expected to attend the lunch afterward. The Pope emeritus plans to drive with the Pope to Castel Gandolfo's heliport before they take their leave of one another.

It should be noted that, although this is the first time they meet face-to-face, Pope Francis has already called the Pope emeritus to mind many times: at his first appearance at the external Loggia of the Hall of Blessings of the Vatican Basilica on the evening of his election and with two phone calls—the first that same night and the second on the Feast of St. Joseph, to send his well wishes on the Pope emeritus' saint's day. Their dialogue, therefore, had already begun before this physical meeting. Recall also that the Pope emeritus had already expressed his unconditional reverence and obedience to his successor at his final meeting with the cardinals on the last day of his pontificate, 28 February. This encounter, then—a moment of elevated and deep communion—was a chance to renew his profession of reverence and obedience. Certainly Pope Francis renewed his gratitude, and that of the whole Church, for Pope Benedict's ministry during his pontificate.


Vatican City, 23 March 2013 (VIS) – Three days after beginning his pontificate, Pope Francis sent a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon. In it the Holy Father responded to the letter that the Superior General had sent to him on learning of the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Jesuit in the history of the Society of Jesus to be elected Pope.

Following is the complete text of the Roman Pontiff Francis' letter, dated 16 March:

Dear Fr. Nicolas, It is with great joy that I received the kind letter that you sent on behalf of yourself and of the Society of Jesus on the occasion of my election to the See of St. Peter, informing me of your prayers for me and my apostolic ministry along with your complete willingness to continue your unconditional service to the Church and to the Vicar of Christ, according to the precepts of St. Ignatius of Loyola.”

I thank you cordially for this token of appreciation and closeness, which I reciprocate with pleasure, asking the Lord to enlighten and accompany all Jesuits so that—faithful to the charism received and the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order, by their pastoral activity but above all through the witness of lives entirely devoted to the service of the Church, the Bride of Christ—they may be evangelical leaven to the world, tirelessly seeking the glory of God and the good of souls.”

With these sentiments I ask all Jesuits to pray for me and entrust me to the loving protection of Mary, our Mother in Heaven, while, as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours, I impart with special fondness my Apostolic Blessing, which I also extend to all those who work with the Society of Jesus in their activities, benefit from their good works, and partake of their spirituality.”
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